The R Consortium caught up with Elio Campitelli, organizer of the R en Buenos Aires Group in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to talk about their experience leading a group with almost 1,000 members. Elio discusses their early exposure to programming, the group’s special interest in R and social sciences, and plans on building a compiled list of Latin American R packages in 2023.
Elio Campitelli, organizer of R en Buenos Aires, is an Atmospheric Scientist who began programming at the young age of eight years old. They got very familiar with statistics language and the sciences from early on. In their free time, they enjoy playing the piano and studying languages like German and Argentinian sign language. They also started creating art with AI and are in the process of learning more AI Technology.
Why did you personally get interested in learning R? How do you use it in your work?
I started to learn R when I was doing my undergrad at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. There I met several, now, friends who would join me in the R Community to study and use the R language. I am now the maintainer for several R packages and give courses.
What is the R community like in Buenos Aires, Argentina?
I think the most surprising thing is that the R community is so large and thriving. I started meeting people who use R and have a passion for it. I think the R community is mostly composed of academic members; in my experience, there are fewer people that come from industry, and there are a lot of people that come from the social sciences. Our most attended event was about the use of data science in social sciences; the room was packed and the meetup went overtime with questions and debates about the uses and biases of algorithms.
What industries do you see more in Buenos Aires?
I come from academia, we have some people who come from industry. I also see people in the community coming from agricultural sectors; they use R to analyze crops and agriculture issues. It is quite surprising to see the work they are doing with R.
How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members? What techniques (Github, zoom, other) have you used to connect and collaborate with members?
We were very affected by Covid. We used to have physical meetings in big rooms with snacks and drinks for people in the community courtesy of Medallia. But with Covid, we had to move online, and it was tough to organize meetings that would not interfere with the personal and professional lives of the people in the community. During these meetings, we do a lot of expositions, in which people show what they do with R, and their experiences using this tool, but also people show their projects and books regarding programming and R.
What trends do you see in R language over the next year?
One of the things that I see in the R language now is the prospect of being able to run R in the browser with web assembly (https://github.com/georgestagg/webR). Having something like that would be amazing; to create apps like Shiny but entirely in the browser.
Also, being able to teach R with no installation and without depending on cloud infrastructure can be great but expensive considering we need to pay in dollars.
What is your favorite R event you have attended?
Latin R is an R conference in which people talk about R and the use of R in industry and academia. I also helped to organize many events with people I love and whom I get to meet in person during those events. It’s amazing talking about R and its uses with people in my language.
When is your next event? What are your plans for the group for the coming year? Please give details!
In our most recent event, we had people from the tourism ministry in Argentina who are using R in the government. They showed us what they do and how are they using R in that context. In January we are starting the year with a meetup to present a compiled list of R packages to be maintained or authored by people in Latin America. In the long term, we are looking forward to more people that wish to organize these new meetups. We need fresh blood! Check out our Meetup and Twitter for updates on what is happening with R en Buenos Aires.
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!