Repo Knitters & Conference Crafting

Photo by Freddycat1 used, with thanks, under CC.

The Open Repositories conference is one of the main conferences of the year for me. It’s also very busy and very crowded. It can get a little stressful trying to cram in seeing everyone I want to see, checking out everything I want to hear about and telling anyone who shows the slightest interest about the  projects I have been working on.

Sarah knitting as I take a break between rounds to eat soup.

A couple of weeks before, I asked on Twitter if there were any knitters attending the conference. I got a great response, and we finally decided on a Wednesday lunchtime meetup at the Kilimanjaro Coffee Shop. In the end, four of us made it, with a couple of rows of knitting being done! We chatted, swapped tips, admired yarn and had a proper break – something that is rare at a full-on conference.(Thanks to Jane for permission oto use the photo.) As well as the people who actually came along, tweeting about knitting at the conference got me into a lot of interesting conversations.  Not just with knitters but with all kinds of crafters who have a day job in the repository world. I chatted in breaks about embroidery, spinning, dressmaking, plushies… it was fantastic  to see this other side of the people I work with 🙂

Which set me thinking…

I find that I tend to suffer a kind of mental shutdown at conferences. There’s too much to take in at once. Because of the get-it-before-it-goes nature of a conference, I stress that the people, the ideas, the buzz will all vanish if I don’t grab it all quickly, now,now, NOW! And then my brain overloads (and I might tweet too much) until even coffee doesn’t help anymore. An hour out for a  proper break on Wednesday lunchtime, knitting and chatting about other things, felt as good as a snooze! I was refreshed, inspired and ready to talk repos far into the night. (Yes, I was the person still enthusiastically talking about the DataFlow project at 10.45pm!)

So, would it help others? Could we have a crafting/making space set aside at conferences? A kind of chill-out zone where making stuff is allowed, where you could go to switch off your aching brain and engage your inner-crafter for half an hour or more? Would people use it? Could we encourage new crafters? Could we encourage creativity in one new area and have this inspire the whole conference? I’d like to try – wondering if anyone would join in? This kind of thing would find a natural home at an un-conference, and that would be cool. But I’d love to try it out at a big, more formal conference because I suspect that’s where we might need it most!

Thanks to the repo Twitter knitters at OR2012 –  Jane Smith Sarah Molloy & Helen Kenna for the knitting and the company 🙂 For anyone who is interested in what I knit, check out my Ravelry profile – or ask to see at the next conference we both attend 😉


DataFlow Developers Success in the OR12 Developer Challenge

Left to right – Ben O’Steen, Mahendra Mahey of DevCSI, Richard Jones

The DataFlow project is very much about development, so it’s not surprising that two of the entries for the Developer Challenge at the OR12 conference where from members of the development team, Ben O’Steen and Richard Jones, both of Cottage Labs.

Ben worked on an idea that originated with Cameron Neylon of the Science & Technology Facilities Council and developed Is This Research Readable?. The idea was to develop a service that checks whether published articles are actually able to be read. Based on DOIs, the service will check a DOI to see whether the article is available and readable or is, in fact, hidden behind a paywall.  The full pitch and proof of concept are now available. Contact Ben and Cameron via Twitter.

Richard worked with Mark MacGillivray (also of Cottage Labs) on SWORD IT! a javascript widget that a researcher could easily embedded in their own web pages. Once in place, the widget would automatically track the repository deposits of the researcher, providing useful statistics and other information. Their demo showed the basics and described how they would develop it further. You can watch Mark describe the idea in more detail, and check out their work so far. Contact Richard and Mark on Twitter.

Photo by zaleary, via Flickr.

DataFlow at Open Repositories 2012

The DataFlow project presented two posters at the Open Repositories Conference 2012, in Edinburgh this week. The posters covered DataBankDataStage and an overall view of DataFlow. The project was represented at the conference by Anusha Ranganathan, Ben O’Steen and Steph Taylor. Sander van der Waal of OSSWatch, partners in the project, and Richard Jones who developed the SWORD2 integration for DataFlow were also on hand to talk to delegates about the project.

There was a Minute Madness session for all posters during Tuesday, with one minute only to explain your poster and interest people in coming to see the posters in more detail at the poster drinks reception that evening. Anusha pitched for the DataBank poster and Step pitched for the DataStage poster. The session was strictly controlled, with presenters being stopped by a strictly enforced whistle after 60 seconds. Anusha pitched perfectly within a minute, but Steph was stopped by the whistle.

Anusha presenting her Minute Madness for DataBank

This didn’t affect interest in the project at the drinks reception, though, with the team answering questions and chatting with lots of delegates about the project.

And later, a calmer chat, with the poster, at the drinks reception.

The Minute Madness sessions were all filmed by the conference and will be available shortly. A link will be posted here once they are online.

Photos by eurovision_nicola, used, with thanks,  under CC license