Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Better late than never!

This post was written yesterday at the conference venue but unfortunately the wireless (and wired) connection was down from 4pm yesterday. Fingers crossed it's better today...

This morning I was in the User Engagement session for two main reasons. User engagement is one of the main remits of my job and the second reason is that I was giving a presentation during this session!

The session kicked off with Alistair Sutcliffe from Manchester talking about user engagement with health informatics. He specifically talked about user tool development and the involvement the eventual users had in the development process. Next up was a fellow NGS staff member Kevin Haines who gave a more technical focused talk on how users can access NGS resources using SSH enabled clients. Good publicity for the NGS again.

I was next up and you couldn’t really get a more different presentation from Kevins! My talk focused on the outreach methods that I use at the NGS to tell people about the NGS and the methods we use for gathering feedback from our users etc. I covered topics such as our popular roadshows where we go out to institutions and give presentations to potential users, our new Campus Champions scheme, innovation forum, our new website, the Communities service which was launched last week and our annual user survey. A lot to cover in 20 mins but I made it! There were a lot of good questions at the end which asked for more detail and I got to talk for longer about a subject that I get really enthusiastic about!

After lunch (better than yesterday!) I attended the social sciences and humanities session returning to my first job in grid computing many moons ago. Peter Halfpenny from the University of Manchester talked about the e-social science agenda. Peter started off with describing NCeSS and its objectives and the initial lack of demand for grid computing by social scientists. Things however have moved on and social scientists are no longer frightened of the grid. However now looking to the future the social scientists are now asking questions about the sustainability of the tools that have been produced. Who will look after these tools, who will look after them and who will support them? These questions need to be answered and people are looking towards the funding bodies.

So tonight is the conference dinner in the centre of Oxford and a chance to catch up with all those colleagues that I’ve not yet had a chance to chat to and there are quite a few! It’s almost the end of day 2 and it seems to have gone pretty quickly already.

PS it took me over 4 hours to post this a day after I wrote it thanks to the awful internet access. Hopefully this is it sorted!

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