I have been co-organiser of the University of Manchester's R user group for about a year now. I started when I moved to Manchester, because I’ve always found that software user groups are a sure way to meet people with the same interests and motivations as myself, outside of my discipline. Having started work at the School of Law, I found that there were not many people as excited about open data, and data analysis as myself, and decided to reach out.
For the first year, we followed a steady format for the R user group meetings where we met monthly to listen to presentations given by volunteers about their work. This received generally positive feedback (and was in line with previous user group format) but often ended up with myself or my co-organiser Heather Robinson presenting as we struggled to motivate volunteers. After a year we took a poll, and while people seemed to like the format, there were some concerns raised about it being passive, and not engaging more novice users. An approach of organising a collaborative hackathon was suggested.
As we were considering possible topics for the hackathon that would engage people from a wide range of disciplines, we came across the…Continue Reading