Reviving SciCloj "Sci-Fu" Meetings

This post is about our intention to relaunch the Scicloj Sci-Fu study sessions that took place regularly during much of last year. I want to put the relaunch on people’s radar, describe what I think the meeting’s purpose is, and advertise a form through which people can submit possible topics for this regular meeting.

What is Sci-Fu?

It is a time for people to come together to explore some part of the Clojure ecosystem openly and curiously. Topically, we’ve often focused on the emerging data science ecosystem, though that is not our exclusive focus. We are interested in how people use the tools/libraries that we examine, but we often also want to learn about the internals of libraries and how they are built.

One hope is that people can use Sci-Fu as a springboard for gaining the knowledge and confidence they need to contribute to open-source libraries themselves.

The meetings are focused but not overly structured. We try to leave time for experimentation, even popping open a buffer/repl and coding together, and for open conversation. Importantly, we try our best to be as accessible as possible by not assuming expertise. That means we take time to explain from the bottom up when needed.

Importantly, Sci-Fu meetings can also serve as a place/time where people can think about topics associated with some other long-term project. For example, some of us used Sci-Fu to work on the workshops we presented during re:Clojure 2021.

Relaunching Sci-Fu

For the coming year, I would like to relaunch Sci-Fu bi-monthly. These are some of the topics that are in the pipeline for meetings:

  • Extending the Clerk visualization tool. Clerk is a new and up-and-coming literate programming solution for Clojure written by the very clever people at Nextjournal. Clerk also has some extensibility features that can control how certain values are displayed. We want to look into these mechanisms, learn how clerk works under the covers, and see if we can extend it to display tech.ml.datasets more fluidly.
  • Our friend @jcpsantiago has built a processing library called bulgogi that helps with feature engineering. We are exploring a Sci-Fu session where we will learn about bulgogi and benchmark it against some real datasets.

What to expect

  • Sci-Fu will be relaunched toward the end of April (date TBD).
  • Event announcements will be made here in the Meetups & Events Category
  • Our chat home will be, as it has been, in the Clojurian Zulip’s #sci-fu stream

Your Feedback

Finally, I want to invite your suggestion on topics. The success of this relaunch really depends on developing an excellent pipeline of exciting topics to explore. The more topically interesting these are to the Clojure community, the better! So please share any suggestions you may have. Here is a form where you can make suggestions: Sci-Fu Topic Suggestion

I would also like to invite your comments, questions, or ideas about Sci-Fu itself. Maybe you have some idea about how it could be tailored or conceived of differently. Please let the ideas flow. It’s always helpful to receive new ideas and perspectives about organizing methods & concepts.

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