canSAS has evolved over the years into a loosely organized, self-assembled collection of international small-angle scatterers with a common goal to provide solutions for the problems encountered by nomadic scatterers using different equipment and facilities. From the first meeting held in 1998 in Grenoble France, the aim has been on concrete action. In the early days the focus was almost exclusively on reduced data formats. That focus has shifted over the years and in the 2007 canSAS V meeting it was decided that the work clearly encompasses any issue impacting the nomadic scatterer. Further, a renewed emphasis was placed on action with the establishment of several working groups.
As with most self-assembled work groups, progress goes in spurts depending on the immediate demands of the participants “day jobs.” In late 2011 and early 2012, a few people had an ad hoc discussion of the need to for renewing the level of activity and particularly that doing so in advance of the 2012 SAS meeting in Sydney would be highly advantageous as this would be an ideal venue for recruiting more people to donate of their time and talents by participating in activities that may be of particular interest to them.
In discussing the amount of actual results that would be useful to achieve by November, the very short notice, and the extremely limited time that everyone is faced with, the idea of trying a new model for this particular effort was proposed. Rather than attempt to organize the usual canSAS general meeting, or even a more slightly focused workshop as done in 2007, the idea was to invite a very small, representative number of people to come together for a very intense 4 days of work. The group would be 10 to 15 people meeting face to face with minimum distractions with 3-5 people assigned to each of 3 current, active working group themes: Data Formats, SAS Portal, and Standardization. The idea is that with this size one could capture some of the diversity of needs while staying small enough that over the course of 4 days some real progress could be made.
It was recognized early on that such progress comes at the expense of some inclusivity. Thus the thought was that this effort should be viewed as a way to develop some activities with actions and firm proposals that the broader community could then discuss. Such discussion is usually much more productive than general dialogue on more abstract ideas. Further, in order to minimize the problem of small groups going down an unsustainable path for the larger community, a substantial fraction of the meeting involved reporting progress to the full group (members from all the subgroups) where vibrant discussion helped to keep the efforts grounded in a larger context as did the informal noon, break and evening discussions around coffee and meals. Finally, broad participation was invited to provide comments and proposals on a wiki page prior to the meeting and to join in three webcast discussions.
A lot was accomplished during the very intense four days of work in Uppsala. Besides the specific results discussed in the individual reports below, there are several general discussion points and activities to report.
- Most of the canSAS activities are really long term and rely on the involvement of the community. The participants discussed the need to lower the barrier to participation in order to increase the number of people willing and able to help in the activities. This is particularly true for the portal project which will need ongoing upkeep and updating which is beyond the ability of even 2 or 3 busy nomads to maintain.
- The results of this meeting, including each subgroups results, activities, and issues, are to be presented at the SAS meeting. The plan is to have a lunch session with presentations from the participants followed, hopefully, by discussion with the general community. It might also be useful to have a more informal evening gathering of particularly interested individuals to discuss next steps and active involvement.
- The cansas.org domain was purchased so as to clarify the identity of this and the various other activities related to small-angle scattering. This should simplify and enhance the communication in this dispersed community and ad hoc working group organization. All canSAS related information can now be accessed through this simple domain.
- Finally, It was noted that the current working group member lists need updating and the opportunity should be taken to review the current membership of the lists so that e-mail addresses of people that have not been active and not requested continued participation can be removed.
Individual Group Reports
Standards Group http://www.smallangles.net/wgwiki/index.php/StandardsGroupReport
The new web portal for the small angle scattering community is http://www.smallangle.org/
The results described in this report arise from four full days of intensive work in small groups during the meeting in Uppsala and from preparatory work by a number of people leading up to the meeting. We acknowledge the generous support of the agencies employing the participants that have made available time and travel resources to permit the co-operative work. We are also grateful to people who have given freely of their own time to support the SAS community. Just the direct participation amounts to about two-person months of effort. These 'sponsors' are APS (Argonne National Laboratory), NCNR (National Institute of Standards and Technology), ISIS (STFC), the Diamond Light Source, the European Spallation Source, Institut Laue Langevin, University of Auckland, Kyoto University, University of Tokyo and Uppsala University. We are also grateful for further participation from ANSTO, APS and ESRF in webinars and by making contributions to discussion on the wiki.