A competition to recommend “relevant” R packages – and the future of R

October 9, 2010

(This article was first published on R-statistics blog, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Update: the competition was just launched.
* * *

What is the competition about?

Drew Conway and John Myles Whyte have collected data from (52) R users about the packages they have installed. The data is now available on github for download and the contest will be run on the kaggle platform.

For more details, head over to dataists.

And for fun, here is the dependency graph for R packages they have assembled so far:

A graphical visualization of packages’ “suggestion” relationships. Affectionately referred to as the R Flying Spaghetti Monster. More info below.

A tiny bit more on R bloggers virality

Since I started getting involved in the R bloggers community, I can recall two major discussion that have attracted more then two bloggers writing about them.

The first one was people in the R community arguing against Dr. AnnMaria De Mars post “The Next Big Thing”, where she wrote that “R is an epic fail.” (my response to it then was the post ““The next big thing”, R, and Statistics in the cloud“)
The second one was tackling the question “Is R “that bad” that it should be rewritten from scratch?”. Many responses went to the post by Ross Ihaka who was arguing for the need to rewrite R from scratch (a very wide spectrum of replies to that can be viewed on the stackoverflow discussion I started on the topic.)

And in the past few days I noticed a starting of a cascade of posts, all promoting the post at “dataists“.

This leads me to three simple statements:
1) I think it is beautiful that the R community has advocates that defend R’s role in the future of statistics
2) I think it is important that the R community has so many (smart) people (beyond the amazing R core team) who reflects on how R is doing, and of the challenges that the R language and environment will face in the future.
3) I think it is a fascinating thing that the R community is a community of researchers who have the skills to research themselves. Each community of a discipline can use it’s skill on itself – psychologists may psychoanalyze themselves, WordPress bloggers may write about WordPress, and R users can plan studies and analyse data about themselves – this potential is only beginning to be untapped – and I am excited to see where it might lead in the years to come.

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