The Developer Lounge and Challenge at #eRes2012
Sydney, Australia. This year the eResearch Australasia conference took a risk: they invited ‘hackers’ into their conference. Did these ‘bottom-up’ innovators help? Is it worth doing again? Make your voice heard via the conference feedback form.
So what happens when you have developers show up with a dozen scientific instruments, ready to do eResearch? What follows is a glance into the frenzied developer world during four days at #eRes2012:
The ‘developer lounge’ opened on Sunday with an ‘unconference’ where the citizens of Sydney were invited to do Science (read about the Unconference via this post)!
@Boscoh hacks a digital microscope using an iPad as a light-table for illuminating crystals.
On Mon & Tues, the developer lounge was transformed into a hive of activity as the competition was officially announced. The challenge: ‘show us the future of eResearch’. Did the developer respond? – Of course they did. Challengers were asked to hack together ideas (in 24 hours) which demonstrated the theme ‘from nature to networks to neurons’.
On Wednesday the developers faced down the mighty Dragon Directors Den as representative from the national digital infrastructure organisations (AARNET, AAF, ANDS, NeCTAR & RDSI) judged the ideas that had been hacked together.
Wednesday afternoon at the closing remarks the top three challenge winners were announced:
Winner of Challenge no.2 (‘From Network to Neurons’): Conal Tuohy from VeRSI demonstrated the power of linkeddata in the humanities by building a visualisation that showed the social groupings of women across prominent literature sources.
Winner of Challenge no.3 (‘From Nature to Network to Neurons’): Anna Gerber from the University of Queensland built a low cost sensor that anyone can build in a day that will feed into a worldwide network of sensors called the butterfly project.
Immediately following the closing remarks, a hundred people (both developer & managers) gathered in the developer lounge to pick the grand champion. Each of the above three presented their ideas, and via audience applause (a deafening 95 decibels!) chose Anna as their reigning grand champion. Anna walks away with an all expenses paid trip to next year’s conference – Congratulation Anna!
Here is a video of the three challenge winners presenting to the audience (thanks to Simon Pockley for his videography!)
Whew! – it was a manic four days: yet, the best (& most valuable) part of all the activities were the serendipitous conversations we all had as we shared our developer experiences with one another ensuring that as a community we are all more skilled & connected than we were when the event began.
“Interoperability begins with one developer sitting down next to another and explaining an idea.”
IMHO the developer brought a new and exciting perspective for how eResearch can be both fun as well as an excellent opportunity to celebrate the skills and changes we are bringing to the sector.
So should we invite the developers to next year’s eResearch event? Or more importantly can we invite even more developers and scientists to come together to solve eResearch problems? What might next year’s eResearch event look like? Make your voice heard via the conference feedback form. And send ideas for next year’s developer lounge to @DFFlanders on twitter.
= by ‘hackers’ we are referring to the well known definition in the developer community as defined here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_(hobbyist)
= equivalent to the sound a commercial airplane makes when taking off, if you were standing next to it!