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Procedural Framework for the Interoperability of Decentralized Knowledge Management Processes Based on a Diversity of Partners, Commitments and Competences (Part #1)

Preliminary draft of a proposal for submission in response to the EU Fifth Framework Telework call

The research challenge
Project Description
Background: Our Understanding of Telework
Current UIA situation in relation to telework opportunities
Project outcomes

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The Union of International Associations (UIA) is a Brussels-based research institute, competent in the handling, management and dissemination of information relating to international associative activity. The UIA has a strong history of research and development in informatics. It had one of the first Novell LANs in Belgium, received a UK HMSO Bicentennary Award for the most innovative application of computers to electronic publishing (1986), and has more recently attained a leading edge position in the development and application of electronic communications for the benefit of the international community. In its role as an SME, it employs around 20 people and functions both a publishing house and a research institute. It is specifically interested in developing new modes of teleuser/teleworker activity that expand collaborative opportunities to geographically distant and/or groups excluded for various reasons from coherent work settings.

Other partners (half a para each that build on above)

This proposal builds on the extensive expertise of the UIA in database maintenance and design, both in intranet and web variants (static and dynamic). It further seeks to develop its experience in teleworking between three distant locations (London, Leuven and Adelaide) and Brussels. This experience has been gained within several multi-partner project frameworks, notably the DG-XIII INFO2000 project Information Context for Biodiversity Conservation (Jan 1997 -- Dec 1999) and commercial publishing projects with K.G. Saur Verlag, Munich. Work described in this proposal would also be supportive of a new project, accepted by the infoDev programme of the World Bank for funding in the near future. That focuses on innovative approaches for interfacing electronic communication modalities in a developing country context, where connectivity, ability to pay and infrastructure are constraining.

For the UIA as project coordinator, the prime concern of this telework proposal is to develop the template provided by it's existing software facilities and editorial practices as a means of interacting with a growing network of distant editorial and user partners of different categories and competencies. The motivation is to seek practical ways of involving editorial and research partners, notably in economically-challenged and rural areas, developing countries and other regions (such as Eastern Europe) as part of a self-organizing knowledge-base network. This form of telework goes beyond the simpler models of packaged, prescribed and self-contained tasks, with bilateral communication between a remote "tele-agent" and a central "tele-agency". It seeks to develop a distributed editorial team, which participates in the management and evolution of knowledge bases, and is fully capable of interacting with others in the network (outside of central switching) and works flexibly and responsively within a framework of guidelines (rather than fixed rules).

The other project partners are confronted by a related challenge of working electronically with distant collaborators in challenging socio-economic circumstances. In the case of REC, the challenges are those characteristic of the transitional economies of Eastern Europe. In the case of European network Barataria, the preoccupation is with the rural development of telework in response to the the circumstances of the economically marginalized regions of Europe (initially in Highland Scotland for later extension to network partners in Ireland, Holland and Spain). For both, there are also challenges of geographic scope across several countries, with transboundary issues concerning telecommunications infrastructure and language.

dary issues concerning telecommunications infrastructure and language.

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