The third annual OceanHackWeek (OHW) program was held entirely online on August 10th through 14th this year. The weeklong-program combines data exploration, peer learning and software development as participants dive into the interdisciplinary nature of oceanography, from genomics to global surface temperature. 47 OHW 2020 participants embraced Python and R, the two most widely used open-source programming languages in data science and oceanography, and used online tools like Zoom and Slack for tutorials and communication channels. Despite the novel challenges of moving the hackweek entirely online and working around a wide span of time zones, feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive in the post-event survey.
Oceanhackweek was an incredible experience, possibly the best oceanographic event I’ve attended and certainly the best organized. OHW combined the expert lectures and tutorials of a summer school with the collaborative coding and peer learning of a hackathon. I learned so much from the organizers and participants. I learned more about coding and collaboration in a week of hacking than in a year of my PhD. It was great to see demos of all the awesome oceanographic tools and resources, often by the creators themselves. As big data becomes a reality on oceanography and the reproducibility crisis looms, effective data processing is becoming more important than ever. OHW is an excellent and much needed resource for the oceanographic community.
I also enjoyed the community aspect of the hackathon. The organizers made a real effort to include participants, from the very beginning with suggesting feedback on the code of conduct, all the way through to presenting our projects at the end of the week. Perhaps most importantly for me, the organizers and participants of OHW showed me how you can contribute to oceanography outside of tenure track academia. It was inspiring to see how I can combine my experience in oceanography and my love for free open source software into a viable career, not just a weekend hobby.
OceanHackWeek 2020 has been an inspiring event where I have learnt about open source ocean data and coding. It has opened a wide window of possibilities for our lab daily tasks, being useful in research, outreach and even conservation. The workshop has provided a set of powerful tools for accessing and processing large public datasets, which is particularly useful in an ocean area where there is a lack of ocean observations. Besides, Github will be immediately applicable on coding collaboration within my lab. On top of that, OHW was a bright light in Covid-19 times, bringing to my living room in Chile an amazing group of people, organizers and participants. I totally recommend OHW next year!
OceanHackWeek far exceeded my expectations when I attended the first virtual version of this workshop. I thought I would learn some tips and tricks for working with big data in Python and version control using git, but I gained so much more. I am walking away with a wealth of knowledge on how to work with oceanographic data of all types and how to collaborate on code development to generate high quality code that is reproducible and open source. This workshop allows you to work side-by-side (virtually in this case) with experts on projects from start to finish so you can really learn and implement best practices. I am excited to share what I have learned with my colleagues, and to collaborate more effectively in the future to create better data analysis tools and software. I also look forward to starting up our own hacking events!
Being based in Australia my first concern was the time zone, but that inner voice kept on telling me that it would be worth the effort. Seeing how committed everyone was and making the most of the time was quite overwhelming. The zoom breakout rooms were hives of activity with most people joining in and great discussions. Selecting a project and working on it took over my week; by the time it came time to showcase our projects we had only just gotten started and it was a real shame to stop – I think we will re-start our project soon!
Following along with the tutorials was great and effective, but the best thing was the hacking: building a team and trying to achieve a goal. I learned so much about working in a team and how to engage with others. Looking back at what we achieved and how we bonded as a team was really heartening. I hope to make it back to the next OceanHackWeek as a project mentor and perhaps develop a tutorial that can be used as part of OHW 2021.