Community and RDM at CarpentryCon 2018

Between both organizations, Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry have more than two decades of experience teaching foundational computing and data science skills to researchers through their volunteer-led workshops. In 2018, these organizations merged to become the Carpentries, and at the end of May, Research Data Management team members and Carpentry instructors Scott Peterson, who is also the Head of the Morrison Library and Graduate Services Library, and Josh Quan, who is the Library’s Data Librarian, attended the first CarpentryCon at University College Dublin in Ireland.  This event brought together Carpentry members from across the globe to share knowledge, develop skills, and strategize about how to build strong local communities around teaching computational skills and good data practices that can have long lasting and far reaching effects for researchers. The theme of the conference was building locally and connecting globally, which were central to the keynotes, trainings, workshops, poster session, lightning talks, and meet-ups that featured views and ideas from all parts of the world.

CarpentryCon 2018 group

Photo by Berenice Batut

With a volunteer base coming from more than 60 member organizations spread out over 10 countries, community and diversity are what keep the Carpentries moving forward. Valerie Aurora’s opening keynote, Focus On Allies, set the tone for the inclusiveness of this conference by delineating ways to make sure everyone’s voice is not just heard, but listened to. Her guidelines for and approaches to confronting institutional inequity by empowering targets, those in the minority, and identifying allies, those with the social capital and sensitivity to influence change, produced examples of how to run better meetings where everyone has a voice, and how to engage with colleagues who refuse to see the need for change. By focusing on changing the culture of just “checking the box” on diversity and inclusion that can be found in tech companies and academia, Valerie’s keynote reminded everyone that the conference was  not just about improving how computing and data science can be taught, but on how they can be taught to everyone equally.

Greg Wilson, the founder of Software Carpentry, gave a keynote echoing some of Valerie’s concerns by pointing out that to change the system, you need to organize and fight, as “inertia is the fifth element of the the universe.” While Greg spoke about this challenge in starting Software Carpentry, his keynote was focused on endings and how the merger of the two carpentries signaled  it was now time to leave things in someone else’s hands. He gave the audience his ten simple rules for leaving, and noted that the English language doesn’t have a word that is the opposite of mistake. He reminded everyone that the most important part about the Carpentries was that it was teaching people how to teach, and in order to keep things fresh, change one thing every time you teach to make the instruction seem new.

Other highlights included  keynote presentations by Desmond Higgins and Anelda van der Walt. Desmond’s presentation on the history of the Clustal Package served as an example of what needs to be done to keep a project, program, or tool relevant over the long term. Andela van der Walt’s keynote, It Takes a Global Village, was an overview on the Carpentries in Africa. In order to provide a more complete view of such a large continent, after an introductory speech about the Carpentries Africa task force, Andela turned her keynote over to members of the task force to discuss their activities  in their respective African countries. Mesfin Diro, Lactatia Motsuku, Erika Mias, Katrin Tirok, Caroline F. Ajilogba, Kayleigh Lino, and Juan Steyn spoke about building vibrant R and Python communities in Ethiopia and South Africa, what is was like to be a part of the Africa Carpentries instructor community, how the task force is supporting instructors in Africa, the diversity of the disciplines, languages, and cultures of the learners taking Carpentry workshops in African countries, and how they have found funding to put on these workshops. The international reputation of the Carpenties was on full display through the many different voices in this keynote. These presentations brought the theme of building locally and connecting globally to the forefront, as the Carpentries Africa task force members demonstrated how they were able to connect their various communities across Africa in order for the Carpenties to have a greater impact globally. Both Anelda’s and Desmond’s keynotes exhibited how dedication, perseverance, and teamwork are necessary for sustainability across projects and organizations.

CarpentryCon 2018

Photo by Berenice Batut

Library Carpentry is the latest Carpentry to become involved with the Carpentries, and over the three days there were a few session that focused on teaching computing skills to librarians. A session on the incubation period of Library Carpentry outlined what is needed in creating a Carpentry. This backstory about Library Carpentry and what needs to be asked in order to create a set of successful workshops for another Carpentry community was nicely bookended two days later with a session on Library Carpentry onboarding that focused on what Library Carpentry needs to do going forward to make an even greater impact in training librarians across the world. A lightning talk on upskilling librarians in South Africa and a session on teaching the Carpentries in a university were also helpful in seeing how teaching Carpentry lessons for library staff at UC Berkeley might be done. Additionally, Josh Quan, UC Berkeley Data Librarian as well as RDM team member, presented a poster sharing the results of an undergraduate library fellowship program that integrated Carpentry teaching principles such as lesson design, cognitive load, and learner motivation into the curriculum. Sessions on FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data principles and an incubating HPC (High Performance Computing) Carpentry were also very useful in seeing how other places tackle issues relevant to RDM and Berkeley Research Computing at UC Berkeley.

The growth and impact the Carpentries are having across the world was demonstrated over the three days of CarpentryCon. This growth has created new challenges for the Carpentries though, and during the conference Tracy addressed the state of the Carpentries and the communication strategies being developed to deal with this growth. The new website, the Carpentries Handbook, and the Carpentry Clippings newsletter have been developed in the last year to help members find answers to questions they might have. There are also weekly discussion sessions that members can join to keep in touch with others in the Carpentries. Tracy stressed that training and community of practice are the Carpentries strength, and one can always reach out to it when you don’t know the answer. This is the power of a strong community, and this is something researchers working with data and technology need. CarpentryCon reinforced what a strong community can accomplish, and the ideas and practices at CarpentryCon can be used to strengthen the Carpentry and RDM communities that exists between the UC Berkeley Library, the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the UC Berkeley campus as a whole.

Summer reading: Weapons of Math Destruction

Weapons of math destruction book cover

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
Cathy O’Neil

After earning a PhD in math, a tenure-track teaching position at Barnard and, eventually, a lucrative gig as a Wall Street “quant,” Cathy O’Neil believed in the gospel of Big Data. The 2008 financial crisis changed all that. “The privileged,” O’Neil realized, “are processed more by people, the masses by machines.”

In a world gaga over Big Data, her book illustrates how Big Data in fields such as education, the criminal justice system, the workplace, as well as the insurance and advertising industries increases inequality and undermines democracy. In the workplace, for instance, efficiency (which can be measured in numbers) is valued over quality (which cannot). Similarly, in the area of criminal justice, arrests are easily measured while the trust built by community policing — not so much. In her own professional experience on Wall Street, O’Neil witnessed a blind faith in numbers and “a false sense of security leading to widespread use of imperfect models, self-serving definitions of success, and growing feedback loops. Those who objected are regarded as nostalgic Luddites.”

But all is not lost. The final chapter offers inspiring examples of how Big Data can be used to improve society: how a mathematical model can be used, for instance, to predict victims of child abuse; that model then provides information to humans who can step in to provide resources and tools to help these families avoid a cycle of abuse.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

August New Books in Art History / Classics Library

You can find these and other new art history acquisitions on the New Books shelf in the Art History / Classics Library.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov                              Cranach natürlich                                     O.R. Schatzzeichnis

Mockva / Sandra Ratkovic                                       Double Vision                                      1001 faces of Orientalism

The museum of lost art                               New China eye witness                               Art and war in the Pacific world

Summer reading: Protestants Abroad

Protestants abroad book cover

Protestants Abroad: How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America
David Hollinger

Prof. Hollinger has had a distinguished career here at UCB bringing a nuanced understanding to the history of American multiculturalism, and in this new book he shows how Protestant zeal to spread the evangelical message often had the reverse effect of bringing the wider world’s perspectives back to American communities from abroad.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Graphic Novels from Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain

Jacques Prévert n'est pas un poète
Jacques Prévert n’est pas un poète by Bourhis Cailleaux. Marcinelle : Dupuis, 2017.

Here’s a fairly complete list of most of the graphic novels acquired by the Library in the romance languages from southern Europe over the past two years. Some are critical or reference works, and a few English translations have been included as well.

List continues on the library research guide for European Comics & Graphic Novels—>

Fun by Paolo Bacilieri
Fun by Paolo Bacilieri. Bologna : Coconino Press, 2014.

Daily Bag Check Service in Graduate Services

Starting August 1st, Graduate Services will hold your belongings if you need to leave the room for part of the day. Just give your things to the Graduate Services employee at the front desk and in return you will receive a bag clip with a number on it to identify your bag. All belonging will need to be picked up before Graduate Services closes each day.

Summer reading: Reality is Not What It Seems

Reality is Not What It Seems book cover

Reality is Not What It Seems: the Journey to Quantum Gravity
Carlo Rovelli

This new book is fascinating, well-written, and, believe or not, a page turner. It is about the paradigm shifts that led to our current revolutionary moment in physics. The book provides an engaging, accessible history and explanations of an unbelievable story of innovation.

Carlo Rovelli is a ground breaker in Grand Unified Theory and a bestselling author with his previous book, Seven Brief Lessons in Physics.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

August New Books

You can find these and other new art history acquisitions on the New Books shelf in the Art History / Classics Library.

Ed Pien: luminous shadows                                            Sea Change                                                     Inadvertent Images


Denn was innen, das ist aussentti           Plains Indian art of the early reservation era       Haus Mödrath Räume für Kunst


Instant Stories                                                        Parallel Wings                                                   La France vie d’ici

Summer reading: The Plover

The Plover book cover

The Plover
Brian Doyle

The Plover is a novel about a sailing trip but also so much more. Relationships, tolerances, personal challenges, hope for recovery, multiculturalism, emotions across the board, unlikely friendships, forgiveness, understanding of malicious activity . . . and the inflection and infusion of the wildlife that shares our planet, even in the middle of the ocean.

A reaction from another reader: “I love his slantwise way of looking at the world. He sees the threads that connect everything, and he chooses a seemingly random thread to explore a little fragment of interconnectedness, as though all paths are equally meaningful. Then he is off on another thread. One has the feeling he could spin a whole story from any fragment, and one wishes to hear them all.”

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!