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"Octane is a web design, development and internet marketing consultancy started in June 1999."

My name's Wayne Smallman and I sell ideas that change the way companies do business, usually in the form of novel web applications.

I'm also a writer for business publications (both web and print), as well as a consultant, adviser and trusted ally to my clients.

Thu 22nd Sep, 11 — 11:25 AM
by Wayne Smallman

An overhaul to Under Cloud


Under Cloud is the summation of an idea I had about two years ago, which solves a couple of problems for me; cataloguing the web pages I find, and sorting those web pages in a meaningful way. After a day-long meeting yesterday, Under Cloud is ready for something of a re-invention.

So what is Under Cloud?

While the web is a deeply connected shared space, the relational structure of any web page lies in the hands of the authors and not the reader.

What I propose is a web application that allows the reader to create relationships between web pages that goes beyond the hyperlinks within the very web pages they discover and read.

By allowing the reader to create annotated relationships between those web pages they find, they then build a referential catalogue of interlinked web pages that builds towards a store of not just meta data, but meta information, organized chronologically.

Additionally, because this is a social web application, people can share their store of collated, curated and annotated web pages with friends, colleagues and family, or everyone else.

So that’s Under Cloud, in simple terms. However, having had the chance to share my ideas with Keith Evans of CIDA yesterday, Under Cloud clearly has potential, and that potential is clearly as an assistive aide to those performing research.

Under Cloud is a working web application, but it’s essentially just a fancy way of bookmarking web pages. Over the long term, the aim is to turn it into a substantial venue for aggregating and sharing research, either publicly or privately.

And to that end, I have a few choice questions to ask. First of all, a few disclaimers — Under Cloud will:

  1. allow you to bookmark web pages, add tags, as well as link to other related web pages.
  2. not assist in the actual process of finding research materials.

Dear researcher…

You, and what you do:

  • What kind of research do you do? Such as industry, for example.
  • Do you conduct pure (basic) or applied research?

Doing what you do:

  • What is your present workflow? In terms of process, procedures, software et cetera.
  • Do you collaborate in a team, and if so, how do you share things?
  • What (if any) mobile technologies do you use to assist in research? Such as a mobile phone, camera, dictaphone or dictation software, notes software, for example.

Sharing what you do:

  • What kind of documents do you use in your research? Either as an aide, or as actual reference, like web pages, PDFs, spreadsheets or photographs, for example.
  • Thinking about your research once complete, how do you present that body of research to the intended audience?

In an ideal world:

  • What would be your ideal workflow? Thinking about collating and storing your research materials, including notes, as well as the web pages you’re bookmarking and the documents you’re using.
  • Again, assuming things aren’t ideal, what would be your ideal way of presenting your research? As as example, perhaps in the form of an interactive discovery tool, sharing your findings via a web presentation, or within Microsoft Office.

Please reply to the above questions as a comment, and if you wish your opinions to be kept private, please say so in the actual comment.

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Comments

2 Responses to “An overhaul to Under Cloud”

  1. My research is an uneven mixture of both pure and applied sciences like most of the Geosciences. Pure > applied.

    Research starts with literature review for existing sources or prior research, there is a planning phase where experiments are designed – this could involve a central question which could involve equations so software is utilized such as isomaps etc., funding is ascertained which could involve generating a presentation of overall design, feasibility highlighting the overall benefits of the project, we usually use Microsoft Powerpoint (It’s the easiest to use). After approval experimentation begins and data gathering – once this process is over we conclude and report findings – either presenting to a group of peers in the form of publishing. Or, presentations at meetings such American Chemical Society etc. Once everything is verified there are usually applications designed and applied to the field which would require patenting of any new systems or procedures.

    I work within several groups or cores and we share information using spreadsheets for our date representation, PDF files for any relevant literature, statistical reporting packages for remote analysis.

    These groups are often in different countries so we meet via SKYPE and in field activities we take pictures and measurements. Tablets are often used in the field to store measurements digitally that can be uploaded to a server immediately after collection (this is to adhere to guidelines stipulated by government finding in regards to data recording).

    We use PDFs, HTML, data base web pages, spreadsheets, word documents and many other programs that are discipline specific. Sigma STATS is a specific software tool used among stable isotope scientists. We share reference lists via ENDNOTE web.

    Bodies of research are usually presented first through publication within specific journals. The better the results the more prestigious the publication. This is a rigorous process and each journal has their own required format so initial documentation has to be precise. PDFs are the major document format required by most journals.

    Most research is presented at meetings of professional societies such as the National Academy of Sciences, American Chemical Society Proceedings, International Zoological Society. Most people present either posters which are created in Powerpoint by combining all the info on one slide then printed, or through a Powerpoint presentation at different sessions.

    Webinars are also becoming very popular.

    The last mode is on Core, or Faculty website pages where a blurb about the research, or the link to the PDFs’ journal pages are posted. Sometimes they are posted within a CV, or as bibliography.

    My ideal workflow would be to be able to do everything – except the physical experiment, all in one application. For instance writers have programs like Scrivener, it would be great to have software that allows a research to plan, do lit searches, analyze data, get insight from other researchers, format the final document, submit it from and organize it for presentation, templates for patents – ALL IN ONE PLACE.

    Again my ideal way of sharing would be from a major application that I did everything else in. This place would already have my notes that I can organize in presentation format, or I should have choice to organize it as an interactive web tool, or record webinar sessions of the work. That is ideal, a one stop shop for research – from inception to completion.

    Hope this helps.

  2. 1) when it comes to research I usually competitors, keywords and related topics of interest depending upon the subject.
    2) i usually conduct basic research (internet)

    3) workflow is: search for related topics, then search for competitors in the same field and then search for keywords.

    4) no team collaboration

    5) as for now no mobile technology is used in research.

    6) the documents used in conducting research is usually web pages, PDFs and doc files that can be found through searching the internet.

    7) the research is usually presented on an excel document.

    8) as for now my ideal work flow would be similar to what i’m doing now.

    9) most of the information i research is simply presented with an excel document.

    well hopefully the answers were ok. please don’t make information public, thanks! – Andy

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