This year I participated to Mozilla’s Global Sprint for the first time. In fact, it was my very first hackathon! When I heard about the event, I immediately thought it was very cool, but I thought hackathons were for programmers only and that, as a biologist, I would not have been able to contribute. I must thank Mozilla Science Lab for encouraging everybody from any background and with any skillset to participate. I browsed the list of amazing projects that were put forward for the Sprint and found that, actually, I could contribute to some of them. So, I decided to register. I also thought that it would have been a great opportunity for the Aberdeen Study Group to host a site for the Sprint. So I spent a month spamming my colleagues’ inboxes with emails, covering the campus in flyers and tweeting harassingly about the Sprint. And then the adventure began.
It was amazing! 7 participants, 5 gallons of coffee, 4 swiss rolls, 9 commits and 3 pull requests in 16 hours. And if you think these numbers are impressive (for a hackathon newbie I think they are!) you should take a look at the global numbers: 302 pull requests closed, 320 pull requests opened, 2223 comments & issues, 824 commits pushed, and some of these numbers are more than double those from MozSprint 2016! The amount of work that everybody put into the Sprint is just impressive. I was mainly working on The Open Teach-R Project by Marcos Vital, whose aim was to “create and gather organized courseware for anyone willing to offer a R based course for biological sciences students and researchers”. This project was perfect for me. We started with an almost empty repository and, by 5 pm on the 2nd of July when Aberdeen logged off, we had 3 finished tutorials and a few more under construction.
Apart from the satisfaction that comes with all the work I did during the Sprint, the best thing for me was feeling part of an amazing global community. Day and night my phone just wouldn’t stop pinging with notifications from the Gitter chat, because when I was going to sleep, someone else on the other side of the world was getting ready to sprint. My favourite moments were the Vidyo check-ins. It was great to meet other people that were sprinting from so many different locations around the world and hear from the project leaders about the amazing progress made in the previous hours. Open science and the open Web have become very important topics in my professional and personal life and in the last couple of years I have been putting a lot of effort into organising events in my University to promote open practices. Not all events are as successful as you would like them to be and it is very easy to get disheartened and feel like you just want to give up. Mozilla’s Global Sprint is the kind of event that will boost your enthusiasm and give you the energy and motivation to just keep on trying. When you realise how many people around the world are just as passionate as you and when you see how much can be done when we all work together, then nothing seems impossible and you feel like you are one huge step closer to the goal.