The OLS community at CollabW23

- Patricia, Gemma, Saranjeet Kaur, Aman

From 2 to 4 May 2023, our sponsors and friends at the Software Sustainability Institute hosted their annual flagship event, Collaborations Workshop. CollabW23 is a special event and truly collaborative with many interactive sessions. This year, it was run as a hybrid format and it was great to see the effort of bringing people together in person and remotely.

For me, it was a great opportunity to meet many of the OLS community in person for the first time. Together with Resident Fellow Mayya Sundukova I also hosted a session on self care and how OLS provides exercises to help assess and plan for more self-care.

Personal highlights from CollabW23

This year’s theme was “Sustainable Career Development for those in the research software community: looking after your software, your career, and yourself” which is a topic that resonated very much with me as I spent last year thinking much about burnout, self care and career changes that might follow from that. The keynote panel on careers was incredibly insightful and I loved how vulnerable and honest all speakers were.

During the discussion session, my group discussed how to build collaborative teams that have different experience levels, locations, working patterns and contract types. OLS is a distributed team with many people working part time, so how we work well together is an important conversation to have (speed blog summarising the discussion to come!).

Together with Mayya, I facilitated a session on self care (slides can be found on Zenodo). I was the in-person facilitator for our session while Mayya led the discussion with our online attendees. As we had technical issues during our session, this was a great way of co- facilitating as Mayya could make sure remote participants are looked after while I kept a conversation in the room going until our technical issues were resolved.

SSI/OLS Fellow Reina Camacho Toro led a session exploring if current concepts and practices around Open Science are global and universal. She and her co-facilitators piloted a survey aiming to understand the current barriers, successful practices and possible improvements needed for the implementation of Open Science in Latin America.

I also attended a session on (agile) project management and a workshop playing through an evil collaboration scenario. It is great to see these topics being so central in a conference as they are usually seen as low priority and getting in the way of getting work done.

OLS community activities and highlights

To continue the theme of collaboration, this blog post is a joint effort and some OLS community members will share their highlights from the event below.

Gemma Turon

As a 2022 SSI Fellow and OLS participant, it was a welcome surprise to find so many known faces from both programs in Collaborations Workshop 2023. While the online organisation at OLS is amazing, with a very active Slack channel, regular coffee chats and co-working sessions, to me nothing beats meeting people in person, and having the chance to have dinner together under a whale skeleton with Aman was definitely an important community building experience! I also had the pleasure of sharing one of the workshop sessions with Aman. In this session, I presented the pipeline we are developing at Ersilia to facilitate the onboarding of new Open Source contributors (mainly from the Outreachy program) to our ecosystem, very much based on the learnings from our participation in the OLS cohort 5.

Saranjeet Kaur Bhogal

I had the pleasure of interacting with Malvika Sharan on multiple occasions. During the Hack Day, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Gemma Turon (and others) on a project focusing on Software Authorship. It was a rewarding experience to work alongside Gemma and bring our collective expertise to the table. In addition to that, during the Collaborative Ideas session, I had the opportunity of collaborating with Aman Goel (and others) to come up with the idea of creating a RSE Kaleidoscope. It was inspiring to see our vision taking shape as we shared perspectives.

Aman Goel

This year’s Collaboration Workshop has been undoubtedly the highlight of my year so far. Having met so much of the community online via OLS and SSI, it was quite refreshing to finally meet Zoom-familiar folks in person! Right from the event registration until the last minute of the hack-day, I had the opportunity to closely interact and collaborate with fellow OLS community members. Moreover, I had the pleasure of introducing OLS to several SSI community members at the workshop, and their enthusiasm to learn more about the mentorship program was truly inspiring. As Gemma mentioned, I shared a workshop session with her, where I showcased my OLS project, titled “The Undergraduate’s Guide To Research Software Engineering”, which received a warm reception from the attendees. All in all, the workshop was both productive and rejuvenating, and I’m looking forward to similar events in the future.