Workshop 3: Reflecting halfway

Midway through our programming workshop series, Methodology Workshop for Natural Language Programming workshop, the Crow team took a step back to reflect on what direction we wanted to take in our work and the role programming and coding would play in our long-term mission. Much of our discourse revolved around our identity as a research group, specifically concerns about creating a self-sustaining organization that can adapt to change.

Our discussion started with questions of achievement:

  • What tasks must we perform to accomplish our current milestone such as TALC and the Symposium. What additional milestones do we want to carry out?
  • How do we differentiate between internal resources, tools, and deliverables and external materials that could be shared with our partners?

From there, we generalized into more existential questions, such as our identity as a team and how that identity has changed because of these workshops.

  • What does it mean to be a Crow researcher?
  • What criteria will future Crow members need to meet?
  • Will the coding and programming skills covered during this conference be a standard expectation for all team members or only a select few?
  • How do we train incoming members?

To address these issues, we discussed creating personas of the different positions within the Crow team and use them to generate a specific set of criteria for each position. Our discussion then segued into the purpose of existing Crow members and how their personal goals intersect with team goals. Should current members be involved with Crow until the end of their PhD studies? How big of a role should fourth year students play in Crow? Bradley shared his view that all fourth-year students should be applying for fellowships in their specific fields of expertise and members who acquire fellowships should be helpfully “fired” and allowed to pursue these new opportunities. However, a great deal will depend on how much the student’s personal objective dovetailed with Crow research.

To that end, further dialogue was devoted to the need for more Crow meetings and greater articulation of member goals. A prime area of concern was balancing the coordination of internal management with the myriad of other obligations on the Crow agenda. How do we sustain the succession of new students when current members leave?  Financially, how do we continue our work if our grant requests are not successful? (The idea of counterfeiting was briefly considered but unanimously vetoed). Furthermore, What are the next steps once we achieve the creation of a working corpus? Do we want our research to simply be open sourced or should we create a service model where access to Crow is free but users would be charged for support services from Crow members?

As the session concluded, we decided that questions regarding preparation for TALC would be revisited at the summit meeting. Topics of immediate concern, such as how to transition workflow once students graduate and revisiting our one, two, and five-year plans, were scheduled for future discussion.