UK eScience All Hands 2007

I’m at the UK eScience All Hands Meeting – the sixth – and I think I have been to all. The meeting is closely, but not completely, coupled to the UK’s pioneering investment in eScience (roughly equivalent US term is cyberinfrastrucrure). I’m listening to the keynote – Malcolm Atkinson – :

  • research using eScience
  • research enabling eScience
  • eInfrastructure supporting research and innovation

He highlights Computational Thinking (Jeanette Wing) which will be my reading during (perish the thought) any boring talks:
Cameron Naylor has blogged:

If it hasn’t been obvious from what has gone previously I am fairly new to the whole E-science world. I am definitely not in any form a computer scientists. I’m not a computer-phobe either but my skills are pretty limited. It’s therefore a little daunting to be going for the first time to an e-science meeting. This is the usual story of not really knowing the people from this community and not necessarily having a clear idea of what people within the field or community think the priorities are.The programme is available online and my first response on looking at it in detail was that I don’t even understand what most of the session titles mean. “OMII-UK” is a fairly inpenetrable workshop title for which the first talk is “Portalization Process for the Access Grid”. Now to be fair these are somewhat more specialised workshops and many of the plenary session names make more sense. This is normal when you go to an out-of-your-field conference but it will be interesting to see how much of the programme makes sense.
PMR: Don’t panic. There will be a lot of technology that is not familiar. Not all is relevant to you. The people are often more important than the technology.
One of the issues with e-science programmes is the process of bringing the ‘outside’ scientist into the fold. Systems such as our lab e-notebook require an extra effort to use, certainly at the beginning, and during the development process there are often very few tangible benefits. Researchers are always time poor people so they want to see benefits. In theory we are here to demonstrate and promote our e-notebook system but I suspect this may be a case of preaching to the converted. It will be interesting to see a) whether we get much interest b) whether the comments we get are more on the technical implementation or the practical side of actually using it to record experiments.One of the great things about starting this blog has been the way it has facilitated discussion with others interested in open notebook science and open science in general. I am less sure it has brought scientists who are interested in the work in our notebook in. My feeling is that this meeting may be a bit similar. On the other hand it may get us some good ideas on solving some of the problems of visualising the notebook that I want to discuss in a future post.
So if you are at the meeting and want to see the notebook please drop by to the BBSRC booth on Wednesday afternoon and do say hello if you see a shortish balding bearded guy who is looking lost or confused.
PMR: There is a tension between the needs of “scientists” and the desires and directions of “computer scientists”. Sometimes they overlap – frequently they don’t. A great deal of the technological development takes place because it is needed, but others because it pushes the boundaries of computer science. That’s not a bad thing, unless it dominates. I am continually refreshing my judgement about what it gets right and what it doesn’t. Some disciplines need heavyweight technology, but others like chemistry probably don’t. But using existing lightweight technology is not sexy, and doesn’t engage many computer scientists.
I’m tagging this as ahm2007. I could only find 2 tags in Technorati. Compare to www2007 where there were hundreds of posts. So any bloggers might congregate round this tag.
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3 Responses to UK eScience All Hands 2007

  1. Pingback: paul walk’s weblog » Blog Archive » Stranger in a strange land (1)

  2. Paul Walk says:

    just came across your post. I was at the All Hands meeting and, like you, I noted the lack of ‘official’ tag. Unfortunately, also like you, I created one myself (‘escience-ahm-2007’), inevitably different to yours. I will edit my past posts to use your tag as well as mine.

  3. Pingback: paul walk’s weblog » Blog Archive » eScience All Hands 2007 - final thoughts

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