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Definitions

Glossary of terms

A-B

  • Africa@home -- Africa@home is an interdisciplinary project, the first phase of which allowed the Swiss Tropical Institute to run a malaria-modeling project thanks to the BOINC technology. The Africa@home multi-stakeholder partnership involves CERN, the University of Geneva, ICVolunteers, the World Health Organization, AIMS, several other African academic institutions, the Swiss Tropical Institute, and Informaticiens sans frontières, with the support of the Geneva International Academic Network.
  • Asia@home -- The aim of Asia@home is to promote the use of volunteer computing and volunteer thinking in Asia. Asia@home got its name from Africa@home, an interdisciplinary project which applied volunteer computing to projects in Africa. During its first phase, it allowed the Swiss Tropical Institute to run a malaria modelling project thanks to the BOINC technology. This was made possible through the multi-stakeholder partnership called Africa@home, which involves CERN, the University of Geneva, ICVolunteers, the World Health Organization, AIMS, several other African academic institutions, the Swiss Tropical Institute, and Informaticiens sans frontières (ISF), with the support of the Geneva International Academic Network.
  • BOINC -- It stands for Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. Invented by David Anderson, BOINC is a software package which allows mobilizing computing and storage resources through the Internet. BOINC is client-server based. It facilitates complex scientific computing through distributed public computing resources. In that sense, it is a form of digital solidarity. BOINC is freely available and enables a range of different applications in an easy and fast fashion (Windows, Linux, Mac-OS and other operating systems compatible). The program functions like a traditional screen-saver. However, in addition to showing images, it also carries out useful computation in the background. To learn more about BOINC, see http://boinc.berkeley.edu.
  • BOSSA -- Bossa is an open-source software framework for distributed thinking (also called volunteer thinking) - the use of volunteers on the Internet to perform tasks that use human cognition, knowledge, or intelligence. Bossa minimizes the effort of creating and operating a distributed thinking project. It provides a project web site, hosted on your Linux server, where volunteers go to perform tasks and to interact with other volunteers. All you need to supply are PHP scripts to generate, show, and handle tasks. Bossa helps you deal with the variance of volunteer skill. It maintains estimates of the skill level of volunteers, and ensures that, for each task, there is a 'consensus' of compatible results among a sufficient set of volunteers. Typically you will want to train volunteers; this can be done using Bolt, a framework for web-based training that integrates with Bossa. To learn more about Bossa, see http://boinc.berkeley.edu/trac/wiki/BossaIntro.

C-D

  • CERN -- European Organization for Nuclear Research: www.cern.ch
  • Cloud Computing -- Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualised resources are provided as a service over the Internet. Users need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure "in the cloud" that supports them.
  • Cyber-volunteering -- Volunteers get involved in local, regional, and international projects for a period of several weeks or months, offering their skills in areas such as web or software development, system administration, and content generation.
  • CyberVolunteers Program -- The Program run by ICVolunteers which recruits, trains and coordinates volunteers with skills in information and communication technology (ICT) for development. Volunteers participate in local, regional, and international projects for a period of several weeks or months, offering their skills in areas such as web or software development, system administration, and content generation. The Program particularly values South-South exchanges, but also includes South-North and North-South cooperation. By doing so, it aims to help create a global information and shared knowledge society accessible to many. The CyberVolunteers Program benefits from the patronage of UNESCO-Switzerland.

E-G

  • GIAN -- Geneva International Academic Network: an international research network whose primary objective is to reinforce cooperation among international organizations and academic institutions. The GIAN funds research activities that involve a partnership between the academic world and international organizations and that concern at least one of five thematic areas: globalization, sustainable development, social equity, intercultural dialogue or human rights. The GIAN benefits from the collaborative and financial support of the Swiss Confederation, the Republic and Canton of Geneva: www.ruig-gian.org.
  • Grid Computing -- Grid Computing is an emerging technology that provides seamless access to computing power and data storage capacity distributed over the globe. Grid computing (or the use of computational grids) is the application of several computers to a single problem at the same time -- usually to a scientific or technical problem that requires a great number of computer processing cycles or access to large amounts of data. Grid computing depends on software to divide and apportion pieces of a program among several computers, sometimes up to many thousands. Grid computing can also be thought of as distributed and large-scale cluster computing, as well as a form of network-distributed parallel processing.

I-L

  • ICTs -- Information and Communication Technologies, a term that designates technologies related to the Internet and multimedia. The term also covers the notion of increased interactivity of these products and services targeting a non-specialized public. Through IT, telecommunications networks, and audiovisuals,
  • ICTP -- Centre International de Physique Théorique: www.ictp.it
  • ICT Volunteer -- An ICT volunteer is someone who uses Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as a central part of his or her service, or, who advocates for ICT access for under-serviced communities.
  • ICVolunteers -- ICVolunteers is an international non-profit organization specialized in the field of communications, in particular languages, communication technologies, and conference support. Its CyberVolunteers Program works with information and communication technology specialists who offer their skills and time to development projects: www.icvolunteers.org.
  • International Volunteering -- An international volunteer is a person who volunteers outside of his or her own country. Some international volunteers, usually those who will spend a year or more in the field, receive a small stipend, and agree not to engage in any other jobs during their full-time volunteer assignment. Short-term international volunteers usually receive no stipend, sometimes must even pay all of their own transportation and housing expenses, and also agree not to engage in any other jobs during their full-time volunteer assignment.
  • ISF -- Informaticiens sans frontières: an independent organization composed of international volunteers, the aim of which is to help bridge the Digital Divide through education and communication in a form that is specially adapted to the needs of the developing world: http://isf.cern.ch.
  • ITU -- International Telecommunications Union: www.itu.int

M-Q

  • MDG -- Millennium Development Goals: www.un.org/millenniumgoals
  • Middleware -- In the computer industry, middleware is a general term for any programming that serves to "glue together" or mediate between two separate and often already existing programs. A common application of middleware is to allow programs written for access to a particular database to access other databases.
  • Online Volunteer -- An online volunteer is a person who contributes time and effort with an organization through an online connection, rather than or in addition to onsite service. The practice of donating time online goes by other names, such as virtual volunteering, cyber service, telementoring, e-volunteering, and cyber volunteering.

R-Z

  • STI -- Swiss Tropical Institute: Based in Basel, but has activities worldwide in support of its mandate to contribute to the improvement of the health of populations internationally and nationally through excellence in research, services, and teaching and training. It is a statutory organization with core support from the Swiss Federal Government and the Canton of Basel-Stadt. The malaria-modeling activities are supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: www.sti.ch.
  • University of Geneva -- Second largest university in Switzerland and a public institution of the Republic and Canton of Geneva. It pursues three missions: teaching, research, and service to the wider community. From the time of its creation in 1559 by Jean Calvin, right up to the recent discovery by University astrophysicists of extrasolar planets, the University of Geneva has continued to grow and develop while maintaining its longstanding tradition of excellence with an international angle.
  • Volunteer Computing -- Also called peer-to-peer computing, global computing or community computing, it uses computers offered by the general public on a voluntary basis to do complex scientific computing. It is currently being used in particular in molecular biology, medicine, climate studies, high energy physics, and environmental sciences.
  • Volunteer Thinking -- Distributed thinking, or volunteer thinking, is the use of volunteers on the Internet to perform tasks that use human cognition, knowledge, or intelligence. Through joint efforts, results can be compared and refined.
  • What kinds of risks do I take when participating as a volunteer in Volunteer Computing? -- There are several risks. Solutions have been found to all of them. First of all, a hacker could potentially replace an application with malware, with bad consequences for all the volunteers using the application. This can be prevented by digitally "signing" applications on a physically isolated computer. Second, application might be valid but buggy. An account-based sandbox is the answer here. Projects also need to be protected from malicious volunteers. For example, volunteers might upload bad data, falsifying results. This can be prevented by sending the same job the two volunteers and then cross-checking the results obtained. The replication can be skipped when a volunteer has gained a sufficiently good reputation. Some projects might involve sensitive data -- for example, gene sequences. Such data cannot be hidden from volunteers, even if files are encrypted. However, it may be possible to divide a data set into small pieces that are not sensitive in isolation.
  • WHO -- World Health Organization: www.who.int
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