Ray Norris, 22 Sep 2006
The Working Group for Astronomical Data (WGAD) held three sessions, the first of which was to enact business and the last two were for discussions on data science & management. The agenda and presentations (where available) for these latter two sessions are on http://www.atnf.csiro.au/people/rnorris/WGAD/
The first agenda item of the first session was to review the role and operation of the WGAD. The WGAD has two distinct but interwoven roles. One is to act as a conduit between the IAU and CODATA, the ICSU Committee on Data in Science and Technology. The WGAD chair is also the IAU delegate to CODATA, and uses the WGAD to discuss issues arising from CODATA activities, or issues in which some input should be made to CODATA. The other role is to act as a forum for discussing issues in data science. In this respect the WGAD has been very active in the last year, conducting a series of electronic discussions on http://www.ivoa.net/twiki/bin/view/Astrodata/ and http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/astro-data/ leading up to Special Session 6 at the IAU GA on Data Management. There was a consensus that the WGAD was acting effectively in both these roles, that those participating had found it a useful and fruitful exercise, and that the WGAD should continue in those roles.
The second agenda item was to review the process of these electronic discussions. It was agreed that these discussions had been productive and stimulating, and should continue as a forum in the future. Several suggestions were made as to how the participation in the discussions could be enhanced, and the WGAD chair agreed to draft a protocol to guide participation in these discussions. A concern was voiced that the outcomes of these discussions need to be promulgated to the wider community and it was agreed that we must search for better ways for the "data enthusiasts" to engage with the wider astronomical community. This will introduced as a topic for a future e-discussion.
Membership of the WGAD has steadily increased over the last three years, with a process for admitting new members which involves polling existing members, with the result that new members can quickly engage with the activities of the WGAD. Several participants at the meeting expressed a wish to join the WGAD, and their names will be proposed to the membership through this process.
A report was given on behalf of the Task Force for Preservation and Digitization of Photographic Plates (TFPDPP), and members invited to attend the subsequent meeting of the TFPDPP.