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Tuesday, May 1, 2012


So it's the first session, the opening plenaries for this 12th annual 3 day conference. The focus is on higher ed shared network and computing services. We're pretty bought into this as we use BCNET to provision our provincial video conferencing system that facilitates the distributed medical program.

Jay Black, Chairman of the BCNET board welcomed us all, and noted that this is the first year that HPCS and BCNET have partnered on this event. Jay shared that the line up of speakers is chosen to ensure quality information for the research and IT attendees, and is being not only recorded for future playback, but webcast realtime.

A copy of backbone magazine was handed out to attendees, I'll be reading through that later, and provide my thoughts.

Hashtag for the event is #BCNET_HPCS.

Mike Hrybyk, CEO of BCNET & a founder of Canadian Internet services is up to welcome us and explain some of the background for the event. Mike explained the track breakouts, and how speakers are selected by working groups on the five different topic areas, ensuring that the content is focussed on information that attendees will find of value.

Jill Kowalchuk, Executive Director for Compute Canada was introduced next. Jill shared some information about the involvement and support of various vendors and institutions to ensure the success of the HPCS part of the event.

Last introduction was for Joe Thompson, Acting ADM, Ministry of Advanced Education. Joe shared some of the government's perspective on the importance of BCNET for education, research, and innovation in post secondary. Joe discussed recent conversations he has had with higher ed technology leadership and the increasing rate of change on the demand for services in academics, and the responsiveness we as tech leaders in higher ed must have to these demands. Joe announced a suite of online tools launched recently to support students across BC.

Stephen Wheat, GM of Intel's HPC business is the final introductory speaker before our keynote speaker, and shared some industry perspectives on the conference themes. Stephen proposed that HPC is on the verge of commoditisation, that a balance between task complexity and user accessibility is coming. The road to this state aligns with the connect, compute, and collaborate theme of this conference.

The keynote speaker Leonard Brody was introduced. Leonard's theme is "This Monumental Shift." leonard tells us his job is to look 3 to 5 years out to see trends, which is ironic since the last time I saw him speak, 2 months ago, he said there's no point looking forward more than 365 days. And then the lightbulb goes on for me as he launches into effectively the same presentation I saw from him 2 months ago at a leadership session.

Leonard states we are at a conjunction of four major changes in civilisation; economic, environmental, technological, and generational. To understand these changes and be prepared, we need to understand the historical context of how we got here, and understand the impacts and drivers of human behaviour. Humans are changing faster now then they ever did, and need a compass and roadmap for where we are going in the next year, and leadership that understands all these factors.

Leonard poses that we should consider why the Internet matters. Historically, we are referenced to the uniting of West and East of the US via railway, and how the US shifted in just over a decade to become a world economic leader.

All significant movements in media throughout history were restricted by cost and government intervention. Until the Internet. This is a paradigm shift that may preclude using the past to predict the next shifts in technology and sociology.

Sidney Crosby in 2010 is compared to Paul Henderson in 1972; 3.5 million status updates on Facebook in 30 minutes when Sid scored the "Golden Goal." The planet has moved to a level of interconnectivity unprecedented in rate of social and technological change. The point is that we must pay attention to cycles, natural and man made, as they are shrinking and will impact us and the world around us.

Our physical & virtual lives are at a confluence, and key markers that illustrate how we are changing are trust, relationships, memory, brain physiology/use, political governance, and the differentiation between the markers in our physical & virtual lives.

In the end, it was actually great that I had the opportunity to hear Leonard's presentation again, as I took different ideas from it. I'll also be looking to watch the movie "Waiting for Superman" Leonard recommends.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:SFU Harbour Centre, Vancouver

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