The departure of a tech titan is always big news in Silicon Valley. In one quiet corner of the Valley an upcoming departure is big news to a small group of people on two continents: Travis Brooks, the leader of SLAC effort in INSPIRE, is leaving.
In 2002, when Travis joined the SLAC Library, SPIRES was starting to show its age. The database that over a decade earlier became the first website in North America still played a vital role in HEP research but it ran on aging software making it slow for users and difficult to manage for developers. Indeed, it always seemed only one new release of Solaris away from no longer working at all! Travis worked tirelessly to do something about this and drag SPIRES into the 21st Century.
As a result of his efforts CERN joined with the SPIRES partners, DESY, Fermilab and SLAC to produce a new service that would meet the information needs of the HEP community using Invenio, a modern software platform. Work began in earnest on INSPIRE in 2007 and this month, September 2011, shortly before Travis leaves, SPIRES will be switched off and INSPIRE will take its place. The past four years have seen Travis contribute leadership to a collaboration of dozens of people, spanning 9 time zones, which seemed to require almost as much innovation in communication logistics as it did in database development.
All of us who have worked with Travis appreciate his talents, congratulate him on the success of launching INSPIRE, thank him for leaving the project in such good shape and wish him well with his new endeavors.