Subject RE: draft charge, refeds working group on attribute release
From Mikael Linden <Mikael.Linden@xxxxxx>
Date Thu, 30 Jun 2011 23:36:31 +0300

A few comments on some mails on the list today.

People have doubts if we should put at all effort on making our federations serve the researchers' needs. As long as our federations are operated by NRENs (Research and Education Networks) I can't imagine any other answer than yes we should. As Leif and David wrote, it's an opportunity for us.

Nicole wrote that there are just few scientific resources in any federations. True, but in Kalmar union, I have realized that the scientific resources' weight grows in an interfederation, because research is international and the researchers from different countries collaborate and share scientific resources (such as data, services, machines, instruments...). When the CLARIN community (the language research network, heard of Kalmar, they registered SPs to it even from Germany and the Netherlands. Via Kalmar, they get all the Nordic linguists to their SPs. I have started to believe that scientific resources will be the killer application for interfederation and we should study them more.

I agree with Nicole that if the researchers are happy with OpenID/Facebook identities, then we don't need to care about them. But OpenID can't provide reliable LOA and affiliation attributes, which makes researchers need our federations. Josh said affiliation attribute is interesting  just for publishers. I would add that also researchers are interested in affiliation, because several scientific resources are permitted only for research use (ePA=faculty).

Chad wrote the researchers should come to us with firm requirements. True, but we should help them to articulate those requirements, because we are the experts in identity and federations. We needed more structured discussion with them. Facilitating that discussion has been a motivation for the IRISC workshop ( in September next to the REFEDS meeting. Hopefully I'll see many federations people there, as well.

Nicole wanted evidence that research communities want a simple customer experience. I have been talking with the CLARIN project for a couple of years (they also visited a TF-EMC2 meeting some years ago). CLARIN has 7 (in the long run 25) SPs delivering linguistic data to linguists in 176 IdPs which spread all over Europe.  CLARIN has made a statement that as long as eduGAIN (or any other interfederation) has an opt-in process for downlink metadata (i.e. an SP admin needs to persuade 176 IdP admins to configure attribute release to their SP), they are not going to use it. CLARIN people are coming to the IRISC workshop to repeat this statement, and their speak is scheduled right after Valter's eduGAIN presentation. ;)