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Published onMay 20, 2019

How can we assure badging will be adopted?

We can’t. That’s why we’re proposing building an initial, extremely basic version of badging and seeding it with a first group of users to test how it adds value and how we can encourage adoption while laying the groundwork for the platform to adapt and expand as needed. Even if this particular badging concept fails, we’ll have built technology infrastructure that publishers and partners can adopt for future experiments in sharing scholarly communication data.

How does Underlay avoid lock-in?

  1. The Underlay is a way to link existing databases together without needing to agree on shared schemas or technologies. Thus, publishers and data providers don’t need to adopt new technologies to use it — they just need to layer Underlay tech on top of their existing stack.

  2. The Underlay allows anyone on the network to duplicate data they care about locally in their own database.

How can we assure Underlay technology will actually be used by other groups?

  1. The Underlay is designed to link databases together with minimal investment in technical integration and data structure modification. If a publisher doesn’t have the time or resources to adopt the Underlay protocol, we can build a tool that scrapes badge/review feeds from their existing platform and deposits it into the network on their behalf.

  2. The MIT Knowledge Futures Group is building the Underlay network to ultimately be a distributed, publicly accessible database of all scholarly knowledge. Although ambitious, we believe that the combination of MIT’s reputation and support and the desire of large institutions to be “first movers” and not miss out on new opportunities will drive adoption beyond MIT.

  3. We are actively recruiting partners to become future nodes in the network, and receiving significant interest from groups focused on patent and citation data.

Will MIT own it?

No, from both functional and legal perspectives. Functionally, the network and data stored on it will be replicated by institutions across the world so that it isn’t controlled by anyone, but is part of the global digital commons. Anyone will be able to build their own node on the network to replicate the data — though groups can choose not to replicate nodes, and will have the ability to store private data alongside public data. Legally, the codebase will be released as open-source software. Any patents, trademarks, and intellectual property will be owned by a non-profit Knowledge Futures entity that will be managed by the institutions who maintain the core nodes on the network.

eLife Meeting Summary

Last week, we met with Mark, Giuliano, and Emmy from eLife to share ideas and plans. They were very excited about the concept of the Underlay and asked how they could potentially adopt it for the editorial commentary project they’re working on. We proposed collaborating to find a way to host their editorial experiments on an Underlay-driven platform. The next steps are for them to review the Badge Experiment Proposal and for us to regroup in a few weeks to discuss options. We were also invited to write a blog post about the Underlay for the eLife Innovations blog, and are planning to take them up on the offer.


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