Collaborative Expedition Workshop #1    (41YO)

Workshop Purpose: To explore the potential and realities of collaboration and enabling technologies to address digital disparities.    (41YP)

Susan Turnbull, General Services Administration (GSA), opened the first Universal Access (UA) Expedition Workshop at 11:00 a.m. She explained that seven three-hour workshops will be held between March 2001 and September 2001. The workshops will replace the face-to-face monthly meetings of the Universal Access Working Group (UAWG). Summaries will be posted to the Web-based UA Collaboration and Learning Space.    (41YQ)

Ms. Turnbull provided an overview of the workshop format. For the first hour, UA members are invited to teleconference in and listen to guest introductions followed by an overview of content creation and resource exchange tools, led by George Brett, Senior Project Coordinator, National Laboratory for Applied Network Research. The second hour will be a working lunch for guest contributors to begin using the tools introduced in the first hour. During the third hour, the guest contributors will share what they have learned from one another that is valuable to their own work and to the new focus of the UAWG. Guests will also reflect on the potential and reality of collaboration and enabling technologies to address digital disparities in their own settings.    (41YR)



Susan Turnbull introduced George Brett, Senior Project Coordinator at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), National Laboratory for Applied Network Research(NLANR). He developed and manages NLANR's Advanced Applications Clearinghouse, which focuses on the variety of applications used by higher education institutions over high performance networks. He led a discussion about working and collaborating online. [NOTE: Mr. Brett's briefing slides are available at Recent Talks.]    (41Z4)

Mr. Brett provided background information about himself. He noted past projects, including:    (41Z5)

Mr. Brett explained that each of these projects involved information gathering and collaborative tools. He also discussed earlier "state-of-the art" methods to model and achieve a generalizable and functioning information architecture using an "infospace" concept or a "black box" concept. Neither approach has been realized in a manner that addresses the complex social and technical issues involved.    (41Z8)

Mr. Brett gave an overview of his current work at the National Laboratory for Applied Network Research (NLANR) which builds on two decades of study. NLANR has a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF). It consists of three teams (with the following responsibilities):    (41Z9)

Mr. Brett is Senior Project Coordinator for the Distributed Applications Support Team. He provided an overview of the Advanced Applications Database, which is the core of the NLANR Clearinghouse. It is an inventory of projects, resources, applications, and people using high performance networks. Currently, the database represents 2075 projects, 899 contacts, 1093 resources, 13 discipline categories, over 300 institutions or organizations, and 16 countries. The database is based on a grid concept with the following categories:    (41ZB)

Mr. Brett noted examples and characteristics of each category. He suggested adding a "Tetherless" or "Wireless" category to the grid.    (41ZD)

Mr. Brett continued with an overview of the Knowledge Management Clearinghouse (i.e., the "Klearinghouse") concept, as the next logical step. He said that it can serve as a coordinating entity for the identification and use of tools for knowledge management in real time, any time, and over time. It will focus on three areas of information technologies:    (41ZE)

Mr. Brett presented a visual map as well as a process map of the Klearinghouse concept. (See briefing slides for details). He noted the importance of learning from the past; he cautioned against "throwing earlier knowledge bases away" and giving up "digital rights."    (41ZI)

John Scott noted a project funded by the National Library of Medicine with the Pan American Health Organization to develop a disaster health information network for Honduras and Nicaragua. He said that the project team is trying to identify non-traditional information providers and "raise the validity" by making the network accessible. A discussion about the importance of two-way media and a two-way web followed.    (41ZJ)

Mr. Brett posed the following questions:    (41ZK)

Mr. Brett then presented a list of tools, organized by category:    (41ZM)

Mr. Brett also presented a list of selected web addresses:    (41ZO)

In closing, it was noted that Mr. Brett can be contacted by e-mail at, by telephone at (703) 248-0120, or by facsimile at (703) 248-0100. His full name, title and affiliation(from the slides) is: George H. Brett II , Senior Project Coordinator National Laboratory for Applied Network Research Distributed Applications Support Team National Center for Supercomputing Applications    (41ZQ)

Additional websites associated with his work are:    (41ZR)

National Laboratory for Applied Network Research(NLANR):    (41ZS)


George Brett provided a demonstration of several web tools, including Backflip!, Manila, Caucus, and WikiWeb.    (41ZV)

It was noted that WikiWeb is difficult to use. Text entry is easy, but entering links and images is tricky. Manila is an Internet server application that allows groups of writers, designers and graphics people to manage full-featured, high performance web sites through a browser interface. It is best suited for small groups. Mr. Brett cited loading time as a complaint. Theresa Noll commented that the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion used Caucus. She cited sustainability as a complaint.    (41ZW)

A discussion about listserv technology followed. Mr. Brett explained that too often the listserv is a passive broadcast model; it sends information to each listserv member's e-mail account. He said that he prefers using other web tools for information exchange. For example, he described an e-group web site that provides multiple ways to communicate (e.g., electronic mail, calendars, databases). Ms. Noll observed that listservs can be configured in various ways (e.g., moderated list, open list). The listserv also creates an automatic archive, so discussions are documented as they occur. Currently, the UAWG uses a one-way, moderated listserv to distribute monthly meeting announcements and minutes. Susan Turnbull reflected on different approaches for today's expedition workshop attendees (i.e., guest contributors) to exchange ideas with the Universal Access Working Group members which is comprised of about 90 Federal employees. A discussion about candor and anonymity followed.    (41ZX)


The guest contributors noted the importance of finding the right tools to facilitate information sharing and community development. Bill Smith commented on the need for tools that seamlessly support and augment people working together, including large gatherings at conferences. The tools shouldn't get in the way of the social interactions. John Scott observed that bringing people together to use technology is a challenge.. He also noted a project of the National Library of Medicine and the Pan American Health Organization to develop a disaster health information network for Honduras and Nicaragua. He said that the project team is trying to identify non-traditional information providers and "raise the validity" by making the network accessible. A discussion about two-way media followed.    (41ZZ)

Karl Hebenstreit discussed First.Gov initiatives that are reaching out and across agencies. Susan Turnbull reflected on how well-designed conferences that implement useful technologies would in turn leverage greater improvements in public service delivery. Participants could learn more and learn faster from one another. Guadalupe Pacheco reflected that his grandfather helped to build the transcontinental railroad. Today's technology is like a new high-speed railroad and those not "on board" will be left behind. Mr. Pacheco announced that HHS will host a Health Summit on September 4-6, 2001. 5000 people are already interested to attend the summit and there is only room for approximately 1000 people. He would like the conference to employ the right technology before, during, and after the conference so a "ring binder" notebook is not the only vehicle for transmitting information among participants. He expressed concern about establishing a follow-up mechanism for implementing recommendations and helping people stay in touch. For starters, George Brett suggested identifying people to serve as "champions" in certain areas.    (4200)

Craig Holcomb introduced the topic of Section 508. He noted that tools purchased by the Government after June 21, 2001, must be 508 compliant (usable by people with disabilities). It is important to encourage industry to incorporate 508 requirements into their products. Tom Tate noted how USDA brings people from rural areas into "target centers" to see how technology how can accommodate people, including people with disabilities. Bob Maslyn discussed a Federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council initiative to define government policy regarding web site compliance.    (4201)

George Brett noted the NLANR Clearinghouse as a resource. He encouraged us to consider adding agency projects involving the research or education community to the Clearinghouse database.    (4202)

Theresa Noll suggested establishing a listserv for the workshop attendees to facilitate further on-line discussions. In addition, an accessible collaboration space is being established to facilitate exchange between UAWG members and guest contributors.    (4203)


Susan Turnbull thanked everyone for attending the first UA Expedition Workshop. She extended special thanks to George Brett for sharing his knowledge with the group. Suggestions about who to invite to the next workshop are welcome. Minutes will be distributed to the 1) UAWG listserv 2) the UA-Expedition listserv, and the 3) Collaboration space when it is established.    (4205)

ATTENDEES    (4206)

George Brett, NLANR Karl Hebenstreit, GSA Bob Maslyn, GSA Martha Matzke Theresa Noll, GSA Guadalupe Pacheco, HHS John Scott, CPSC William Smith, ODII Susan Turnbull, GSA Tom Tate, ACE    (4217)