Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Doing a lot of talking about software

Recently I attended the Software Sustainability Institute Collaboration Workshop (CW) which was held in a very sunny Oxford for 2 days.  It was a busy workshop for me due to being on the steering committee, being part of the events team, chairing a session, giving a lightning talk and scribing for some of the sessions as well!

If you’ve never been to a CW before then the best way to describe it is a conference but not as you know it!  In most conferences people sit and listen to one person giving a demo or PowerPoint presentation at the front of a lecture theatre.  At a CW people pick the topics they want to discuss and head off into break out rooms to have stimulating and interactive discussions about these topics.  Everyone then reconvenes in the main lecture theatre and all the groups report back to inform all delegates of the points and issues raised as well as some possible solutions!

However before the breakout sessions there were some lightning talks – short presentations done against the clock.  Simon Hettrick from SSI makes sure that there are no misunderstandings as a large countdown timer is projected up on the screen along with the one and only slide you are allowed.  I have done lightning talks before at SSI events but this time Simon had raised the bar by only giving each delegate a mere 3 mins.  As I had to present on both the Campus and Community champs in this time it was a tall order but I made it – just!

After the adrenaline rush of the lightning talks we moved onto the more sedate business of breakout sessions.  During the two days I attended several sessions -

•    Building research and communication networks across disciplines
•    How to blog, and how to run a blog 
•    Bringing together representatives of the research community: Institute's Agents and SSAs, and the SeIUCCR Community and Campus Champions
•    Using the internet and social media to increase your impact and publicise research to the public and research community 

From each of these sessions the 5 most important points learnt during the session were recorded and reported back along with -

•    What are the problems, and are there solutions?
•    What further work could be done, and who should do it?
•    Are there any useful resources that people should know about?

All the notes from all the sessions are available through the Collaborations Workshop 2012 Google Group – you don’t need a Google account to view the information.  They make for some very interesting reading particularly if you are a research software engineer or a researcher who uses software!

Photos from the event are also available which prove just how nice the weather really was before we descended back into winter this week!

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