I am a 25 year old Master’s student in Cognitive Science. I like kickboxing, reading mangas, prefer Python over R, and I happen to care about Open Science. In this blog post I would like to tell you about the reasons why I applied to attend OpenCon 2016, why you should too, and finally—give you the needed push to fill in the form and hit ‘Submit’.
OpenCon 2016 was an amazing conference and fundamentally different from any other conference that I had attended so far. While OpenCon can indeed be described as a gathering of like-minded people, a series of talks (and questions), and a place to exchange and discuss ideas, it is also so much more. To me, OpenCon is first and foremost a global community of brilliant minds and secondly an annual conference. If you want to hear more about the reasons why OpenCon is not just like any other conference, be sure to check out Khady’s and Denisse’s blog posts!
In the spirit of openness, I want to share the ulterior motive behind this posting:
I want you to apply for OpenCon 2017!
In order to achieve this goal I have procured a failproof master plan:
Tell you why I applied to OpenCon
Tell you about my experience at last year’s OpenCon
Tell you why you should apply
Why did I apply?
During a job I was thrown into the world of Open and started to care about it. I applied once and failed.
I had just started a new part-time job in Vienna when my supervisor, Peter Kraker, told me about OpenCon and recommended that I should apply. Just a few months earlier I had been introduced to the world of Open Access, bibliometrics and scholarly communication and now I was I filling out my application for the OpenCon 2015. I was rejected.
Fast forward one year: I started studying full-time again, but had continued to work with Peter on various projects such as Open Knowledge Maps and the Vienna Principles. From time to time I still felt overwhelmed by the world of Open (so many initiatives, so many projects, so many new things), but I had realised that I truly care about these issues and that I wanted to make a change. I applied again and was invited to attend the OpenCon 2016.
I hate writing applications. Very much. That’s why I still remember how happy I was when Jon Tennant shared his application openly, because it helped me to organise and anchor my thoughts and ideas. I’ve decided to do the same and have shared my 2016 application, hoping that it helps all of you who struggle to write this kind of application.
Check out my application here: https://bubblbu.github.io/.../my-opencon-2016-application/
What was it like?
Three amazingly inspiring days of listening, talking, presenting, discussing, laughing, eating, drinking, dancing, sight-seeing, and so on and so on...
It is the diversity and variety of attendees that make OpenCon such an inspirational and enriching event. Having a diverse pool of attendees, speakers and panelists not only allows for a great mix of contributions and opinions during the conference but also leads to a diverse experience and reception, which is reflected in participants’ post-conference blog posts and summaries.
I also want to briefly share my very personal highlights of my first OpenCon:
The Equity & Open Panel - Growing up with a deaf father had not prepared me for the full scope and meaning of providing an equitable, diverse and inclusive (EDI) space. The whole session was truly inspiring and I can only recommend to watch Mark Puente, April Hancock and Penny Andrews speak about EDI concerns in academia. (You can watch the panel on R2RC’s Youtubechannel)
Story Circles - I am not a huge fan of icebreakers, but these short storytelling sessions were amazing. In small groups of 6-8 people, the participants took turns to answer the question “What brought you to where you are now?” We simply listened to each other without commenting, questioning, or interrupting the speaker.
Presenting a project - I had the chance to present Open Knowledge Maps and lead an unconference session on this project as well. I was super nervous—really, really nervous. But I’m also really, really happy that I did both, as they were great experiences and wonderful opportunities to discuss our project within the community.
Nights out - Yes, making friends is also part of OpenCon! OpenCon is all about the community and after “talking business” it’s great to have some off-conference time. I enjoyed every minute laughing, dancing, joking and having terrible American beer with my fellow OpenConners. (#OpenBruno #cheesus)
This is nervous me during the project presentations. Sweating, smiling sheepishly, and waiting for my turn to speak.
Why should you apply?
Afraid of applying because your full CV reads like a one page résumé? You’re short on money? You’ve got the plan to save the world, but don’t know how to set it into action?
If you care about Open and have answered at least one of the questions with “yes”, you should immediately (translates to “last day of the application period”) apply to attend OpenCon 2017 in Berlin. Here’s why:
OpenCon is for students and early career researchers. This is important because students often feel discouraged due to their status within the academic hierarchy.
OpenCon offers travel scholarships. This is important because travelling is expensive and students don’t like expensive things.
OpenCon is about creating and catalysing action. This is important because sometimes there is just too much talk and too little action.
Last but not least I want to emphasize that I’ve had the opportunity to spend three truly inspiring and encouraging days in Washington DC. It was exhilarating to become part of this community and I feel deeply grateful for having been invited to attend OpenCon 2016, as well as be part of the Organizing Committee of this year’s OpenCon in Berlin. Please feel heartily invited to submit an application this year. I am hoping that more and more will join the Open(Con) community and am looking forward to meeting some of you soon.
Applications to attend OpenCon 2017 in Berlin this November close on August 1st. Visit opencon2017.org/apply to submit your application today!
Asura is a Master’s student in Cognitive Science at the University of Vienna. This autumn he will begin to work in the #ScholCommLab at the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, and investigate the theoretical and philosophical bedrock of Scholarly Communication as part of his PhD. Furthermore, he’s part of Open Knowledge Maps. You can find him online on Twitter and GitHub.