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Lab website

Lab website

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A lab website is a specific type of website
Website
A website, also written as Web site, web site, or simply site, is a collection of related web pages containing images, videos or other digital assets. A website is hosted on at least one web server, accessible via a network such as the Internet or a private local area network through an Internet...

 most commonly dedicated to research and development programs.

Relating to the classic scientific research environment - the laboratory
Laboratory
A laboratory is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific research, experiments, and measurement may be performed. The title of laboratory is also used for certain other facilities where the processes or equipment used are similar to those in scientific laboratories...

 - existing lab websites predominantly fall into two categories, the real-world and the virtual.

Real-world laboratory websites


Real-world lab sites relate to the activities and research conducted by laboratories existing outside the Internet. In general, these sites tend to offer users a chance to see results of past research, rather than detailed views of contemporary research.

Examples of these types of labs from the aviation world include Boeing’s Phantom Works
Boeing Phantom Works
The Phantom Works division is the advanced prototyping arm of the Defense and Security side of The Boeing Company. Its primary focus is developing advanced military products and technologies, many of them highly classified, and has produced breakthroughs in defense, space and security.Founded by...

, which covers the research arm of the Boeing Corporation, and Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Program, aka Skunkworks
Skunkworks
Skunk Works is an official trademark for the Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs .The designation "skunk works", or "skunkworks", is widely used in business, engineering, and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by...

.

Virtual laboratory websites


A number of companies and institutions have created virtual lab websites specifically for research into Internet-based products.

This type of research environment is seen as both podium and playpen for Internet-borne companies. In many cases, the labs offer visitors a chance to learn more about the company's products currently in development, and increasingly, to actually trial the work in progress.

One of the best-known examples is Google Labs
Google Labs
Google Labs was a page created by Google to demonstrate and test new Google projects. Google calls Google Labs,Google also uses an invitation-only phase for trusted testers to test projects including Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Wave and many of these have their own "labs" webpages for...

. Since its inception, Google Labs has resulted in the trial and launch of live products such as Gmail
Gmail
Gmail is a free, advertising-supported email service provided by Google. Users may access Gmail as secure webmail, as well via POP3 or IMAP protocols. Gmail was launched as an invitation-only beta release on April 1, 2004 and it became available to the general public on February 7, 2007, though...

, Google Calendar
Google Calendar
Google Calendar is a free time-management web application offered by Google. It became available on April 13, 2006, and exited the beta stage in July 2009...

 and Google Videos.

Similar examples from large web-based companies include Yahoo! Next
Yahoo! Next
Yahoo! Next is a showcase of some of Yahoo!'s newest and upcoming projects. It is essentially an incubation ground for future Yahoo! technologies in their beta testing phase, and a chance for the Yahoo! community to interact and have a say on how upcoming products are designed and fine tuned. Each...

 and Microsoft Live Labs
Microsoft Live Labs
Microsoft Live Labs was a partnership between MSN and Microsoft Research that focused on applied research for Internet products and services at Microsoft. Live Labs was headed by Dr...

.

One recent notable addition is Digg Labs, illustrating the Digg
Digg
Digg is a social news website. Prior to Digg v4, its cornerstone function consisted of letting people vote stories up or down, called digging and burying, respectively. Digg's popularity prompted the creation of copycat social networking sites with story submission and voting systems...

 social bookmarking
Social bookmarking
Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to organize, store, manage and search for bookmarks of resources online. Unlike file sharing, the resources themselves aren't shared, merely bookmarks that reference them....

 community's activities in near real-time. The labs are composed of the swarm and the stack activity displays.

Mozilla
Mozilla
Mozilla is a term used in a number of ways in relation to the Mozilla.org project and the Mozilla Foundation, their defunct commercial predecessor Netscape Communications Corporation, and their related application software....

 has added a lab area to its product offering.

Virtual laboratories are not the sole domain of companies and institutions. Some are created by individuals and exist solely as websites.

Media labs


Traditional print and broadcast media companies have also begun to experiment with dedicating specific areas on their websites to advanced projects. One of the first companies credited with creating its own lab area was Reuters
Reuters
Reuters is a news agency headquartered in New York City. Until 2008 the Reuters news agency formed part of a British independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data...

. When founded, the Reuters lab offered a limited number of products for visitors to experiment with, including the news and quotes widget and their mobile service.

The BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 has created a derivation on the lab idea with their BBC Backstage site. Backstage's slogan "Use our stuff to build your stuff" openly invites developers to use the BBC's various feeds and API's to power a new range of non-commercial products and services. The backstage site has allowed the BBC to create a developer network, a location for all those working with the BBC's content to come together and share their ideas and prototypes amongst their peers. The site also contains a blog

The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 newspaper in the UK has taken the idea of a lab to the next level with its Comment is free product. Created by Ben Hammersley
Ben Hammersley
Ben Hammersley is a British internet technologist, journalist, author, broadcaster, and diplomat, currently based in London, England....

, Comment is Free was made as a fully interactive extension to the Guardian Unlimited
Guardian Unlimited
guardian.co.uk, formerly known as Guardian Unlimited, is a British website owned by the Guardian Media Group. Georgina Henry is the editor...

’s blogging system.

The site contains the political and opinion material from both The Guardian and its sister paper The Observer
The Observer
The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

, as well as work from over 600 separate subject-based experts, selected to write on their topics of knowledge. Users are encouraged to read and comment, and all posts are automatically linked to Technorati
Technorati
Technorati is an Internet search engine for searching blogs. By June 2008, Technorati was indexing 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media...

 to return contextual blogosphere results.

In November 2006, NEWS.com.au, the breaking news section of News Digital Media launched News Lab
News Lab
NEWS lab was the research and development section of the NEWS.com.au website, based in Sydney, Australia.- Overview :The lab lets users comment and rate a number of internet products being developed by NEWS.com.au...

, the first media-driven R&D website within News Corporation (N.B. News Corp also operates FIM Lab
Fox Interactive Media
News Corporation's Digital Media Group , also known as News Corp. Digital Media and formerly Fox Interactive Media, oversees the Internet business operations of media giant News Corporation, and was formed to oversee News Corporation's new media acquisitions, including IGN Entertainment, MySpace...

 but this is currently without a website). The site aims to collect users' feedback on new products and amend them accordingly.

Monitoring experimentation


While some media companies choose to create their own experimental areas, others create dedicated areas to document the efforts of others. The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

s blog section, referred to as the Mashington Post records the efforts of Internet users' experimentation with combinations of pre-existing data, referred to as mashups
Mashup (web application hybrid)
In Web development, a mashup is a Web page or application that uses and combines data, presentation or functionality from two or more sources to create new services...

.

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