San Francisco is a beautiful city. With at least 2 to 3 major tech events taking place here every week and a whole bunch of other exciting stuff from business meetups to live jazz, you never get bored. From Monday the 24th to Thursday 27th it hosted the 9th International Data Curation Conference with the eloquent title “Commodity, catalyst or change-agent? Data-driven transformations in research, education, business & society”. A well established conference which attracted this year about 230 delegates from libraries, university labs and research institutions from all over the world including some heavy names like The British Library, Microsoft Research, Elsevier, NSF and top universities from N. America, Europe and Australia.
Coming from the ICT industry I felt a little bit out of my comfort zone at first, being surrounded by librarians and data curators. Nevertheless, as soon as the first keynote started by Atul Butte, I realised that I was in the right place. Dr. Butte is the Chief of the Division of Systems Medicine and Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics at Stanford University (among others). He talked about his work in translating available big data into diagnostics, Therapeutics and eventually into new insights that lead into new therapies for diseases. If you cannot find his talk in the IDCC you can watch his really inspiring talk at TEDMED 2012.
The following keynotes were equally inspiring and interesting. Fran Berman talked about the global ecosystem for data-driven innovation and the role of the Research Data Alliance as a vehicle to address issues like the cost of data stewardess and preservation. (Check out RDA Europe).
Jane Hunter from the eResearch Lab, School of ITEE, University of Queensland presented three very interesting case studies emphasising community driven knowledge curation with quality control annotation. Tools are online and provide valuable food for thought (OZtrack.org, Skeletome, HunterYu.
Although not directly related to data preservation (and even loosely touching data curation), Brian Hole from Ubiquity Press, UK presented a very viable and quite interesting business model and Paul Lewis from The Guardian gave an inspiring presentation about the advent of open journalism. It seems that more and more traditional publishers understand that readers today are not just consumers but also producers of information (and data).
Demonstrations of specific solutions like DataUP, Labtrove Notebook and Archivematica were of specific interest to us and by watching these products we were able to take a glimpse at a potential future for the exploitation of PERICLES outcomes. I am convinced that in the following years we’ll have the chance to present some very interesting components and tools.
The Poster exhibition gave us the chance to present our project, share ideas with other delegates and identify potential interesting projects to follow. It seems that libraries as institutions can be a whole new market for PERICLES innovations and products. You can have a look at all the posters presented.
The second day of the conference found us trying to split into 3 different sessions, moving around the rooms of the excellent Omni San Francisco Hotel. It is impossible to mention all presentations but what became clear is that in order to preserve data we need to develop a complete life cycle approach with tools and methods starting from data creation and acquisition to preservation and beyond.
We left the conference with the reassurance that the research we are working on in PERICLES, is something very “hot”, with tremendous impact and a market that is currently evolving. We also left the conference with the best poster award and a pack of chocolates (our prize). That was a quite rewarding experience and a reassurance that we are in the right track. Chocolates were great by the way.