TDWG Conference Wrap-up

After a week “nerding it up” with colleagues and friends, I thought that it would be worth trying to summarise the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) Conference into a blog post.  I don’t think that it’s possible, but here goes…

For those of you interested, you can go straight to the source for the TDWG talks and the vidcasts, that are essentially audio files paired with a screen capture.  You don’t get to see a talking head, but you do get to watch their Powerpoint with a commentary in it, which is pretty cool.  To see these, go here for the program or here for the whole list.

Highlights for me were:

  • The obvious benefit of a conference – getting face time with a range of people you’ve only emailed and Skyped.  Catching up with the GBIF guys and a range of other people was really great.  As I mentioned in my talk, most of our issues are not technological; they are social.  Face time really helps.
  • Jim Croft’s keynote address.  Jim gave a really good talk that started the process of holding up a mirror to what TDWG has achieved (since “TDWG = US”) or rather, what they hadn’t, and was entertaining to boot (any presentation with an XKCD comic is fine by me).  Jim’s presentation is here (2.1MB Powerpoint file), and when I can manage to upload the 30MB vidcast, I’ll add that link in here too.
  • Kevin Richards giving a talk about LSIDs that I actually understood.  Partially due to the fact I’d been discussing it the week before with the Faunal Collections Informatics Group, and come to some forward plan about it, and partially because he just gave a good presentation.  Kevin’s presentation is here (683kb Powerpoint), and his vidcast here (7MB Flash file).
  • The ever changing view of the Maritime Museum – overlooking the port of Fremantle and constantly changing with boats, ships, dolphins, birds and a whole lot of other stuff happening on the water.
  • The beer at Little Creatures, which became a regular watering hole.  The Little Creatures Loft, just next to the main Little Creatures area, is a great, relaxed place to set yourself down in a comfy sofa, drink a cold beer and talk about Globally Unique IDentifiers…

My only lowlight (and probably something I didn’t apologise enough for), was my complete lack of sleep and exhaustion for most of the conference, meaning on Tuesday I was told that I was “the grumpiest I’ve ever been”.  Sorry guys!

I also was completely sideswiped by the specifically purchased DSL modem in the Maritime Museum burning out during the conference.  If anyone could to that to a modem, TDWG delegates could – and did.  I’ve never seen such compulsive use of the net – watching a guy take a high-res photo of the presenter with a massive digital camera, then upload it straight to Flickr, then annotate it in Google Maps was a real eye-opener.  My main role was to try to keep the internet connection up and running, and a modem with black marks around the rear exhaust ports isn’t a good thing to discover in the comms cupboard.  However, Dave from Mixed Media (PLUG) did a fantastic job with doing most of that!

The TDWG conference is worth going to if you work in biodiversity informatic data provision or management.  It’s also well worth your time reviewing the presentations if you work with biodiversity data at all.  This was echoed for me when I attended the iVEC Marine Data Management workshop today (more on that later) – there were a lot of things discussed in this workshop that TDWG has already dealt with and can help groups like this!

And finally, if you wanted to know what it is like organizing a TDWG conference, click here.  Meant in good humour!  For my fellow organising committee members, thanks for the support during the week – and well done!

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