Jennyn retreatnotes

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How do you use OWW and what would you like to see?

  • Jason: Like to see website being a site where people visit everyday to get finer-grain picture of what is happening in labs and in the field (collaboration, etc)
  • Sri: Uses to share information (software, projects, information-tracker), hope to encourage digitizing information unavailable. I.e. setting up lab, a lot of information is not out there, so like to see information online in the future (either on OWW or somewhere else so that it is searchable).
  • Jeff: Uses as reference source, like to see as interactive site where people can communicate and interact in shared pages.
  • Barry: Documenting current project, collaborating with other groups, like to see what it is now PLUS more on top of that. See developments of ability to provide updated information. Continue to be a place where information is stored --what ppl are doing and where they are located, etc.
  • Sean: Like to see connection between people tangentially in order to get new collaborations.
  • Jay Copeland: Does not currently use OWW much, but sets up other wikis during the time that OWW came along. Would like to see where OWW is going and see how open-collaborative lab play.
    • Challenge: How to get lab members to adopt wiki to use. Control privacy.
  • Ilya: Uses for notebook, like to see more searchable.
  • Austin: Uses for playground for wiki technology, like to use it as lab notebook.
  • Jenny: Uses for interior design space. Would like to see more user-friendliness.
  • Natalie: Uses for lab course, notebook for research, literature collection, would like to see grow as teaching tool and maintained as stored information become accessable.
  • Drew: Uses for research/research management, education, community development for synthetic biology, and publication (sharing of information that is recognizable outside wiki). Would like to see it realize potential without consuming all allowable energy from folks running it.
  • John Cumbers: Uses for lab website, highlights, private lab wiki to encourage people to use wiki. Very interested in publishing --would like to put an idea on wiki and it can be referenced from there.
  • Maurine: Uses for organize/advertise lab. Would like to collaborate with other groups. Would like private side of wiki.
  • Julius: Uses for information/resource. Thinks OWW doing great job for collaboration. Would like to see to supercede current publishing model to see small, scientific steps be published to be community reviewed by broad community rather than small number referees.

Survival of the Organism from Tech perspective


  • Server was donated by SysBE.
    • Verbal commitment from Nikka and Paul M. that we can continue to use it.
  • Sensitivities: backed up daily off-site (separate building 68). In a room (not machine room by IT standards).
  • Network traffic serviced by standard wall-jack. Goes through same switches that every computer can go through. Not optimized for high-traffic. But works OK.
  • Can support about 3X-4X load as current (1 more year).
  • New server = $5-6K per year. Could purchase many cheaper machines.
  • Server is maintained by Ilya.
  • How much of IT support is pedestrian (Outsourceable: install newest MediaWiki, config files, etc) versus working with Austin (Focused on OWW development: downloading some isoteric software, working in exploratory software, etc)?
    • 50/50 approximately.
    • Most of the software incorporated by Austin
    • Server software can be outsourced, but need work in ensuring compatibility.
    • Everytime there is another extension/ease-of-use/customization, needs support.
  • What if current server dropped during this meeting?
    • Would need to go to backup from yesterday. Could not put it on anything but model. Many sites would go down.
    • Jay thinks we should have another machine synching with another machine every night.
    • What if enormous increase in traffic? Would not want people in building 68 who depend on access to blame the one OWW machine. Do not want OWW to be denial service attack on building 68.

Needs to be Resolved

  • Server on 12 mo time-scale.
  • In-place backup mechanism.
  • Siting of server for responsibility to community embedded in.
  • Other Universities could host a mirror for site?

Mission Statement

Mission Statement v1.0

The goals of OWW are to support open research, education, publication, and discussion in biology and biological engineering. We promote and support collaborations among researchers, students, and others who are working towards these goals.

Points to Discuss

  • Private Pages on Wiki
    • Maurine discusses the side-effects of posting imperatives (human disease genes), academic competitors may have edge. But want to have pages rotate from private side to public side after publication (or something like it). Lab collaborates with other groups currently through e-mail. Wants to use wiki for collaboration rather than e-mail because it is easier.
      • John discusses that posting information fast would be a way of publication in order to save time for researching. The way that science is working at the moment, is that the best way?
      • Sri thinks that there are great reasons to keep pages private to keep information accurate and digitized.
      • Jason thinks that private pages may not be good because if a lab joins OWW, they ONLY use private pages and keep everything private. But OWW's mission is a place to find resources, and another lab is looking for information and finds that a protocol that they need, may be hindered from posting information.
      • Sri agrees that if OWW becomes a repository for private pages, it takes up resources and may hamper growth of OWW.
      • Austin thinks this is a collaborate tool, maybe not world-collaboration but is X-number-lab-collaboration. Still collaboration.
      • Maurine would like to have a private side of OWW because she thinks it would reduce the barrier of merging the private-to-public posting. Not only wants to keep information private because of competition, but also because it is preliminary information --this could waste resources for everyone.
      • John supports private distribution, and if we could find a way to bring to public easier.
      • Sri wants to discuss whether we think that OpenWetWare is an open-public tool, or to have private pages available?
      • Jay suggests that we allow users to use OWW to be open for free, and have a fee for labs who want to have private pages. This will help support the enterprise.
      • Jason brings discussion back to mission statement. Rather than concentrating on getting caught up in practical options. Mission statement will help make decisions as such.
      • Jay thinks that every computer will come with a built-in wiki. There are hosting services everywhere, and it is easy to access. OWW offers a community that is the valued asset. To enter the community and be able to control interaction with it, and have portion that is private to collaborative community and then be able to share it with broader community.
      • Drew thinks the problem is what is allowable-vs-unallowable. Allowable to partner with Nature Publishing group? What is consistent of our current goals on how we act.
      • Sri thinks that the most important thing is to enable open collaboration. Timing of public-sharing will come. But having the information out there should be a priority. If Nature came and said that they would pay $XXX to enable private-pages. Would we support this?
      • Drew thinks we should think strategically about how we can foster an open community for wiki. We can provide the tools for private wiki pages, options for sharing information, and we're at _the_same_time floating on the technology that wiki's will be everywhere.

Things to Support

  • see mission statement

Things We Allow

  • liberal account policy

Things We Did't Allow in the Past

  • Advertisements
  • High school students

Decision Making

  • We may need to make a constitution. See NHS website.

Steering Coordinator

  • 6 month provisional that is elected by Steering Committee