Archive for January, 2009
Download PDF: Reflections on the NSDL
This essay is a reflection on my involvement in the NSDL, which I was lucky enough to be involved with from the beginning. My interests are in using online resources to improve chemical education at both the college and high school level, and this work has led to our current NSDL project, the ChemCollective (www.chemcollective.org).
The NSDL has provided an inspiring home for me as a developer. The structure, including especially in-person meetings and workshops, has created a community of like-minded individuals who have educated me and helped guide my work for the past eight years. In this sense, I believe the NSDL project is an unusually successful NSF research program. Working together on a grand challenge, that of creating a national library, provides a structure that encourages engagement among the participants that is far more substantive than the interactions arising in programs built only around a competitive funding model. These interactions have strongly benefited me as a developer. But this is not the only way to perceive the NSDL. At the NSDL kickoff meeting, an attendee who had spent time in the software industry commented “this is an Internet startup company without a CEO or CIO”. This comment highlights the nature of the NSDL as a coalition of projects. The benefits of the NSDL arise primarily from the value added to those projects, and for me, the added benefit has stemmed primarily from interactions with the NSDL community.