Conferences – meeting people and learning new things

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Wow! So, February has gone now and it sure went by in a flash. We have been to Prague and London, both so that I could go to exciting conferences. John and Bess came along and had a great time exploring both cities (and visiting friends in London) and taking photos for illustration projects of John’s.
In Prague I attended the XML Prague conference and the pre-conference meeting for eXist-db (where I presented my work in the unconference session) and in London the CAA UK conference where I presented a paper titled “Can we share?“.
So what did I get out of the conferences? Here is a little overview:

XML Prague

I got to see Prague again (it seems like I am destined to visit this city once every 10 years). I also got to meet the people behind the eXist-db (XML database). I did a short unconference presentation at their pre-conference user meet-up where I posed the question – can I use eXist-db to serve XML data as a RESTful Webservice? The answer was: “yes, sure, it’s actually quite easy”. This was just the answer I was looking for and is the next step after the work I am doing on transforming the project’s current dataset in Postgres into TEI/EpiDoc formatted XML. So that was good to know.

I had a good chat with Wolfgang Meier (@wolfgangm), founder of eXist-db, who has a similar background to myself (as in non-techie) about how we could explore data-linking.

Another person I met, with a similar background to my own was Mogens Devantier who is working at the Department of Scandinavian Research at Copenhagen University. Mogens is also using eXist-db and had some very interesting insights into this.

Another exciting aspect of this year’s XML Prague (somehow John doesn’t find this exciting at all) was that it was the 15th birthday of XML. Yes, we sang happy birthday to XML (I know!!!) and there was a birthday cake (brought in by a girl in a very short skirt – might I add – possibly not so appropriate!).

Anyway I enjoyed being at the conference (even though I was among the less than 5% female attendants – partially why the girl in the tutu made such an impression). I chatted to people from some of the Scandinavian National Archives and it was very interesting to hear which issues they face and how they deal with them using XML.

Have a look at the Twitter feed for #xmlprague. A new thing for me this year at conferences is having a separate screen for the Twitter feed. The whispering/sending notes is class is suddenly being read out to the class in real-time. It sure takes some getting used to!

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CAA UK, London

For the first time ever the CAA UK conference was held by a commercial archaeology unit. It was lovely, to be back to Brick Lane where L~P : Archæology are located. Back during my MSc I did my placement there and have since been working with them on the Archaeological Recording Kit.

One of the things I went there to talk about was open data, and boy did that get discussed. There was encouragement, frustrations, pleas and scare stories, we had it all!
All the presentations are available online and I am listening through some of them again. There was some really interesting presentations about using digital tools in practice, especially one by Peter Rauxloh, which I have to watch again because he was going really fast.

There was also Erik Champion who is at the new DIGHUMLAB in Denmark and who unfortunately was unable to make it and therefore joined us from Denmark online. The wonders of modern technology! However, I would have liked to meet him and chat about the DIGHUMLAB.
I did get to meet other Scandinavians and have a little Scandinavian chat. This is always nice at conferences.

As always there is twitter and Kayt Armstrong (@girlwithtrowel) provided a great ongoing commentary for those who could not make it. Check out the Storify!