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Designing and Using NSF's FastLane: Lessons from History for Cyberinfrastructure

Monday, February 07, 2011

Presenter: Thomas J. Misa
Affiliation: University of Minnesota, Charles Babbage Institute
Website: http://www.cbi.umn.edu/about/misa.html
Time: 11:15 - 12:15
Location: Keller Hall 3-125
Host: John Riedl

Abstract: The Charles Babbage Institute is conducting a historical assessment of NSF's FastLane system. This paper presents early data from our documentary research, interviews with FastLane's designers, and extensive interviews with FastLane users at university campuses across the country as well as "legacy users" at NSF itself. We are also collecting data with a website we created for users to do self-paced interviews . Our research aims to document FastLane as a pioneering instance of e-government as well as to explore two lines of analysis. First, what lessons can be learned from FastLane's design, implementation, and on-going use that might guide present efforts in cyberinfrastructure? Second, what have been FastLane's implications and consequences--for NSF itself, for research universities, and for the national research enterprise? We direct special attention to two populations of concern identified by NSF: the historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), and the "EPSCoR" states that receive less than median NSF funding. There is an important public policy question whether FastLane has served to impede or to promote NSF-funded activity at these institutions.

Bio: Thomas Misa directs the University of Minnesota's Charles Babbage Institute, a leading international center for the history of information technology. He is a faculty member in the ECE department, holder of the ERA Land-Grant Chair in the History of Technology, and teaches in the Program for History of Science and Technology. His latest book is Gender Codes: Why Women are Leaving Computing (IEEE Computer Society Press, 2010).

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