Group Design Scenerio


Here's another scenerio.


Group Design Scenerio
In this scenerio, a group of people agree to work on
a design together using the web and annotations.
While most of the people in this design group have
direct access to the public web, some members can only
access the web through their corporate firewall complex.
Again, while most group members have the ability to
publish documents to the public web, a small number of
group members work for unenlightened corporations that
do not provide a means for employees to easily publish
material to the public web.
This group has collectively decided that all documents
and annotation sets produced by the group will be made
publicly available to the web.  However, the ability to
add annotations to the group's annotation set is
restricted to the members of the design group.
There is a machine that serves as the home for the design
group.  For this scenerio, the machine is called Home.Org.
The design group has a chair person who is responsible for
administering Home.Org.  Home.Org is directly connected to
the public web and serves up the design group's home page
and annotation sets.  Home.Org also has some accounts for
those group members who can not directly publish to the
public web from inside their corporation.  Home.Org also
provides a home for the design group's E-mail lists.  While
there is a hypermail archive of the main E-mail list, most
members of the design group prefer to use annotation sets
instead.  A full text search and retrieval engine is
provided by Home.Org.  People who wish to join the design
group, send their requests to the design group chair person.
When a person subscribes to the design group, the chair
person asks for an E-mail address and the location where
the new person will publish all material they contribute
to the design.  For example, one person may choose to
publish their contributions at http://anyu.edu/~user/design
and another may choose to use
The design group requires that all documents within
a design directory (and its sub-directories) be
cross-linked.  This requires that:
    there is a top level index document from which all
    other documents in the design directory are reachable
    via a sequence of hypertext links.
    for every document with the design directory, there
    is a fairly direct chain of hypertext links that
    reach back to the top level document
Since annotation sets will frequently jump into the middle
of someone's design directory, is important that there
be a way of getting additional context by following a
chain of links back to the owner's top-level index document.
A fairly common organization for a design directory is:
	The top level index document.
	A series of top-level issues published to the
	design group.  Top-level issues get annotated
	both other design group members.
	Annotations attached to other peoples issues
	documents.  Annotations frequently get annotated
	as well.
	Source code for prototype implementations.
	Source is frequently as well.
Some people will choose to break the issues directory
into finer grain sub-directories (e.g. scenerios, issues,
and proposals.)
When someone outside of the design group wants to browse
the design groups work, they go to the design group's
home page at http://Home.Org/design/.  The design group
chair person has the home page organized so that people
can fairly rapidly get to most of the salient design
issues.  When the design group's home page is visited
there are instructions on how to add the design group's
annotation set to the browser.  Some browsers will be
quite automatic about picking up annotation sets and
others will require more user involvement.
As people visit top level issues, they will come
across embedded annotations from the design group's
annotation set.  Those annotations will be followed
to get to follow on comments and so on.
The design group uses some standardized annotation types
to help guide people through the design process.  These
annotation types include:
	A typographical error is indicated.
	A spelling error is indicated
	A grammatical error is indicated.
	A question is introduced.
	An issue is confusing and the source of the
	confusion is described.
	An issue is confusing and some additional
	clarification material is presented.
	Some material in agreement is presented.
	Some material in disagreement is presented.
	A summary of material is presented.
	Some related material is introduced.
	Some humorous material in provided.
	The material presented is out-of-date and needs
	to be fixed.
	Material that does not fit any of the catagories
	above is presented.
As a member of the design group is reading through one
of the current hot issues, they decide that they wish to
contribute some material via an annotation.  The annotation
is inserted into the member's annotation directory and
the URL for the annotation is sent off to the annotation
server at Home.Org.  The annotation server adds the
annotation to the annotation set.  Some browsers will
provide plenty of aid for authoring annotations and others
will require that the user resort to their favorite plain
text editor.  Again, some browser will make it extremely
easy to submit an annotation to the annotation server at
Home.Org, and others will be more primitive.  No matter
what, enough authentication occurs to ensure that only
members of the design group actually succeed in adding
annotations to the design group's annotation set.
Whenever someone wishs to introduce a new issue, the
issue is inserted into their issues sub-directory and
an annotation is attached to the issues heading of the
design group home page.
An annotation set that continually requires that people
cruise around all of the various nooks and crannies of
the distributed design process will not be very successful.
Some form of notification is going to be an absolute must.
The annotation server maintains a page that lists all
annotations in chronological order.  That way someone
can come into the chronological order page and start from
where they last left off.  Some people will request that
the annotation server mail them annotation lists on regular
basis (e.g. four times a day, once a day, once a week,
once a month, etc.)
In addition to the annotation lists, the annotation server
also runs a Web spider that determine when documents have
changed and by how much.  This Web spider is run once a
day.  Another page is generated by the annotation server
that lists document changes.  The Web spider will also
delete any annotations from the annotation set that are
of type Typo, Spelling, or Grammar, if the offending text
is no longer present (i.e. the mistake was corrected.)
In general, the Web spider keeps copies of all documents
provided by members of the design group.  The Web spider
is pretty smart in that it looks to see whether a document
is kept under RCS or SCCS.  Whenever it discovers that
the document kept under a version control system, the
Web spider just keeps the version number of the document,
rather than its entire contents.
Every once in a while, some group member decides to
change jobs.  This mandates moving all of their
material from one machine to another.  Sometimes
there is a hiatus between jobs and the material
must be moved to Home.Org.  The web spider is used
to find broken links and request that authors fix
the broken links.  (There is an interesting discussion
to be had here as to whether or not the annotation
set can simply fix the broken links.)
At some point in time, the design group decides to
fragment into five smaller design sub-groups to work on
more specific design areas.  Some group members, like
the chair person, are interested in all five design
sub-groups and other members are only interested in one.
Five separate annotation sub-sets are created to support
each design sub-task.  Members subscribe to the annotation
sub-sets as appropriate to their interest level.  For
example, one member may subscribe to one at a four times
a day level, another at a three times a week level,
and another at the every other week level.
That is about it for this design group scenerio.
The advantages that using design group annotation sets
have over E-mail based based distributed design are:
    Issues do not get forgotten and rediscovered;
    there is a long term memory of all of the issues.
    The annotation types introduce some structure
    into the discussion.