The first Kölner R user meeting was great fun. About 20 useRs had turned up to exchange their ideas, questions and experience with R. Three talks about R & Excel,
ggplot2 & XeLaTeX and Dynamical systems with R &
simecol had kicked off the evening, with Kölsch (beer) losing our tongues further.
Thankfully a lot of people had brought along their laptops, as unfortunately we lacked a cable to connect any of the computers to the installed projector. Never-mind, we cuddled up around the notebooks and switched slides on the speakers sign.
Similar to LondonR, it was a very informal event. Maybe slightly forced by myself, as I called everyone by his/her first name, which could be considered rude in Germany. But what I had noticed in London, and the same was true also in Cologne, was that people with a very diverse background and of all ages would meet to discuss matters around R, often not working in the same field. So why worry about hierarchies?
Most attendees were not R experts, but users in its pure sense, trying to solve real life problems, and I suppose that makes those meetings so special. R users are often not programmers by trade, but amateurs, who have a keen interest to extract stories and pictures from their data. And for that reason the discussions are often so engaging. Talking to people using R in social science, psychology, biology, pharma, energy, telcos, finance, insurance or actually statistics opens your mind and eyes. You realise that you are not alone, other people are weird as well. They have similar problems and challenges, but may use a different domain language and look at problems from a different angle. And this can be incredibly refreshing!
Anyhow, we agreed to meet again in about three months time. The pub was a great venue to socialise, yet a bit noisy for the talks. Hopefully we can use a room at the nearby university for the presentations next time. Promises were made already. We shall see. Günter was so kind to set up a mailing list to which you can sign up here. I will continue to use this blog to provide updates on the Cologne R user group in the future and set up a public calendar as well.
Many thanks to the speakers, who dared to give the first talks and had to improvise on the spot without a projector. Please drop me a line if you would like to speak at one of the next events.