FunFunFun: Our Software carpentry bootcamp @UCDavis

Sponsored by the UC Davis Shields Library and UAW5810, the UC post-doc union

We recently hosted a Mozilla Science Foundation Software Carpentry Workshop at UC Davis. For me this bootcamp was somewhat a ‘coming to ages’ event. Organizing an event arising from necessities public institutions are obviously not able to fulfill is a continuation of what I have been doing from my early teens onwards.  Instead of a running a German-punk-rock style ‘food-not-bombs’ in a run-down Bavarian bar we rented for cheap, this time I organized an event with Mozilla Science Lab teaching post-docs at a prestigious sunny Californian university basic bioinformatics skills. Of course the audience is absolutely not comparable and total different needs are addressed. One might be even more important than the other. Yet in the core organizational scheme they are the same. People volunteer their time and talent to create a space in which a commodity is shared and enjoyed by everyone for as close to free as possible.  Sharing ideas, food, company and everything else without being concerned about turning maximum profit is such a liberating feeling. Now and than. Back than in the mid-90s I got to know what the world-wide-web was. One day we hosted an event by a guy from ATTAC, a leading group from the so-called ‘Anti-globalization’ movement. /// A simple fact. Much to be criticized about this movement with loads of great motives./// I was asking him how to best stay in touch and he replied ‘give me your address’. Young, blue-eyed and naïve as I was (and still am) I wrote down my physical address on a bierfilz (beer coaster) and handed it to him. He just stared at me and said ‘no your e-mail address’. I felt so 80’s.  Later that day I went to an Internet coffeshop got my first email address using Firefox the Mozilla browser. Now at UC Davis hosting this software carpentry event I felt more grown up, organizing an event that enabled me to teach myself more easily the skills I and many of my fellow post-docs need for the scientific endeavors in the 21st century.

But what about the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of the workshop?

Main Organizers:

Jonathan Catchat, post-doc from the UC Davis library, @jcachat

Benjamin Schwessinger post-doc in plant pathology and UAW5810 UCD head Stewart, @schwessinger

Main Sponsors:

UC Davis Shields Library and the post-doc union at UC, UAW5810

Motives to organize this event:

Both UAW5810 and UC Davis Shields Library are dedicated to provide post-docs and the wider research community at UC Davis with the resource required to perform the best research possible. Bioinformatic literacy is a basic skill beneficial for nearly all research disciplines. Yet adequate affordable training is lacking much behind the demand. Our workshop for 80 people sold out within 10 days nicely illustrating this fact.

How we organized this event:

I put out the idea to organize such an event after hearing about SWC at the “Publish or Perish” workshop at UC Davis. Somehow Jonathan got in touch. We organized the event mostly by emailing back and forth with SWC organizers, talking with folks at UC Davis Shields library and us two meeting in person several times.

Main bottlenecks:

Getting a room -> was easy as UC Davis Shields library offered two excellent rooms

Getting instructors sorted -> took a while but all went perfectly fine and smooth at the end

Providing food and coffee for the event -> all went well as many people helped out and made it happen //Thanks to Randyman,  AmazingJeff, AstroBen, MosswomanJessica…..///

Awesome Instructors ///in random order///:

Naupaka Zimmerman, @naupakaz

Bernhard Konrad, @BernhardKonrad

Andrea Zonca, @andreazonca

Dav Clarak

Amazing Helpers  ///in random order///:

@kseniakrasileva, @CieraReports, @davidjayharris, @noamross

Friendly people helping out:

Jessica, Randy, Ben, Jeff, Aaron, Jeff, Allison, Pat and many many other helping hands I cannot remember right now.

Summary: Awesome super helpful event for everyone. Start of great collaborations and discussions, e.g. PloS Blog about R markdown.

Future: Many more of these SWC bootcamps sponsored by UAW5810 at other UC campuses. Working together makes a better place for everyone.

Thanks SO much to everyone who helped out and made this event happen!! That many more will follow.