The venue for TRANSFORM

Last time I told you a bit about what to expect at the TRANSFORM unconference we’re hosting in May. But I haven’t really told you about the venue yet, and it’s one of the best bits.

We’re hosting the event at the Château de Rosay, near Rouen in France. This is a large house in a small village. It is completely self-contained: we can sleep there, eat there, work there, relax there. There’s room for about 45 people or so. The place looks spectacular:

A few people have said to me that they don’t feel like they could contribute much to a conversation about open source subsurface software… but this unconference is absolutely for anyone. If you are doing science or engineering underground, and if you are interested in the technology we use to do this, you can contribute.

Some of the things we’ll be talking about:

  • Which open tools exist, and can any of them be rescued from disuse?

  • Who is developing these tools and what kind of support do they need?

  • How can we make it easier for anybody to contribute to these projects?

  • What can we do right now that will improve the open stack the most?

All the place needs is a few subsurface scientists and engineers with latops, then it’s perfect! I hope you can join us there.

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TRANSFORM 2019

A new unconference about subsurface software

The next thing

Over the last several years, Agile has been testing some of the new ways of collaborating, centered on digital connections:

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  • It all started with this blog, which started in 2010 with my move from Calgary to Nova Scotia. It’s become a central part of my professional life, but we’re all about collaboration and blogs are almost entirely one-way, so…

  • In 2011 we launched SubSurfWiki. It didn’t really catch on, although it was a good basis for some other experiments and I still use it sometimes. Still, we realized we had to do more to connect the community, so…

  • In 2012 we launched our 52 Things collaborative, open access book series. There are well over 5000 of these out in the wild now, but it made us crave a real-life, face-to-face collaboration, so…

  • In 2013 we held the first ‘unsession’, a mini-unconference, at the Canada GeoConvention. Over 50 people came to chat about unsolved problems. We realized we needed a way to actually work on problems, so…

  • Later that year, we followed up with the first geoscience hackathon. Around 15 or so of us gathered in Houston for a weekend of coding and tacos. We realized that the community needed more coding skills, so…

  • In 2014 we started teaching a one-day Python course aimed squarely at geoscientists. We only teach with subsurface data and algorithms, and the course is now 5 days long. We now needed a way to connect all these new hackers and coders, so…

  • In 2014, together with Duncan Child, we also launched Software Underground, a chat room for discussing topics related to the earth and computers. Initially it was a Google Group but in 2015 we relaunched it as an open Slack team. We wanted to double down on scientific computing, so…

  • In 2015 and 2016 we launched a new web app, Pick This (returning soon!), and grew our bruges and welly open source Python projects. We also started building more machine learning projects, and getting really good at it.

Growing and honing

We have spent the recent years growing and honing these projects. The blog gets about 10,000 readers a month. The sixth 52 Things book is on its way. We held two public unsessions this year. The hackathons have now grown to 60 or so hackers, and have had about 400 participants in total, and five of them this year already (plus three to come!). We have also taught Python to 400 geoscientists, including 250 this year alone. And the Software Underground has over 1000 members.

In short, geoscience has gone digital, and we at Agile are grateful and excited to be part of it. At no point in my career have I been more optimistic and energized than I am right now.

So it’s time for the next thing.

The next thing is starting with a new kind of event. The first one is 5 to 11 May 2019, and it’s happening in France. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.