Plaza Status

Joanne Graham and Scott Kehoe

September 24, 2003



Since the last status report in May of 2003, a committee of employees was formed to act as an advisory board to the Plaza group. The group consists of Steve Chiswell, Ethan Davis, Joanne Graham, Jo Hansen, Scott Kehoe, Jeff McWhirter, Raj Pandja, Mohan Ramamurthy, and Tom Yoksas. The group is formed not only to provide insight to how the current site could be better, but how and what future functionality would be appropriate. The group thus far, has provided a significant number of use cases for consideration as to how the current and future site could better serve its audience. The group will participate in future design reviews and provide technical advice as we begin to launch more functionality on the site. It is our hope that this group is cross-cutting enough that it can and will have decision making power on issues that affect how staff interact with our site in providing new materials and functionality. Because much of what this site needs to accomplish is consistent with the support goals mentioned in Endeavor #2 of our NSF2008 proposal, the committee membership has heavy representation from support.


Though we have not made good use of our external plaza committee to-date, Community needs remains a primary focus. A discussion of how this could be better accomplished and in what forum would be excellent.


During the 2003 Fall workshops, we will perform usability testing on the site with workshop attendees. We hope that this will provide us with much information as to how we can improve and enhance our web presence.


In terms of development efforts, our main emphasis has been on getting the site as bug-free as possible and addressing a backlog of requests for changes or fixes from staff. Once all of these issues are addressed, our focus will turn to how we can make our site a community hub that allows for modernized support mechanisms, web-services, personalization, and collaborative tools as set out in our NSF2008 proposal.


It was our intent to hire a second Plaza staff member in FY2004 and FY2005 to help move the site ahead faster, especially in the areas of:


  1. Deploying interactive and web-based training modules.
  2. Enhance user documentation, especially in areas of interest for a broadened community.
  3. Investigate and deploy new tools for enhanced collaboration and personalization.


Because of constrained budget targets from NSF, we will not be hiring this new staff member in year 1. Therefore, no new effort will be put into items 1 and 2, and item 3 will be substantially slowed. We will, however, focus our attention on improved traditional support services as outlined in the NSF2008.


Scott Kehoe will give a paper and poster presentation at the 2004 AMS in Seattle.