November 9, 2011

Day 3 eResearch Australasia Conference

Filed under: eResearch Australasia 2011 — Neil Godfrey @ 8:22 pm

Total attendance about 500. US, German, UK, NZ and Australian speakers and reps.

Opened with a video introducing us to The Cloud. This is where we are headed so that researchers will be able to focus on research rather than storage of mass data.

This morning’s plenary talk by Peter Fox of RPI was one of those that I find I can only take in at impression level and that motivates me to explore a whole lot of new activities under way I had no knowledge of till now. Peter Fox is talking about “Web 6.0”.

Peter spoke of data visualization, and this dug into something other than either inductive and deductive reasoning — abductive reasoning — coined by the Charles Sanders Pierce of Semiotics fame.

He challenged the old paradigm I have long taken for granted: that from data we move to the next level of information and then to knowledge. That’s not how things work in the real world. There is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between those three.

All the videos are on vimeo. Lots to explore about where we are headed.

Peter Fox is a Tasmanian, too. I keep hearing of Tasmanians making it big in the U.S. beginning with Peter Singer.

Paul Walk (UKOLN) followed with a talk on the developer community supporting innovation. Some interesting points and some I would like to question too — such as pros and cons of outsourcing one’s developing support.

First breakout session was with Anna SHadbolt (Versi) — Building training into the value proposition of eResearch

Glad to catch up with another session led by Leslie Carr, the ePrints director. Hope his presentation is online. He was looking at the changing roles and services of repositories and their growing importance. Repository Scope is widening now to embrace research activity and business requirements.

A repository is no longer just a storage bin. It is becoming a sociological and technological phenomenon — a new way of doing research.

The listened to John Morrissey or CSIRO and ways of building data management services supporting a multi-disciplinary research organization. I  have made a note to get a copy of this presentation. Too much significant detail relevant to what I am doing to single out just  a few points.

Followed up with another interesting combined presentation of the Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV) and TROVE (NLA) and work done to take paper, digitize, and then go the next step to extracting useful data in useful formats through XL files and TEI. Basic OCR techniques are enhanced by the community. Caught up afterwards with Jane Hunter of UQ and was pleased to know of her contacts with Michael Christie’s project about preserving aboriginal cultures that I will be working on next year. More valuable contacts to benefit from the tools and experiences that are accumulating and will be most useful for our projects.

I then went to a semantic web technology session I had been looking forward to but unfortunately it was delivered at a level way above my head. Now I know I still have a hell of a lot to learn to really understand full applications of this.

The final plenary was by Jan Brase of DataCite: Riding the Wave — paradigm shifts in information access. See

Jan’s introduction was attention grabbing: a thousand years ago science was empirical; for the last few hundred years, theoretical; in recent decades, computational; and today, it is data exploration — unifying theories, along with experiment and simulation. Jan clearly has a librarianship background and was able to point out the importance of libraries as providers of information, as being consistent and also as a requirement to nowadays be a portal to information. Jan introduced us to the ways these services are offered by TIB, the German National Library of Science and Technology. This was eye-opening: how a library record might direct you to an Elsevier metadata record and a link that you must pay Elsevier lots of money to access (that is, the publication itself) — but on the same page will be a link to the data itself on which the publication is based — and that data is free.  Jan also showed us new ways of searching for information. Forget text searches: try visual searching, 3D sketching, — doing a sketch or even a simple line of a certain curve in order to locate information of the related architectural or statistical data, even if they are in text format in the database.

The values of being able to cite data itself (DOI’s — though ANDS uses handles) were enumerated — for one thing it makes falsification of research less easy — and more — were addressed. I took the chance to record the rest of this presentation and will outline more detail in future posts.

It was a wonderful major presentation with which to conclude the conference. I had a wonderful opportunity to talk briredly with Jan afterwards, too. I feel much more comfortable now that I’ve returned to Australia after my two year absence in Singapore. DataCite is the sort of operation I need to know more about to help me focus CDU’s upcoming digital collections, projects and datasets — and publications, too — in the “right” international direction.

Tomorrow is a workshop all day. And after that a day with CAIRSS — repository coordinators and so getting together. Then home. And then the time I’ve spent here this week will start to sink in, and emails will be sent and contacts renewed and the work of CDU will, I am sure, advance in the right direction with the best inputs available.

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