R Consortium recently talked to Mario Amau, co-organizer of the Vienna<-R about the lively R community in Vienna. The group is committed to providing its members with valuable talks and networking opportunities. The group is looking forward to restarting their live events, now hybrid, in September!
What is the R community like in Vienna?
MA: The community in Vienna is big and diverse. There are three different data science community groups which include Vienna <- R, Vienna Deep Learning Meetup, and Vienna Data Science Group. The Vienna <- R Group often has members from all of these groups joining, and those in the financial industry participate more often in these meetups.
Many of the people joining the group are professionals looking to network and learn from one another. We have had several successful meetups, including one with over 100 people attending!
How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?
MA: Prior to COVID, we had many in-person events at the University of Vienna and then we moved our venue to the University of Technology Vienna. Because of COVID, we have had a hard time getting people the same value they would when attending in-person events. We had virtual events on a monthly/semi-monthly basis, however, this had to be put to pause. We do see our members wanting to connect in person and are seeing more enthusiasm in people. We are hoping to bring back our events, aiming for September!
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?
MA: We have used Zoom for our virtual meetings. The only problem with that was getting the sessions out for members to be able to view if they did not attend. The process of recording and editing took quite a lot of effort. We then tried Youtube Live, which has actually been making the process a lot smoother since we get our sessions recorded and easily make them available for members to view afterward. Having the speaking sessions recorded and published are definitely valuable and worth the effort for future events!
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?
MA: We had Hadley Wickham present on Pivoting data from long to wide while he was vacationing in Vienna. It was pretty cool to see members of the global community joining us in Vienna. He brought in great energy and had a very interesting style of presentation. Another interesting presentation was a statistics-based talk on the CRAN party package by Achim Zeileis.
What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?
MA: When people give talks, many use packages like Rmarkdown and tidyverse in their presentations, which come out very visually appealing. I have seen an increase in people asking about other systems like Python and Julia for reporting data. However, these questions don’t really lead anywhere and are more general discussions about the tools.
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?
MA: I have actually been approached by journalists about using R for visualization, however, I personally am not as involved. I do have an ex-colleague of mine who does a lot of his data journalism efforts using R. The Austrian newspapers seem to not use R as much or at all.
When is your next event? Please give details!
How do I Join?
R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!