OpenSocial Gadget Contest

Adding new features to Profiles and/or VIVO

About OpenSocial Gadgets


The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at UCSF is sponsoring a competition for up to 2 new feature ideas that will accelerate research via research networking software products (e.g., Profiles or VIVO or other OpenSocial-enabled research networking tool).

Got a great idea? We’ll build it for free — and give you an iPad for suggesting it.

Up to 2 winners submitting the best technically viable ideas will receive a new iPad (3rd generation)1. In addition,

  • UCSF will build the feature, and donate it to the research community as free open source code, so you can install it at your institution (compatible with all versions of VIVO and Profiles that support OpenSocial)
  • Your app will be a featured download in the app library at Open Research Networking Gadgets (
  • Winners will have attribution in the software, and be recognized at applicable national conferences such as the annual CTSA Informatics meeting

1 The value of the iPad is reportable income to the recipient.

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Social networking sites such as Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn are web platforms. They allow independent applications to run within their sites to enhance the user experience, often integrating with external services to provide dynamic content as varied as reading lists from Amazon, blog posts from WordPress, to live game play from Zynga. The beauty of these external services is that they can be shared across any software platform that chooses to deploy them.

At UCSF, we recognized the value in making our research networking tool into a web platform. Accordingly, we have contributed an extension to the open-source Profiles research networking software tool, and we are now using our UCSF Profiles installation as a platform (based on the industry standard OpenSocial), whereby we have written "apps" or "gadgets" to extend the functionality. One such gadget displays presentations, posters and other content that is uploaded to, within an individual's UCSF Profile page itself. This gadget allows researchers to share conference presentations, lectures etc. easily within their UCSF research profile.

The software code for these gadgets is open source; gadgets can and have been shared with other institutions. The end goal is to create an open library of shareable gadgets for research networking, where any institution (academic, for profit etc.) can contribute to or use the apps in this library. At this point, we think research networking software tools could make a giant leap forward by harnessing this simple technological implementation and marrying it with many institutions’ knowledge of what features and functions will enable more efficiency and collaboration in the research process. To date, one other institution using Profiles has adopted the standard and another is on track to do so in a matter of months. Wake Forest has successfully deployed Profiles as an OpenSocial enabled platform and has written 2 of their own gadgets. Baylor is now on track to do the same.

Finally, below are the platforms that are OpenSocial enabled:

  • VIVO version 1.5
  • Profiles version 1.0.2 (not yet released, but coming very soon). Contact the UCSF team for a pre-release copy.

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Anyone over the age of 18 and residing in the US with a US mailing address is eligible to submit ideas.

New features must be focused on extending the functionality of research networking software, with a primary focus to enable research efficiency. For example:

  • Help people collaborate or discover expertise of others
  • Help people share their activities with each other
  • Help people access information about their colleagues or topics of interest

The technology we will use to implement the features within UCSF Profiles is based on the OpenSocial standard. As such, the best ideas will be relatively simple but impactful. As an example, UCSF Profiles can now show presentations and slide decks from within an individual’s profile. See Mini Kahlon’s featured presentations.

Social design best practices include applications that:

  • Engage quickly
  • Enable self expression
  • Make it dynamic
  • Expose others' activity
  • Browse the network
  • Drive communication
  • Build communities
  • Solve real world tasks

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Judging Criteria

Ideas will first be evaluated for technical feasibility (as an OpenSocial extension to research networking software) by the Virtual Home team at CTSI at UCSF.

Final winning entries will be selected based on the value and impact for enabling research efficiency and/or collaboration. The panel of judges will include faculty and staff from UCSF.

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How to Apply

  1. Submit a maximum, 1-page proposal that addresses:
    1. Description of feature or function
    2. Details on its value and impact re: enabling research collaboration and/or efficiency
  2. All submissions must be input online via this "Open Proposal" Forum. By using this "open" process, we will:
    1. allow others to view, comment, and suggest improvements to your ideas on this public web site
    2. seed new ideas
    3. enable you to revise and improve your ideas prior to the submission deadline on October 22, 2012
    4. create a public repository of great ideas

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Timeline and Open Proposal Process

  • Aug 21 – Oct 8: Open Submission Phase
    • Develop proposal offline and submit and/or
    • Propose idea online
    • Browse proposals and offer comments to improve a proposal
    • Subscribe to email updates to view new proposals and comments
  • Oct 9 – Oct 22: Open Improvement Phase
    • Make improvements based on feedback
    • Browse proposals and offer comments to improve a proposal
  • Oct 22: Final Proposal Deadline
    • No edits to proposals allowed after this date
  • Oct 23 – Nov 4: Review Phase
    • Proposals will be reviewed
  • Nov 5: Winners Announced
  • Nov 5 - Jun 30, 2013: Implementation Phase
    • Features will be developed and launched. Winners will be contacted as needed, for subject matter expertise and consulting.
    • 2 winning gadgets will be released to production on the Open Research Networking Gadgets (ORNG) library

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The Fine Print

We will release winning applications as free open source software. As a condition of logging on and entering the contest, (1) you certify that you are at least 18 years of age and reside in the United States, (2) you certify you are the creator/owner of the submitted idea and are legally free to make the disclosure of the submission and to convey the intellectual property rights being offered to the University, (3) you grant UCSF a non-exclusive, perpetual, fully paid-up, royalty-free license to post your idea on a publicly accessible website, to build upon the idea, to build the idea with ideas from others, and to donate the resultant software to the research community as free open-source code, and (4) you agree to cooperate with UC in securing the maximum possible rights in your submission in the event you do not own all rights to your submission.

There is no minimum number of entries necessary for this contest. More than one idea can be submitted per person. Up to 2 winning ideas will be selected from all submitted ideas. There are no postage and handling fees associated with winning, but the value of the iPad is reportable income to the recipient.

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