Later in the spring I also attended the 39th meeting of IASSIST in Washington. IASSIST stands for the International Associaion for Social Science Information Services and Technology. This is always a mouthful when you cross a border and try to explain where you are going and what you are doing. This was my first trip to Washington, and although there was no time for sightseeing, I did get a sense of a very beautiful and historic city. A return trip will be made.
The best part about IASSIST is the opportunity to network with an incredibly experienced and passionate group of data librarians and data professionals from around the world. This is the one conferences I attend where I am guaranteed to come back inspired with new ideas.
This year I had the privilege of chairing a session on Planning for Preservation: TDR/OAIS in data archives. In this session we had speakers from Finland, Netherlands, USA and Canada. All were excellent and reflect the breadth of activities happening around the world I was particularly interested with where Scholar’s Portal was taking things. The team there is doing some amazing things with projects like ODESI and the Geospatial Portal, that are transforming the way we access and manage information for teaching and research. Scholar’s Portal clearly shows that by combing resources across institutions we can accomplish way more than acting as independent agents.
The most transformative presentation I saw was by Stuart Macdonald of EDINA. In this talk he discussed crowd sourcing of the Scottish Post Office Directories and Census records in the 18th and 19th century and linking these to contemporaneous maps. On top of this they were working on an augmented reality app to be used in the city of Endinburgh. Imagine walking through town, pointing your camera at a building and looking at all sorts of crowd sourced information about individuals who lived there in the past. Absolutely fascinating.
The final take away for me was that IT has a big role to play in supporting the research mission through high performance computing, large data and analytics (see the Educause Top Ten IT Isssues, 2012) Something that the IASSIT memebers have been doing for a long time.