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Many collaborative applications, especially in scientific research, focus only on the sharing of tools or the sharing of data. We seek to introduce an approach to scientific collaboration that is based on the sharing of knowledge. We do this by automatically building organizational memory and enabling knowledge sharing by observing what users do with a particular tool or set of tools in the domain, through the addition of activity and usage monitoring facilities to standalone applications. Once this knowledge has been gathered, we apply social networking models to provide collaborative features to users, such as suggestions on tools to use, and automatically-generated sequences of actions based on past usage amongst the members of a social network or the entire community. In this work, we investigate social networking models as an approach to scientific knowledge sharing, and present an implementation called genSpace, which is built as an extension to the geWorkbench platform for computational biologists. Last, we discuss the approach from the viewpoint of social software engineering.
Date of Conference: 15-16 Sept. 2008