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In building an online portal for Iraqi scientists, project managers rely on Internet

Iraqi scientists working with an Amerian team to build an online science library used Skype, email, chat to communicate. Speaking English for too long is dangerous.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor on
Among the myriad difficult jobs in Iraq is a project to reconnect Iraqi scientists to the worldwide research community, Federal Computer Week reports. The first phase, completed six months ago, was an online science library that gave Iraqi scientists acess to some 17,000 science, engineering and computer journals.
“These are scientists who have been isolated for almost 20, 30 years,” said University of Maryland scientist D.J. Patil, a participant in the partnership. "They ask questions, such as, 'How do you build concrete bridges?'”

The next step is a joint US-Iraqi open-source portal that institutions across Iraq will own, operate and customize.

The work is being done by a public/private partnership including Sun Microsystems, federal agencies, American universities and journal publishers. Becase of the difficulties of working in Iraq - especially the fact that Iraqis openly speaking English put themselves at risk of attack - much of the support and coordination is being done online.

James Simon, Sun’s chief technologist and principal engineer for the Global Education and Research Division, said ... he is providing Iraqis with technical support through e-mail exchanges and chat sessions.

"The way we talk to them is not by phone lines, we use Skype," said Patil.

“We were all very concerned that we not put any Iraqi in jeopardy by being associated with a U.S. government project,” said Barrett Ripin, State’s senior science diplomacy officer. “We were very concerned and thought it very important that the people who were signed up in Iraq, not be concerned that they were being monitored.”

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