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org – A portal for our society - A portal for our society
A sketch of the future of education and employment

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Thieme Hennis, BSc.1 [1052381]
Delft University of Technology, December 2006

Master of Science student in System Engineering, Policy Analysis and Management at the Faculty
Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology.

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In this proposal an attempt is made to explain in detail a comprehensive thesis project concerning
the research and development of a portal. Knowledge sharing and collaboration in this portal is
stimulated and directed by flexible employment, meanwhile meeting requirements on innovative
visions on education, professional development, and societal trends. This proposal describes
changes and trends, initiatives and concepts, ideas and new paradigms, and connects these to
provide a preliminary overview of the portal of tomorrow. This portal will try to provide a solid
foundation for people where the free exchange of knowledge within a community and helping
others is stimulated, and be rewarded for it, both intrinsically and extrinsically. This is contrary to
current economical (capitalistic) models. The source of competition will not consist of building
fences around information resources to protect knowledge, but rather the opposite: sharing and
open online collaboration! Also, this competition is based on collaboration on a much more
granular or personal level, where competition mainly refers to a kind of rivalry between
organizations. This concept will be applied to a certain case, which is the OpenER (Open
Educational Resources) project of Delft University of Technology (DUT). By doing this, it might
provide DUT with a sustainable model for this project, which is lacking at the moment: like all OER
projects globally, it depends heavily on funds.

The proposal commences with a general problem exploration. Starting with education, an
elaboration is done on Open Educational Resources, on networked learning, and on new
paradigms, such as “Connectivism”. More and more educational resources are freely available on the
Web. At the same time, classical ways of teaching are being supported by and transformed to online
learning, social interaction, blogging and more. The learning activity is becoming more
(inter)active, aligned to context, and fun. The proposal then continues with employment matters.
New and upcoming initiatives and concepts are discussed, such as online marketplaces (e-lance
economy), communities of practice, and social learning systems. These initiatives direct to more
open and flexible ways of employment, and to the importance of lifelong learning. Another strong
force concerns Open Source Software communities, their impact in society, but maybe even more
important, their development and governance models, and whether these are applicable in other
environments as well. A third trend concerns the social networks and the influence of folksonomies
in creating a “Semantic Web”.

The economic market will be highly aligned to, and play a much greater role in directing
educational content and research. Vice versa this implies the collaborative shaping of the economy
by finding opportunities to apply specific knowledge of connected persons. People will share and
make value out of their specific knowledge on the web (“the Long Tail” of information, knowledge
and expertise), through open educational resources, wikis, weblogs or any other open medium,
rather than confining it to one or a few institutions. The concept combines several initiatives, and
tries to paste the result in our new connective world, corresponding with the relative trends,
resulting in a portal that may change our society. This portal will give persons anyone the
opportunity to connect with people and resources of interest, to employ and be employed, to share
and make use of knowledge, to judge and be judged by others. People will manifest themselves by
helping others, and sharing information, and by doing that, making themselves more worth. That is

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why sharing will be the source of your personal competitiveness; the value you have created for others. These
ideas will be applied within the educational environment of DUT, but will always hold on to the
foundations of the original concept.

The proposal deals further with research issues, defines a number of research questions, and
describes methods. An interesting method, the use of a wiki (an open, editable website) for the
research is discussed in detail. The proposal goes on by addressing certain cases and initiatives that
might provide an interesting (or maybe essential) input during the project. Finally the project plan,
including the planning and the organization is concerned.

Keywords: community of practice, social communities, web 2.0, education, open educational resources,
social learning networks, connectivism, open source software, rating, tagging, e-portfolio,
folksonomies, life-long learning, Semantic Web, e-lance economy, online marketplaces, Long

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Abstract......................................................................................................................................................... ..3
Content....................................................................................................................................... ....................5
1 Introduction............................................................................................................................. ....................6
1.1 Problem statement............................................................................................................................... ..6
1.2 Focus and problem owner.............................................................................................................. ......7
1.3 Research question........................................................................................................................... .......8
1.4 Research proposal overview.............................................................................................. ..................8
2 Problem exploration................................................................................................................................... .9
2.1 Trends in Education......................................................................................................... .....................9
2.2 Trends in Employment.............................................................................................. .........................10
2.3 Trends in social networks and the Semantic Web................................................ ...........................11
2.4 Research community and deliverables............................................................................. ................12
3 Research description.................................................................................................................. ...............13
3.1 Research questions............................................................................................................. .................13
3.2 Research method........................................................................................................... ......................17
4 Project plan.............................................................................................................................................. ...20
4.1 Planning, activities and deliverables............................................................................................. ....20
4.2 Project organization................................................................................................... .........................23
5 Afterthought................................................................................................................... ...........................25
6 Literature categories..................................................................................................... ............................26
Appendix A - Meaning for you.......................................................................................................... ......30
Appendix B - Lifecycle stages OSS Community............................................................................... .....33
Appendix C - Initiatives and cases................................................................................................ ..........34

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1 Introduction
“… I wake up at noon, because I had to finish this last-minute assignment for client B late last night.
He paid good for it, so the fact that I could not attend an interesting seminar this morning on Web 3.0
technologies doesn’t hurt so much. I will watch it back later online. I start up my computer, and go to my
personal site on, a website connecting communities of every interest and profession, where I have
my friends, colleagues, employers, teachers, and peer-students, and where I am a friend, colleague, employer,
teacher, and student. I see that there are some questions and remarks on an online article I just posted, and
comment on them. My teacher status on this subject now increases, which may result in being employed. I
post a text on my weblog about some problems I encountered during my last employment, hoping that some
people read it and respond to it. Usually this takes no more than a day or two. Another employer has urged
me to finish a certain job, and I tell her that I will most probably get the results of an essential research I
delegated at the end of the week. I check my balance, and see that I made quite some money last week, which is
also good for my credibility. People tend to have more trust in me now, when I have made some money, than
before, when I just started living my life through this portal.
I sit back, take a sip of my coffee, and decide on what I want to learn today. A week ago, I really got
stuck in a school project on e-government solutions for municipalities, so I type in the tags e-government,
municipality, online voting, and corruption. Two communities, a dozen persons, and even more resources pop
up. I see that a specific community is quite popular, has a high rating and quite some people involved, and I
decide to enter. This is what I am looking for, I was thinking, when I browsed through their collection of free
resources. I contact someone online, Susan, and tell her about the problems I encountered. She does not know
the answers herself, she is new in the community, like me, but she directs me to George, someone who did a
similar project and has a lot of experience. George says he is willing to talk to me for $45 an hour, which I
think is reasonable considering his status. He also promises me an assignment, which, if I do it correctly, will
earn me $120. In the end, George sells my results to his employer for $200 and earns $90 dollars for teaching
me some very useful information. George was helpful, also in recommending me some free online courses and
papers, so I make some comments on his public profile. I spend two hours learning from one of the best
persons on e-government and put this knowledge directly into practice, earning me a lot of understanding,
practical and theoretical, and a little money ($30). Besides, it improves my online portfolio, increasing the
trust it transfers to other people. Because of my specific knowledge gained in another field, which might be
useful in this community, I decide to share this using freely available educational software…”

1.1 Problem statement
This is how I would like to wake up in a few years. This short story above is not that idealistic, not
at all, and not complete either. Many of the mentioned ideas and issues already exist, in different
online initiatives. The problem, which inflicted personal quest, is that all these initiatives are
fragmented and do not connect. There is not one website (known by me) offering the connection
between some great online educational, professional, and social trends and initiatives, even though
this may bring enormous advantages for society. The reasons for this are not known by the author,
but it might be because it is contrary to capitalist ideas and ethics, and many of the trends and
initiatives are relatively young. These trends and initiatives concern:

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 The increase in free availability of educational resources and tools through the Open
Educational Resource (OpenER) movement and numerous other large- and small scale
initiatives worldwide.
 An increasing audience for alternative learning methods, such as Siemens’ connectivism.

 The rise of the ‘e-lance’ economy, with electronic freelancers, such as the main character in
the story.
 The long tail of products and knowledge; because of the Internet, products and knowledge
with previously insignificant market, have market value.
 Learning as an increasingly essential part of working.
 The open source community model as an example of forming communities of people
collaborating towards a shared vision.

 Tag-based folksonomies as a means for structuring and searching the content of the web.
 Social (and more professional and educational) networks are extremely popular, connecting
people online.
 Web 2.0 enabling people to no only use the Web passively, but to easily interact and connect
through communities, wikis, weblogs, and other services.

In short, the problem can be defined as the nonexistence of a portal where a person can get free
access to knowledge and easy connections to people and institutions within a certain domain, at the
same time is encouraged to open up, share ideas, collaborate and put effort in one or more
communities, and where all these activities and efforts are accumulated in an online portfolio,
which can be addressed by employers.

1.2 Focus and problem owner
An essential note regards the focus of the research. I am personally involved in the OpenER project
of Delft University of Technology (DUT). This project, just like many of its fellow (OER) initiatives
globally, lacks a model for sustainability. Almost all of OpenER projects around the world depend
heavily on funding for setup, and this does not seem to subside after implementation (they still
need significant funds to keep these projects running). Now here is the gap, and at the same time
the research focus. By applying the exact same concept, but focusing on DUT, or maybe the whole
IDEA league, a sustainable model for this specific OpenER can be created. This needs more
explanation: an environment will be designed where students can interact with teachers and each
other. They can also learn from the available resources, which they can alter the way they like, and
improve. Of course, the question: why would I put effort in improving a certain course, in
providing feedback on a student’s question, write an extensive review on a book, initiate a research,
or make any other effort? Well, here economical mechanisms of the concept step in: companies
should be involved, who create financial incentives, employment, and ideas for research. Students,
free in sharing knowledge, wanting to demonstrate and improve their skills, can do this by being
active in one or more a communities. Companies want students to link up with students, have them

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do projects, investigate issues, and more. This provides for them a perfect environment to do that
because it involves an online marketplace for flexible employment. These mentioned issues are all
assumptions that need thorough investigation during the thesis research.

The problem owner is in this case Delft University of Technology (DUT), and the most important
stakeholders, besides the university itself (consisting of faculties, researchers, and teachers) are
students and organizations able to add value in the environment and provide flexible employment.

1.3 Research question
The goal of the research is to come up with a functional design of an environment online
addressing these issues, which may serve as an input for the eventual creation of the portal that can
bring universities to the next generation. Very broadly, the research question can be defined as

What are essential design criteria for a portal where knowledge sharing and
collaboration is stimulated and directed by flexible employment, meeting the
requirements on innovative visions on education, professional development, and
societal trends?

These design criteria concern the economical mechanisms involved, basic technical standards to be
used, and services offered. Besides, they address quality, structure, type of users, management,
employment, process rules, and other significant issues within each sub-domain. The focus in this
research will not be highly technical, because I do not have sufficient experience for that. It means
that, for example, a definite design for the portal containing all technical criteria on the portal’s
infrastructure or a preliminary portal design written in a certain programming language is not part
of the research objective. Still, it might be possible that agreements have been made by people who
have joined the project along the way having this kind of technical knowledge. This requires a
better explanation: I will attempt to involve other people in the research constantly, by asking them
specific and domain-related questions. Depending on their interest and belief in the project, they
may even be willing to be part of it. I will set up a research wiki, where everyone will be able to
add, edit, and comment on texts. If at the end of the project a small group of persons is interested in
making the portal technically possible, it will be a dream come true. This will be discussed in more
detail in chapter 3.

1.4 Research proposal overview
This proposal gives a quite extensive overview of the problems and issues playing a crucial role in
the research. The following chapter separately shows trends on education, economy and
employment, and networking and social software. The chapter continues with an overview of the
portal, how it will appear, what impact it will have on the different domains, describing new roles
and relations. The chapter concludes with a problem demarcation and an introduction to the
research definition. Chapter 3 defines research questions and methods of doing the research, and
the 4th chapter deals with the project plan, describing the planning into more detail, the
deliverables, and the organization. The proposal ends with an afterthought.

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2 Problem exploration
The Internet has moved to a new level, changing economies, education, and lives. Many Internet-
based services, such as social networking sites, weblogs and other communication tools, wikis, and
tag-based folksonomies, sometimes referred to as Web 2.0, allow people to easily share information,
structure it, and collaborate on the Web. Many successful initiatives have changed education,
employment and social relationships, and economic theories. Information is available in didactical
format, disseminated by world-leading universities in the Open Educational Resources (OpenER)
initiative. Also, extremely reliable and high-quality software is created by a number of Open Source
Communities, being worthy opponents for many proprietary software makers. This proposal
concerns the synergy and power of combining and connecting a number of strong forces and trends
in our new networked society into one. The forces and trends regard above all education,
employment, and online (social and professional) networks and communities. The governance
mechanisms and intrinsic aspects of Open Source Communities are investigated in order to
evaluate their usability for the portal.

A portal providing services and tools to disseminate and manage knowledge easily, to connect with
people and resources, and where sharing expertise and knowledge freely is rewarded by peers
(intrinsic and direct) and through employment (extrinsic and indirect), may create a kind of ‘gift
economy’. Translated to the OpenER project of Delft University of Technology (DUT), this
combination of trends and initiatives, may provide not only a closer connection between
professional and educational life, but also is a different approach towards processes and functions
of the university. Besides, it might provide a sustainable model for Open Educational Resources,
giving students (and other people) a reason to improve or alter the educational resources. The
portal’s software, according to its foundations, should preferably be Open Source. The following
sections will emphasize shortly the most important educational, economical, and societal trends
that are relevant for the research on the portal.

2.1 Trends in Education
Education is a state-controlled manufactory of echoes.
— Norman Douglas —

Information, put into a didactical format, of high quality, and for all levels, is made available online
by more and more institutions and individuals. These open educational resources (OER) generally
have Creative Commons licenses or some other open content license, which means that anyone can
use and change them for non-profit purposes. The technological foundation is formed by Free and
Open Source Software (FOSS), making the conversion of data into didactical information not only
easier, but also cheaper, more flexible, and in the hands of the community.

Social software, in the form of weblogs, wikis, and e-portfolios, have caused a shift in thinking
amongst educators, and new learning paradigms, such as Siemens’ connectivism, are finding a
bigger audience. The personal learning environment, connecting and navigating in a network of
information and people, is more important than the active and cognitive learning we do now, at

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school or at work. Living, working and education will merge. In short, the trends in education can
be wrapped up as follows;
1. Educational resources of high quality and different disciplines, in didactical format or not,
are becoming freely available, but viable and sustainable business models to keep
supporting this trend are lacking. Most initiatives are still highly dependent on continuous
2. Software supporting the creation and management of learning objects is freely available,
open source, and of high quality.
3. Social software, in the form of blogging, wikis, podcasts, syndication standards and
aggregation services, tagging services and social network services, is changing the way we
learn significantly, and new learning paradigms, such as connectivism, are much more
applicable for this new learning methods. Still, because of its novelty, the impact of these
technologies is not investigated in great depth yet.

2.2 Trends in Employment
Billions of connected individuals can now actively participate in innovation, wealth creation, and
social development in ways we once only dreamed of. And when these masses of people collaborate
they collectively can advance the arts, culture, science, education, government, and the economy in
surprising but ultimately profitable ways. Companies that engage with these exploding Web-
enabled communities are already discovering the true dividends of collective capability and genius.
—Don Tapscott, Wikinomics (2006) —

After discussing educational issues, it seems easy to make the step to a more professional
environment. However, as mentioned in the previous section, working and learning and living will
merge, in our new, open society. Hence, because this proposal deals with our future society, this
step is difficult to make. Nonetheless, an attempt is done to define current trends in professional
environments and employment, by touching upon current and upcoming matters as communities
of practice and networked learning, but also the impact of Open Source Software (communities).

In a network economy, companies (and other institutions) become more and more horizontally
structured, more and more dynamic, towards flat networked organizations, linking to other firms,
manufacturers and people. Although it requires a significant cultural change, many organizations
start to see the benefits of opening up, of collaborating within social learning systems. In these
systems, a person’s competence is socially defined. Communities of practice can be considered basic
building blocks of social learning systems, forming the containers of the competences of which
these systems are composed. Communities of practice and learning networks, supported by IT, are
set up within and between organizations, and across different disciplines. These kinds of
collaboration are crucial for innovation in the network economy.

Transaction costs of outsourcing have decreased immensely by online marketplaces, opening up a
whole new market and new ways of easy, quick and online employment. These marketplaces have
proved to be successful in providing high quality services, trust, and low transaction costs. Work
will become more part-time, temporary, project-based, subcontracted, flexible, and consulting-
oriented. People will need to be flexible and able to transform knowledge into workable, useful

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information. Self-learning becomes more important, or maybe essential if one tries to be successful.
In this future, companies need a flexible workforce. The solution is that people educate themselves,
by using the Internet and connecting to people and organizations, and distinguish themselves on it
with concluded education, work experience, and other social and work-related information,
creating value out of their specific knowledge or expertise. Because of the Web, this specific and
expertise can be reached more easily, creating a market for it (commonly referred to as ‘the Long

Finally, another very important matter concerns Open Source Software communities. Open Source
Software communities are indispensable in our economy, not only backing most of our servers and
many other electronic devices, but increasingly also as a means of making money. Besides, the
values and ethics of openness, sharing, passion, excellence, and freedom, propagated by the FOSS
movement might form a desirable spirit in our information age, not only from an ethical
perspective, but from an economical as well. Is this ‘Hacker Ethic’ applicable within our connected
society? What lessons can be derived from Open Source Software communities concerning
governance, trust and quality? And how can this be approached from an economic perspective?

2.3 Trends in social networks and the Semantic Web
The web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect — to help
people work together — and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the Web is to support and
improve our web-like existence in the world. We clump into families, associations, and companies.
We develop trust across the miles and distrust around the corner.
— Tim Berners-Lee —

As can be read in the last two sections on educational and professional trends, some of the key
issues in our next decade are: Learning networks, communities of practice, connecting, opening up,
sharing knowledge in a network, collaboration across organizational boundaries, and the e-lance
economy. This section will deal shortly with social networks, and another very important force,
folksonomies. Social networks, when backed with a specific purpose, can increase the viability of
communities. Links and relationships are established on a bottom-up fashion, and people form
social relationships within a network, not only based on shared professional interests, but on
friendship and other social ties. Tag-based folksonomies can be the perfect instrument to structure
objects within the Web, enhancing the possibility to create networks based on not only friendship,
but on shared interest as well.

2.3.1 Description of roles
It is not only important to consider the meaning of such a portal within society and economy, but it
is useful to explicit what it actually it would mean for ‘You’. This is an answer difficult to formulate,
since you can adopt different identities, as explained in the introductory storyline. Besides these
personal roles (student, teacher, mentor), you can be a (large or small) company, a university or
research institute, or maybe a non-profit organization or government. It is essential to explicit the
benefits and disadvantages of joining such an online connected world, for each of these identities.
One can then consider whether this concept should address some of these identities, or all of them.
The text below describes the preliminary thoughts that exist about the reasons and advantages of

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being part of such an online initiative. This concerns then the portal in a developed state. In 6.1.4
“Meaning for you”, a description is made about four different identities that play a role in the

2.4 Research community and deliverables
It is difficult to cut into a beautiful concept, focusing only on one aspect, especially when the rest is
so interesting. Specifically in this case, leaving out one or more sub-domains would mean that the
synergy the different domains will bring in connected state cannot be determined. A comprehensive
approach is chosen, and focused on the OpenER initiative of Delft University of Technology (DUT).
I will, with another person, concentrate on the functional design issues of the portal by describing
clearly the issues that matter. An introduction to this has been done in the previous sections.

Still, I want the general concept to have a chance on realization in some way. By ‘giving it away’ to
people who have more technical knowledge, will increase the chance on realization. Therefore a
specific means of conducting research will be undertaken, one uncommon for thesis researches, that
extends the research and at the same time makes it more graspable. An open research community
will be set up, based on a certain wiki platform, where anyone worldwide can contribute to, in any
way they like. This has the following consequences for the research.
1. It is extended: the research community itself will be an object of research.
2. Better outcomes: more people involved will mean a shared vision, collaborated outcome,
smaller tasks for people involved, and delegation of research to sub-communities.

It should be noted that no research deliverable depends on the functioning or popularity of the
research community. The community, if there is one, is considered a positive byproduct. It just
serves for several purposes that all have to do with the research, such as (possible) deeper focus on
sub-domains, automatic back-up, interlinking and editing possibilities, community design
exploration, and of course, a higher chance on realization. The eventual portal, in its implemented
phase, will not be a product of the thesis, because it is improbable that such comprehensive concept
can be researched and implemented in half a year. The result of the thesis will then be twofold.

 Essential design criteria for a portal where knowledge sharing and collaboration is
stimulated and directed by flexible employment, in particular considering
innovative visions on education, professional development, and societal trends.
 A description of the research-community, about lessons learned, governance
mechanisms implemented, applied incentive and reward structures, technologies
used, and other interesting matter. (byproduct)

In the following section, this research definition will be described in more detail, naming and
describing the different sub-domains.

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3 Research description
We have seen quite an elaborate description of the problem, its implications and relevance for
society and DUT in particular, and a generic definition of the research. This chapter will extend this
definition and divide it into different sub-research questions, to make it clearer and easier to grasp.

As we have seen in the previous chapters, the result of the research is twofold. First, an open
research community will be set up, involving as much enthusiastic people as possible, to research
the described concept. Secondly, the described concept will be researched, thoroughly exploring the
different educational, professional, and social domains. The latter should not depend entirely on
the first, since there is a relatively high chance in not succeeding (in time) of realizing a thriving
research community. It is rather seen as a possible positive byproduct or an instrument that can take
the research to another level. The approach and setup of the community, is not taken lightly though,
and everything will be done before and during the actual research, to make it successful. This
chapter will explain in detail the several research questions, and the method of researching.

3.1 Research questions
Setting up a successful open research community is very hard, because it requires people to put
effort and time in it, without any significant return on investment. Therefore, at least two criteria
should be taken seriously. The first one concerns a good setup of the research site forming the basis
of the research, being attractive and enhancing cooperation. Of course, this design is not rigid, and
should be flexible enough to be changed quickly, when the community demands that. Secondly,
quite a bit of effort should be put in PR or marketing the idea with relevant people, preferably with
a social connection. Below, the most important research questions and domains are stated
concerning the setup of the research community. Subsequently, a section will deal with the research
questions on the eventual portal design, and its different domains, which is the actual thesis

3.1.1 Research community
A research community is a group of people working on a specific subject. Before getting to the
research questions, a short explanation will be done on what function this research community has,
and which roles people in it will fulfill. The two most important objectives of the community will be
(i) creating a group of enthusiastic and knowledgeable individuals with a shared vision, and (ii)
getting substantive research done collaboratively. Before this has been achieved, an attractive
platform should be created where people can easily share their knowledge on the different sub-

Lattemann and Stieglietz (2005) state that intrinsic values are most important in the initial phase of
the life cycle of an Open Source Community. Although we are not dealing here with software,
assumed is that these kinds of values can motivate people with non-technical background to be
involved as well. Some successful projects founded on the same ideas are George Siemens book on
Connectivism (2006) and ‘the first networked book on business’2. Intrinsic values concern having fun,

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being interested or engaged, meeting people, and other more non-monetary rewards. Openness
and an interest or belief-based approach is necessary to turn intrinsic assets into action and results.
Furthermore, the community should be maintainable bottom-up, in a wiki fashion, and not top-
down. This has consequences for the platform on which the community is based. The questions
stated below are essential, regarding the setup, governance of the community, technology used, and
the domain specification.

1. What are essential factors or instruments in creating an online community, in getting
people involved, enthusiastic, and engaged?
2. Who is already involved in comparable initiatives? Who might be interested in joining?
The result must be a set of instruments and a list of criteria that consider the creation and nurturing of
loyalty and trust. It will also produce a list of people, institutes, and companies to be contacted to join.
Another result, linked to this, is a list of preferred characteristics of a person likely to join the community.
Finally a set of possible ways of contacting people and institutions will be made, including the content of this
Some important issues:
 Community life cycle
 Behavior in different web environments
 Existing research communities, companies, institutions
 Instruments that trigger cooperation

3. What are governance mechanisms in maintaining and improving an online research
The result is a set of rules concerning the process and governance within the community that increases trust,
innovation, and the creation of qualitative content without decreasing the overview and coherence of the
whole. Also Spam issues should be addressed by this question.
Some important issues:
 Governance and reward mechanisms in Open Source Communities
 Tag-based folksonomies as a way of structuring and finding content
 Process rules to enable smooth collaboration and resolve conflicts

Crucial may be the choice of the platform which will serve as the basis for the research. Its
functionalities may attract people, or the lack of some may as well scare some. Also the initial setup
and division of domains may be important for people who might be interested in collaboration.
This following part will deal with these two issues separately.

4. What platform is most applicable for the research, and offers the best functionality
needed for an easy and structured collaboration?
An overview and choice for a specific platform will be created, including a list of functionalities offered by it
and probably used. Other advantages and disadvantages will be stated, including possible solutions for the

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Some important issues:
 (Dis)advantages of wikis, offered functionalities, scalability, user-friendliness, etc.
 Social learning communities, such as Elgg Spaces, and Communities of Practice.

Initial domain specification
5. Which domains form the basis of the research?
6. How should these domains be subdivided?
7. How can you monitor and maintain the interconnection between these (sub-)domains?
This part has been handled in part in the exploration part, chapter 2, but needs to be specified more
elaborately. Although the research and the decision-making will happen decentralized, an initial platform,
with a clear division and description of the domains and tasks is necessary to direct the research, and make it
easier for people to join.
 Essential parts of the concept.
 How are these parts interlinked, and how can these linkages be translated in the online environment?

These four factors; the setup and the governance of the research community, the technology or
platform supporting it, and the initial specification of the domains, will concern the first part of the
research. The following section will deal with the specification of its (initial) domains, and reflects
the foundations of the portal. Questions in this part will have to be dealt with after the research
portal is set up, and preferably not just by me.

3.1.2 Portal design and domain specific questions
In this section we have arrived at the core of the research, the ultimate goal of creating a beautiful
combination of some very important initiatives. The questions below reflect the idea of the portal,
as explained in the introduction, and answering these will have to lead to a real design of the portal
in mind. Of course, during the research numerous other questions will come up, but this will give
an overview of the most essential in this phase. The questions will be subdivided into Education,
Economy/Employment, Business Model, Open Source Communities, Web 2.0/Social Software and
extra questions.

Educational questions
8. What is knowledge, and what is learning? Which learning roles can be distinguished?
9. How much Educational Resources are already available online? In what format?
10. Which OER (or other) models are the most applicable for the portal?
11. How does learning look like in the future? What are the basic necessities for (self-
directed) learning?
12. Which Open Source Software and Open Source Communities are significant in for
This part will result in an overview of the different initiatives that concern educational content and software.
A kind of educational framework will be set up to analyze all these issues, and derive criteria from it. It will
also give an indication how qualitative learning can be achieved, which tools are necessary in that respect,
and which organizational aspects play a role. Some important issues;
 Open Educational Resources, initiatives
 Free and Open Source Software for education

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 Networked learning, connectivism, communities of practice.

Economy and employment questions
13. What are ruling and current economical paradigms, and how are these addressed in the
14. What are current trends in the economy concerning collaboration?
15. What are current trends in the economy concerning employing and hiring?
a. In specific: how can ‘the Long Tail’ of expertise and knowledge be addressed?
b. How do online marketplaces work (trust, governance, financial processes)?
16. Which initiatives are exemplary for the employment part of the portal’s concept?
Changing visions on how economies work, and how competitive advantages are created, is gaining in power.
The part on economy and employment will lead to a wider vision on how these trends and issues will have to
be translated in the portal’s concept.

Business model
17. What are possible means of making money within this concept? What kind of
transactions can be distinguished?
18. What are financial incentives for companies, students, and universities to actively involve
in the described environment? What kind of organizations will be interested in
19. How can be made sure that making money will not affect the level of sharing
information negatively, but rather positively (more sharing  higher status  bigger
audience, consisting, amongst others, of possible “employers”)?
People tend to spend a lot of time in things that do not pay, just out of interest. That is why a significant part
of the services offered by people within the portal will be free. Still, some kind of return on investment may be
a stimulus to really get involved, to really create, to really collaborate. This part of the research will focus on
that, on how people’s efforts get paid back, monetarily or not.

Open Source Communities questions
20. What are the essentials, such as governance and trust mechanisms, of successful Open
Source Communities?
21. How does research and development take place within OS Communities?
22. Is the Open Source model applicable for any kind of information/research/product?
Open Source Community, and the Free Software Movement have created enormous societal benefits. The
model, now backed up with sufficient qualitative free online educational material, and the means to
communicate and collaborate, may be translated into other corners of society. This part of the research must
give an answer on the applicability of Open Source Community models for other kinds of communities.

Web 2.0/ Social Software questions
This might need an explanation, since the term Web 2.0 is used in and out of season. Just because
the term is rather undefined, and people use it for any kind of new application or online service, it
is applicable. With respect to the research, it means any kind of (new) online service that enhances
the Web’s functionality, and a person’s access to collaborate in sharing and adding value to the web.
This can be through making an article in a wiki, adding a friend to your personal community,

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posting a blog, uploading a video, doing a collaborative project, labeling tags to a certain object, and
23. Which online initiatives and tools for information sharing, collaboration and learning are
most applicable for the portal’s concept?
24. What roles play social relations in an educational and/or professional environment?
25. How can tag-based folksonomies create a structured website? How does it work?
Web 2.0 is a buzzword, but it creates an association with the idea of being able to be part of the web by
collaboration, sharing ideas, structuring objects, find like-minded people, and more. The research will have to
come up with answers on which tools and services should be integrated in the portal, and how that should
happen. It also has to state the significance for obtaining certain objectives and which interrelations exist
between different services.

Extra questions
There are a few extra questions that have a more generic character, and cannot be placed in one of
the above subjects.
26. What actors and roles can be defined within the concept, for the DUT OpenER project
implementation as well as the global implementation?
27. What possible processes can then be distinguished, what are the most important online
activities of involved actors?
28. What are the essential characteristics of a person or institution to be involved
29. What are the main difficulties for implementation?
It is essential to know the involved stakeholders, what roles they play now and in an implemented phase. It
should be explicated as well how these actors should act and react, in order to be successful. Finally the main
difficulties, technological and social, are identified to be able to come up for solutions for that.

The above sums up the research, but still in broad terms. During the research, numerous questions
will arise, which will be dealt openly on the research website. In the most preferred situation,
people are involved to address these issues. This situation is unsure though, and is not a starting
point of the research. The following section will discuss how the research will take place.

3.2 Research method
This section will deal with the methods and means of researching. A research object itself, and
based on foundational elements of the research, is the online research community. The first part of
this section will deal with this, followed by some other means of researching that will have a part in
the project.

3.2.1 Research wiki
A wiki3 will be set up, forming the basis of the research. This wiki will not only serve the research as
a collaborative tool, but as a research object itself as well. By making a sufficiently large and
knowledgeable group of people enthusiastic about my concept, I might be able to form a
community who will take care of or help with sub-domain research, such as online marketplaces,
social networks, new learning paradigms, OSS, etc.
A collaborative website allowing visitors to easily add, remove, and otherwise edit and change content.

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The most ideal situation will of course be that many people are involved, and active, so that a vast
amount of useful material can be produced, rated, and structured. In the end this will form the
input of the technical implementation of the portal, for which a separate OSS community will be
responsible. Lattemann and Stieglietz (2005) describe the organization of Open Source
Communities, during different life cycle stages; introduction, growth, maturity, and (possibly)
decline. The governance issues they address are useful in setting up the research wiki. Wiley and
Edwards (2002) elaborate on online self-organizing social systems, allowing large numbers of
individuals to self-organize in a highly decentralized manner to solve problems and accomplish
other goals. Some matters handled by them will be addressed in setting up the research wiki.
Finally, a similar project is done, of a larger size, for writing a management book, which is called
“We are smarter than me”4. It is useful to look at the set-up of this project to determine incentive
structures, and governance. In 6.1.8 the life-cycle stages, determined by Lattemann and Stieglietz
(2005), are described and focused on the research.

3.2.2 Other means of researching
Within this online environment people can collaborate and join the research, creating and
enhancing the results of sub-researches, and the project as a whole. Regarding these sub-domains, I
(possibly with some online accomplices) will have different ways to do this. Depending on what is
appropriate or available, the following options are most likely:
 Literature study/Desk research
o During the whole research, but especially in setting up the wiki, deciding upon research
domains and providing the initial input, literature study will play the most significant
part. The literature used in this proposal, and literature that might be used in further
research can be found categorized in chapter 6. The results of the studies in the different
domains will mainly be criteria and theories on how to design the portal.
 Grounded theory
o Theory on Open Source Communities may form the basis of some parts of the research,
when no case studies can be done, or interviews. As a starting point the dissertation of
Ruben Wendel de Joode on Understanding Open Source Communities will be taken.
o Important theorists who address trust and common pool resources are Elinor Ostrom
and Francis Fukuyama.
o Theories on the Network Society, Economy, and Communities of Practice by Manuel
Castells, Yochai Benkler, Don Tapscott, and Etienne Wenger will be used to determine
economical mechanisms, and define possible deficiencies of the concept. Also, the Long
Tail concept will be explicated towards human knowledge and expertise, using different
sources. Traditional theories by Adam Smith might Milton Friedman serve as reference
o Innovative educational theories of people like George Siemens and Stephen Downes
may provide an educational framework for the portal.
 Action research (AR)
o AR can be described as a comparative research on the conditions and effects of various
forms of social action and research leading to social action. This is done according to a

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spiral of steps, each of which is composed of a circle of planning, action, and fact-finding
about the result of the action. This is actually the red line through the investigation. A
problem is encountered, about which is theorized, then data is gathered and processed,
solutions thought over, and facts are being brought about.
 Case study and initiatives
o Concerning the wiki, one specific case study is readily available. I manage a wiki, which
will be used in an innovative MSc course on IT Infrastructures at Delft University of
Technology. I also manage a wiki that is used less intensively, and so does not provide
sufficient data.
o After setup and during the ‘real’ research, case studies on successful initiatives might be
useful in determining the outline of the portal, and in describing the tools, software and
mechanisms used in these projects. Participating persons might undertake this
themselves, or share their experience within a certain company. It is therefore important
that some companies are involved in the project. This will be highlighted in 6.1.8.
 Design
o Designing is an elementary ingredient in the whole process, from setting up the wiki,
determining process and governance rules, forming the community and domains
(redesign), until the final design of the portal.
 Survey, interview
o Surveys or interviews are very important as well in different stages of the research, such
as the start up of the wiki.
o I will approach different Open Source Communities with questionnaires and hold
interviews to get familiar with the ways of working within (research) communities.
o I will also approach several bloggers in different domains, who are highly popular, just
because of their online ‘openness’ and reputation.

A large number of research methods have been assigned. The eventual depth of the research may
be increased by efforts done in the research community. In case the community is somewhat
successful and grows, I will have a group of people available for interviewing, which will improve
the research quality significantly. Still, the starting point is that it all has to be done by me, and extra
depth as a result of efforts by other people will be a fortunate.

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4 Project plan
This chapter deals with the project plan, and the deliverables. In the first section a description is
given of the different stages of the project. The section that follows deals with the organization, and
the chapter ends with a short and clear description of the thesis deliverables.

4.1 Planning, activities and deliverables
Since the progress can be increased through involvement and activities of other people, which
might be non-existent, not much can be said with strong conviction about the actual progress. The
following diagram is a rather modest approximate of the time reserved for the different steps.
Assumed is that all the work will be done by me, and by Manoj Sharma, someone who has agreed
to do this project with me as part of his graduation thesis. The definite division of labor has to be
done, but it will be flexible, because not all tasks can be determined on beforehand. The research
consists of the following steps;

1. Building a research wiki
a. Study literature on Open Source Communities and wikis.
b. Study literature on the different sub-domains.
c. Make up general design criteria on platform and build the website.
d. Do an exploratory research on possible interested people and institutions.
2. Research sub-domains
a. Study literature and trends on the mentioned sub-domains resulting in:
i. Criteria on education, learning networks, and OER
ii. Governance and process mechanisms for communities
iii. Financial and economical mechanisms
iv. Ideas on the importance of social relationships
b. After a stakeholder analysis focused on the DUT OpenER project, hold a survey
amongst the stakeholders (students and people from different organizations, like the
university, companies and research institutes) to determine levels and ways of
c. Define conclusions and the relevant criteria (on processes, services, and mechanisms)
per sub-domain and make up a framework for judging initiatives and technologies,
but also the eventual portal. This framework is a conceptual structure indicating the
goals and requirement of the portal.
d. Research on technology (tools, online services and platforms) that may support the
identified critical processes, services and mechanisms, evaluated with the defined
3. Make design of portal
a. Combine and analyze the results of the sub-domains, and apply to the DUT OpenER
i. Indicate technologies that may be used
ii. Describe processes and transactions, and include rules for governing or
managing the portal

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iii. Give a general cost estimate
b. Describe scenarios, indicate ways of implementation.
c. Describe the concept in a wider context, for possible implementation at any
university, and as a standalone implementation.
4. Describe, publish and present results
a. Include analysis on the research process and community, determined successes and

The research starts in January and ends 29 weeks later, in August 2007. Of course, in case an
enthusiastic community has been created, and the ideas may possibly be implemented, the project
will be continued (unrelated to the thesis). The table below will show the most important steps, the
dates, and deliverables.

Step Start End Action/Deliverable Weeks
Building a research 29-01 05-03 Information on the functioning of OS 1
wiki communities and wikis
Initial exploration and division between sub- 1
Initial website design and building 2

Exploratory research on and contacting of 1
possible interested people and institutions
Deeper research sub- 05-03 18-06 Criteria, mechanisms and processes concerning 5
domains the different sub-domains
Stakeholder analysis and interviews with 4
people and institutions for better specification
of requirements
A research framework based on economical 2
theories, educational paradigms, social issues,
available technology and requirements set by
Describe relevant tools, services and platforms 4
(technology) and processes and governance
mechanisms (process) based on defined
Make preliminary 18-06 06-08 Implementation issues; technology, process, 4
design of portal scenarios, cost estimate
Implementation issues and description in 2
wider context
Lessons learned from research setup, successes 1
and failures

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Step Start End Action/Deliverable Weeks
Describe, publish and 06-08 27-08 Thesis report and presentation 3
present results  Portal design
 Research community/process
Updated website
Table 1 - Deliverables and dates

Below a Gantt chart will give a more elaborate overview of the different activities in time. This chart
is of course a preliminary overview, and it assumes that tasks are finished, which is in fact never the
case. The community will be build continuously, and if a new successful initiative pops up during
the research, it might be taken into account.

ID Task Name Start Finish
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug

1 Building a research wiki 29-Jan-07 05-Mar-07
2 Research sub-domains 05-Mar-07 18-Jun-07
• Criteria, mechanisms and processes
3 concerning the different sub-domains 05-Mar-07 09-Apr-07
4 • Stakeholder analysis and interviews 09-Apr-07 07-May-07
5 • Make research framework 07-May-07 21-May-07
• Description technology and process based on
6 defined framework 21-May-07 18-Jun-07
7 Make preliminary design of portal 18-Jun-07 06-Aug-07
8 Describe and publish results 06-Aug-07 27-Aug-07

Table 2 - Gantt chart

4.1.1 Final thesis deliverables
As mentioned before, the thesis will result in the following a design of a portal where knowledge
sharing and collaboration is stimulated and directed by flexible employment, meeting the
requirements on innovative visions on education, professional development, and societal trends,
focused on the DUT OpenER project. An attempt is made to translate this idea to a broader context,
and a setup for further research is will be made. More specific this can be described as follows:
 Technological description of the total architecture, services, and preferred technologies/
 Roles and relations of users, and process description in different situations.
 Implementation issues, scenarios, difficulties, and costs.
 Critical Factors for Success;
o Users; what factors or characteristics are critical for a user to successfully take part in
the portal. What makes a good user?
o Portal; what criteria have to be met by the portal (concerning technology, services,
and users) in order to be a success. What makes a good portal?
 Knowledge gaps, and future research and development

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Furthermore, a description about the lessons learned on setting up a research community and the
specific environment chosen. All descriptions will be put in the final report, and on the research

4.2 Project organization
This chapter will discuss the researchers and supervisors involved in the project.

4.2.1 Researchers
Author of this proposal, Thieme Hennis, will conduct the research as his graduation from the
Master of Science program Systems Engineering, Policy Analysis and Management. Supervisors
from the TU Delft (section 4.2.2) will make sure the work matches the guidelines for graduation.
Other researchers can join the discussed research community, doing a part of the research,
improving texts, bringing in innovation and visions. The aspiration exists that the majority of the
research will be done by joined parties and individuals.
I will do the research with at least one other student, whose name is Manoj Sharma. He will, just
like me, conduct this research as part of his graduation thesis.

4.2.2 Supervisors from TU Delft
The concept to be researched is quite comprehensive. Therefore several sections can be addressed,
and even more people. I have approached a number of people who might be willing to assist me
during the research. They are described below, with their specific added value. This list is far from
complete, and will not be at any moment of the research, because the research will be open to any
person in the world, at any time of the project. Also, these people, obviously, will not be the only
ones involved. The objective is to form a group of passionate individuals (“believers”) to join the
project, giving advice, creating or adjusting texts, leading discussions.

Education and technology
Wim Veen (supervisor) is head of EduTec – Education expert
Arnold Mühren – researcher at EduTec
Piet van der Zanden – ICT Advisor for ICT in Education, PhD research Education & Technology
Jaco Appelman – researcher at Systems Engineering, director Group Decision Room
Willem van Valkenburg – Software Development Project Management

Economy, Employment and Open Source Communities
Dap Hartman – Expert on entrepreneurial issues, SEPAM
Harry Bouwman – E-Business expert, SEPAM
Patrick van der Duin – Futurologist, SEPAM
Ruben Wendel-de Joode – Researcher O&M, and expert on Open Source communities, SEPAM

Web 2.0 and IT related issues
Marijn Janssen – Researcher IT, SEPAM
Jolien Ubacht – Researcher IT, SEPAM
Igor Nikolic – Open source expert, SEPAM
Derrick Sambo – Software Development Project Management (TWiki)

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4.2.3 Advisory group
A group of people will be consulted regularly to have their vision and knowledge included in the
project. These people come from different industries and address the different parts of the concept.
So far, only a few have been contacted, but after the setup of the wiki, a larger number of people
will be approached, because they will be able to easily add value to the research.

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5 Afterthought
If you have taken the time to read this proposal, you will come to the conclusion that it is quite
something. I am fully aware of the difficulties I am facing, initiating such a big project. The chances
on forming a successful and working community are slim, and so I run the risk of being unable to
go into great depth on some issues. Still, I think I have made a quite adequate estimate of the
deliverables and time necessary. Because the idea is extremely motivating for me, I will do
everything to get to a successful ending, and also to make the community alive. This proposal was
rewritten after some helpful conversations with Piet van der Zanden, Wim Veen, George Siemens,
and Igor Nikolic. It draws a general outline of the initial idea, and focuses only slightly on the
OpenER project of Delft University of Technology. I have done this because I want to stress the
bottom line, the original concept, before applying it to a certain case. It should be clear that the
eventual design results from the original concept, and is applied for this specific case. Still, without
this focus it would be impossible to investigate it all within the set time, because it sets boundaries
for investigation.

A general picture has been sketched in this proposal, but the actual implementation might differ
from the proposed concept. This is something that will become apparent during the research, like
so many other things, that may alter my view on the concept along the way. What exactly will have
been created in August this year, or the number of people involved, cannot be known. What can be
assured though is that it will be an exciting and instructive trip, leaving Plato’s cave, trying to
discern the forces in our new networked society.

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6 Literature categories
The literature is obtained from the following categories; (i) Education, (ii) Employment, Economy
and Open Source Communities, and (iii) Social networks and the Semantic Web. The list not only
includes the literature used in this proposal, but other interesting sources that will be used during
the research are added as well. A large part of the information retrieved so far has been the result of
reading a number of weblogs, which in itself provide a wealth of information on current issues
concerning education, technologies, sociology and economy, but link to even more useful sources. A
number of important weblogs are described.

6.1.1 Education
• Allen, b. & D. Lewis. “The impact of membership of a virtual learning community on individual
learning careers and professional identity”, Journal of Workplace Learning, Volume 18, Number 6,
2006, pp. 367-383(17)
• Attwell, G. “What is the significance of Open Source Software for the education and training
community?”, Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS
2005), Genoa, Italy, 2005, pp. 353-358.
• Boyd, S., “Are you ready for Social Software?”, Darwin Magazine, May 2003.
• Brown, T. “Beyond Constructivism: Exploring future Learning paradigms”, Education Today, Issue 2,
• Baumgartner, P. “The Zen Art of Teaching - Communication and Interactions in eEducation”,
Proceedings of the International Workshop ICL2004, Villach / Austria 29 Sept.–1 Oct. 2004,
Villach, Kassel University Press
• Dholakia, UM, King WJ & R Baraniuk. “What Makes an Open Education Program Sustainable? The
Case of Connexions”, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, May 2006:
• Downes, S., “E-learning 2.0”, eLearn Magazine, ACM, 2005a:
• Downes, S., “Are the Basics of Instructional Design Changing?” July 1, 2005b:
• Downes, S. “Models for Sustainable Open Educational Resources”, National Research Council
Canada, January 29, 2006a - Grey Paper
• Downes, S. (2006). “Learning networks and connective knowledge”, 2006b:
• Fumero, A. “EDUWEB 2.0 - iCamp & N-gen Educational Web”, WEBIST (2), pp. 299-304, INSTICC
Press, 2006.
• Griffiths, D & X. Amatriain. “Free Software in Education: Is it a Viable Alternative?”, IMAC
Conference, Duisburg, September, 2004.
• Hylén, J. “Open Educational Resources: Opportunities and Challenges”, OECD-CERI, 2005:
• Johnston, R. “The University of the Future: Boyer Revisited”, Higher Education, 36, pp. 253–272,

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• Laat, M. de, Lally, V., Simons, R.P.J. and E. Wenger. “Questing for coherence: A synthesis of
empirical findings in networked learning research in higher education”, submitted for publication,
• Laat, M. de & V. Lally. “Complexity, theory and praxis: Researching collaborative learning and tutoring
processes in a networked learning community”, Instructional Science 31(1-2): 7–39, 2003.
• Lee, M. 2001, “Chaotic learning: The Learning Style of the Net Generation?” Paper presented to New
Millennium, New Horizons: Information Services in Schools 2000 Online Conference
Proceedings, Wagga Wagga, eds L. Hay, K. Hanson & J. K. Henri, J., Centre for Information
Studies, Charles Sturt University.
• Schlager, M.S., Fusco, J., & P. Schank. ”Conceptual Cornerstones for an On-line Community of
Education Professionals”, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Special Issue: Wired
Classrooms: The Internet in K-12, December 1998.
• Siemens, G., “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age”, eLearn Magazine, ACM, 2005:
• Veen, W. “Veen visions 2020”, Online Educa Conference, Berlin, 2005:
• Wiley, DA & EK Edwards. “Online Self-Organizing Social Systems: The Decentralized Future of
Online Learning”, Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 2002 - v3 n1 p33-46

6.1.2 Employment, Economy and Open Source Communities
• Anderson, C. “The long tail – How endless choice is creating unlimited demand”, London: Random
House Business Books, 2006.
• Benkler, Y. “The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom”, New
Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.
• Benkler, Y. “Coase’s Penguin.or Linux and the Nature of the Firm”, 112 Yale Law Journal, Winter
• Boaz, D. (ed.) “The Libertarian Reader”, New York: Free Press, 1998.
• Burlingham, B. “Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big”, New York:
Portfolio, 2005.
• Castells, M. “The Rise of the Network Society: The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture: Vol
1”, Cambridge, MA, Oxford UK: Blackwell, 1996.
• Castells, M. “The Power of Identity: The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture: Vol 2”,
Cambridge, MA, Oxford UK: Blackwell, 1997.
• Castells, M. “End of Millennium: The Information Age - Economy, Society and Culture: Vol 3”,
Cambridge, MA, Oxford UK: Blackwell, 1998.
• Castells M. “Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business and Society”, New York: Oxford
Univ. Press, 2001.
• Choudhury, V., KS Hartzel and BR Konsynski, “Uses and Consequences of Electronic Markets: An
Empirical Investigation in the Aircraft Parts Industry," MIS Quarterly, (1998), 471-507.
• Florzak, D. “Are You Ready for the E-lance Economy?” Technical COMMUNICATION • Volume
49, Number 2, May 2002
• Friedman, M. “Capitalism and Freedom”, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962.
• Friedman, T.L. “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century”, New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 2005.

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• Fuggetta, A. “Open source software – an evaluation”, Journal of Systems and Software 66 (2003-1),
pp. 77–90, 2003.
• Harhoff, D., J. Henkel & E. von Hippel “Profiting from voluntary information spillovers: How users
benefit from freely revealing their innovations”, Working paper, MIT Sloan School of Management,
Cambridge, MA, 2000.
• Hess, C. & E. Ostrom “Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice”,
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007.
• Hippel, E. von “Innovation by user communities: learning from open-source software”, Sloan
Management Review 42 (4), 82–86, 2001.
• Hippel, E. von & G. von Krogh “Open source software and the private-collective innovation model:
issues for organization science”, Organization Science 14 (2), 209–233, 2003.
• Himanen, P. “The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age”, New York: Random House,
• Lattemann, C. & S. Stieglitz. “A Framework for Governance on Open Source Communities”, in:
Proceedings of the 38th HICSS Conference, Hawaii, 2005.
• Lerner, J & J Tirole. “The Simple Economics of Open Source”, The National Bureau of Economic
Research, Inc. 2000:
• Radkevitch, UL, Heck, E. van & O. Koppius. “Leveraging Offshore IT Outsourcing by SMEs
through Online Marketplaces”, ERIM Report Series Research in Management, Erasmus Research
Institute of Management (ERIM), August 2006.
• Schiltz, M, Verschraegen, G. & S. Magnolo "Open Access to Knowledge in World Society?",
Soziale Systeme 11 (2005), Heft 2, S. 346-369 ©, Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius, 2005
• Smith, A. (1776) “The Wealth of Nations”, Prometheus Books UK; New Ed edition, 1991.
• Snir, EM and LM Hitt, "Costly bidding in online markets for IT services", Management Science, 49,
11 (2003).
• Soekijad, M, Huis in’t Veld, MAA & B. Enserink. “Learning and Knowledge Processes in Inter-
organizational Communities of Practice”, Knowledge and Process Management, Volume 11-1 pp. 3-
12, 2004.
• Stecklow, S. “The $100 Laptop Moves Closer to Reality”, Wallstreet Journal,, November
• Stephenson, K. “What Knowledge Tears Apart, Networks Make Whole”, Internal Communication,
no. 36, 1998:
• Surowiecki, J. “The Wisdom of Crowds”, Anchor, 2005
• Tapscott, D. & D. Ticoll “The Naked Corporation: How the Age of Transparency will Revolutionize
Business”, Free Press: New York, NY, 2003.
• Tapscott, D & AD Williams. “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes”, Penguin USA, 2006.
• D. Wheeler, “Why Open Source Software/Free Software (OSS/ FS)? Look at the Numbers!”, revised
November, 2005:
• Wenger, E. “Communities of Practice”, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
• Wenger, E. “Communities of practice and social learning systems”, Organization 7(2):225–246, 2000.
• Wendel de Joode, R. “Understanding Open Source Communities – An organizational perspective”,
dissertation TU Delft, Enschede: Febodruk BV, 2005

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• Wendel de Joode, R. van & M. de Bruijne – “The Organization of Open Source Communities:
Towards a Framework to Analyze the Relationship between Openness and Reliability”, in: Proceedings
of the 39th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences - Volume 06, 2006

6.1.3 Social networks and the Semantic Web
• Alexander, B. “Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning?” Educause review, 41
(2):33–44, March - April 2006:
• Aquino, J. “The Blog is the social network”, 2005:
• Cayzer, S. “Semantic blogging and decentralized knowledge management”, Communications of the
ACM, 47(12), December 2004:
• Downes, S. “Semantic networks and social networks”, The Learning Organization, Vol. 12 No. 5,
pp. 411-417, 2005c.
• Golder, SA & BA Huberman. “The Structure of Collaborative Tagging Systems”, Information
Dynamics Lab, HP Labs []
• Kloos, M. “Comm.unities.of.prac.tice 2.0 – How blogs, wikis, and social bookmarking offer facilities that
support learning in practice in communities of practice”, Master Thesis, Universiteit van
Amsterdam, August 2006.
• Lambe, P. “Organizing Knowledge: Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organization Effectiveness”, Oxford:
Chandos Publishing Oxford Ltd, 2006.
• Parker, A. Prusak, L. & S. Borgatti. “Knowing what we know: Supporting knowledge creation and
sharing in social networks”, Organizational Dynamics 3(2) 100–120, 2001.
• Stephenson, K. “A Quantum Theory of Trust”, January 2005, issue 8, Fieldnotes: A Newsletter of
the Shambhala Institute (FT Prentice Hall)

6.1.4 Websites and weblogs
Graham Atwell:
Will Richardson:
George Siemens:
Stephen Downes:
Development Gateway:
Tony Karrer:
Elliot Masie:
Christopher Sessums:
Alan Levine:
Dion Hinchcliffe:
Andrew McAfee:
Rod Boothby:

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Appendix A - Meaning for you
6.1.5 Individual person: receiver
An individual receiver is someone interested in something, looking for information and people.
This person has several reasons to go to the portal, sign up, and be active. First of all, he (or she)
wants to learn. This happens through connecting with people and other resources. People will be
willing to help this person through teaching, mentoring, and directing, explained in the following
text. Secondly, everyone needs an identity, and this can be found in a community of interest, where
other ‘believers’ are connected.

6.1.6 Individual person: giver
Why would anyone invest time in someone or something, without receiving something back from
this person? The concept holds a certain mechanism that rewards people to do this. Teaching,
improving texts, helping people, mentoring, writing software, developing ideas are all activities
done by persons within a certain environment. Usually a community will form this environment,
existing of other persons, companies, and any institution one can think of. This environment
assesses the activities done by a person, which can enforce the status or online portfolio of this
person (if these activities are valuable). This status is crucial for the professional (and of course
social) career of a person, determining the chance on work, and the height of possible salary. Giving
knowledge away can be seen as showing off, trying to get in the picture of people who might
employ you, or help you in another way (teaching, mentoring, etc.). Not being active yourself or
free riding will result in no active help from community members.

A special occasion is when someone starts a new community. This can happen around a certain
interest (gardening), or around a certain idea or concept. Of course, this takes effort to do, and a lot
of time, but it can be rewarding, psychologically as well as economically. Psychologically; creating
something valuable gives great satisfaction, people expressing their gratitude by actively
participating in something you created. Economically; if the community is successful and valuable
in a societal sense, the person(s) having set up the community will be popular and rewarded by that
in terms of (temporary) job offerings, guest speaking at conferences, but also by economic
opportunities to exploit the community, like happens in Second Life.

6.1.7 Institution: university or higher education (HE)
Universities, such as Delft University of Technology, cannot sustain its position if they hold on to
the model of industrial disseminators of knowledge. Universities need to change, but they can
profit from an initiative as this one, too. First, they will need to rethink the objectives of a university,
where does someone need a university for? Since knowledge resides partly in the network
(consisting of machines and people), the classroom dissemination of knowledge does not seem
sustainable. Because the concept provides for an alternative assessment model (see previous text),
evaluation should neither be an activity of the university. Rather, it should focus on other aspects,
such as the availability of space and utilities, and educational capabilities of teaching and
researching. Universities ought to be flexible, connecting and listening to successful communities.
They have to perform a social and scientific role. They can host conferences, workshops and

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seminars, and provide a location for researching activities. Teaching, in the form of flexible courses,
still will be a core activity, but organized by people not necessarily connected to the university. The
university can then provide with advice, expertise, locations, utilities, etc. This is a giant leap from
how universities are designed right now, but such changes happen gradually.

6.1.8 Institution: Company
Our new economy, as mentioned before, consists of small, networked and flexible organizations,
where outsourcing plays an essential role. Companies may be willing to actively participate, and
even share knowledge with competitors, because there are some great advantages as well. If they
have good connections with people from relevant communities, they can direct research, which is
cheaper than doing it online. Companies are able to quickly employ people on a temporary basis,
without transaction costs, and get rid of them just as easily. They may try to employ a small number
of smart and influential people, who can direct research within their communities, in order to get
products and services developed without drawing on too many resources.

Speed of connecting new ideas and developments, rapid employment of knowledgeable people,
and quick application and marketing of new ideas will create the competitive edge. Several writers,
such as Castells (2001), Tapscott (2006), and Benkler (2006) have argued that this will not be possible
in closed environments. On the other hand, not much is known about how a company should
behave in the described open environment in order to be successful, so to say that the described
portal will offer a solution for every company would be untrue. There are numerous different kinds
of companies, producing and providing services on different scales. The step for companies might
even be larger than the one to be taken by universities or other higher education institutions. It is
impossible to say what implications these issues have on companies in general, but an attempt
should be made to distinguish the roles played by different kinds of companies. The table below
shows different identities, its relative actions within the portal, and possible advantages that can be
gained from being involved. This list is far from complete, and needs better specification and
elaboration during the research. Negative issues should be dealt with as well.

You Actions Advantages
Individual: Receiver • Communicate Free knowledge and services
• Buy, contract, consult Get identity
Individual: Giver • Share knowledge High status:
• Help people • Employment
• Improve community • Psychological gratification
Economic opportunities
Institution: Social and scientific; Financial and organizational;
University/HE • Location and facilities • Economic opportunities
• Scientific capabilities • Great flexibility
Institution: Company • Employ people • Motivated and ‘proven’ employees
• Share resources • Rapid employment
• Invest in development • Free knowledge and development
• Direct R&D
Table 3 - Roles in portal

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Four different identities of ‘You’ are discussed here, but they are rather general identities. Many
specifications of these identities can be thought of, and just as much roles, making a perfect solution
for everyone hardly thinkable. The solution should be a solid foundation, a fertile ground on which
different types of growth flourish through building and modifying their personal ecologies.

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Appendix B - Lifecycle stages OSS Community
 Define and demarcate sub-domains. Include literature, initiatives, and examples to be
 Make a preliminary process design for the research portal. Write down objectives per research
 Form community. Find research partners, people who are willing to spend some time in the
concept, specify them to sub-domains and encourage them to actively participate. This step is
continuous throughout the whole research. Research partners should be found mainly at
universities, and possibly at companies.
 Set up research wiki, keep the site alive! Some important notes to consider;
o Project success is highly dependent on the quality of the initial idea, which will attract
more people to participate and helps to reach a critical mass of developers.
o Motives are of intrinsic nature in this stage.

 If the number of members in the community increases, there is a growing need for (traditional)
organizational structures such as hierarchies and communication rules. Governance
instruments should ensure that available organizational resources are managed efficiently and
collaboration within and between domains smoothly. Transaction costs and information costs
should be minimized by these tools [Lattemann and Stieglietz, 2005].
 The goal is to actively research the concept, constantly improve structure of wiki, incentive
structures, and process and learn about the separate domains, their combination into a
preliminary design, and the functioning of the portal itself as a collaborative research space.
 Make (collaboratively) clear objectives on software and platform being used, and start an OSS
community for the development of the software. Try to involve people from different
communities, such as Drupal, Moodle, Elgg, and TWiki. Include relative initiatives, institutions
or people, like Google, universities, (online freelance marketplace), LinkedIn, and
o Make a collaborative decision on things to develop, and things to reuse, mix or connect.
This will be difficult, because users may also represent companies they work for, or
software they are familiar with, propagate.
o The setup of this new community has to address the same issues as the research
community (introduction, growth, maturity, decline).
 Make list of conclusions and requirements on the different sub-domains. Also make a
preliminary design of the portal, with interactions between the domains, technological issues,
and governance structures.

Maturity and the prevention of decline
 If successful, and the community is large enough, more governance mechanisms are needed
because of the increased specialization. The project is divided into numerous modules, which
have to be coordinated efficiently.

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Appendix C - Initiatives and cases
For every domain at least one successful initiative will be treated, and discussed along different
criteria, because the different initiatives treat different subjects. In general the following will be
 Relevance for portal.
 Available literature.
 Crucial aspects should be part of the portal. Those might be governance structures, instruments
for trust, technological issues, quality management, services offered etc.
 Disadvantages or difficulties for implementation. Issues that still need to be addressed, missing
 Level of cooperation.

Which initiatives will be part of the research depends to a certain extent on the parties themselves.
If a certain party, representing a successful initiative, is interested in joining the community, and
improve the concept, it will have a bigger influence in the final design, and may be a structural part
of it. If a domain is not represented by a party, probably the most relevant (or successful) case will
be taken, given that it can be analyzed.

Possible case studies
A short overview of possible case studies is described below. Every domain has a number of cases
that can serve as research subject. It depends on the research community which cases the research
will be centered on, and it might be that several cases are treated. As said earlier, the depth of
analysis done on the cases depends on the information available, and on the cooperation of
stakeholders. Most of the cases will be shortly analyzed on their workings, the mechanisms, and
services, which may be translated into the final concept.
 SPM9618 – (R)evolution in IT Infrastructures; as mentioned before, I manage a wiki used for a
MSc. course on the faculty of SEPAM. Interesting issues regarding education and collaboration
can be derived by monitoring closely the activities.
 TWiki; A possible platform for the research may be TWiki. By contacting important people of
this platform, and explaining them the research and their possible gains of being involved, they
might be helpful in determining important issues in software development, organizational and
governance issues.
Again, this part will be divided into the main research areas (i) Education, (ii) Economy,
Employment and Open Source Communities, and (iii) Web 2.0 & Social Software. Important to note
is that a number of possible case studies is given, but that the final decision on it depends on the
interest of the approached parties.
 Moodle; Moodle is the leading Open Source platform on education, providing free CMS
software for hundreds of institutions worldwide, and with a very large user and development

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 Sakai; similar to Moodle, but with another development model, based on membership.
 Other CMS and CLMS, such as Dokeos, Drupal, eduCommons.
 Connexions; this OER-initiative considers an alternative model for developing online
educational resources, a model much more applicable to the described concept.
 MERLOT; although this initiative is less “open” than Connexions, it represents an interesting
model for reviewing new material, and maintaining quality.
 Other OER-initiatives, such as OpenLearn (Open University UK), and Wikipedia.
Economy, Employment and Open Source Communities
,, and others are interesting online marketplaces for
employment. The problem with these websites is that the software or platform used mainly
proprietary is. On the other hand, the design of it might not be that hard, because of the rather
small amount of services offered, and the straightforward procedures.
 Different Open Source Communities, such as the ones mentioned in education. These will
provide interesting information about the way of working, the importance of different forms of
reward, and governance.
Web 2.0 & Social Software
; the biggest online social community in the Netherlands. I know a developer and co-
founder of the community, and may approach him for information.
; a more professional community, where people are connected to others with the
goal of gaining (better) employment.
; a program using proprietary software to connect people based on their (wanted)
; another very interesting social community initiative, connecting people with the
same interests and goals.
; a social learning community, connecting people with similar learning goals and
 Other social, professional or learning communities, such as Orkut (Google), Friendster, Flickr,
MySpace may serve as interesting input in determining issues such as tagging and folksonomies
and the importance of different services offered by them.

By letting people and institutions cooperate, let parties representing a certain case study themselves
be part of the research. Interviewing (preferably online) might be important as well, especially
when important actors do no have enough time to cooperate, but can be of added value.