OpenCon2016 Day 0

I’m attending OpenCon2016 (#OpenCon) in Washington, DC this weekend; this is a meeting of people from around the world who are improving access to data, software, and educational materials for better science, research, and education.

Tonight was an informal reception at the conference hotel. I picked up my badge from Nicole Allen and Brady Yano, and immediately got into conversation with Cody Taylor from the University of Oklahoma Libraries, where he is an Emerging Technologies Librarian. His work includes working with professors to make textbooks open access to reduce costs. Kristofferson Culmer, a PhD student in computer science at the University of Missouri and also President of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) joined us. This is Kristofferson’s third OpenCon; as Cody and I are both OpenCon newbies, our conversation included a bit of Q&A about the conference itself.

After leaving Cody and Kristofferson, I walked over to a small group of people that included Erin McKiernan, a physics professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and whose tweets frequently appear in my Twitter feed, and my target for walking in that direction, Peter Murray-Rust, a chemist at the University of Cambridge. Peter and I had exchanged tweets when we were both in Portland at Force2016 this past April — not that I remembered that initially — and I’ve been following him ever since. I had a reason for seeking him out tonight, as in my earlier conversation, I learned that Peter has a content mining tools that might help the ASCL: ContentMine. Yes! I cannot wait to start using it! We also talked about the state of data representation in chemistry and astrophysics and how closed chemistry is, with theses embargoed in some universities for five (!!) years. (Wow!)

I had a great conversation next with Thomas Herv√© Mboa Nkoudou; he is studying Scholarly Communication at Universit√© Laval and is from Cameroon, where he started a school. He’s very interested in science and in promoting research done in Africa and Haiti, and in the maker movement in education. We also talked about astronomy education. After that, I met Daniel Himmelstein from the University of Pennsylvania and Vinodh Ilangovan from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, with whom I lamented my apparent inability to find Jon Tennant, the one person I actually expected to meet tonight!

This is a conference of mostly young people — grad students and early career — who have amazing (quite daunting!) accomplishments and are working hard to make knowledge more accessible. I am really looking forward to the next two days! I’m participating, too, with a two-minute presentation on Saturday on the ASCL, and an unconference session on Sunday on encouraging software release and citation.

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