This electronic colloquium is an experimental activity. By mid-1996 we intend to evaluate the outcome and decide whether to make it permanent, or to discontinue it. The following are the policies, activities, and services that we will try out in the course of the experiment, and which we hope to make permanent.
The goal of the Colloquium is to provide European researchers in the area of spatial and temporal reasoning with a dynamic environment for exchange of information about current scientific developments in their field. By using the electronic media of Internet and WWW, it tries to provide all participating researchers, even those in small and scattered research groups, with the kind of interaction about recent results that already takes place in large "centers of excellence"-type institutes.
The Internet/WWW medium will be used for both persistent and transient information. Transient information is information which changes over time so that it always records the current situation, but without any intention to record the history. Two types of transient information will be maintained: a calendarium and a bibliographic review structure (BRS). The calendarium contains directories of researchers, research groups, and sources of information in the area, as well as a calendar of conferences and workshops. It also contains cross-references to other similar sources of information elsewhere.
The bibliographic review structure (BRS) is basically a key to the literature in the present research area. It is organized around a database of books, journal articles, conference and workshop articles, and technical reports in the area of spatial and temporal reasoning. The database contents are presented as a browsable structure, where articles are presented both by author, by place of appearance (conference, etc), by research topic (such as "ramification"), and chronologically. Web links make it easy to navigate between these views. For example, looking at the list of papers at a particular conference, one can click the author name of a particular paper to see what other papers by the same author are in the database, and one can click a topic code to see the list of other papers on the same topic.
Besides the conventional bibliographic information and, when possible, an electronic link to the full text, the BRS will also give room for reviews of individual publications or of whole groups of such. Comments from the author (errata, additions, rebuttals to critique) are welcome, as well as full-blown debates. Reviews, comments, and letters in this debate will be included in the technical note repository (described below).Persistent information is the one which the Colloquium commits to retain permanently accessible, normally by keeping it on-line forever, but possibly by replacing it by a reference to a paper-published version (such as a journal or conference proceedings) which is its new archive position. Three stores for persistent information are intended so far:
In all cases, the Colloquium makes a commitment to guarantee the integrity of these documents over time. Integrity means both the persistence - the document shall not be allowed to vanish - and integrity against change. Neither the author nor any other person shall be able to change the document after its stated date of appearance. Integrity in this sense is essential for making the document citable.
The technical reports library contains electronic copies of technical reports which are not in the repository. Unlike the repository, the library does not make any commitment to maintain the paper permanently. The practical difference is that repository entries are citable, using e.g. the following sample format:
From the technical point of view, there is no major difference between how the repository and the library are stored in the computer system. They also have the same requirement of integrity against change. The term archive will be used for repository and library together.
The copyright issues in the case of electronic publication or republication are very complicated at present, and it is not clear that everything you find somewhere on the Internet has a right to be there. In ECSTER we will make every effort to be precise and correct about this, so that persistence can be guaranteed. In the interest of both the authors and the readers, we do not want to get into a situation where an article has to be removed because of a copyright violation.
Since this is a European colloquium, it will include publications written in both English, French, and German language. English will be used for all "administrative" pages, such as the present one. Entries in the technical report repository will be required to be accompanied by an abstract in English.
More specific policies for the various branches of the colloquium are specified under corresponding headings in the ECSTER home page.
From a technical point of view, the bibliographic review structure is normally accessed in HTML form via web browsers, but the contents of those pages have in many cases been generated automatically from an underlying BRS database. This strategy has been chosen in order to obtain an HTML representation that is very rich in cross-links, while at the same time making it convenient to maintain the structure. We are planning to make the database representation directly available at the earliest possible time.
Besides the types of information which have now been mentioned, the colloquium will also include, in due time, the on-going activity to build a Hyperguide for Logics of Actions and Change (HG-LAC), which has been initiated by the Esprit working group "Logics and Change". The idea with the Hyperguide is to build something which is analogous to a conventional "Handbook" in the scientific sense of the word, but in hypertext form and based on Internet and WWW media.
We expect that the existence of this Colloquium will allow geographically distributed researchers to enjoy many of the advantages of large research centers. The electronic colloquium should be taken as a complement to ordinary face-to-face meetings, and not as a replacement for them. The SIG for Spatial and Temporal Information proposes to also organize (or co-sponsor) workshops which interact with the Colloquium in the following ways. Each workshop is used to discuss articles which have previously been presented within the electronic colloquium; workshop participants are supposed to have read them before coming. The workshop itself will focus on discussing those papers rather than hearing presentations of them. (When video communication becomes available to colloquium participants we propose to experiment with electronic meetings as a complement as well).
Conversely, it is also intended that the discussion at such a workshop shall be reflected in further contributions to the electronic information in the Colloquium. This will increase the lasting benefits that are derived from the relatively high costs of travelling to the scientific meetings. To summarize, Colloquium and workshops should support each other mutually.
SIG-STER is part of Compulog, which is an Esprit project and therefore an activity of the European Union. Compulog is formed by a large number of nodes each of which is usually a university, a university department, or a research institute. Therefore, research groups within Compulog nodes which do active research in the area of spatial and temporal reasoning are the direct members of SIG-STER and of the ECSTER colloquium.
Direct members will therefore be in the Union's member countries and in associated countries which participate in the Union's research programs. If there is an interest in participation from researchers and research groups elsewhere, then we will try to work out the arrangements as quickly as possible.
If you wish to participate and you are affiliated with a Compulog member node, please click here in order to send an E-mail message for registering your research group as a member. If you are working elsewhere and want to participate or be associated, please use the same E-mail address and state how you would like to see your relationship to the Colloquium.