Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Digital Curation Centre/London eScience Centre Collaborative Workshop

A post from Graham Pryor (DCC eScience Liaison)

The format of collaborative workshops having been set before I picked up the DCC’s eScience Liaison mantle in July this year, I was of course eager to match the success of previous events. My first, with the London eScience Centre (LeSC), was scheduled for 16th October, and in the spirit of exchanging knowledge and expertise, a clutch of presentations and demonstrations by DCC staff was assembled that could be expected to showcase the range of activities and services in which we are engaged. But how would they meld with contributions from the LeSC and how appropriate would be the ‘collaboration’?

I had no cause for concern. The LeSC, now transformed in name and context as the Imperial College Internet Centre, had welcomed this event, producing a spectrum of topics and speakers ranging from an exposition of the College’s ICT and Library collaboration on digital repositories to Henry Rzepa’s demonstration of a multifaceted digital repository for chemistry and Omer Casher’s ‘Semantic Eye’. Opening the workshop, the Internet Centre’s Director, John Darlington, described its new remit as embracing the gamut of Internet-enabled research and development, a significantly broader mission than that had been suggested by the superseded title of London eScience. In fact, the agenda had been evolving up to the last minute, emerging as a very full and lengthy event that overturned the format of previous events by displacing the concluding plenary discussion, but with questions allowed for after each presentation we did perhaps enjoy a greater sense of immediacy and relevance in the lively debates that ensued. (Presentations from the workshop are to be made available at the Internet Centre’s Web pages)

For the DCC, these discussions proved to have particular relevance to the compelling subject of the project’s sustainability, as we found ourselves dealing with questions regarding the range and level of service provision that could be expected from the DCC – e.g. ‘when a project is at start-up can the investigators rely on the provision of an advisory service covering legal and other core data curation issues?’ – which very much reflects the shift in emphasis of DCC Phase 2.

Closing the workshop, John Darlington judged the event to have been a success, having brought together not only the Internet Centre and the DCC, but also colleagues from within Imperial College who might otherwise not have an opportunity to discuss areas of shared interest. His perception was that the workshop had fully supported the rationale of the Internet Centre and he was enthusiastic to maintain the impetus for the exchange of knowledge that it had provided. Upon reflection, that is another box to be ticked on the account of DCC service provision, but the larger message of how should we focus our portfolio for future services and support is one that I took back with me.