Kristen Chan of R-Ladies Taipei talked to R-Consortium about the unique pandemic situation in Taiwan. Originally, Taiwan was able to keep the pandemic under control, so the group was able to continue to host regular in-person events. The rise in COVID-19 cases in recent months in 2022 has forced the group to switch to online events. The group hopes to host hybrid events in the future, as online events have helped more people to attend their events with ease.
Kristen is a Data Scientist and co-organizer of the R-Ladies Taipei. She finished her Bachelor’s and Masters in Statistics and is currently working as an Azure Technical Trainer at Microsoft.
What is the R community like in Taiwan? Can you name a few industries using R in Taiwan?
We have two R communities here in Taiwan: R-Ladies Taipei, which I host, and the Taiwan R User Group. For the Taiwan R User Group, we meet every Monday and the R Ladies Taipei meetups are on the last Monday of every month. In our group, we not only talk about R but also about Machine Learning and Data Analysis. We are open to any topics that someone wants to discuss.
R is very popular in Taiwan and almost all industries use R like Telecom or Journalism. Many people also use Python and some people use a combination of these languages.
How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?
From the beginning of the pandemic, the situation in Taiwan was under control. It was a unique situation in the world as we could meet normally and all our events were in person. Unfortunately, in recent months, the situation has gotten worse and we are just switching to online events. We prefer meeting in person because the events are a lot more interactive that way. For now, we will have to rely on Zoom, Teams, or Google Meet for our meetings. But once things get better, we would like to go back to in-person events.
In the past year, did you have to change your techniques to connect and collaborate with members? For example, did you use GitHub, video conferencing, online discussion groups more? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?
We have only recently started using some new techniques like meeting tools, sharing tools, and discussion forums for our group. For discussions, we are using our Facebook group and for video conferencing, we are using Microsoft Teams. We have a GitHub repository for our group, but we only use it when we have a big event. Usually, speakers share data in their own GitHub repositories. We do not have a dedicated YouTube channel as we do not record all the talks. Whenever a speaker is comfortable, we record and upload that talk on one of the organizer’s YouTube channels.
I think that even after the pandemic has settled, we will still use video conferencing as it makes it very convenient for everyone to attend events. Even though Taiwan is a very small place, having online events has helped us significantly increase our reach. We would like to host Hybrid events in the future with some people attending in person and some people joining us online.
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 had a SatRday event last year, and we invited Yihui Xie from R Studio to give a talk. It was really great having someone from R Studio speak to the Taiwan R community. I really hope that we get the opportunity to host more speakers from the R Studio for our events. I would like to take this opportunity to invite speakers from around the globe to join us and help beginners in our group grow.
What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?
I think there are many people who are using other programming languages. At R Ladies Taipei, we are committed to promoting R, and we will continue to highlight the benefits of using R through our events.
Of the Funded Projects by the R Consortium, do you have a favorite project? Why is it your favorite?
I think it is Setting up an R-Girls-Schools Network because at R Ladies Taipei we want more girls to code confidently.
When is your next event? Please give details!
We have scheduled our next event for August 29th, which is titled “Natural Image synthesis with privacy protection”.
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