From the post:
Context: free cloud servers, a workshop and an idea
In this post I look at some work we’ve been doing at the University of Western Sydney eResearch group on visualizing metadata about research data, in a geographical context. The goal is to build a data discovery service; one interface we’re exploring is the ability to ‘fly’ around Google Earth looking for data, from Research Data Australia (RDA). For example, a researcher could follow a major river and see what data collections there are along its course that might be of (re-)use. True, you can search the RDA site by dragging a marker on a map but this experiment is a more immersive approach to exploring the same data.
The post is a quick update on a work in progress, with some not very original reflections on the use of cloud servers. I am putting it here on my own blog first, will do a human-readable summary over at UWS soon, any suggestions or questions welcome.
You can try this out if you have Google Earth by downloading a KML file. This is a demo service only – let us know how you go.
This work was inspired by a workshop on cloud computing: this week Andrew (Alf) Leahy and I attended a NeCTAR and Australian National Data Service (ANDS) one day event, along with several UWS staff. The unstoppable David Flanders from ANDS asked us to run a ‘dojo’, giving technically proficient researchers and eResearch collaborators a hand-on experience with the NeCTAR research cloud, where all Australian University researchers with access to the Australian Access Federation login system are entitled to run free cloud-hosted virtual servers. Free servers! Not to mention post-workshop beer[i]. So senseis Alf and and PT worked with a small group of ‘black belts’ in a workshop loosely focused on geo-spatial data. Our idea was “Visualizing the distribution of data collections in Research Data Australia using Google Earth”[ii]. We’d been working on a demo of how this might be done for a few days, which we more-or less got running on the train from the Blue Mountains in to Sydney Uni in the morning.
When you read about “exploring” the data, bear in mind the question of how to record that “exploration?” Explorers used to keep journals, ships logs, etc. to record their explorations.
How do you record (if you do), your explorations of data? How do you share them if you do?
Given the ease of recording our explorations, no more long hand with a quill pen, is it odd that we don’t record our intellectual explorations?
Or do we want others to see a result that makes us look more clever than we are?