Nothing says AHM in quite the same way as the call to arms "Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!" shouted at top volume by Malcolm Atkinson - UK e-Science envoy, SSI co-Investigator and part-time town crier. Malcolm is clearly aware that there are few things that can clear a room faster than a shouting Scotsman. So here we are: the ninth UK e-Science All Hands Meeting and the first public outing for the Software Sustainability Institute. What does Cardiff hold for us this year?
It's certainly a fantastic venue. Cardiff City Hall is an Edwardian masterpiece heavily adorned with marble and sculpture. Let's hope we can live up to these grand surroundings. And there’s no doubt that we're in Wales: it hasn't stopped raining since we arrived.
Things kicked off this morning with a plenary from Professor Dan Atkins. Dan chaired the UK e-Science review last year, and it was the results of this review that formed the basis for his presentation. A lot of the core funding for the UK e-Science programme came to an end last year, so one of the major questions on everyone's mind is: what next? Dan faced this question head on and made a number of suggestions for the future of UK e-Science.
In my opinion, one of the most interesting suggestions is that academics need to work together to make the most of resources we have. This means more (or at least some) sharing of not only resources, but expertise too. Making key expertise available to the research community is one of the roles of the Software Sustainability Institute, so there's definitely room for us to help with this goal. And when it comes to sharing, there's not much that we don't know about crossing institutional - and even geographic - boundaries.
Following a break, we heard from Matt Davies - the EPSRC programme manager for e-Science. Matt responded to some of the subjects raised by Dan and talked more about the future of e-Science. For the definitive answer of EPSRC's plans, we'll have to wait until later in the autumn when the results of the comprehensive spending review are released. But while we wait for that review, Matt provided a few hints of what is to come. Future funding will come from individual research councils rather than from cross-council programmes, and he mentioned a joint EPSRC/JISC call for cloud-computing pilots. I was also glad that Matt discussed the Software Sustainability Institute and our role in ensuring that software produced by the programme will be available to future researchers.
The booth has been busy too. We've already had a few leads on projects that would like to work with us to improve the sustainability of their software, and we've had our first question for 'Ask Steve'. We need more of these, so if you have a question, please drop by the stand. In general, it’s been a busy day, and despite the word austerity cropping up more frequently than at previous AHMs, it seems that there's a lot of life left in e-Science.