Thoughts on Carpentry Connect

Having left ICAD at some ungodly hour in the morning on Wednesday, I arrived in Manchester for Carpentry Connect Manchester, organised by the Carpentries and the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI).

The opening talk, Learning from the Carpentries, was given by Lex Nederbragt. It focused on building skills with practice, finding the cognitive load, and the language used in the slides. In all, it is about being encouraging and welcoming. I appreciated his links to the papers but the consideration that things might be good enough rather than trying to be a perfectionist. In the long term, our practice develops through trial and error. Rather than being bullish, the talk was pragmatic and covered mental health and building skills. I wanted to build on the developing skills with practice so I set myself the task of developing some slides for a talk on reproducibility and sustainability in markdown rather than just using PowerPoint. Not sure about the results but I want to use it to develop my own skills and share the list of papers and resources more easily.

Marta Teperek’s talk on Research Data Management covered FAIR data principles echoed the focus on incremental changes. It also identified the discipline specific way of engaging. She suggested teaching skills and practices to researchers and working with teams and researchers. It echoes a more holistic approach that Carpentries go for and one that could be reflected on for daily practice.

I attended a couple of talks.

The first was the documentation writing which went into some of the challenges of writing technical documentation. Using some practical exercises, it touched different types of documentation for audiences. Like the earlier talk, I do have some take aways that I want to try out with my own work.

The second was Alexander Konovalov’s talk about writing a Carpentries lesson. In part, it covered the same aspects of the earlier writing course about telling a story and building onwards from that. Yet it went beyond that and touched on community building, which is important to keep them alive.

The themes that I am extracting from these are the importance of building a community and building skills in both oneself and others as a way of growing. I did get the Cal Newport book mentioned in Lex’s talk, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and am working my way through it but so far, this echoes things that I have written. I almost want to write the aphorisms down but will resist.

There is more to be written about the trip but this will come in another post for someone else.

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