Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

SWC: First Impressions

This post is a simple telling of the beginning of my experience with SWC and hopefully first of many encounters with SWC as a community as well as a learning experience. I attended a session a couple of months previously and was very impressed by my experience. I had a chat to the other attendees and found that their experience as complete beginners was as positive as someone who had some experience in python, git and shell as I did. I have always held a firm belief that digital literacy in research and education is both vital and sadly lacking, my own experience is entirely self taught throughout a university education, so it is no surprise that myself and my fellow attendees were drawn to the SWC workshop to fill that gap. SWC addressed the digital gap in research, and had me so hooked that I just had to stay involved. Over the next couple of months I looked for any opportunity; I incorporated just the python novice material into an independent workshop that I ran on Python for data pipelines, and now I have just instructed my first SWC session. The more involved I get the more I feel like SWC is something that I want to be involved in, because it addresses an important need in research, and because it does so in a way that is accessible and tailored by its community. I think my experience with SWC is not unique, and that hundreds of people around the globe have been in the same boat as I was. In fact I am sure it is not unique, as every contact I have seems to be with people as interested as I am.

Some of my favorite examples of “of the people, by the people, for the people” places on the internet are Stackexchanges, reddit maker communities and wikipedia. And without fail, when I have gotten involved with these communities they are all underpinned by a strong sense of community purpose tailored to a specific need. Although SWC seems to me to be a mix of online and in person community, I look forward to it being added to my list of the best of the best as I continue to be involved.

I would love to hear particularly interesting or inspiring first experiences of other new or long time members, I am sure that there are many!

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