When I knew that the International Data Week 2018 (IDW18) would have taken place in Gaborone from 5 to 8 November, my first reaction was: "wow, it would be my first experience under the equator!" I applied for the Early Career grant and, when I was awarded of it, my thought was: "ok, it's real, I am really going to Botswana!"
I didn't know what to expect, at all.
Once arrived at the hotel and conference location, the first thing I noticed was the kindness of local people. During the conference, they had some trouble in managing so many participants, but all in all the stay was pleasant.
I attended both SciData sessions and RDA breakouts. The huge amount of parallel sessions and of different topics surprised me in a favourable way: the IDW18 program was incredibly rich, covering many aspects of the data life cycle and management. I found an exciting multicultural and multidisciplinary community of people with different backgrounds and roles, all with something in common: the high attention to data curation and the will to go toward a global, open science.
I was particularly interested in Research Data Architectures in Research Institutions and Domain Repositories intererest groups (IGs), since they fit the most my current activity of building up a distributed repository for the nanoscience community within the NFFA-Europe project. The aim of the first IG is collaborate and discuss about systems, technologies and data flows as a part of the solution architectures of the research data infrastructures of research institutions. The talks during the session provided insight into the approaches being taken to the development and operation of such architectures by different research institutions. The Domain Repositories Interest Group instead brings together active data repositories that serve specific scientific disciplines, providing a venue in which repositories can identify and prioritize common problems for action by other related working groups at RDA. In fact, communication with other RDA IGs and WGs was the main interest during the session in Gaborone.
I was also involved in the Early Career and Engagement IG: an impressive group of young, friendly, and active people supported by more experienced mentors, keen to give their contribution to this community.
I would also like to mention the RDA for Newcomers session: even if it was rather short, it briefly covered quite a wide range of RDA basic concepts, and gave useful information for the newcomers to both RDA and the plenary meeting, who had very little or partial knowledge on what RDA is, how it works, and what to expect from the plenary meeting.
I was very proud to be part of this event, as I think all the participants were!