Standards are a cornerstone of a national collaboratory infrastructure. Even though it is not necessary that all data be in identical format, it is necessary that the data be translatable into a compatible format for seamless integration into data-handling and analysis systems. Standards for user interfaces, network protocols, and so on are fundamental to a collaboratory.
It is important that users of a collaboratory adopt "rules of the road" to protect the originators of data and ideas and to assure that collaborations are carried out in fairness to all participants and contributors, and that data, analysis tools, and ideas are used correctly.
Given the dependence of the space physics community on space-borne instrumentation and remote land-based observatories and facilities, it is essential that agreed-upon methods be developed for the remote operation of these instruments and facilities, especially in support of rapid-response campaigns of coordinated observations.
Networking is the backbone of the collaboratory infrastructure, because it provides the digital communications required for the sharing of data and ideas. Networking services needed include electronic mail, file transfer, remote log-on and execution, database management, teleconferencing, "whiteboard" or electronic "scratchpad" capability, shared access to common graphical displays, and so on. The networking services must all meet basic levels of performance with respect to quality, reliability, and response time, and higher levels of performance should be worked toward.
Electronic mail, a fundamental networking service required by a collaboratory, deserves special mention. Needed is the capability to transfer compound documents, that is, those with special characters and formatting as well as graphics, in a standardized form that is compatible with common word processing and desktop publishing tools. Support services in the form of directories, yellow pages, and so on are also needed.
Computer-supported cooperative work tools are important for access to shared resources such as data and computing resources.
Common access to software libraries is an important component of a national collaboratory. It is especially important that shared software be reliable, portable, and unambiguous as to its use.
The collaboratory infrastructure and its analysis tools should be directly available for supporting the education of space physicists and, more generally, students in the physical sciences.
The infrastructure must be affordable so that (a) it will be built and (b) it will not displace funding otherwise earmarked for space physics research. The collaboratory infrastructure must be regarded by the space physics community as a set of services well worth their support and as a fundamental pan of their suite of research tools, or else it will be considered a funding burden.