Organisation of the Break-out-Groups - Lets think about a new concept

I visited the RDA Plenary and the Open Science Conference + Barcamp last weeks. Besides a lot of input from other research fields I experienced a more advanced conference/workshop structure.
I often heard the feedback that the openmod break-out-groups are difficult to understand and participate (especially for newcomers). And it’s hard to follow up and work on certain topics on a long-term. I remember @stefan.pfenninger and @timtroendle collecting feedback.

So I suggest to adapt a more result orientated concept like the one from RDA Group which I like a lot. I try to sketch the idea in short:

  • BG (Break-Out-Group) / Do-a-thon

A one-time event like the “normal openmod BoG”

Can be used to talk about something, do something (e.g. Write/Hack-a-Thon) or plan and create IG or WG.

  • IG (Interest Group)

Interest groups are open-ended in terms of longevity. They focus on solving a specific problem and identifying what kind of infrastructure needs to be built. Interest Groups can identify specific pieces of work and start up a Working Group (WG) to tackle those.

IG could correspond to the forum “Category” (e.g. Modelling, Data, Licensing) but can also be more specific (e.g. Batteries, Wind power, Gas-sector).

  • WG (Working Group)

Working Groups are short-term and come together to develop and implement solutions, which could be tools, policy, practices and products that are adopted and used by projects, organizations, and communities. Embedded within these groups are individuals who will use the infrastructure and help in making it broadly available to the public.

A working group would exist for a chosen time (1-3 years) and will work towards a specific goal (e.g. Recommendation, Article, Standard). It will need a higher degree of commitment and a more consistent input. The openmod workshops can be used to present results, include new members or simply work together. There are “chairs” for each group which are elected and function as team-leader/ motivator.

Because the openmod is big enough and a lot of people always show up and also participate in the forum, this can be a good next step. This concept does not need an overall openmod governance but can fit into the anarchic decentralized structure.

I don’t know if the concept of “group leaders”/“chairs” is suitable for us? All above elements are open for discussion and should be adapted to the needs of our community. I’m happy to hear your comments and experiences and perhaps we try this on the next workshop in Zürich.

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I think it’s a great idea, and formalises some of the informal groups we have anyway (e.g. writing the openmod paper, lobbying the European Commission, grid data, etc.).

I’d like to set up a working group on collecting data for covering industrial demand, split by sector, with low CO2 emissions.

Perhaps each group needs a “co-ordinator” (sounds less hierarchical :slight_smile:), a bit like the “initial idea suggestor” we always have for the breakout groups, who then gets the discussion going.

Hi Ludwig. Just briefly, the idea of break-out groups persisting past workshops is excellent. The other issue to flag is that much of the work that occurs is never “documented”, be that by mailing list postings, forum topics, some form of cloud-based collaborative editing, or single author PDFs. Robbie

@ludwig.huelk, and others: We now posted a call for participation for the Zürich workshop that includes do-a-thons. Based on the point @robbie.morrison made above, we wanted to make clear that those sessions be interactive and lead to a concrete result. We do not give any other restrictions, so some of these sessions could continue to live after the Zürich workshop. It’s up to the session participants really. Let us know what you think.

The suggested Call for participation is a first good improvement, thank you @timtroendle!
I agree with @robbie.morrison that the documentation of the meetings need further improvement. We mostly shifted from “Google Doc” to a “forum thread” with several comments.
What do all you think about a documentation template with best-practice example?
I think if you leave it up to each group, it will be hard to live after the session.

Sure, that might be a possibility we had discussed as well. The structure of the different do-a-thons might be quite different though, and so a common structure of the documentation seems difficult to me. I suggest we wait for a few more weeks until we – hopefully – received a broader set of suggestions for which we then could decide for an appropriate documentation structure.

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