Miskatonic University Press

Code4Lib North 2011


Last month I was down at McMaster University Libraries in Hamilton for the second Code4Lib North get-together. My thanks to Nick Ruest (ruebot on Identi.ca) and John Fink (adr on Identi.ca) for organizing it, and to everyone else who helped. It was a great success, really well run, generously provided for, with a top-notch bunch of people in attendance. On top of that, the room that was perfectly suited to the hackfest and the talks, with a big multiple flat-panel wall, lots of pods of computers, comfy chairs, room to move around — just the kind of space you want when geeks are hanging out for two days, hacking and talking.

As usual at Code4Lib events, there were some twenty-minute talks and some five-minute talks. They were all so good that through the day I hardly looked at my computer. I was so engrossed in what was going on my attention was completely focused. When I did grab my computer it was to do something like download Google Refine or Dan Cohen's Million Syllabi because of something someone had said that made me think — like so many things people said that day — I want to try that!

There were too many people there to mention, old chums and new acquaintances, and I look forward to seeing them all again. The conversation and lunches and dinners were, of course, one of the best parts of it all. Code4Lib is a great bunch of people.

All of the talks were videotaped, and Nick Ruest put all the Code4Lib North slides and videos up in McMaster's institutional repository. Another indication of how well the event was run.

I gave a talk called "Getting Started with R." I posted some links to get anyone started with R. Here's my talk, though I warn you it turned out rather dark and I wasn't speaking into the microphone so I'm hard to hear. That thing running on the screens is RStudio, which is an incredible application, so if you do nothing other than consider downloading it and trying it out, I'll be happy.

(As an aside, today I heard (through some blog post or tweet I can't find now, merely hours later) of Conway's Law: "organizations which design systems ... are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations." True where I work, true at McMaster, true at all academic libraries whose home pages are divided into four quadrants. What about Code4Lib, though? It's a decentralized co-operative structure of volunteering library geeks who do what they do for sheer love of their jobs and vocations. How does that structure affect the designs?)