New Open Source Project Supports Contextual Collaboration


After about a month of preparation I’m thrilled to announce a new open source project to build support for contextual collaboration. The project is called rVooz (a contraction on rendezvous) can be found at

From the rVooz web site:

rVooz is a software suite designed to make contextual connections, or “contextions,” between people who may or may not have a priori knowledge of each other. It is designed to bring people together even if they don’t have each other in their buddy lists or know each other’s phone numbers.

The rVooz suite consists of software clients that post context, a Salient Server which finds context matches, and Voozers that coordinate the connections by distributing presence or starting sessions…

To understand what this means, imagine looking at a web page and seeing all of the other people looking at that web page added to your IM client buddy list in real time (and removed when you leave). Or, in a military context, imagine that you are reviewing an airspace, a target, an area of interest, or some other context and all of the other operators working the same context (in whatever system they are using) are dynamically added to your buddy list. This is just the beginning, in addition to “contextual dynamic presence”, rVooz may also be leveraged to dynamically establish VoIP sessions without any of the parties knowing each other’s phone numbers or SIP addresses in advance.

The project is interesting as it may be the first free and open source project funded from day one by the Department of Defense (or it might not be, hard to tell!). It is also interesting because it has been selected to be as appealing to a non-DoD audience as it is to the DoD. If this turns out to be true (I am sure hoping so) it will open up a really interesting chapter of collaboration between two seemingly completely different domains.

The project is brand new but has the beginnings of the “Salient” back-end service in place and has started a “voozer” that works with the OpenFire Jabber/XMPP server. We’re hoping that as we continue to build out Salient the community will help us develop voozers for a variety of collaboration environments.

If it sounds interesting stop by and check it out.

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DISA Announces $2.5B Fund for Netcentric Transactions


In an effort to create a market dynamic to encourage NetCentricity within the Department of Defense Command and Control community, the Defense Information Systems Agency announced today that the $2.5B Net Enabled Command and Control program has been reprogrammed as the Defense Information Mobility Encouragement (DIME) fund.

The DISA press release describes DIME as a new approach to achieving NetCentricity; one where market incentives similar to those found in a commercial market will replace the centralized-program-oriented approach taken to date. It is a simple concept, beginning in FY 08 DIME will pay $.10 to any C2-related Program of Record for each and every service oriented transaction that it suppports during the five year period of the original NECC increment one. The idea is to encourage NetCentricity while leaving the door wide open for innovation by creating an additional funding stream for those programs that achieve adoption for their services.

Despite the bland bureaucratic language of the release, this is an amazing announcement. It is an unprecedented admission of the value of market forces in guiding co-evolutionary systems development in an enterprise too large to effectively centrally plan. While DIME doesn't eliminate policy and requirements such as Net Ready Key Performance Parameters, it fundamentally changes the drivers to achieve compliance. The faster a program operationalizes services, the faster it can start servicing transactions and get paid. Though the NRKPP's will still be verified, the spirit of the NRKPP's will be primarily tested by transaction adoption and volume.

DISA doesn't say it, but I suspect that they are also hoping that this approach, by being a funds multiplier to programs that are serving a broad customer base, will reward well-managed programs at the expense of those that don't grow their base.

I don't think it will take long for a more granular payment scheme to evolve as this approach will clearly benefit high frequency services such as situational awareness more than lower-frequency capabilities such as planning. I'm sure DISA will have to be nimble to evolve the program as high transaction rate designs are floated to game the fund, but despite these nits, I applaud DISA for taking a step that recognizes a dime of incentive can be more effective at achieving their goals than pounds of policy.

Implied in the new fund is the sheer scale of DISA's expectations; $2.5B will pay for 25 billion transactions.


Update (11/6/07): I guess the smiley face wasn't enough so it's time to come right out and say that this post is a farce. There is no "DIME" program but I can't help but think that a little bit of Adam Smith Invisible Hand would go a long way toward reducing the need for complex centralized planning as we move toward NetCentric systems. The question is, what simple incentives might make viable substitutes for the missing market economy that serves as that hand throughout the rest of our economy? Note the comment on centralized planning here.

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