Early Discussions and Brainstorming

After we decided to write a paper in the public, we have started with internal discussions on the positioning of the paper. The most important (and probably the most difficult) task is to position the work in a scientific context and explain its scientific contribution. We have to ask ourselves: what is it good for? Which scientific or application problem is solved by our work?

In our case, we have a good prototype which allows us to create personal workflows on mobile devices which are represented as Tweetflows. This is certainly nice, but what is the bigger picture here? What can we do that others cannot? After all, there are already lightweight solutions for workflows based on Restful Services like Bite.
My colleague Daniel and I spent the better part of an hour trying to answer this question by thinking of potential use cases for personal mobile workflows and scientific challenges. One of our ideas was to look at activities that are executed during the organization of festivals. In particular, we focused on problems that can occur spontaneously. For example there might be sudden problems with the infrastructure like electricity or water, or even bands might cancel their gig in the last minute. Problems like these require immediate attention and must be solved on location and are difficult to predict. Consequently, ad-hoc-created workflows with people and resources that are available have to be created. For example, in order to overcome electricity problems, additional power outlets (e.g., diesel generators, power cables) need to be obtained. This requires the coordination of people that have knowledge where to look and how to get the things required to the location.

Such a scenario bears some interesting challenges. First of all, we need to reach as many people as possible to maximize the chances to find the needed equipment. Thus, we must address a crowd of people. Then, the people in the crowd that know where to find the required equipment must be able to coordinate their actions with other members of the crowd. For example, if some persons are able to provide for transportation with trucks, other people that know where diesel generators can be found need to know this. Therefore, we require lightweight communication and coordination mechanisms in such a crowd. Furthermore, given the spontaneous character of the workflow, it must be possible to create ad hoc workflows on mobile devices quickly, without a complex toolset.
We believe that such a scenario has the ingredients required to illustrate our contribution. We will continue to discuss this in the next few days. Our goal is to create an easy-to-understand problem statement and to motivate our work properly.

your ikangai science team

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