The R Consortium recently spoke to Simisani Ndaba, Founder and Organiser of R-Ladies Gaborone. Since the last time we spoke to R-Ladies Gaborone, Simisani has expanded the group to other parts of the world using platforms like WhatsApp and Fosstodon. Moreover, R-Ladies Gaborone has collaborated with chapters from Brisbane, Nairobi, Rabat, Cologne, and Damman.
Last year, we published Learning the Fundamentals of R, Workshop with R-Ladies Gaborone and Botswana R User Group. What’s new with the R-Ladies Gaborone Chapter?
Since last year’s event, we started an R-Ladies Whatsapp group from the feedback we got from the workshop. The participants talked about how a lot more people would have known about our functions and could get in touch with us directly if we had a WhatsApp group. Currently, we have members from around the world in this group, and it’s been a successful way to keep everyone informed. The chapter also has a Fosstodon account because we can reach people in the open science community. This initiative has played a significant role in growing our chapter both in Botswana and regionally in Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The chapter also has a new website which has all our material from our past events, our activities, and R related work around Botswana. The website is part of our focus on raising awareness of how R is used in Botswana and how people can get regional online content. The website is online and is updated regularly.
Our founder and co-organizer, Simisani Ndaba, was chosen as an opportunity scholar and represented the chapter at the 2023 posit conference in Chicago. She got to meet all the other R-Ladies chapters we had met online, collaborated with, and had communicated on the R community Slack channels.
Please share your background and involvement with the R-Ladies Gaborone group.
I have a Masters in Computer Information Systems and a Bachelors in Business Information Systems. I also have a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching in Computer Science. I have been working as a Teaching Assistant since 2016 at the University of Botswana and have been in research for the same amount of time. My interests are in Machine Learning and Data Science. I recently wrote a paper on A Review of the use of R Programming for Data Science Research in Botswana to raise awareness of the use of R in Botswana academia. I believe it is an interesting read for people who are interested in Rs’ use in the rest of the world and possibly form potential collaborations. I became a Carpentries Instructor in June 2022, which allowed me to use and reference the Carpentries material for the workshop last year.
Shifting gears to more personal endeavors, I founded R-Ladies Gaborone in September 2021. At that time, I was between jobs and seeking a productive way to spend my time. My exposure to R came in 2019 at the CoData RDA summer school in Italy. Leveraging that experience, I began hosting events and collaborating with the Botswana R user group. I have organized events with chapters from Brisbane, Nairobi, Rabat, Cologne, and Damman.
Can you share what the R community is like in Gaborone, Botswana?
There are only two R community organizations, Botswana R User Group and R-Ladies Gaborone, so the R community is not large. However, there is a passionate interest among the R enthusiasts. I believe the enthusiasm comes from knowing about Rs’ use in Data Science, a growing skill in the job market. They want to improve their data analysis skills and appreciate the local R communities that provide beginner-friendly teaching material, project work, and R-related webinars from around the world.
You had a Meetup on How ChatGPT may affect the future of Data Science on November 4, 2023. Can you share more on the topic covered? Why this topic?
ChatGPT is a Generative AI app that generates new data from user prompts. Generative AI is ubiquitous with ChatGPT, DALL-E, Perplexity, Bard, and others. All these apps use Large Language models which involve training Deep Learning models, particularly Neural Networks, to generate similar new data used to train the models. There have been many workshops and talks on how Generative AI has been used to create stories, in student assignments and coding in different languages, but the impact in Data Science has not been talked about enough. Questions like, will there be any addition or removal from the Data Science workflow because of simplicity or redundancy?
Who is the target audience for attending this event?
Anyone interested, who works with and is enthusiastic about Generative AI. Students, researchers, the academic community, and anyone with access to Zoom (Laugh Out Loud). We encourage people from all walks of life to attend because such discussions affect them in their daily lives and are not just for people who are in STEM. The session recording can be found below.
Any techniques you recommend using for planning for or during the event? (Github, zoom, other) Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people unable to attend physical events in the future?
announce events and register participants. There is also a section on Meetup where we can add the Zoom link for online events and site locations for in-person activities. The Zoom account is an R-Ladies account, which allows us to go up to 2 hours rather than the 40-minute (10 minutes free) link. I would highly recommend using Meetup.com because it also has a functionality where you can communicate with all the members through email and shows you other related activities happening in your area.
During the events, we record our sessions and upload them either to the R-Ladies Global YouTube channel or our own R-Ladies Gaborone Youtube Channel. Thanks to R-Ladies Global, they make it possible to use these resources, and unfortunately, communities that do not have support may have to budget for their activities. Since our chapter started during COVID-19, we began and continued having events online. We can reach many people worldwide through online events and gain incredible insight from different perspectives because of their project experiences. Our future plans are to have in-person meetups to engage with our local community.
Please share any additional details you would like included in the blog.
Simisani Ndaba at the 2023 posit conference, Starting from the far left, Riva Quiroga (R-Ladies Santiago & Valparaíso co-founder), Mouna Belaid (R-Ladies Global team member & R-Ladies Paris organizer), Bilikisu Wunmi Olatunji (R-Ladies Abuja founder and co-organiser), Simisani Ndaba (R-Ladies Gaborone) and far right, Yanina Bellini Saibene (R-Ladies Leadership Team & rOpenSci Community Manager)
How do I Join?
R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups worldwide 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.