Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

New Community Development Lead

I am very pleased to be starting as the new Community Development Lead for Software and Data Carpentry. Building communities, helping people connect, fostering skills and learning, brokering solutions - these are the things that drive me.

Jobs I have had include librarian, repository manager, newspaper columnist, Internet trainer and IT project manager. I ran the library system for the City of London libraries in the 1980s, and have just finished working for a non-profit organisation making eResearch infrastructure available to university researchers. In my spare time, I like to read (a LOT), bake bread (and cakes), see as many films as I can, especially foreign/art house ones, and grow herbs and vegetables in the garden.

I also love teaching - whether it be Software Carpentry workshops, Library Carpentry courses, or training new instructors.

I dive right into the new job on 19 June, when I will be running an instructor training event with Jonah Duckles at Macquarie University in Sydney. It will be great to see the instructor pool in Sydney increase.

I have been a fan of Software Carpentry since first hearing about it in 2014, when I organised the first ever Software Carpentry bootcamp in Brisbane in July of that year.

I certified as a Software Carpentry instructor in 2015 (and as a Data Carpentry instructor the same year), and taught at two workshops. In 2016, I taught at eight workshops out of a total of 14 statewide. During 2016, I and other Queensland instructors took Software Carpentry to five cities in Queensland - Brisbane, Townsville, Toowoomba, Gold Coast and Rockhampton - a huge improvement on 2015, when we taught three workshops in Brisbane only.

I organised Software Carpentry instructor training in Brisbane in 2016, and certified as an instructor trainer myself in late 2016. I have since helped train an online cohort and a librarian cohort face-to-face in Portland, Oregon (with the wonderful Tim Dennis as my co-trainer). I look forward to training many more new instructors in 2017 and beyond.

I currently serve as the Software Carpentry administrator for half of Australia. This means helping people in other Australian states and territories organise workshops. I have also served on the Software Carpentry Steering Committee for eighteen months, but I will step down from that on 16 June as joining the staff makes me ineligible for the Committee.

I was one of the organisers of the very successful 2016 and 2017 Brisbane Research Bazaar festivals. ResBaz is a three-day research event to skill up graduate students and early career researchers and help them find their ‘tribe’, whether that be in a discipline such as ecoscience or around tools such as R. From one event in 2015, ResBaz grew to ten in 2016 and 14 in 2017 in places as distant as Oslo, Tucson, Christchurch in New Zealand and Cuenca in Ecuador. Software Carpentry workshops are always a key part of ResBaz festivals, and ResBaz events are a great way to attract more people to Software and Data Carpentry. Along with Sam Hames and Nicholas Hamilton, I started a weekly Hacky Hour drop-in IT advice session for researchers at The University of Queensland.

In June 2016, I organised a sprint to update and extend the Library Carpentry material created by Dr James Baker and others in the UK. This was part of the annual 2-day Mozilla Science Lab Global Sprint. More than 20 people in six countries worked on updating the material, and added a new SQL lesson to the existing four. Interest burgeoned. Library Carpentry won the British Library Labs award in November 2016, and there have been 30 workshops held worldwide since the 2016 sprint. The recently concluded 2017 sprint attracted 107 people at 13 sites worldwide. New lessons were added (web scraping, introductory Python) and existing lessons were updated. The community is very active, with an ongoing chat room. New members are welcome.

Software Carpentry has really taken off in Australia, and the southern hemisphere more generally, with strong communities developing in New Zealand and South Africa as well. In this role, I plan to continue that work, train more instructors, get more partnerships across the line, if possible, and make sure we extend Software Carpentry workshops beyond the capital cities into the regions and into new, under-represented countries and communities. I also hope to improve communications, and to create opportunities for all our instructors and supporters to become more involved, and to feel more valued.

But I don’t intend to be just a southern hemisphere community builder - I want to help build Software and Data Carpentry communities worldwide. I hope to spend a couple of months working in the northern hemisphere next spring. If you would like to host me, please get in touch.

I am also looking forward to working with the Software and Data Carpentry staff - we all have big plans!

Feel free to contact me any time at bweaver AT carpentries.org or ping me on Twitter. I look forward to meeting you all.

Dialogue & Discussion

You can review our commenting policy here.