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Data technologist communities


Andrew Treloar on how the Monthly Tech Talk series is bringing together data technologists

Achieving success in eResearch infrastructure requires a focus on three elements: partnerships, services and skills. Over the life of ANDS, the organisation has invested significantly in partnerships and services, but has not fully explored the value of increasing skills in some communities.

Through the work of the Capabilities team, led by Karen Visser, ANDS has built a vibrant data librarians community. The success of the 23 (research data) Things initiative is testament to this – around 1,500 registrations and significant engagement across the country (see previous story on pages 4 and 5). But data librarians are not the only community that is making a difference in research data. As part of its Business Plan for 2015-16, ANDS identified a need to expand its work in community building for data technologists.

This group is less easy to pin down than data librarians, but has been defined to include anyone in the research-producing sector who is involved with creating or supporting tools or technologies that work with data. This group is more diverse than data librarians, and employed in a wider range of agencies. So identifying them took a while, and the momentum was a bit slower to build.

Because ANDS wanted to help the community come together, two decisions were taken early on. The first was not to use this as a way to push ANDS services; it was deliberately structured as a listening and facilitating exercise. The idea was for the community to identify what it wanted to talk about, and for ANDS to help. The second was to try to make this more than just another webinar series. And so the Monthly Tech Talks series was born.

Each Tech Talk event is structured on a hub and spoke model. People physically meet in venues around Australia’s States and Territories, connected via video conferencing. After the presentations (short ones with time for questions, totalling only one hour) the meeting turns into a social function. The result has been a steady increase in those registering and attending from meeting to meeting. Recent events have attracted over 100 people around the hubs.

The topics covered so far – selected through a poll of the community – have included Cloud Power User, DOIs, Security in the Cloud, Imaging Analysis, Big Data Analysis and Software-Defined Networking. The session on Provenance (4 November) is the last for the 2016 series.

If you are interested in attending future events, see Monthly Tech Talks for more information. Events are held on the first Friday of each month.

A few words of thanks

ANDS would like to acknowledge the fantastic energy and enthusiasm shown by Dr Xiaobin Shen (recently departed from ANDS to Astronomy Australia Ltd), who was responsible for initiating these talks and facilitating them up to the September meeting. The credit for their success and momentum belongs in large part to him. ANDS is committed to continuing and building on the excellent foundation that he has laid.

ANDS would also like to acknowledge the support of Nectar, QCIF, Intersect, VicNode, eRSA and Pawsey in publicising and hosting the meetings.

Brisbane Tech Talk