July 15th, 2010 | Published in Google OpenSocial
We’d like to share a little bit about why we adopted the OpenSocial platform for our new online service, called Workbench (http://network.nature.com/workbench), but first we should probably fill in some details about who we are.
Founded in 1869 as a vehicle for reporting the grand results of scientific work and discovery, Nature (www.nature.com) is one of the most distinguished scientific publishers in the world. Nature exists to be a scientific communications company, and back in 1869 the best way to achieve that goal was to publish a periodical. Nowadays, if you were to start with that mission you would most likely start on the Internet.
Nature Network (http://network.nature.com/) is our domain-specific network for researchers. Our intention with Nature Network is to not only provide a platform where scientists can create an online presence and interact with each other, but also to bring interesting information and functionality to scientists. There are a few advantages to having a domain-specific network over a generic network. First of all, it allows the emergence of community norms, i.e. tone of voice, that are fit for that specific community. Also, by creating and hosting our own network, we have the chance to connect the research literature with the social activity around that literature. We have started, for example, to link our academic papers to blog posts that mention those papers, and we have many plans going forward to extend these kinds of connections.
While working on upgrading our site over the last year, we decided to build in an API and so became interested in OpenSocial. Obviously, since Nature Network promotes social connections, OpenSocial was a contender straight away. We wanted to be able to host interesting functionality on our site and the gadget specification is perfect for that.
Our redevelopment process happened in Java, and again that was a great fit with the Shindig project. Being able to see an active developer community around the standard and around the reference implementation was also a major factor in our decision. Our developers found it easy to integrate Shindig with the code that we were creating and they did this quickly as an early prototype. Seeing our wireframes turn into a live demo was a great moment - it was at the point that we took the decision to go with OpenSocial.
We are planning to open our gadget platform and API to external developers so that all the exciting activity that is happening within Nature Network finds its way to anyone who is interested.
To summarise, we wanted to be able to create an API and offer gadgets to our users. OpenSocial provided a great answer to both of those needs. As we continue to evolve and add capability to the Workbench, we are planning to open our gadget platform and API to external developers so that we can build an ecosystem based on open standards around all the exciting activity that is happening within Nature Network. The ongoing development and great documentation that exists have given us confidence in the project and we are excited by the direction that OpenSocial is heading.
Please feel free to drop us a note with your questions. Contact us via e-mail, network at nature.com.
Nature Network Team
Nature Network is the professional networking website for scientists around the world. It’s an online meeting place where you and your colleagues can gather, share and discuss ideas, and keep in touch. It’s also where you can consult the community for answers to scientific questions or offer your expertise to help others. Additionally, using the Workbench, you can collate your online scientific tools together in a customizable workspace, allowing you to group your most important tools and information in the way that works best for you.
Posted on behalf of the Nature Network Team by Mark Weitzel, Secretary, OpenSocial Foundation