Sunday 16 November 2008

Unlikely Heroes?

On the shuttle bus from Dulles to Baltimore yesterday there were a load of people heading for a large (30,000 delegate) neuroscience conference. They all introduce themselves and their research to each other, and then they turn to me. I hate that kind of situation - being confronted with hard scientists. You see there's  the researcher pecking order that has to be upheld and it roughly tallies with the Impact Factor of your discipline's major journals. So biomedicine is up there at the top, and computer science is, well, you see, we are a conference discipline. That doesn't even register.
So I tell them that I'm heading to a small workshop in Baltimore on Digital Libraries (SPARC DR2008). "Really?" is the polite response. "Yes," I venture "it's all about ways of providing open access to your research." Instant kudos. "Wow, that's brilliant. We so need that." And then come the stories of how they still have to fall back on their grad school library facilities when they are now independent researchers in other institutions with their own students.
And I am the hero on the bus! Still, it's been a long flight and there's two hours to go until I get to my hotel and so I fall asleep. When I wake up it all seems like a dream.

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