Photo of stones in a soup bowl
Common Solutions Group: StoneSoup.org Common Solutions Group: StoneSoup.org

History of the Common Solutions Group


In 1993, Ken King and Glenn Ricart convened a set of university-related networking people to discuss the future of academic and research networking. The invitation list included leaders of regional and national networks with strong ties to academia, and CIOs from leading academic institutions with a strong interest in networking. The group had no name at first, but everyone agreed the information exchange was worthwhile. (Updates on networking events are still mainstays of the meetings.) The work of the group quickly focused upon defining the next generation of network applications, and ways to overcome potential stumbling blocks to those applications. The initial driving force behind the group's focus was Ken King's idea of creating a virtual university network within the rapidly expanding Internet.

CSG's steaming cauldron logo

Glenn Ricart suggested the name "Stone Soup Group" because the group was attempting to create a useful academic network soup from a starting point that held no preconceptions (the stone in the soup pot) but to which everyone could contribute ingredients.

The Stone Soup Group moved to the position that the key stumbling blocks were a lack of solutions to problems in applying networking technology to issues critical to the future of their institutions. For example, the lack of an accepted authentication mechanism has made it difficult to provide accepted digital signatures, authenticate submissions of student academic projects, and provide software access to authorized users. A common solution to a problem like this would encourage vendors to build their software with these solutions in their products. It was felt that if the entire Stone Soup Group agreed to use a single, common solution, it would be the most important thing they could do to promote the development and use of advanced information technology to solve critical problems at their institutions. The set of institutions using the common solutions would in effect be creating a virtual university network.

To reflect this direction, the name of the group was changed in May of 1994 to the Common Solutions Group.

  • Group photo, 18 September 1995
  • Group photo, 9 January 2009
  • Complete list of CSG meetings (courtesy of Greg Jackson)