Increasing North American OpenMod engagement?

Hi OpenModders,

TLDR: Catalyst Cooperative would like to try and bring more North American folks into OpenMod over the next year or two, but we wanted to check in with the community about that first, and maybe get a letter of support/collaboration for one of our grant applications.

We really enjoyed the conference at Stanford last fall, and we have a couple of projects we are working on that we’re hoping will help knit together the North American open energy data & modeling community a bit more.

We’re working on a grant application (to the Sloan Foundation) that would let us develop an open energy data curriculum with The Carpentries, and then deliver it in a variety of different locations and formats, including in-person at conferences and universities as a 2-day workshop, synchronously online for remote participants, as stand-alone online resource for self-guided learners, or as modules that an instructor could incorporate into their own syllabus.

We’re also waiting to hear back on an NSF POSE (Pathways to Enable Open-Source Ecosystems) Phase I grant application that we submitted last year.

To some degree, both of these projects is about fostering a distributed online community of open energy data & modeling practitioners, who can collaborate on open source projects and more generally share software engineering, data wrangling, and energy systems domain knowledge. The Sloan grant application in particular has a focus on early career researchers.

Rather than trying to start something new from scratch, OpenMod seems like a natural online home for this kind of effort and the resources it would create. And obviously there are lots of folks from this side of the pond on here already. Really it would just be a slight shift in the center of mass toward N. America.

But given that we’re proposing to (hopefully) onboard a bunch of new people into the OpenMod community, we wanted to check-in and see if anybody else had thoughts or feels about it? Is this Discourse forum the main point of entry? Do the email list and forum exist as parallel universes with different memberships? How is the OpenMod Wiki doing? We’d like to have a user-editable site of knowledge accumulation to document various US energy system data sources that isn’t just the PUDL documentation. The OpenMod Wiki seems like a natural option, but it seems a bit quiet, and the MediaWiki software hasn’t been updated in like 12 years. I tried to sign up for an account last week, and didn’t receive any email confirmation, even though apparently I now have an account, requesting a password reset email doesn’t seem to be working.

I realize there’s no official organization or board that can represent OpenMod, but given that in the Sloan application we’re specifically proposing to introduce new North American folks to the existing OpenMod community, it would be helpful if we could get some kind of letter of support or acknowledgement that this is an appropriate venue, and there’s some level of community buy-in to the idea.

So, what do you think? Is this a good idea? Anything we should be aware of? Is there an existing onboarding guide?


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Just noting that the letter of support being sought by @zaneselvans was the same letter I mentioned in my “eV” posting earlier today.

I would need to discuss this with the other openmod forum admin, but the forum admins should be able make a commitment about the level of technical backing we would be able to provide in this context. R

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself but the first order of business once we have an OpenMod US of sorts is creating a database like Technology-data base — technology-data 0.6.2 documentation for US-based reference energy systems, unless something like this already exists, and who better than Catalyst Co-op to take the lead.

When I asked for a small speaking slot at the Grenoble workshop last month to make a case for legal incorporation, I had not given much thought to the kinds of decisions that might be in scope. Beyond the ability to seek financial support in our own name, of course.

This North American bridge was not something I had considered. But this looks like a great opportunity. The openmod has had some dry runs in this context with the NREL and Stanford University workshops in 2019 and 2023 respectively (more here on wikipedia).

By my reading, those thinking of developing an openmod for North America will need a substantial endorsement from the core openmod community in order to proceed. That affirmation need not come specifically from a (not‑yet‑formed) management board — but it does need to be unequivocal and with some guidelines and directions as well.

This is not just a North American issue, similar dynamics could be replicated in South America, Asia, Africa and so on.

I would also like to register the openmod name and logo as a trademark — a procedure long advocated for all substantial open source projects. And a registered association is the right place to hold this kind of community IP in trust.

I don’t wish to speculate, but there are also clearly some downside risks to the current arrangements. But perhaps more importantly, there could also be significant missed opportunities.

Therefore, how should we progress these matters? Perhaps set up an informal working group? R

PS: my speaking notes from that Grenoble workshop pitch on 28 March 2024, for the record: