Last week, I went to Dublin for the first ever CarpentryCon organised by The Carpentries, formely know as Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry.

I got involved with Software Carpentry for the first time in 2013 when the Mozilla Science Lab was announced. The announcement says

Digital literacy for scientists

Kaitlin is joined by Greg Wilson, the founder of Software Carpentry, a program that teaches basic computing skills to researchers to help them become more productive. Over the past year, Software Carpentry has run over 70 workshops for more than 2200 attendees, and is on track to double those numbers over the next 12 months. As part of the Mozilla Science Lab, Software Carpentry will explore what “digital literacy” means for scientific researchers and how these digital skills can further aid their work.

On the occasion of the Mozilla ScienceLab launch, Kaitlin Thaney wrote

The first member of my team is Greg Wilson, founder of Software Carpentry, a program that teaches basic computational literacy to researchers to help them be more productive. I’ve long admired Greg’s work in this space, in providing an entry point for students to learn things like version control, data management, basic scripting. In the last year alone, they’ve run over 70 events for more than 2,200 attendees – all led by volunteers – and are on track to double both numbers in the coming twelve months. More importantly, Software Carpentry is our first step in exploring what “digital literacy” ought to be for researchers and what they need to know to actually do it.

on her blog.

In the following years, I went from lucker to member of the Executive Council. It was a facinating journey and CarpentryCon showed that every second volunteered did worth to create the inspiring community that The Carpentries is.

So many things happened during CarpentryCon that even write a very long book would not be enough to cover everything. And select the highlights is really hard! So I will leave you with my personal reflection.

You can classify meetings into two buckets based on the number of people that are attending and you meet before. For me, meetings where I already know some people are more fun and the organisers agreed with me because they started CarpentryCon with a “Story Circle Icebreaker”. Attendees were splited into small groups where every participant had 4 minutes to introduce themselves. The activity were great to make the conference more welcome to people that only join recently or weren’t super active. My feedback on this activity is to make sure that all attendees are in one group and to avoid people that already know each other in the same group. PuLP is a great library to help with this task and we have people in the community that can help.

The first keynote was delivery by Valerie Aurora who talked about allies during your journey. Valerie shared her slides on her blog that start with one definition for allies

Ally: a member of a social group that enjoys some privilege that is working to end oppression and understand their own privilege

and continue with plenty examples of how they work:

  1. An ally self-educates
  2. An ally listens
  3. An ally gives credit
  4. An ally asks for consent from the target
  5. An ally keeps the focus on helping targets
  6. An ally speaks up & draws fire
  7. An ally uses their energy wisely
  8. An ally spends money
  9. An ally uses their social capital
  10. An ally acts even when it’s uncomfortable
  11. An ally sacrifices personal gain
  12. An ally follows leaders from marginalized groups
  13. An ally makes mistakes - and apologizes

In this world, I couldn’t have a better ally than Greg Wilson.

Greg Wilson, the co-founder of Software Carpentry 20 years ago, was the second keynote. “Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Ike Quebec” was a talk about say “good bye” in 10 tips:

  1. Be sure you mean it.
  2. Do it when others think it’s time.
  3. Tell people what, when, and why.
  4. Don’t pick a successor by yourself.
  5. Train them before you go.
  6. When you leave, leave.
  7. Have some fun before you go.
  8. Reflect on what you learned.
  9. Remember the good things too.
  10. Do something next.

I recommend that you read his blog post covering the presentation because is the best summary of it until the video record is available.

Talking about the next thing, Africa is where a lot of The Carpentries exciting things are happening.

The last keynote, It Takes a Village, started with Anelda van der Walt on stage who soon started calling all her Africa Task Force allies that were in CarpentryCon to join her on stage and talk what they were doing. Anelda’s action was a great demonstration of lessons taught by Valerie Aurora and Greg Wilson on the day before.

My take home from CarpentryCon was that we are better prepared to expand The Carpentries activites in Latin America now than we were in 2014 when I taught the first workshop in Brazil with Fernando Mayer but we still looking for a leader, like Anelda van der Waltfor, and more allies. Drop me a email to discuss workshops in Latin America, including funds.

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