StanCon mini series

Hi All,

This post provides updates on StanCon and solicits suggestions & proposals. With much deliberation the @SGB has decided that in lieu of a full day event, for the year of 2021 we adopt the format of a series of minisymposia. Each minisymposium will take approximately 2-3 hours, and four such events in total will be held throughout the year, roughly one per quarter. There are many factors behind this decision, including

  • to improve engagement in virtual setting. From both collected feedback and personal anecdotes we see suboptimal cognitive engagement in many-hour online meetings. This is directly reflected on the quality of discussions.
  • to reduce organization overhead. A large event like StanCon 2020 is built on many contributors’ effort, and the pandemic keeps bringing hardships. Spreading the events through the year helps to cope these new challenges.
  • to make better Stan-themed events. Many of us are familiar with organizing in-person meetings while less so with large-scale online gatherings. More frequent events help us collect feedback and fine-tune future ones.
  • to introduce alternative format to in-person meetings. Even with full reopening and return of in-person meeting, regular minisymposium could stay as another gathering opportunity for the community.

While we’re working on minisymposium guidelines, we’d like to hear from you, on issues such as

  • how do we name this series?
  • what format would you like to see?
  • what topic would you like to participate?

We’d also like to have a pilot run in April-May. So if you and someone you know could be interested in organizing the first minisymposium, please reach out to us (board@mc-stan.org) with:

  • topic/field you’re proposing.
  • potential presenters you can invite.
  • potential dates/time zones.

All proposals and suggestions are welcome.

Thank you,
SGB

17 Likes

Hi, that sounds great! And I agree that long online conferences in Zoom are really tiring!

I’m completely booked for April or May, so I’m actually proposing to organize the one in the last quarter of the year.
I would like to organize something with a focus on cognitive(-neuro) science (https://cognitive-science-stan.github.io/), there are plenty of people to invite given the papers I have collected lately. (Tagging also @lei-zhang )
If the scope seems to narrow, maybe education can be included (https://education-stan.github.io/) (I can’t seem to find Sophia Rabe-Hesketh in discourse to tag her).

3 Likes

That indeed sounds great!

My suggestions:

  • Avoid Zoom because it does not have good network support for people located in Asia/Latin America. I think the best overall solution would be Google Meet (if we have more than 100 participants, we could stream it to YouTube and have questions being asked in sli.do)

  • Since the event is run on April/May (spring) we could call it Stan Spring of Bayes (copying Google Summer of Code / Google Summer of Docs)?

  • Due to the success and popularity of Bayesian stuff, we could add a teaching/education theme/topic? See @avehtari major success in his recent Bayesian online course, where he had hundreds of people signing up in the first day or two.

6 Likes

+1 to the teaching/education topic.

I really enjoyed StanCon2020, but also think it could work even better to split things up and certainly worth trying that format out.

1 Like

Name suggestion: StanConnect

Dear all,
I have thought a bit about potential names for this and somehow the name StanConnect felt good. If we have a specific topic (Education, Neuro Science, Computational Biology, Market Research, etc.) we could call it

  • StanConnect TOPIC,
  • StanConnect: TOPIC, or
  • StanConnects TOPIC.

Pros

  • Similar to StanCon and also kind of similar to something like C++Now.
  • Conveys the goal we want to achieve with this format: keeping the Stan community connected during these remote time.
  • Conveys the fact that we want to reach out for new people to connect with the Stan community.
  • Convey the fact that Stan connects people from a lot a different backgrounds, something I really love about StanCon

Cons

  • Apparently Stan (the Australian streaming service) has an API and there is some stan.connect method… Could be awkward when googeling… But I guess weird google results are just #Stanthings
  • probably more which I’m blind to, because I’ve thought about it for too long…

What do you think?
Max

Edit: tagging @SGB , @martinmodrak

9 Likes

Like it. If the event works well, we’ll win the search engine fight, there is nothing strong to compete against.

Fun fact, in Czech “stan” means “tent” and there is a bunch of tents branded as “Connect”, so I get those as first results :-D Stan has a bunch of related meanings (tent, building, hut, …) in other slavic languages and even some meaning in Swedish (stan - Wiktionary), but once again I think we can win those sweet search result placements as the combination with “Connect” is not particularly strong.

3 Likes

I like it :) It has a very friendly and inviting feeling to it.

I’ve seen @mcmc_stan retweeting many interesting looking papers solving complex real world problems with Stan. I think it would be interesting to hear the authors of those papers to tell how they solved the problems with Stan, and a bit more about the possible challenges or revelations they got specifically because of Stan.

8 Likes

The official announcement & call for proposals: StanConnect 2021: Call for Session Proposals.