Whisper: Supporting Knowledge Transfer for Academics
Slater, Mark David
Today, despite decades of research, computer support for academic knowledge workers is fragmented and poorly integrated. While office automation and other forms of Computer Supported Collaborative Work(CSCW) approacheshavebenefitted academics, nosingleenvironmenttodayintegratesthebasic activities of the academic knowledge worker, including: individually or collaboratively writing research papers, sharing researchpapers, reviewingpapersforpublicationin ajournal or conference, andpersis tently sharing comments and observations on existing literature. We have developed an initial model that describes the mechanisms used by academics to transfer knowledge to other individuals, project groups, and communities, as well as mechanisms used to transfer knowledge within project groups and communities. Based on ourmodel, with revisions stemmingfromtheresults of ourstudy,wewilldevelop a novel environment calledWhisper(forWebInformationSharing Project),that will supportthe mech anisms of knowledge transfer between academics. Whisper will provide tools for academics, including digital library spaces with shared articles and annotations, versioned file spaces, archived discussion lists, and communityjournals. By creating an online workspace for academics of all fields, Whisper can reduce the cost and effort needed to setup shared workspaces between physically distant collaborators, as well as interdisciplinary collaborations. The persistent repository of project information, community discussions, and online journals will provide easier access to past and current research; this helps facilitate knowledge transfer long aftertheentitythat created theknowledgeisdefunct orbecomesunavailable. Inaddition,ourmodel willbe abletoidentify: theknowledgetransfer mechanisms most appropriatefor agiven entitypair,the point at which formal communities are viable, and at what point mass knowledge transfer mechanisms are viable within a given community.