Australian rOpenSci Unconference

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The rOpenSci Unconference is coming to Australia and we are excited!!

The event will take place in sunny Brisbane, on April 21-22 2016 hosted at the Microsoft Innovation Centre. You can find more information about the event and how to register at

I was completely and unceremoniously thrown into the deep end when I first started learning R. Contrary to what I initially thought possible, I am now irreversibly converted to the ideology of open source. Create tools to make other people's lives easier? Make methods easily reproducible? Get your hands on state-of-the-art methodology, hot off the presses? Yes please! Can I have some more?

The idea of attending the rOpenSci Unconference, watching on as people throw around ideas in their raw form, not the nicely arranged thoughts that we see on a blog, vignette, or a journal article. The idea of taking part in that process, those successes, failures, experiments, and the ongoing development that helps make open source awesome. That idea made me want to be there, to be a part of it as it happened.

Unfortunately, there was nothing like it on my side of the world.

I contemplated jumping on a plane to attend a US event, but the limited budget of a PhD student doesn't exactly facilitate jet-setting. Participating remotely would be great, but I couldn't help but think of what an unconference would be like with my Australian colleagues. Where I'm from – Brisbane – I know there are a loads of people who use R, but there's no cohesive community pulling us together, helping us help each other and solving the problems of the universe.

I started to think: what if we could do something here? Something to bring R programmers hiding in the woodworks out and into a place where they could share their ideas on ready ears and we could shout “that's a great idea, let's do it!”. No more waiting for the right moment, or for that one weekend where you just happen to have time to flesh out that idea you had. We'd just do it.

Much to my delight, when we reached out to Karthik and the rOpenSci team asking about an Australian Unconference, they said “yes”.

And now it's happening. This will be the first R and Open Science focused event of it's kind in Australia, and just pulling it together now has created such momentum that I doubt it will be the last.

What is our goal? To us, the goal of the unconference is to foster collaborations and discussions about how to extend and improve R so that we can make data, methods, and science more open and accessible. Beginning this is exciting, and we can't wait to see what happens afterwards.

So for all of those R programmers hiding in the woodworks in Brisbane and around Australia, please get in touch or apply through the website. This is our first trial run so we will keep numbers to 40, but we will keep all of those who apply informed about future events…this is just the beginning!

It's been a pleasure to partner with rOpenSci, thanks to the team for their support. Special thanks also to Miles McBain and Jessie Roberts, my Australian co-pilots without whom I'd be lost over the Atlantic.

See you at the Unconference!

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