ESC Four-Track Approach

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)

<Back to Jan 4, 2012 Program

At an ESIP ESC Cluster meeting, Hook Hua pointed out that there were things to be done in four separate areas:

  1. Technical
  2. Sociological
  3. Programmatic
  4. User Stories

Planning Meeting at ESIP Winter 2012

Session Lead(s): Lynnes

Description: Join us to develop strategies in the four key areas to establish an Earth Science Collaboratory: (a) Technical: architecture, design, implementation
(b) Sociological: what induces scientists to share (or not share) knowledge, tools, methods and results?
(c) User Stories: what pivotal science research, education and application results will the ESC enable?
(d) Programmatic: how do we best leverage agency, academic, non-profit and commercial programs to actually realize the ESC?
ESIP Collaboration Areas: Disc, Prod. & Services
Expertise Level: Beginner
Topic tags: DL, Tech

At the ESIP Winter meeting in 2012, a session will be held on Wednesday, January 4 to flesh out these areas. The agenda will be as follows:

  1. Brief intro (Lynnes, 5 min)
  2. Define a mode for coordinating the four tracks (Moderator=Lynnes, 30 min)
    1. How to schedule telecons?
    2. Single-track telecons or cover more than one track?
  3. Discuss main activities, recruit members and coordinators (at least 2) for each area (20 min)
    1. Proposed roles of track coordinators
      1. Setup and run telecons for the track
      2. Coordinate with other ESC tracks on topics and schedules
      3. Ensure output of tracks is captured in ESIP Wiki
    2. Human Factors (formerly known as Sociological) (Lynnes)
    3. Technical (Law, Hua)
    4. Programmatic (Lynnes--temporary)
    5. User Stories (Wee, Kuo)
  4. Upcoming plans (Lynnes, plus suggestions from the floor) (40 min)
    1. Write up meeting report for EarthCube site
    2. User Story from Udaysankar Nair
    3. WebEx Hackathon at/with/on EuroGEOSS Broker


(Potential) Action Items

  • Coordination - each track will have roughly one telecon a month and then a means of coordination between tracks will be developed.
    • (From Chris) Need to develop ways of getting things done in short time - alternating telecons, first telecon plans/discussions development, next telecon does actual development
  • What should be done by summer meeting?
    • Layout a road map for each track.
      • (From Hook) need to also consider funding lines and when they are becoming available. (From Peter F.) can't ignore funding options but don't set schedule by them
    • Need to get users for the ESC
    • Have a "goal-setting" session (envision what success means) (LuAnn may have a facilitator for these activities)
    • Identify a "poster child" for the ESC.
      • (Eric) cross-disciplinary example would be ideal as it really illustrates multiple pain points. (Hook) maybe it should be a specific science problem rather than a use case. (Peter) should look at lower level problems, "dead fruit laying on the ground"
  • Send Chris email to participate in each track.

Key Topics

The session is organized around four tracks (or areas) needed to move ESC forward. The tracks are technical, sociological (now human factors), programmatic, and user stories. Each track is a "mini charter" for the ESC.

Programmatic Track

What are some of the programs that might aid or inform ESC development? What do the program managers need from the community? How can the benefits of the ESC be articulated to the program level (i.e., "upreach")?

Human Factors Track

What are the conditions where scientists are most likely to share? What makes certain social media work and not others? This track should look into solutions for encouraging sharing (e.g., games, leader boards).

User Stories

ESC needs a repository of user stories, primarily for the purposes of "upreach". We should develop a "canonical representation" of user stories based on its audience (e.g., policy makers), discipline (e.g., atmospheric science, agriculture), etc. An index of these "canonical representations" can help identify missing user stories. Another option is to map user stories to EarthCube capabilities lists.


ESC needs to understand current capabilities (including prior art) so that it can move forward. It's very important to understand what the architecture looks like before implementations can be considered. Who are the stakeholders? (not just users, also developers, funders, etc.) Need to make sure that ESC is not just "yet another collaboratory".


Programmatic Track

Is there anything in the programmatic track about the "process"? (process includes governance)

Should there be any connection to NASA Earth Exchange?

Human Factors Track

What is the source of the comment, "Scientists don't share."? Chris L. - this usually comes up among scientists who expend more effort in data collection. Jenn S. - "less senior" scientists are typically more interested in sharing data.

There should be a distinction between "open sharing" and "sharing amongst collaborators". The ESC should include infrastructure that encourages "more sharing".

Mark P. - be wary of assuming younger scientists are more willing to share. Some may be more willing to share if they are aware of what others are using the data for.

Data sharing is not just based on the individual, its also based on organizational policies.

Look into the VOSS awards to find references to papers resulting from awards.

Hook - we should build from existing social media rather than reinventing the wheel.

Jenn S. - "How do you attract sociologists into this type of work?". Peter F. - the attractive nature of this work is its multidisciplinary nature, and that this community (Earth Science Informatics) has not been studied as extensively as others. (Julia Melkers was a past ESIP presenter who might have answers?)

User Stories

Mark P. - user stories can lead to a "waterfall" like development process.

Hook - follow the "Apple way", improving on the pain points in user stories rather than implementing entire user stories.

Peter C. - a major "pain point" is accessing data - retrieving small subsets or specific elements from large data sets, direct programatic access to data. Solving one pain point will likely solve many user stories (so should ESC really focus a lot of time on user stories)

Chris - need to recruit end users to the "User Stories" track

Frew - "chicken and the egg" problem, how does this move forward? Users need to see potential capabilities before they provide good user stories. A user story should be a "solution story".

Peter F. - often get trivial requirements from frequent users, but really good user stories come from more occasional users.


Peter F. - Agencies are looking for immediate results. ROIs for foundational technologies are not as obvious. Need to balance between immediate results and long term capabilities.

Martha - ESC needs really complex technologies that are easy to use.

Hook - ESC does want the community to build the ecosystem, but what are the foundational technologies (APIs)?

Mark P - its the killer app that makes a technology take off (e.g., Mosaic for WWW and the simplicity of Facebook UI)

?? - simplicity isn't always necessary, but added value is (scientists will "suffer" a little for a good payout)

Bruce - there should be something that is "delightful" for the end user.

?? - the Web emerged without much input from domain scientists


What can be done by ESIP that can only be done with ESIP? May be a key to the success of ESC.

Related Projects

  • NASA Earth Exchange (
    • (Chris L.) already been identified as either prior art or convergent efforts.


Straw Poll Results

  • Technical - 12 (achitecture and implementation)
  • Human Factors - 14 (sociolog, psychology, HCI)
  • Programmatic - 5 (upreach to program managers/organizations)
  • User Stories - 5

Original Notes