The definition and development of the pair CominWeb constitutes the first project of the CominLabs.
Cooperative research faces today the challenge of increasing bureaucracy and "data deluge" [according to ATOS'CEO Thierry Breton in an introduction to "The move to zero-email solutions": data deluge is to information age what carbon emission is to the industrial age]: proposals, reports, and project building cause an explosion in contents replicates with only slight variations, a reshaping of contents to adjust specific needs, the compliance with sophisticated enterprise or administration processes, and all of this results in an increasing time spent by the engineer over email and internet. The wild use of email aliases in cooperative activities has turned the generated email to SPAM. We envision a management of cooperative research under the slogan of zero-spam/zero-proposal/zero-report/zero-deadline. 4-zero management is made possible thanks to existing advances in Web technology, recent progresses in research in the area of Social Network technologies, and innovative views on the Web-scale management of structured data. CominWeb is a platform that will enable 4-zero management of cooperative research activities.
The CominLabs gather a large set of teams and researchers while offering only low density (although globally significant) funding. Motivating the best researchers and stimulating synergies will thus be a challenge. We want to demonstrate that highly innovative distributed and multi-disciplinary research can be achieved using Web of science technologies and research results from the lab, with the following features: zero reporting and freedom of proposition. To this end, the CominLabs and their ecosystem will establish themselves as a scientific social network, the CominWeb. The CominWeb is meant to become one of the major outcomes of the CominLabs.
The CominWeb will have a public side, where results will be exposed, and an internal side supporting distributed research. Researchers from the CominLabs will contribute in an unsupervised style to the CominWeb. It is hoped that the CominWeb will also be used by the ecosystem of CominLabs. Key features of our approach are described next:
- Today, the state of practice in the scientific community is that Web sites serve to expose activities to the outside world. Dedicated content is developed to this end. Maintaining a Web site at a high quality is costly and not consistently performed, unless specific events (e.g., auditing) require it. State-of-practice shareware for scientists usually has the form of a wiki. Wikis are typically used to share information on a day-to-day mode. Our plan is that CominWeb will factorize material between the wiki and the open web site, thus allowing for reuse.
- Due to the increasing amount of evaluation by the government authorities, reporting is becoming a costly activity for scientists. We wish to demonstrate that CominWeb can become an effective tool at generating reporting through efficient reuse of given material.
- Unconditional funding is getting less and less accepted by government authorities and funding bodies nowadays. Proposal writing is therefore consuming increasing resources from the research community, eventually resulting in a decrease of efficiency of the overall funding system. With CominWeb we want to demonstrate that it is feasible to allocate funding conditionally on research agendas and past performance, without the need for additional proposal writing. Again, the principle will consist in reusing and reformulating material from the site.
The above objectives will be achievable only if advanced techniques from the Web era are conveniently and consistently used:
By relying on techniques of profiling and personalization, viewing the people of CominLabs as a social network of science will favor quick sharing of information while targeting the right people with the right info. By extensively and intensively relying on data mining techniques, we hope to be able to extract figures from our data for use in scientific reporting. Our principle will be: zero data base filling. Our claim is that the accuracy that one can expect from proceeding in this way will be largely sufficient.
The project is run by William Dedzoe (architect and designer of the service) and Albert Benveniste (requirements), assisted by Bertrand Le Marouille (until January 2015), Mauricio Urraco (from August 2015 to September 2016) and Jean Hany (from November 2016).