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Project 4W- WWWW (What We Want to KnoW)#

In this project participants learn how to find reliable information on subjects as is necessary for any scientific undertaking, and how to collect them in an optimal searchable fashion using metadata and such. Eventually, a pool of about 300 essays is to emerge under http://austria-forum.org/af/Sparkling_Science.

School students participating in this project propose any topic they are motivated to write a high quality essay. The emphasis is on “high quality”. Thus, just using search engines and a “copy-and-paste” approach is exactly what is not permitted; rather, a variety of different sources have to be consulted. To make sure that the process can be appreciated and can be used to learn from it, each topic has an associated list of sources that have been consulted, as basis for writing the essay, but also as potential source for others. This list can be added to by others, thus allowing and indeed suggesting multi-person collaboration. The actual essay is only written after the list of sources is sufficiently large (typically 3 to 5 references). The essay, when made available to the public, is made more valuable by comments from the community, a list of related essays and links, and meta-data to make searching more effective. Also, the relationship between essays is shown graphically.

The software for the described task and the interfaces are developed as joint effort of students, teachers and scientists. In particular, the semi-automatic generation of links, of meta-data, of the list of related essays and the visualization described above and their interfaces are developed collaboratively, both in personal meetings and using modern social communication systems like Facebook and such. Although essays are created collaboratively to some extent, one person who is also the one finally responsible for the result is indeed known by name. Essays can of course contain suitable multi media when applicable and make use of innovative linking of web-pages to pages in e-books, and conversely.

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