March 19, 2008

SciBarCamp summary & impressions: Sunday

So, on to Sunday! I have to admit, that getting to the conference for 9am on a Sunday, given that the TTC only starts running at 9am was just more trouble that it was worth. So, I aimed to get there by 10am and I was still able to enjoy a full day of discussion and enjoyment.

(Link to Participants list. Link to Sunday's program, which was emailed on Saturday night. It's also worth noting that sessions changed, combined, morphed during the conference, so if I've got participants wrong below, I apologize.)

Like I mentioned, I only arrived at 10am, just in time to catch Part Two of Eva Amsen's "Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Science." This time she enlisted 3 panelists to help her narrow down the suggestions that people wrote down on her poster the previous day. And narrow they did. Ultimately, they came up with a very short list of 3 really important things. Which I can't remember any more. Fortunately, Eva is a lot younger than I am so if you're reading this Eva, please drop a comment! Anyways, the session worked really well, with a lot of great input from the panelists and the audience.

Next up was the "Art vs. Science" panel with a whole cast of characters: Roberta Buiani, Bill Leeming, Dave Kemp, Scott Menary and Enrico Lappano. Good wide ranging discussion here about various projects. Very interesting was the film clip of a documentary currently in post-production about science, art and science in society.

Wendy Banks (of the Toronto Public Library) and I moderated a session on the future of libraries. With Wendy coming from the public library perspective and me from academia, the session covered a lot of ground. Mostly, people wanted to know what libraries were for in the digital age. Peter Watts may have amiably yanked my chain a bit, but I think (hope?) I was able to make a case for libraries having a role in mentoring and helping students navigate an increasingly complex information environment. We also discussed the digital divide, digitizing collections and the fact that sometimes your institution may already have what you need, you just don't know it yet. I'd definitely like to thank Wendy (whom I'd never met before Friday!) for co-moderating this session with me.

After my session ended I headed for the Jen Dodd's session on the conference itself. A lot of the minor glitches or issues I've mentioned already were brought up, but nothing major at all. Certainly the huge consensus in the room was, "Same time next year!" Unfortunately, it also seems that the conference ran a not-insignificant deficit, so any attendees that are reading this can feel free to contact the organizers if they want to send a little cash their way.

Finally, the closing session was Lee Smolin on "What is Mathematics?" Opening up with Rick Sacks talking about how he used math to create his 10 Planets percussion album was a stroke of genius. Rick's discussion and demo was fascinating and weird, enough to make me want to check out his music some more. Smolin was, not surprisingly, mystifying in a compelling and provocative way. What is math? Well, what is "What?" What is "is?" Food for thought, for sure.

Most of all, I like to extend hearty congratulations on a job well done to the organizers/advisors: Jen Dodd, Eva Amsen, Jamie McQuay, Michael Nielson, Karl Schroeder and Lee Smolin. I met a lot of great people at the conference, did a lot of cool networking, presented twice when I was only expecting to present once (on the Future of Libraries), watched my son have a blast on Saturday, seeing how at ease he felt among the attendees. It was open and friendly, not intimidating at all even though there were clearly some scarily accomplished people there. Here's to another edition of SciBarCamp next year!

1 comment:

Eva said...

Science is a process, science doesn't have all the answers, and science is a human activity were the three I ended with.

But I'll write the whole process up over Easter weekend, because I think the way we all collectively got to this was more interesting than the outcome.