November 8, 2011

Day 2 pt 2 (pm) eResearch Australasia 2011

Filed under: eResearch Australasia 2011 — Neil Godfrey @ 5:23 pm

The afternoon sessions began with a major 4 person presentation on the 2011 Strategic Roadmap Research Infrastructure Process — and the response from the Australian eResearch Infrastructure Council.  The major challenges on a national basis were addressed — right down to the “simple” or grassroots challenge of the speed of change leading to variable understandings within the academic communities of what is needed, available, etc.

Rhys Francis presented a clear visualization of what eResearch infrastructure involves — look forward to sharing this in some detail later, too. There is a huge shift underway which will enable researchers to research “the real world” and to connect reality to experiment and theory: such is the finesse and complexity of new instruments. We are talking about moving from mere petabytes to exacomputing by 2020. But that leads to the personnel problem and building ways to ensure we have IT people who really can handle exascale computing by then. Scientists are going to have to give up building their own codes as much as IT people would never consider doing the discipline research themselves.

Significant questions were raised and addressed at the end of this session. One was how to ensure the “tail end” of research data is not overlooked with the funding and attention on the “big end”. This ought to be addressed in the Roadmap.

Sad news — James Tizard passed away only in August. A James Tizard Memorial Prize was announced.

A later session was Lessons for data sharing from institutional repositories — presented by Rebecca from Swinburne. Much of this was familiar to me but interesting to hear the issues clearly spelled out and hearing other suggestions and experiences with the attempts to address these.

Attended another BoF (birds of a feather) session on user-facing data services and capability building.  This was  a practical experience and ideas sharing session, and I recorded several useful tips on ways to approach researchers and their supervisors, appreciations for their situations and state of knowledge about tools out there that they would use if they knew about them, tips on the choices of “champions” you select to lead as pilots for the sharing of the data, and the importance of simply listening — like a psychiatrist, don’t be afraid to pause long enough for them to come out; also doing ground work before meeting them, etc etc. Lots of tips to go over and write up as a checklist before next tackling key personnel.

Then dropped in on an eResearch experiences with education and training session. Belinda Weaver was dynamic as usual — again many useful tips and experience sharing on educational techniques for new students and staff recruits and PhD students. No time to list everything now but maybe after I return.

This was not entirely what I was looking for, however, so I left early and shared the time with a session on databases for the humanities. More personal contacts and sites to follow up here. Ideas ticking over now for how to assist with the new project we are looking at on preserving aboriginal languages and cultures in the Northern Territory.

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