Posit Conf 2023 in Chicago


Simisani Ndaba


November 17, 2023

In the beginning, there was rstudio::conf

Posit::conf is a gathering where the data science community can engage in workshops, conference keynotes, and talks for two or more days. Participants can connect with peers, learn from experts, and expand their skills. Registration is necessary for livestreams, recordings, and networking.

The very first conference posit had was rstudio::conf which took place January 13th and 14th, 2017 in Orlando Florida. The subsequent years followed rstudio::2018 in San Diego, rstudio::2019 in Austin, Texas and rstudio::2020 in San Francisco. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic safety restrictions forced everyone to meetup online turning rstudio::global 2021 into a virtual meetup with participants from around the world. That year, a member of R-Ladies Nairobi, Shelmith Kariuki, gave a talk about the rKenyaCensus package that contains the 2019 Kenya Population Census which was carried out in August 2019. After the COVID-19 safety restrictions had been lifted, rstudio::conf 2022 was in person in Washington DC.

Posit::conf 2023 was the first conference with the name change in Chicago from the 17th to 20th September. The event offered Birds of a Feather sessions for collaborations and was took place at the Hyatt Regency Chicago which accommodated most of the participants with a few others staying in nearby hotels.

Workshops and Talks

The conference schedule had a two day workshop at the start of the conference and two days of conference keynotes and talks. Before attending, registering a workshop had to be made from a list of workshops. I attended It’s Not Just Code: Managing an Open Source Project instructed by Tracy Teal, TidyTuesday organiser on day 1 and the Machine Learning and Deep Learning with Python because of my interest in getting back into research in Machine and Deep learning on day 2.

The insights from both workshops were invaluable from the workshop participants. Working in teams on short exercises made me realise how much I can learn from other people and how much they can learn from me which alleviated my imposter syndrome which apparently was a common feeling.

after workshop selfie

Before attending the other workshop on day 2, we had to install Miniforge for installing and running Python code. The experience was different because the instructor posted instructions on the understanding that everyone had used Miniforge before. With some help from Isabel Zimmerman 💜 , I managed to setup my machine and was ready for the workshop.

Machine Learning & Deep Learning with Python workshop

Conference Communication

Over 100 attendees from different R communities were together in one space. The conference used Discord where all attendees had to sign up for an account and participate in the channels created in the app. The app was a cool way to find out what everyone was going to do later that day and planned functions by the companies in attendance. The app was active until a few days after the conference.

Awesome R-Ladies

On the last day of the conference, R-Ladies Chicago and R-Ladies Global co-hosted an R-Ladies meetup at the conclusion of the conference. This was a chance to meet in-person all the other R-Ladies Chapters and people who I had communicated with on the Slack channel.

In attendance was the R Ladies global team, some of the R-Ladies chapters and participants from the conference. The meetup started with announcements from the global team and R-Ladies chapter member testimonials of their experiences. Then, a Q & A session was also done with the rest of the undiscussed questions posted the their website.

R-Ladies chapters at posit conf 2023 Chicago

I definitely recommend attending posit::conf to meet with tech innovators and make connections with like-minded Data Scientists and enthusiast. Not everybody you will meet will know the same thing as you do and you may find yourself contributing in some way to their projects. The next posit::conf 2024 will be held from 12th - 14th August in Seattle, Washington. If you think you can’t afford it, apply for the opportunity scholar like I did and you will find yourself flying off to meet the R and Python community.

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