[Bioperl-l] Bioperl hackathon?

chris dagdigian dag@sonsorol.org
Thu, 02 Aug 2001 19:35:32 -0400

Hi Jon-

I'm local to y'all and have been talking to Lorrie about similar things. 
I'm also writing up a distributed computing/linux clustering 
presentation proposal for Lorrie and I think I can make the CFP deadline :)

First off the type of event/support/venue you are offering is amazing 
and we should think about extending something similar to the people 
affiliated with our other projects (biopython, biojava, biocorba, etc).

Several of our core people contribute to several projects and we spend 
lots of time figuring out how to keep the projects inline and 
interoperable with each other.

Now for my $.02

 From my perspective as one of the shadowy cabal of volunteers that deal 
with mundane administrative and infrastructure issues one of the biggest 
obstacles to having any sort of bioperl bootcamp or hackfest is the 
logistics involving travel, housing and expenses.

I've thought about hosting this sort of event in Boston because I can 
easily find facilities at area universities or commercial biotech 
institutions. The hard part was figuring out housing/food and travel.

Our volunteers coders are distributed all over the place and many of 
them are students or academics who do not have large travel or expense 

I'm very hesitant to ask our volunteers to get involved with activities 
that may end up costing lots of their own personal money.

Please don't take this as a cry for help or some shameless plug for 
money or anything - the point I'm trying to make is that we need to 
spend some time thinking about how make attendence at a hackfest 
somewhat painless for the participants.

How about this as a proposal:

o OReilly provides free conference registration to a limited number of 
actual CVS-committing volunteer developers (ie no free ride for all 
bioperl'ers; just actual developers)

o We (the Open Bioinformatics Foundation) pool some of our money and pay 
for a couple of hotel rooms at the conference.

o We (the OBF again) solicit donations from commercial folks and 
possibly companies who may be interested in helping us cover food and 
other misc. expenses incurred while keeping people happy & hacking

The way we pitch the donations to the commercial entities and people is 
that these sorts of events are the _best_ way to make sure the non-sexy 
stuff like example scripts and usable documentation get done :)

If we can get costs and expenses down to the point where the developers 
only have to deal with a plane ticket then that would be great. If we 
can afford it the OBF may also be able to subsidize the cost of air 
travel for some developers....


Jon Orwant wrote:

> Due to some particularly nice encounters at the Open Source
> convention, I've gotten fascinated by bioinformatics, and I'm trying
> to help out with our upcoming bioinformatics conference (Jan. 28 to
> Jan. 31 in Tucson).
> We've got Lincoln Stein and Ewan Birney as two of our five keynotes
> (the others being Gene Myers, Terry Gaasterland, and Jim Ostell),
> which naturally raises the question: Should there be a bioperl
> hackathon at the conference?  
> I'm not thinking of talks where someone preaches the magic of bioperl
> to the teeming masses -- we'll definitely have that.  What we were
> thinking of was supporting the bioperl developers somehow.  This could
> be as modest as a BoF session at night, or as grand as allocating a
> meeting room for a day or two and providing a wireless network for you
> to hack together.  If you'd be interested in that, send me mail.
> Speaking for O'Reilly, we want to help you folks accomplish whatever
> bizarre freak experiments you're up to -- but unlike other technical
> areas, we don't have much in-house experience when it comes to
> biology.  So what can we do to help?
> Also, if there are particular topics other than bioperl that you'd
> like to see at the conference, let me know and I'll forward them on to
> Lorrie LeJeune (lorrie@oreilly.com), our program chair (and
> bioinformatics editor, and artist behind the C. elegans drawing on the
> cover of our bioinformatics book).  There's a call for participation at
> http://conference.oreilly.com/biocon/cfp.html, although we'll probably
> extend the proposal deadline until the end of August.  
> Speaking of C. elegans, I've been trying to read up on bioinformatics,
> and I have to say that this worm you seem to like so much is really
> disappointing -- I hadn't realized until yesterday that it was just
> 1 mm long.  This is like learning that Tom Cruise is only 5'7".