More Presentation Ideas

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 | chris blanchard

Greetings, all! Looking forward to meeting all of you. Since this is my first ever trip to D.C., I am coming in early so I can go to the Mall or whatever all day Friday. So if any of the rest of you are coming in early or have free time, I’ll be at the Courtyard by Marriot by GMU on Thursday night. You can get me on Twitter @LGM1 if you want to grab a beer Thursday, or sightsee on Friday.

As for the conference . . . so many good ideas . . .

I am more of a “mash-up” artist than a programmer these days. I certified as a web dev back in 2001 right between the transition from ASP to ASP.NET. So if anyone wants a session on Active Server Pages, SQL Server 7, or developing with VB 6.0, I am your man ; )

My interest these days is in figuring out what to do with all the cool technologies that are out there, and how to get them into the hands of faculty around the world. We have barely scratched the surface of getting a real installation base of digital publishing tools such as Simon Fraser/UBC’s OJS, and the digital repository tools that are out there. Those tools alone will revolutionize the publication process in academe if those tools are distributed properly.

That leads to my second big concern with all these tools, which echoes what Tom Scheinfeldt wrote about earlier, and that is the sustainability of the tools we create. One of the major weaknesses in my mind with the way academe is organized is that everything is grant funded and faculty run. The problem is that grants expire and faculty move on to new projects. This creates a high likelyhood of “abandonware” if we don’t come up with ways to sustain our projects in the long run.

So, with the Pronetos project that I started, we decided to go ahead and make it a for profit entity. We have just acquired our first customer – a public entity that wants us to help them convert one of their publications to an Open Access, all digital academic journal. We are running it for them as a hosted application. We can do this for any number of organizations and institutions. The revenues earned ostensibly will help us add new features and roll out new tools on a consistent basis.

We are also planning to take the existing Pronetos social network and turn it into a non-profit organization and at the same time make it an open source project. This will allow the community using the community to develop the features they want, and allow for different types of funding opportunities. 

So that is my bid to try to address Tom’s question of sustainability and running our projects more like a business (I think our model will be somewhat like the Canonical/Ubuntu model???). Like Tom, my M.A. in Applied Historical Research hardly prepared me to address these challenges, but I am confident that we can all figure something out!

Presentations at the conference? I’d love to do a ‘bird’s of a feather’ or loose-knit panel on sustainability, and as mentioned I am really interested in mash-ups – linking together the applications that are out there to solve major systemic problems in academe.

See you all there!

Chris Blanchard



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