Scott AnnanThis article is part of a series of posts about DEMO alumni and news of their progress. Network Hippo launched at DEMO in Spring 2010. Check out more at DEMO.

The idea of an open-source website is not new, but how about open source workspaces? The founders of social-contact manager Network Hippo are using Web Collaboration, a virtual office, to find the definition.

Not everyone works from the office these days. Companies leverage external contractors in all walks of business. Publications employ freelancers; web designers can work from home and “IT guys” are scattered. That’s why virtual offices like Web Collaboration were formed. They allow remote employees to receive tasks, communicate in real-time with teammates, organize to-dos, calendars, and more.

But often, being present at the office provides education you just don’t get working from home. Impromptu conversation, brainstorms or even looking over your boss’ shoulder can be invaluable. Here’s where Web Collaboration and the idea of open-source workspaces can help.

An open-source website allows any and all to study how it works, how it thinks, how to replicate it. An open source workspace does the same for the process of collaboration. “Say you want to fundraise,” said Scott Annan (pictured above), founder of Network Hippo and Web Collaboration. “You can see what someone did for their successful work space – all the tasks and discussions they had. You can look at what they did and use it as a framework.”

Open work spaces show timelines and number of hours spent on a project or tasks, who was involved, and more.Web Collaboration Screen Shot

Annan believes this could find success in MBA programs, where students can study actual business projects and decipher why it worked or didn’t. In fact, Web Collaboration already has agreements with more than 30 academic institutions.

For those seeking work, these projects can supplement job applications as a virtual case study of one’s track record.

Annan launched Web Collaboration a few weeks ago and is seeing it gaining traction. “Early numbers are good, but it’s a crowded space,” he said. The company is seeing 10-20 new signups a day.

Web Collaboration and Network Hippo are owned by Mercury Grove and are based in Ottowa Canada. Network Hippo was launced at the DEMO conference in Spring 2010.

DEMOGot six minutes to launch your game changer? We’re finding top-shelf thinkers from around the world ready to showcase their products at DEMO Fall, on the same stage where companies like Netscape, TiVo, E-Trade, and Java got their start. After you sweat out your six minutes of fame, head off the the DEMO pavilion to chat with potential investors, partners and show off the goods.  Apply for your spot here. Demo Fall 2011 is located at the Hyatt Regency in Silicon Valley, September 12-14.