Thursday, 12 July 2012

The sound of conversation (from 40 different countries)

Yesterday was the official close of the conference as we move into workshops on Friday. First up I gave my Pecha Kucha (PK) talk on the Party Infrastructure Project that I was involved with at the National Libraryof Australia. I gave this presentation as an individual, as I no longer work at the NLA and it’s not reflective of my work at Griffith University. For those not familiar with it, Pecha Kucha comes from the Japanese and refers to ‘the sound of conversation’. The presentation format is 20 slides at 20 seconds per slide which is a 6 minute 40 seconds presentation. The transition between slides is set automatically so the presenter has no choice but to keep ploughing on, even if they haven’t finished talking about the previous slide when the next one comes up. At OR2012 this is a Fringe event with several PK sessions, each very well attended. The format gives the audience a flavour for the topic, which they can find out more about afterwards should they choose, and frankly, it’s a bit of an intellectual blood sport. There’s a sort of perverse enjoyment of seeing the fear in the presenters eyes as they race through slides at breakneck speed. As that presenter yesterday, I admit to being terribly fearful and to speaking awfully quickly. I had a lag time of half a sentence or so on a couple of slides but came up on time for most of them. There’s an art in preparing the slides with more pictures and very few words that I didn’t get quite right, and you essentially have to script your words – only three sentences or so per slide. If you stumble over words or blither on, precious time is lost. I found it more difficult than the full paper talk I gave yesterday on Griffith’s data evolution journey, particularly as there are some very complex concepts in the party infrastructure and you simply can’t explain satisfactorily at 20 seconds per slide. I have total admiration for those who speak English as a second language and rose to the challenge of presenting a PK!

We gathered in the George Square lecture theatre at the University of Edinburgh to hear the official conference close before moving into workshops over the next day and a half. 460 people registered for OR2012 representing 40 countries. Of these, I counted six Australians and one New Zealander though the delegate list may reveal some I didn’t catch up with in person. Queensland had the greatest representation with QUT, UQ and Griffith all represented. The Australasians had a small but surprisingly loud presence, as each of us gave a talk, PK or workshop. The charismatic Peter Sefton from University of Western Sydney was on the conference committee and chaired the Developers Challenge. The challenge was sponsored by DevCSI and was to “show us something new and cool in the world of open repositories”. They had the best ever response to the challenge this year with 28 ideas. The winner was Patrick McSweeney with his ‘Data Engine’ idea and the runners up also put together a great idea about using mobile devices in the field to upload audio and video files, with transcriptions, into a repository. You can read about the Developers Challenge winners here.

At the closing plenary we saw a nice little wordle based on the conference tweets. The word ‘data’ was very prominent, as was (of course) repositories, but it showed that data is now mainstream whereas in past conferences it has been more of a side issue. Reflecting on the theme of ‘Open Services for Open Content: Local In for Global Out’ the discussion highlights were summarised as: a recognition of the role of registries; identifiers (how to use, manage and economise); citation (sufficiency, connectivity) and repository fringe (success of). The folks from Prince Edward Island off the East coast of Canada will be hosting next year’s OR and gave a very enjoyable presentation on what we can expect, should we have the fortune to attend. Personally, I thought this was an excellent conference. Edinburgh is a beautiful city and the conference had a wonderful and distinctly Scottish flavour. At the same time, it was truly international conference and that led to a diversity of experiences and ideas which made for rich discussions about repositories and related issues, particularly on shared challenges such as name and data identifiers. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with some very clever and talented people and I’ll take home some good ideas and pertinent thoughts on difficult topics. This unique conference with its Scottish flavour will linger for quite some time yet and I hope I have been able to share some of it with you.  Finally, it’s stopped raining!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like it was great fun!
    Looking forward to hearing about global OR initiatives when we catch up.