NSIT develops new file sharing service

By Aviva Rosman

Network Services & Information Technologies (NSIT) is making final adjustments to a new University file-sharing system scheduled to be released early next quarter.

The software, called Webshare, will allow users to upload up to one gigabyte of text and media files via a web browser and share them with people both on and off campus. A similar program is used at Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin.

“Basically, Webshare is a place to store files and exchange them with other people,” said Bob Bartlett, the director of Network-Based Services. “It’s good for group collaboration or research papers when you’re exchanging information, and it’s much preferable to sending an attachment.”

Webshare will also enable the sharing of files that are too large to send over e-mail, Bartlett said.

The software would enable anyone with a cNetID to access the system, as well as grant “tickets” to people outside the University to view a certain file. Users can also designate files for public or private use.

“Let’s say you wanted to share some pictures with your family,” Bartlett said. “You would send them a ticket giving them access, and then you could also give them permission to upload pictures themselves.”

NSIT expects the new technology to facilitate academic collaboration. For instance, students working on group projects at the library will be able to save their files on Webshare and then access them later at home, and professors will be able to share documents and files with colleagues outside of the University.

Bartlett said Webshare will not be a substitute for Chalk, which professors will continue to use to post material meant for students.

Unlike other file-sharing services such as Google Docs, Webshare will place a greater emphasis on privacy, said Corey Liss of NSIT support. Files will stay more secure on the University server, and the University legal office will be able to ensure privacy.

Therese Allen-Vassar, director of NSIT client relations, said NSIT has to develop user instructions before the program is made public. In addition, NSIT needs to ready site production and develop a policy statement on copyrighted material.

“The Eligibility and Accessible Use Policy still applies,” Allen-Vassar said. “If you put up Beyoncé’s latest album, the RIAA will contact us, and we will have to take action.”

Allen-Vassar said she hopes the program will increase productivity and make file sharing and storage easier.

“We are a very mobile and very sharing community, and Webshare should really support that,” she said.

Webshare is scheduled to be released April 2.