Workshops and Hackfest

Wednesday, October 2

Hackfest & Workshops will be at the new University of Alberta Libraries Digital Scholarship Centre, located in Cameron Library. The University of Alberta campus is across the river from the Matrix Hotel.


The Hackfest will kick off at 9:00 in the main area of the Digital Scholarship Centre and run through the day.

Submit your ideas!

For those that are not familiar with the concept, the Hackfest is essentially a day spent working collaboratively on bringing a particular project to fruition. The day will start with the folks involved deciding what they want to work on. The rest of the day is spent working on moving the projects forward in self-organized groups, completing them if possible. Lunch will be provided. At the end of the day there will be an opportunity to show off your work in the DSC Visualization Lab (4:00 to 5:00).

The folks attending the Hackfest will decide that day what they will be working on. But why wait to get the conversation going?

You can submit your ideas! right up to Hackfest day.

Note: Even if you are not going to be attending the Hackfest, you can still have your say! If there is a project you would like to see happen, go ahead and submit it. Submit as many as you like.

The DSC has many tools and resources that can be brought into play for Hackfest projects – just ask DSC staff for help. These include:

For more information see the DSC’s media and fabrication pages.

This year we have created an Access team on GitHub: AccessLibCon. Hackfest participants and members of the Access community can host their projects there. If you would like to join the team, just send your GitHub id to the Access gmail account, and we’ll add you.

Credit: adapted form Mark Jordan’s blurb for the Access 2012 Hackfest.

DSC Tour

DSC staff can introduce you to the DSC facilities on request. To kick things off, they’ll be ready to offer an informal tour at 9:15.


9:00 – 9:45

Discussion with Eira Tansey

Location: Cameron Library, room 3-10. This workshop is full. Note that this is a quiet floor, so please keep noise to a minimum when moving to and from the room.

In a 1995 talk, Ursula Franklin explores the various ways information and communication are structured within the internet and how this enhances (or undermines) community interests. More than two decades later, we still struggle with whether and how technology can provide access to information – and power – for the common good. In their recent work on environmental rights, Sarah Lamdan and Rebecca Bratspies frame access to environmental information consistent with the legal frameworks around international human rights.

Required reading

10:30 – 12:30
(parallell sessions)

Hack open web data with web scraping approaches with Google Sheets, Python, and R

Yoo Young Lee
Location: DSC, Visualization Lab
(15 seats – this workshop is full)
The Web has become a source of data for daily and scientific research. Although there are many initiatives to facilitate data exchange, most of the Web content are written in plain HTML. This workshop will introduce three approaches (Google Sheets, Python, and R) from simple to advanced to scrape web data in a standard format like CSV, XML, and JSON and how these techniques can be applied to daily work and research.

Microaggressions: Let’s do more than just talk about them

Whitni Watkins
Unfortunately, this workshop has had to be cancelled.

Learn Together Wax Workshop

Sam Popowich and Sarah Severson
Location: DSC, Boardroom

Interested in hands-on experience building digital exhibitions without writing code? The Access hackfest Wax workshop will provide space and time to dig into preparing data and setting up digital exhibitions from data to the final product using a lightweight, low barrier web-based tool. This workshop will be an informal “learn together” session so even if you are unfamiliar with using an interactive shell or Git/Github, there will be help with those parts. The hope is where we can try things out and explore while learning how Wax works and the ins and outs of creating digital exhibitions.

The session will be facilitated by Sarah Severson and Sam Popowich and there will be prepared images and metadata from the Peel Prairie Provinces postcard collection to work with.

This workshop is being held concurrently with the hackfest so we expect there to be some bleed together, so please feel free to attend if you have other things you’re interested in besides Wax. This could be a Wikipedia editing session, writing documentation for open-source projects, working through online tutorials, or pretty much anything else. After the workshop, feel free to continue working on your project throughout the afternoon in the library’s Digital Scholarship Centre.

1:30 – 4:00
(parallell sessions)

Introduction to Data Science and Visualization with R and RStudio

John Fink
Location: DSC, Visualization Lab
(25 seats – this workshop is full)
This workshop will introduce you to the basics of manipulating data using the R programming language and the RStudio IDE. We’ll go through what is R and how it works for understanding and manipulating spreadsheets and other data types. In addition, we’ll talk about RStudio, the preeminent graphical interface to R, and how to use it to easily create data visualizations.

Minding the store: Using triplestore software for linked data exploration

John Huck and members of the University of Alberta Libraries Metadata Team
Location: DSC, Boardroom

(20 seats – this workshop is full)
This workshop will provide a hands-on introduction to triplestore software for anyone who would like to start working with linked data triples (subject-predicate-object data). A triplestore is a database optimized for storing and querying RDF triples. We will help participants install software on their machines, source triples, load them, and then begin to work with them. We may touch on advanced topics, but the focus will be on getting people up and running. Because it is such a vast topic in its own right, the SPARQL query language used in triplestores won’t be addressed in any detail.

Participants will need to bring their own laptop. Familiarity with the command line is not necessary (Fuseki uses the command line, but GraphDB has an easy-to-use GUI). Familiarity with linked data concepts is helpful, but not strictly necessary. Participants with more experience are welcome to attend to share what they know.

5:00 – 7:00 Pub Night @ The Writer’s Room