Dr. Alan Porter oral history interview, 2018-11-15

Georgia Institute of Technology Library
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00:00:01 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: HAGENMAIER: Where were you born and where did you grow up?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Alan Porter was born in New Jersey and moved to Atlanta at about three years of age, then back to Philadelphia at about eight years old, and eventually to Los Angeles.
Porter obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering. He also got a Ph.D. in Psychology from UCLA, and then pursued a post doctorate in Technology Assessment. He ended up at Georgia Tech because the Sloan Foundation was funding colleges to incorporate social sciences into STEM-based learning.
As hobbies, Porter enjoys tennis and poker. His father served as a role model for him and worked as an electrical engineer.
During his time at Tech, Porter has been heavily involved in research related to technology opportunity assessment.

00:05:31 - About the Technology Opportunities Analysis Knowbot

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Partial Transcript: HAGENMAIER: So let's talk about the Knowbot...what motivated you to create this software?

Segment Synopsis: In the year 1992, Porter and his team were collecting data in hard copy about emerging technologies. In an effort to develop a more efficient way of accomplishing this task, they has the idea to create an electronic database search technology. They focused on building technology to answer the basic researcher's questions: who, what, why, where, when.
The process for building this software began with making lists of repeated authors and other metadata. Porter's son conducted this task. DARPA providing them with a six-month seed grant.
Many initial notable users of this technology were the military or other armed forces.
Doug Porter, Porter's son was the lead programmer across the project, and it is now coded in C++.

00:12:37 - Customers/Consumers

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Partial Transcript: PORTER: The software was licensed by Georgia Tech to Search Technology.

Segment Synopsis: The software has two commercial versions. A government version, Tech Oasis, was maintained for about 10 years. One of the commercial versions is VantagePoint (it is available for Georgia Tech users). The other version is Derwent Data Analyzer.
Before this product came into being, the competitive environment for such a technology was minimal. On the other hand, commercially, people would use such technologies for patent analysis.
The software has mainly been used for science and technology and policy analysis. Globally, academic use is highest in Brazil and China.

00:20:35 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: HAGENMAIER: So how has the software been received by users?

Segment Synopsis: The pricing of the software included a set fee for a lifetime license and an annual fee for renewal and stellar tech support. User feedback was strong and positive on this point.
TOAK and TOAS were the two versions of the software back in the day--Technology Opportunities Analysis Knowbot and System. TOAS is still used today.