Here in Heidelberg at .Astronomy HQ we’re counting down to the conference, which is now just 2 weeks away – scary/exciting! It feels like just a few weeks ago that we decided to host the conference here, in the Haus der Astronomie, but much time has gone by and we’ve done an awful lot of organisation work. I hope it will all come together nicely.
One thing that many of us have learned from participating in other hack days, or conferences like SciFoo, is that preparation is the key to success to such an event. If you arrive in the morning with no idea what to do or who to do it with, you’re not likely to get much done. So sharing ideas and data and finding coding or project buddies before the day is really important.
To facilitate this, we’ve set up a wiki for the conference with a participant list and a space for sharing hack ideas and data. There’s a huge list on there already, which is great! If you’re participating, do check out what’s up there and contact people who you might want to work with on an idea. We hope that .Astronomy is a place where new projects get started.
Personally I’ve thought a lot about innovation in astronomy recently, following a fun workshop I participated in back in April with some fellow instrumentalists. My contribution to the hack challenges is: design the ideal human-data interface. This could be an actual coding project using real data, or a conceptual drawing, or simply a list of requirements. The way we access and interact with data will be incredibly important in the era of Big Data, and I think there is much room for innovation there that needn’t require huge hardware investment.
(We do need good people though, and there’s a hack suggested about that too.)
So that was my 50 cents’ worth. What your idea? Please go jot it down on the wiki – even if you won’t work on it yourself, someone else may be inspired.