July 2013

It's starting to feel like we are really living in the 21st century at last: Elon Musk's Hyperloop, vat-grown artificial meat, 3D printing hitting the high streets (and we're now 3D printing human organs) and hedge funds are beaming neutrinos through the Earth's core in a bid to accelerate high frequency trading. The Star Trek tricorder will shortly be a reality too. But, this is just one side of the story. Quoting Ian Livingstone, Co-Founder of Games Workshop and CEO of Eidos: "Something is wrong when you have one million young people unemployed and 100,000 jobs vacant in IT".

If data is the new oil, then how do we go about extracting and refining it? And will it come out easily, or will we need to resort to "data fracking"? I'll talk here about my favourite idea that came out of the recent Jisc think tank meeting on Big Data and Analytics, which is all about setting up mechanisms for data and potentially code sharing across academia, government and industry. I'm also setting you up to find out more about the literal Digital Exhaust.

This is a companion piece to my plenary talk at IWMW 2013, looking at the disruptive changes sweeping through the higher education sector and how moving to being open by default may help us to weather the continuing storm. I look at how we are increasingly "crossing the streams" in terms of bringing hitherto unrelated areas and activities of our institutions together, and working with a much broader range of external partners. Historically JISC would have taken a leading role in terms of steering innovation in the community. I discuss whether the new Jisc could and should attempt this once more, or whether it has lost the capability along with the staff members that it has recently shed. All this, and dragonflies with backpacks...