DigitalOcean: Building a platform for scientific collaboration and social and media sharing on the Drupal content management system

Bruce Caron, Dave Toole, Paul Wicks, Steve Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The DigitalOcean (DO) Project is designed to bring essential Web 2.0 capabilities to an open-source software platform built for scientific collaboration and publishing. The DO platform is being built using the Drupal content management system (CMS). The following are some of the core features of the proposed platform: social networking, media/data sharing/publishing, and collaboration spaces for scientific virtual organizations (VO); active support for VO governance and reputation systems for members and objects; Creative Commons licensing, support for preprint archives and micro-articles, and; professional user-profiles that can be saved as well formatted biosketches. The DO platform serves as a collaboration environment for active research teams, a personal repository for individual researchers, an aggregation/filter for science information, and a scientific publishing tool. This article will outline the history and goals of the DO Project, the core technology concerns and solutions, and the opportunities that this new platform will bring to scientists across the planet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-196
Number of pages6
JournalEarth Science Informatics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
DigitalOcean is being built as an “invitation only” network of networks. Each network will have an internal capability to curate the contributed contents and manage member interactions. Organizations, virtual and actual (e.g., National Science Foundation (NSF) collaboratories and the American Geophysical Union) would manage entire DO networks within a larger DO content/membership sharing framework. Spam (beyond Drupal’s built-in capacity to handle this) and inappropriate activities will be managed by each network. Virtual organizations (VO) offer science projects a key opportunity to realize the potential for collaborations between and among scientists from a number of institutions on a global scale. Scientists have long worked in collaborations across international boundaries. Historians are tracking collaborations dating from 1500, which formed an international community of scholars known as the “Republic of Letters” ( The Royal Society’s founding in 1660 coincided with King Charles II authorizing the Royal Post in London. The telephone, Internet, and email now enable rapid global communication and coordination. Science funding agencies (e.g., the NSF through its cyberinfrastructure effort, and several private foundations (e.g., Alfred P. Sloan, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation)), are now looking to leverage these capabilities to maximize the efficient use of valuable resources, to promote innovation, and to accelerate the means of discovery, the modes of publication, and the jump from knowledge to policy.

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements To date, activities of the DigitalOcean project have been funded by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Outhink Media, Inc., the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the David & Diane Toole Foundation, the Toole Family Foundation, Oracle, Inc., Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Google, Inc., with other contributions from UC Santa Barbara (especially the Carsey-Wolf Center and the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management) and the New Media Research Institute. The Drupal code base is in active development and will be made available (most likely on Github) and seeded back into Drupal open-source repositories.


  • Drupal
  • Governance
  • Open access
  • Open source
  • Reputation system
  • Social media
  • Social network
  • Virtual organization


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