Monday, March 13, 2006

Summary proposal for "putting the abstracts in a common space"

  • Margaret Grieco wrote on Friday, March 10, 2006 9:33 PM: “We could do with putting the abstracts up in a common space and organizing them by theme and region. We are well on our way to a special issue.”

Wonderful idea Margaret. Here is how I propose this might be done: looking at it in the following first from the perspective of each of us as individual members of the group, and then from the overall author and management function – and all this with a sharp eye out for the best way both to assemble the special World Transport “Gender, Equity, Transport” number – specifically as a group undertaking – and more generally to provide an efficient archive for articles and pieces that otherwise risk to get lost.

To meet this challenge – both for the special we set out to create this ‘common space’, which we call the Gatnet Forum. (You can see it in its present working draft form is you click to and click the Forum link on the little top menu.) In doing this, I have tried to be super-attentive to the day to day connection, internet, etc. problems of the group and especially those of course who are closest to the problems in the field. Here is how they will see it work:

(Note: As an example this note is being simultaneously posted to both Dgroups and the Forum, meaning that each of you will receive it twice today. That clearly is not something we will want to do on a regular basis but it is my hope that this may help better to demonstrate how this process might easily and efficiently be put to work.)

User Perspective:

In a first instance, let’s walk through how this might work from our point of view of each of us as members of the Dgroups family.

1. When an item is posted by one of the contributing editors, each of us will then receive a copy of the text, with at the top of our message the URL which will, if we so chose, take us to the full original.

2. This gives each of us a chance to have a look at the synopsis within Dgroups and to decide if we wish to have a close look at the full item.

a. Note: This suggests that entries should not be too awfully long – both to save connection time/money for those of us who do not have full time broadband. And for reasons of our time economy and avoiding information overload. We need enough information there in order to help (a) follow the evolution of, say, our new World Transport joint edition; and (b) to incite our interest in the topic itself.

b. (Since this is a flexible process, we can always fine tune and improve based on what we actually experience as we start to do all this.)

3. There is also as mentioned the user option of going direct to and from there clicking the Gatnet Forum link on the top menu. (This has the advantage of opening up the entire contents of the Forum directly, with listing of past articles, postings etc. just to your right. And with the whole thing quickly searchable when you are looking for some specific topic, phrase of author.)

4. From our perspective as users and members of the Gatnet group, that’s all there is to it. Thus on any give day in which we want to see what we have in our common space, all it takes is a click and a bit of keyword searching and off we go.

Author/editor perspective/process:

1. A good first step to understand the broad lines along which this might be organized is to have a look at the opening page of the Forum -- Background and use hints for first time visitors: -- which is intended as useful first introduction.

2. The idea, if you all agree, is to use the Forum/Common Space both as an archiving medium for both the proposed/in-process Journal articles and for other important documents that we wish to preserve, share and make handily available.

3. The proposed routine is thus that each submitted piece should be (a) relatively short (i.e., graspable in that quick 5 minute read max), (b) provide a good synopsis for the full piece, along with if possible (c) perhaps an ‘executive summary’ that in a page or two sets out the highlights of the piece, including eventual recommendations and next step.

4. The interested reader then, if she wishes to access the full article, can do this by clicking the title of the article in the top line of the entry in the Forum.

5. Then there is the Comment mechanism, which I think is going to be an important. Earlier today for example you all received a sample comment which was intended to give you a first feel for how this can work. (Comment: This is a sample comment for our proposed new Common Space forum. Notice that in order to make it I had not only to click the little Comment link associated with the article/piece in question, but that also once I had competed it, I have to identify myself and “word verify” so that our Commons Space is free of spam. Each comment is then annexed to the article in question, providing the great advantage of having them all handily consultable in the same space with the original. Very nice for the author and good for us to in order to get a better idea of the groups’ thoughts and reactions to the piece. (To see the full item and all the comments on the same “page” it is necessary to click the article title listing on the right menu.)

That’s really all there is to it. As a next step I suggest that we work with it a bit and as Margaret has suggested we start with a couple of sample proposed articles and log them in for information an comment. We can then observe, work with these a bit and fine tune as we go along. No big deal, but as that poet said: god is in the details.


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