petermr's blog

A Scientist and the Web

 

scifoo: immediate impressions

Like many other bloggers I’m contributing my impressions. (technorati aggregates all blogs which contain the tag – or even the word – “scifoo”). There will be so much to read that I don’t need to add detail.

The format is self-organising; all campers write ideas on a large board – there is no restriction on what they can suggest – and hope it is appealing enough that others come to their suggestions, or add additional ideas. As I know already Google has a number of small rooms and 2 large ones, though it seemed to work out pretty well and you could carry in folding chairs. (The whole atmosphere was very relaxed – the Google inmates looked after us very well – there was a huge team.)

I’d come expecting a vision of the future and there were many instances of that. But there was also an urgency to sort out the present that was more intense than I had expected and I found that almost all the sessions I attended were about the here-and-now. Publishing (in all aspects and including blogging and virtual communities) was more important than I had expected. So I felt compelled to go to many sessions like that. As a result of which I didn’t go to hear, or even meet, Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear or Kim Stanley Robinson. Or here about the future of biological manipulation. So some slight regrets.

But only because with 200+ people (I don’t know the number) and only 6 mealtimes you can’t do everything and you can’t meet everyone. So I’ll be concentrating on the issues which are close to my daily interests – blogging, publications, semantic science.

I’m now in CalTech – Pasadena – in the Einstein Suite (yes, he stayed in it and there are pictures on the walls). I’ve never been here though it’s had a large influence on my scientific life through my mentor Jack Dunitz, who worked here with Linus Pauling and Ken Trueblood on the the structure of molecules, using the power of crystallography and the power of the human brain.

Tomorrow I talk on Science and digital repositories. I think that scifoo will influence what I say considerably.

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