R Consortium talked to Bolaram Paul of the Sylhet R User Group about the challenges faced by the group because of the pandemic. As a group focused on physical events, they could not readily shift their events online. However, they are hopeful things will return to normal and they will organize physical meetups again. Bolaram also shared his vision of creating, as well as translating, R resources to the local language, to further facilitate the adoption of R in the country.
Bolaram is a Senior Web Developer who is passionate about open source technologies. He has been working with the open software communities and is also pursuing his Master’s degree in Computer Science.
What is the R community like in Bangladesh?
The R community in Sylhet is still in its early stages, although there are many R users in academia and industry in Bangladesh. R is getting popular in banking, e-commerce, finance, and many more sectors and people are getting more interested.
How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?
We used to organize offline events in educational institutions, so that we could interact physically. Because of the outbreak of the pandemic, the government banned public gatherings. As we were not familiar with online events, the pandemic really affected our ability to connect. However, now things are getting back to normal, and we are planning to organize online events as well.
In the past year, did you have to change your techniques to connect and collaborate with members? For example, did you use GitHub, videoconferencing, online discussion groups more? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive of people that cannot attend physical events in the future?
As we were used to offline programs, we didn’t use these technologies. But basically starting now, because of the COVID-19 situation, we are researching techniques to boost our communications and interactions.
Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what was the topic and why was it so interesting?
We got a presentation from one lecturer at a local university. He discussed the diversity of R applications in various sectors and real-life use cases of R language. He made the talk really interesting by using images, and it captured my interest.
What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?
Because of the pandemic, the entire world is facing a crisis. I hope we’ll find the best solutions to fight this crisis. My expectation for the next few years is to create or translate more R resources into our local language. I believe it will make interactions easy, and we will get more contributions in the development of R packages and usage examples in different disciplines.
Do you know of any data journalism efforts by your members? If not, are there particular data journalism projects that you’ve seen in the last year that you feel had a positive impact on society?
As far as I know, not in our community. I noticed a few local NGOs using data to analyze oxygen plant/bed/health supplement stock in nearest hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak to help people. I believe data journalism is the future and journalists need to be data-savvy. We will try to organize a training session on data journalism.
Of the Funded Projects by the R Consortium, do you have a favorite project? Why is it your favorite?
My favorite is the RECON COVID-19 Challenge. It is a really helpful project for analytics resources in R, to support the response to COVID-19 worldwide.
Of the Active Working Groups, which is your favorite? Why is it your favorite?
R / Business. This ISC group works with the R programming environment and the R ecosystem in business research. This is very helpful for making optimal decisions based on data analysis and helps small startups make perfect decisions.
When is your next event? Please give details!
We have not scheduled our next event yet. We are hoping to schedule it soon.