Gearing up IOL efforts for Web 2.0

ManMohan Sodhi While the new website in front of you is still work-in-progress, it is worthwhile thinking about where we want it to go. It may not be apparent from the surface that there are Web 2.0 technologies and motivations hidden deep inside the screen. How we want to shape it and drive it is up to all of us as users – that is the opportunity and the responsibility that comes with Web 2.0.

One way forward is to think of a core-and-content idea. The idea is to have sub-sites (or hosted sites) in the new IOL system that you, dear user, could provide and manage content without requiring long-winded approval processes: users provide, manage and use content. But INFORMS is a large business organization as well so we would need a strong core that does depends on a dedicated staff responsible for the missions and business processes within INFORMS as an organization.

The core includes maintaining the technology, ensuring the brand site-wide with a uniform look-and-feel for all sub-sites for instance by providing (and approving) templates. It also means providing a thin layer of content emerging from formal meetings and announcements with links to appropriate content sub-sites (see below) for detailed content managed by volunteers. INFORMS marketing initiatives also go here. While there would be the usual Board and Committee-level oversight, full-time staff would maintain (and approve) content on the core site with links to sub-sites for additional content.

The most tangible way to provide content would be lots of sub-sites (or in some cases, hosted sites as I will explain) focused on content that is created and managed by you or other volunteers. Some of the information on these sites may be duplicated from the core site (and/or have appropriate links) but most content would be quite detailed and specific to the sub-site. Sites that could be hosted would include Science of Better and the Roundtable for instance, if the people running those websites want to leverage the IOL technology without giving up their separate identity or URLs. Sub-sites could pertain to INFORMS communities, student pages (with student volunteers managing the site), and, over time, informal communities with INFORMS approval. The volunteers on these sites would have to have a formal administrative role for approving content but they would be restricted to the templates provided by INFORMS staff in the core.

Content sub-sites could also take the shape of a working paper series – we already have the technology and it would be good to attract many people to the site. Such a series would not be based on attempting to keep a high rejection rate, on the contrary, it would allow any paper after checking for relevance to operations research and possibly plagiarism (we have technology for that).

So welcome to the new site and, remember, most of the work is still ahead and on your shoulders!

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