I very much enjoyed the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting 2007 last week. Being new to many of the disciplines covered there, I went with an open mind. I learned a bewildering amount, and realised that there are all kinds of opportunities for aligning my professional interests with those of many from the e-science communities. Some small, specific points:
- Being more used to conferences in the e-Learning an web-development worlds, I was struck by the ratio of women to men. Without having counted in any accurate sense, I estimated there to be an order of magnitude more men than women. Not unexpected, perhaps, in a conference devoted to the sciences.... but worthy of comment I think.
- A frequently occurring theme was the issue of the management of massive data-sets. This community is starting to see that it is going to struggle to cope with the volumes of data it generates. There is a continued and growing interest in data-wrangling, metadata & annotation and compression, as well as much discussion about making such data available for sharing. I was told that the issue of data management has taken over from the issue of providing/using large 'compute' resources via the grid - this is now seen as 'done' by some people I spoke to.
- Facebook is popular among scientists - I saw wide-spread use of it during the conference. I wonder if e-Science folk are less bothered by the walled-garden issue working, as so many do, with what is effectively 'closed' grid technology? Just a speculation.... Apparently, the use of social-networking tools might even be influencing the use of grid-computing, through the way in which virtual organisations are created and managed.
- Java portals seem to be a very popular delivery mechanism for e-Science resources - much more so than currently in e-Learning where they have, to some degree, become out-dated.
- the conference web site. I can't even link to a persistent URL for this year's conference - the best I can link to is this page which will, no doubt, be replaced at some point with information about next year's meeting. Really disappointing. Update: appending '2007' to the generic URL does seem to work - thanks to Monica who explains this in a comment (below).
- the lack of a tag for the conference - I was forced to invent my own, 'escience-ahm-2007', although as no-one else has picked up on it to-date, this was probably in vain. I later discovered that Peter Murray-Rust had done the same, albeit using a different tag.
Update: Interesting to see Andy Powell commenting on the issue of tags for conferences in general.