Very recently IEEE released a new project, in a pilot phase. It is called IEEE Collabratec. Collabratec is the new online community based platform from IEEE. It is a jumble of things inspired from many existing platform such as LinkedIN, Zotero, Mendley, etc. Through the pilot IEEE wants to know if it is right kind of mash-up. I am here to answer that, no wait, not that exactly that. But I am here to write my views based on my experience till now. To be honest, I can’t pass a judgement yet about it. So I am gonna just pass some remarks, and give Collabratec some more time before I take a call on it. All of these are personal views and I may be completely wrong in understanding perspective behind some things.
Let’s first talk about design and looks. I think I have tried many community platforms, and design is to blame for the ones I don’t use much. The colour theme of Collabratec is pretty nice, and so as the font. It looks pretty professional and kind of cool in some way. I am also ok with Sliding menu and flag based notification. I think these details are pretty much standard. In common design the only thing I did not like is the IEEE title. It seems overcrowded with the title. I would be more comfortable if header of page could be compressed. I see header divided into three strips. First one with Menu, Notification, Profile, Sign Out, etc. buttons. Totally fine with it. In the second one, there is one green “IEEE Collabratec” title and then blue “IEEE” title in same row. The only thing useful in that strip is the search tool bar, which can be moved easily up in parallel to Menu strip. And then there is third strip just title of current page (Home, Profile, Library, etc.) and Toolbox widget button. I think it would be much better, if all three strips can be combined in single strip. Actually something like that happens when you scroll down on any page. I think “Menu” title could totally go away and replace it with current page title. For me “IEEE Collabratec” title in the browser tab is more than enough to be aware that I am using IEEE product. Search bar can go in the middle of the first strip and Toolbox widget can go near Notification and Add Contacts button. That’s all for the design. Rest is fine, or may be I haven’t figure out much.
Now lets talk about Profile page, as it is one of important page. Somehow profile page design is quite descent and simple, but not very appealing. To be honest I was expecting something different than usual social networks, so my opinion on this might be one sided. However the content is good, I think it just need to be represented in some other way. Interest should be moved elsewhere, because if someone has more than 50 interests it will be so much long. Or may be just highlight some key ones on the page and leave rest with a “more” button.
Next important part for me is Research Groups. What are Research Group? The definition need to be clear, and how they are different from the Community? Can any one create a research group? May be I am not interpreting them well, but from what I understand its not clear enough. I even tried to create one, called “Writing Practices”, hope someone will delete that one ;). I envision the “research group” feature as a great platform for people to talk and share things related to specific technology. But if not moderated by IEEE or representing society, many may just get filled with spam posts, so moderation is a good feature. Also for me this is an important part of the platform, hence this represents the value and credibility of IEEE. So research group need to be kind of face value of IEEE’s involvement in boosting research, but quality one. When I say moderated, I totally understand how difficult and may be impossible it would be, as there will be thousands of it. For example, there can be multiple research group created by users for “Wireless Communication” but one of them should be “verified” group of IEEE, which is moderated by the representing society/technical committee. I think research group and community are a bit related, as for one research group different community people can participate. Linkedin has groups as well, and they get so many spams even in moderated ones. In the end, may be it is not just very clear to me. It might make sense after I start using one. 🙂
About other pages, it’s kind of work in progress. Most of things with such products rely on number of users and activity from users. So I am sure with increase in users things will evolve much better. About the Community page, don’t rely on Google too much please. Not sure idea of access the community on Google+ will work in favour or against. But I don’t use G+ much so my views are one sided. Events is something can’t understand clearly. Not sure if vtools (meetings) is being replaced or what? Library is supposed to be replacement for G+ drive? But these things have most features as “Coming Soon” so I will wait.
Last thing, I completed the survey for feedback. Somewhere in it there was a question asking about “How many people would you like to include in a typical research group?” It really varies, for some more than 20 but for some may be 1-5. Couldn’t answer that one correctly.
Once again, I may have failed to see perspective of the designers and developers. So If I got something wrong, please let me know. Hope this helps out in making Collabratec better. I am really interested in the success of this project, but with extreme caution.