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UK E-Science all hands meeting – initial thoughts

10 September 2007 One Comment

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.

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 details of the work in our notebook. 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.

p.s. Thanks to whoever was running a meeting upstairs today. I didn’t realise I was stealing your lunch!