For those who are interested, here is my NSF CAREER proposal that I submitted on July 21, 2013 to the Human-Centered Computing (HCC) program in the Directorate for Computers & Information Science & Engineering (CISE).
Briefly, my proposal is to advance our understanding of how professional software developers collaborate on their actual work in their actual place of work. This is a continuation of my Collaboration in the Wild research project.
The core of my NSF CAREER proposal is to create a repository of videos of professional software developers doing their work “in the wild”, and to facilitate a community of researchers and practitioners that analyze this data and contribute their analysis metadata back into the repository. Of course, given the nature of this type of data, the participants in that community would need to agree to abide by appropriate agreements with respect to confidentiality and proprietary information of the information in the repository.
Why am I publishing this proposal, especially given that doing so appears to be unusual? Partly it is for the reasons described in Titus Brown’s blog entry on posting his grant proposals. Partly it follows from how some authors (see here and here) have used a process of sharing early and often to create a community of conversation that dramatically improves their ideas. The same process has led to open source communities, such as WIKISPEED. It also follows my general inclination toward radical transparency.
Even more importantly for me, publishing my proposal seems congruent with the core concepts of my proposal: creating a community around the analysis and evolution of data in a shared repository. If I am lucky, publishing my proposal will help uncover additional collaborations, and generate conversations that help me improve my ideas. Yes, I might be scooped. However, I am less worried about that given that:
- I have already published the initial plan for collecting this type of data, as well as some preliminary results.
- It is difficult to get agreements with organizations to collect and share this type of highly contextual, rich video data.
- As of July 22, 2013, six organizations have committed to working with me to collect such data from their organizations.
However, this is an experiment and I will see what happens.
(January 2014 update. This proposal was not funded, however I am continuing to work toward the goals outlined in the proposal.)