Session 2: Opposing approaches attract

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Opposing approaches attract

Dave de Roure (MyExperiment) University of Southampton, Mercedes Arguello Casteleiro (eius), University of Salford

The ‘opposing approaches attract’ session looked at two different, but not completely opposing, ways to find out how people use e-infrastructures and how this information can be used to encourage more researchers to use e-infrastructure.

In this session the world of web 2.0 was shown parallel to the work in the JISC user engagement programme.

The web2.0 approach is to directly respond to the actual needs in the community by building and trying possible solutions instantly. Sharing, showing and building go hand in hand with the needs as they pop up.

Parallel the eius Project looks into the holistic scholar’s lifecycle, finding the exact part of the cycle where e-Infrastructure can make a difference. They gather stories to spread and circulate in the community.

These two approaches are more complementary than opposing. Testing and storytelling are like siblings in the effort to take the uptake of e-Infrastructure further.

Dave de Roure’s slide show is available on a site called Slideshare. His Powerpoint show is available here: e-Research 2.0

He looked at the barriers to researchers using technologies, which could in fact enable them do research which previously hasn’t been possible.He illustrated his point with the statement “How do we move from heroic scientists doing heroic science with heroic infrastructure to everyday scientists doing science they couldn’t do before?”
Here, the term scientists is, in fact, interchangeable with researchers, archaeologists, musicologists and so on.

His talk came out of recent conferences he has attended:

  • Grid 2007
  • Scientific and Scholarly Workflows
  • e-Social Science 2007
  • W3C
  • Open Grid Forum
  • Microsoft e-Science

From these conferences he found 8 things about e-infrastructures :

– Everyday researchers doing everyday research
– A data-centric perspective, like researchers
– Collaborative and participatory
– Benefitting from the scale of digital science activity
– Increasingly open
– Better not Perfect
– Empowering researchers
– About pervasive computing

He realised that e-Science is enabling researchers to do some completely new work, that researchers are starting to use individual pieces to bring them together in new ways.

He likened the situation to “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

The way researchers are working is actually Web 2.0 – even if the term puts people off.He illustrated this by comparing each of his eight point against the ‘definition’ of web 2.0. This can be seen in the slide titled ‘Sign of the Times/Web 2.0 patterns’.

Dave challenged some of the common myths about Web 2.0. An example was when he countered the assertion that “Web 2.0 is not a properly engineered solution” with “Scientists want better, not perfect. And agility.”

The site MyExperiment was looked at – kind of facebook for scientists,”but different to facebook” as Dave was quick to point out! The site lets scientists share data in the same way that photos can be shared on Flickr. It’s an example of how shared Workflows can benefit researchers. The slide Recycling, Reuse, Repurposing provides an example of how shared workflows could benefit researchers in real life situations.

The Take Home conclusions of the session were:

Users are not just consumers of infrastructure. Empower them.

Web 2.0 is a set of design patterns

myExperiment is a case study in Research 2.0

Workflows make research easier, and Web 2 makes workflows easier

Mercedes Arguello Casteleiro’s presentation looked at:

  • An overview of the eius project
  • Some eius project outcomes
  • eius project reflections on methodologies

About the eius project

Mercedes talked about how research has evolved. It was paper-based, then PC-based, now network-based – People use national repositories rather than CDs for example. Most researchers use all these 3 things.

Eius is interested in what you can do by being connected to the network that you couldn’t do before. The project tries to highlight the benefits. The eius team are looking for inspirational sucess stories of network use which will encourage new users, so if you have one, please send it to Mercedes.

Mercedes highlighted, using concrete examples, what was in and what was out of the scope of the eius project. The full set of examples can be seen on the powerpoint but an example was the National Grid Service is within the scope of the project, but Google is not

Project outcomes

Some of the main outcomes of the project were:

1. eius experience reports (Interviews and des research)
2. eius use cases (Idealised stories or scenarios which illustrate how e-infrastructure can be used to meet goals)
3. e-Framework Service Usage Models (SUMs)


In a reflection on methodologies, Mercedes looked at the GEMEDA application.

In her conclusions she summed up:

– SUMs reveal that there are repeating patterns (design patterns) as there are several common Service Genres
– There is nothing in the Services Genres found that indicates the concrete domain of application
– SUMs can not capture the size of a Grid-based application
– The amount of common Services Genres between the three Grid-based e-Social Science applications indicates that there is a lot of effort in developing a Grid-based application that is not the business logic per se
– Service-oriented approachcost & time avoids code redevelopment
– Dealing with e-Framework technical componentsremains a difficult task
– Outline of eius projectand its outcomesoutcomes
– eius reflections about methodologiesthat facilitate obtain e-Framework SUMs

The full Powerpoint presentation is available here: arguello_eius_jif08.pdf