January 26, 2009

ScienceOnline '09: Sunday summary and final thoughts

As with the Saturday summaries, I won't really go into detailed summaries of sessions -- you can get a lot of summary information on the conference wiki or on FriendFeed.

So, here goes. In each case, I'll link to the wiki discussion page:

Reputation, authority and incentives. Or: How to get rid of the Impact Factor — moderated by Peter Binfield and Bjoern Brembs

An intense session about a lot of different ideas, mostly generating a lot of questions but not a lot of answers. Is is possible to game the impact factors or influence how they are calculated? Are impact factors better than nothing? Should they be replaced by a variety of different performance metrics that each show a different things? Should we have performance metrics at all? If metrics are useful for filtering, will it be possible to replace them at all? How do you construct an incentive system for science if what's good for scientists (ie. using impact factors for filtering) isn't good for science (ie. distortion of science by using impact factors for filtering)? How do you align those two parallel incentive structures?

Hey, You Can’t Say That! — moderated by Greg Laden, Rick MacPherson, Karen James and Mark Powell
More questions! How do you manage your online persona? Once you say something, can you put the genie backin the bottle? Do you have to practice self-censorship? Should employers have rules and procedures about employee blogging, even if it's on their private time? And what do bloggers owe their day jobs?

How to search scientific literature
– moderated by Christina Pikas and John Dupuis
A bit of bad luck for the presentation that Christina and I did, right at the very last timeslot of the conference. We couldn't get the data projector to work with Christina's laptop, nor could the tech support guy from Sigma Xi. So, our breezy interaction demo and tips sessions became...talk. Oh well. All in all, I hope that the attendees were happy with our tips and strategies, at least to the extent we were able to explain rather than show. We do have slide that we were going to shoe, here.

Final Thoughts

Another great conference, if anything objectively even better than last year. I say objectively, because subjectively my experience of community was rather profound and knowing what to expect this year, it's hard to compare those kinds of feelings.

And just like last year, the community continued to the last possible minute. Last year, I was hanging around with Deepak Singh and Salman Hameed more or less right up until I got on the plane back to Toronto. This time all the GTA attendees were on the same plane back home! So Sam and I hung around with Eva Amsen, Glendon Mellow and Michael Nielsen until the very last minute. Victor Henning was connecting home via Toronto, so he was there too. Eva has a picture of us at the airport.

The sessions were great but it was also great to renew friendships from last year, to see old friends again and to meet new friends. I know that Sam felt very welcome and not at all looked down upon as a kid and that his contributions and comments were valued as a peer; it makes a dad proud. I hope to bring him back again next year. There were vague rumblings of another London/European event, which I more or less promised Corie Lok and/or Martin Fenner that I would attend.

Unlike last year, I'm not going to even attempt to list all the people I met and talked to. Really, that was a bit odd what I did last year -- what was I thinking? The only one I will mention is the new scitech library blogger I met, Chris Clouser of The Logical Operator. After all, we librarians need to stick together.

Thanks to all the organizers for putting on such a wonderful show, Bora, Anton and David. See you all next year.

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