James Burke's Knowledge Web Project Chronology

July 2001 -- Patrick McKercher of the University of California at Santa Cruz began corresponding with James Burke about a community model for developing his Knowledge Web (K-Web) project. Mr. Burke had been working on content for the project for approximately two years and was exploring ways to continue research and begin developing a web interface for an ambitious user interface.

August 2001 - Patrick was joined by Jim Zaun, a senior engineer and data architect who was interested in working with the complex user interface and underlying data architecture; Becky Barber, a corporate librarian with ties to San Jose State University's Graduate School of Library & Information Science, who arranged for graduate students to receive graduate units for research support of the project and started recruiting and supervising students volunteers; Bonnie DeVarco, who works on special technology projects with UCSC and Bruce Damer of digitalspace, both of whom have extensive experience in building virtual reality communities.

September 2001 - With a "to-do" list of almost 400 names to be researched, the Content Team started recruiting a small team of non-student volunteers. Debra Sanderson brought not only her expertise as a film and television researcher, but also experience in production, copyright negotiation and clearance, licensing and contracts. Professionals joining the team from the library community this month included Dr. Linda Main, Professor in San Jose State's Graduate School of Library & Information Science, John Owen, the Manager of the AMD library, Anne Callery and Monika Landenhamer, both recently of Yahoo!, The Library and Information Science community is also well represented by both Dr. William Fisher of SJSU's Graduate School of Library & Information Science and Cindy Hill, Manager of SunLibrary.

October 2001 - Mr. Burke met the first group of two dozen volunteers on October 6th; the meeting was hosted by Cindy Hill at Sun's Menlo Park campus. Mr. Burke gave us an overview of the project and its history; Patrick and Jim Zaun reported on status of local teams and XML development. As the Technology Team assessed the graphical user interface envisioned by Mr. Burke and began creating a database to support it, a Human Factors subteam was formed to create user scenarios to help to define and prioritize the requirements. Jim Zaun designed and began building a password-protected team resources site at: http://www.zaun.com/kweb.

November 2001 -- Patrick and Becky began the paperwork to create a California 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation to administer funds raised to cover costs not able to be covered in an all-volunteer organization.

December 2001 - Mr. Burke's second visit brought new opportunities and the creation of new team. On the morning of the 13th, a small group of K-Web volunteers was treated to a demonstration of Silicon Graphics' cutting edge Reality Center: high resolution solar images, earth images, as well as models of the galaxy, the international space station and archeological sites; arrangements for this meeting were made by Bonnie and Tony DeVarco. SGI's Afshad Mistri followed this with a presentation and discussion about partnership opportunities with science museums for development of the K-Web.

The afternoon was spent at IBM's Almaden R&D campus in a meeting hosted by Jim Spohrer. After a very wide-ranging and fruitful brainstorming session, we saw a stunning demo of Geofusion, Paul Hansen's geospatial planetary browser, which along with the earlier SGI program gave the team a good sense of what visualization software will be generally available 3-5 years in the future. One of many new ideas to emerge from this session was to explore the potential of using the K-Web's design with its emphasis on connectivity of data as a model for a corporate competitive intelligence tool that could allow corporate users to map key milestones in their industry and be able to anticipate innovation and trends.

A general meeting was held on the 14th and was hosted by Becky Barber at Dialog in Mountain View. A number of the volunteers joining us at this meeting have background in educational technology, and so, after introductions and updates, the breakout groups for this meeting were Content, Technology and EdTech. The Technology team was fortunate to have two of its members, Gary Kelley and Gary Hallmark both of Oracle in Portland, come down to attend the meeting in person. They discussed logistics for hosting a prototype and looked at options for longterm implementation. The Content Team discussed options for accepting international submissions, and refined the strategy for tracking connections. The new EdTech group discussed models and methods for creating community, how to begin to integrate the Knowledge Web into the schools, and augmented a list of user profiles as noted above.

January 2002 - Gary Hallmark sent out a first iteration of a working prototype for the database; built in Java with XML tagged data, it included 1400 biographies and an approximation of one of the more unusual features, that of connecting "node" X to "node" Y in a variable number of steps. Jim Zaun put the prototype and a great deal of relevant software and documentation on a CD-ROM for the team and soon thereafter created an amazing 3D visualization that interfaced with the prototype. The Technology Team's Cathy Gellis launched the first draft of a public information site at: http://www.k-web.org.

Patrick, Bonnie and several members of the EdTech Team started formalizing documentation in preparation for grantwriting. To help support this effort, Bonnie prduced a webpage with information on a broad range of current and emerging visualization options ( http://people.ucsc.edu/%7Epmmckerc/bdvizeg.htm ). The Technology Team has continued their work in evaluating open source and production tools for appropriateness and adaptability for the K-Web. Mr. Burke met with Ted Nelson and was shown a demo of his newest product, gZigZag; the demo will be repeated for the Technology Team this spring.

February 2002 - The EdTech Team created a prioritized list of functions and began work on the final iteration of user scenarios. Orval Foraker and Judy Kane began gathering best practices on educational use of the WWW which will inform our highest level scenario. Clark Quinn created an excellent draft of a teacher's guide. Ted Kahn began investigating use of the KW in informal learning spaces such as museums. The Graphical User Interface subteam released their first draft wireframes and flow diagrams for the GUI. They will also take the user scenarios that are being finalized by the Edtech group and "translate" them into user requirements. Scott Robinson and Cathy Gellis have been joined by Donji Cullenbine of Netcape.

The Content Team started taking volunteers from a public website and new members have been joining weekly. This group of volunteers includes College, University & Seminary Professors, Librarians and Students; professionals from a wide variety of disciplines and a wonderful group of lifelong learners who share a common interest in Mr. Burke's work and are glad to have the opportunity to contribute to the project. The geographic range of this Team now stretches from Hawaii to Poland.

March 2002 -- Gary Hallmark announced a second iteration of the prototype that is more efficient and with added functionality. The Content Team reached the halfway point in assigning biographies for research (192 selected by researchers with 193 left to be selected). Documentation continues to be written and refined for grantwriting purposes. A conference call with Mr. Burke, Patrick, Bonnie and Ted with Hy Fields of the NSF brought up questions that helped clarify what was needed for this documentation. Bonnie invited local videographers and producers Alan Lundell and Sun McNamee to the team; work was started on a demo video to be used for fundraising. Teachers and summer program administrators were identified for contact. We hope to conduct focus groups with both teachers and students in the Bay Area this summer.

May 2002 - a general team meeting mid-late May with html, database, 3D and video demos. Preparations for user testing of prototype and summer teacher workshops in July. Wired article produces more than a hundred new volunteers from all over the world.