Thursday, 29 September 2011

Blogging off

It is the last day of All Hands 2011 and it is my last day working for the NGS.

After 4 years of general griddery, I'm moving on.

Four years is a long time in research, and today's All Hands meeting at York is very different from the first grid event I attended, Open Grid Forum 20 in Manchester.

I remember that the Manchester meeting was huge and full of international delegates.

The UK contingent were based in something called the UK e-Science Village - which conjured up bucollic images of computer scientists dancing around the maypole on the e-Science village green, just next to the local shop for local people.

At the very least, I was hoping to see the UK e-Science Village People giving a rousing chorus of their classic - `(its fun to be at the) STFC.'

The village turned out to be a very large display booth.

All Hands is national, rather than international. The conference and the booths are smaller. As at OGF, people still enthuse about shiny new technology that will solve all our problems in the future.

But in among them are people using the less-shiny, less-all-singing, less-all-dancing software that we have now. And they are using it to do new research that is nothing to do with the technology itself.

And it is those are the people I want to hear - because what I have learned to call e-Infrastructure is very broad - in one session yesterday, the talks covered the behaviour of the heart, and how what the researchers have learned there has been applied to the way muscles move when giving birth; and how to model the way water shapes landscapes over millennia.

I still do not give a damn about how clever, or web-service-y, or standards compliant, a bit of e-Infrstructure is. It is what you do with it that counts.

It is the researchers who have take what we provide and use it to deliver the research that could not otherwise be done. These are the people you can read about in the case studies.

These are the people who have turned e-Research into Research - and will continue to do so for many years to come.

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