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  • Today Juan and I are going to present how awareness systems can increase the contribution to a volunteer computing initiative

    Before jumping into the problem presentation let us give you an idea of what we built: GridOrbit
  • GridOrbit is a set of awareness technologies designed to increase the contribution to a volunteer computing infrastructure called the Mini-Grid.

    Briefly, what is the Mini-Grid?

    Well think of it as a SETI@HOME within a defined space.

    For example the Biology department of a University.

    Here is one of GridOrbit’s public display used by a biologist showing computers participating to the volunteer

    CLICK And one of GridOrbit’s notificaction as they appear on Personal Computers LIKE
    how much they contributed compared to other participants to the grid.
  • GridOrbit is a set of awareness technologies designed to increase the contribution to a volunteer computing infrastructure called the Mini-Grid.

    Briefly, what is the Mini-Grid?

    Well think of it as a SETI@HOME within a defined space.

    For example the Biology department of a University.
  • Here is one of GridOrbit’s public display used by a biologist showing computers participating to the volunteer computing effort
  • And here is one of GridOrbit’s notificaction as they appear on Personal Computers and inviting for more participation

    For instance by comparing how much one participants contributed compared to others.
  • And here is an overview of what the public displays showed over the course of our 1 month deployment compressed into 30s.
  • We deployed these technolgoies in a biology lab for 1 month and could observe an increase partcipation which was our initial objective.

    More people contributing means faster results and a more stable infrastructure.

    But besides this observation and maybe more interesting to you,
    - we will describe how this increase happened over time
    - the different contribution patterns we observed
    - the types of visitors to the public display
    - What worked and didn’t
  • Local: Means that people know each other which is really different from other volunteer computing projects which are distributed worldwide.
    Ad-hoc: Means that all the computers are connected to each other which is different from many volunteer computing projects which have a Master-slave relationship. Where only 1 person submits tasks to the grid.
    Low cost: any machine can join the grid.


  • They rely on participation and if people can’t see them how can they participate???

    This is a topic studied in the community and the next presenters will tell you more about these invisible infrastructures.
  • A local Volunteer Computing infrastructure means we can leverage existing social ties.

    Forums, leader boards and other means generally used to foster social ties could be useful here.

    But our question here was to explore how to leverage the local aspect of the infrastructure!!!

    This is what we explored with GridOrbit that Juan will present you now
  • We began our exploration with a series of fieldwork studies and participatory design activities.
    You can find more details in the paper, but the main conclusions of our study were:
    First, a technology to make the Mini-Grid visible should communicate capacity (strong, weak)
    Second, it should communicate activity levels (in terms of number of tasks being executed)
    Third, it should communicate the people contributing and their machines.
  • With these requirements we designed a software suite called GridOrbit , consisting of 2 different awareness technologies:
    - a set of public public displays, and
    - a desktop notification system.
  • GridOrbit public displays was an interactive system running on two public displays located at different buildings of a molecular biology department.
    These pictures show the actual installations of GridOrbit we made, and the guys in the picture are actual biologists.

    In the first building we placed the public display in the corridor in from of the cafeteria.
    In the second building we placed it in the waiting area next to the elevator and the local mail-boxes.

    This public displays are aimed at: (1) motivating passersby to install the MiniGrid and contribute to it – recruit NEW contributors, and
    (2) provide feedback to existing contributors.
  • This is how it works,
    - When a user configures his computer to participate in the Mini-Grid, GridOrbit detects it and shows it in the public display.
    - This happens for every new computer that joins the Mini-Grid.
    - When a computer stops contributing, is turned off, or doesn’t have network connectivity, it remains in the display in gray-scale.
    In this way the public displays represent the capacity of the Mini-Grid, capacity in terms of the total computers that can contribute, and the ones that are currently contributing.

    - When a biologists sends jobs for execution to the Mini-Grid, the public display shows a green aura around his computer.
    - The machines executing such jobs get a red aura (this includes the sender too, as he might execute his own jobs).
    - At this point a visitor to the public display can walk up to it and explore details from each machine.
    In this way the public displays represent the activity of the Mini-Grid, activity in terms of the jobsbeing executed at the moment.

    - A contributing user can also walk up to the public display and asign his picture to his computer.
    In this way the public display presents the people contributing.

    A final feature allows visitors to the public display to leave messages on the screen, on a bulleting board fashion.
    From this messages we extract the most significant works forming a tag cloud, and the more a word appears the bigger it gets.
  • When deployed, these public display become ambient appliances that are part of the environment.
    And as such, they should avoid information overload and change blindness.

    We added different interaction zones so that users get more detailed information when they come closer to the displays.
    This feature is inspired from previous work on public displays that shows the convenience of having proximity-based interaction zones,
    basically, the core idea is to support the transition between a public displays and an information appliance.
  • Our second system was GridOrbit notification system, and is aimed at increasing the commitment of existing contributors.


    The systems is a desktop application that shows notifications about the user’s contribution level at different intervals.


    The ”group motivation” strategy compares the user’s contribution with the median contribution of all users in the MiniGrid. Motivating the user to contribute more than the rest of the group.


    The notifications use two motivation strategies. The personal strategy compares the user’s contribution to previous weeks trying to keep the contribution higher than the previous week.


    The messages are configured to come up at different time intervals, which we could control, from every 20 minutes to every 2 hours.
  • Baseline
  • So, the first thing we looked at was what we call ”Potential Capacity”, which is the number of machines where the MiniGrid got installed. Which is the first thing we wanted to achieve.

    The blue line shows that at the end of the baseline period, we reached the number of 19 machines. This machines wereenrolled with traditional means like people talking to each other, presentations about the project, etc.
    However, after we introduced GridOrbit we observed an increment to 35 machines, which means a 75% increment.

    At the same time, we looked at what we call ”Actual Capacity”, or the averague number of machines connected during an hour in each day. In this case we observe that during the baseline period we had about 5.33 computers in the MiniGrid. Our of 19 computers with the PlugIn, only 5.33 in average contributed every hour.

    After introducing GridOrbit, we saw this average increase to 8,02 machines representing a 51% increase.
  • A final result relates to how machines contribute to the grid.

    Each of these boxes represents a participant machine, and they show the contribution pattern per day (each column) during the whole deployment period. The green periods are when the machine was contributing, the red periods are when the machine was turned on but not contributing, and the white periods are when the machine was turned-off.

    This first group of machines shows how dedicated and bootstrapping machines contribute. Basically, they stay as part of the Mini-Grid for long periods and often day-round.


    The second group is made of work desktop computers. These machines also tended to stay connected for long periods of time, however, they were sometimes unplugged from the MiniGrid because the owner had to do some special work that required all of its power.


    Finally, we see laptop computers contribute very intermitently.

    This contribution patterns did not really change a lot over time.
  • We also
    This is a phenomenon we call awareness stagnation.
  • We had a series of other results, which can be consulted in the paper, but there is particularly one very interesting:
    People want to have their picture on the display, and they will do whatever to get it on.
  • And we also have things that didn’t work:

    Personal Notifications: Some people at times found it annoying.

  • The second thing we looked at
  • GridOrbit

    1. 1. GRIDORBIT – AN INFRASTRUCTURE AWARENESS SYSTEM For increasing contribution in volunteer computing Juan David Hincapié-Ramos, Aurélien Tabard & Jakob E. Bardram
    2. 2. GridOrbit Personal Notifications Mini-Grid GridOrbit public display
    3. 3. GridOrbit public display
    4. 4. GridOrbit Personal Notifications
    5. 5. Increased participation What did awareness systems led to?
    6. 6. Data deluge and computational scientific analyses alternatives: • Big PC: takes a lot of time • Local servers: expensive in man-power and $ • Grid computing / Cyber-Infrastructures • Volunteer computing infrastructures - SETI@HOME - World community grid Data deluge Problem
    7. 7. Local vs. Worldwide Symetric vs. Master-Slave Low cost The Mini-Grid volunteer infrastructure
    8. 8. Invisibility Problem of volunteer computing
    9. 9. A local Volunteer Computing infrastructure means we can leverage existing social ties! How do we get people to participate to the Mini-Grid?
    10. 10. • Grid Capacity • Grid Activity • People and Computers Fieldwork and Partipatory Design Details in the paper…
    11. 11. GridOrbit Public Displays1 Notification System2
    12. 12. GRIDORBIT GRIDORBIT PUBLIC DISPLAYS Corridor in front of the Cafeteria Building 2: Elevator +Mail Box Waiting Area Building 1: 1
    13. 13. GRIDORBIT PUBLIC DISPLAYS folding biology research DNA
    14. 14. GRIDORBIT GRIDORBIT PUBLIC DISPLAYS Ambient ZoneNotification ZoneInteraction Zone
    15. 15. Group Activation You contributed 12% less than other contributors this week Personal Motivation You contributed for less than 40 hours to the Mini-Grid this week GRIDORBIT NOTIFICATION SYSTEM2 2x
    16. 16. Experimental Design 1- See what the impact of this awarness technologies is in the recruitment of volunteers. 2- Gather empirical information about the relation of users and these awareness technologies. Goals
    17. 17. Experimental Design BASELINE Public Displays Novelty Factor Mini-Grid Official Start PUBLIC DISPLAYS NOTIFICATION SYSTEM Introduce the public displays, without GridOrbit, so that people get used to playing with them. Meetings, flyers, word- of-mouth, static message is the public displays, etc. Computers connected. Task submissions and executions per computer. Visits and interactions with the PD. Response to the notifications. Interviews. Baseline Computers
    18. 18. Deployment BASELINE BASELINE Jun 2 Wed PUBLIC DISPLAYS Jun 14 Mon NOTIFICATION SYSTEM Jun 21 Fri Jul 2 Fri
    19. 19. Results
    20. 20. Increase in Contributions Baseline Public Displays Notification System Mini-Grid installed AVG Computers Contributing +75% +51% 19 35 8,02 5,33
    21. 21. Types of Contributors • Bootstrapping Computers • Dedicated Secondary Computers • Work Desktops • Laptops (intermittent use)
    22. 22. Visits to the public displays sig <= 0,1 10% - Explorer 30% - Curious 60% - Aware +-Nr of Visits ActivityCapacity
    23. 23. Other Results From: Participtant X Date: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 1:51 PM Subject: Re: GridOrbit hide details 6/16/10 Hi Juan I got the plugin installed and the whole thing should be up and running. Now I just need to figure out how I can get my picture on the screen in the main building... Do I need to set up some profile somewhere or something like that? Cheers • Putting your face to the screen was a real motivator for some people.
    24. 24. • The on-screen messaging functionality (bulleting board) was not used. We saw only 5 messages approx for the whole deployment. • We did not find any significant impact of the different notifications strategies. No Results
    25. 25. • Awareness technologies can increase the participation to public displays. • There are sustained patterns of engagement with (60|30|10). • Design for stressing out activity levels. • Find proper ways to scale the number of machines. •Users present different patters of contribution to volunteer computing. Finally… • On-screen messages were not used. • No significant impact of the different notifications strategies. Conclusions
    26. 26. Thanks@jhincapie @aurelient @jbardram
    27. 27. Stick Force participation: hidden daemon installed by admins Infrastructure properties: you can only use it if you donate Carrot Rewards Competitions Beyond stick and carrot Persuasive technologies Awareness technologies Strategies for increasing contribution
    28. 28. Motivations
    29. 29. Visits to the public displays sig <= 0,1 10% - Explorer 30% - Curious 60% - Aware + ++- -- Nr of Visits ActivityCapacity