2016 Election: Jason Williams

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

#2016 Election: Jason Williams

With benthic sensuous pleasure I offer up myself as candidate for the 2016 Steering Committee.

There are those (mom, the U.S. Department of Justice) who have labeled my apoplectic fits a sign of ‘weakness’, but I have found them to be a source of extraordinary strength. With this strength I pledge to bring Software Carpentry to places no one imagined it could (or should) go. As other candidates hail HYDRA, I’m proud to be the first and only candidate to come out in favor of all the things you believe in, and strongly (though perhaps not uncategorically) opposed to the things that displease you.

We have seen many successes this year, and I am humbled to have had some small role. Through the efforts of the assessment committee we are now collecting data that will allow informed decisions about the curriculum and give instructors valuable feedback on teaching.

I will bring to the role a penchant for being in the right place at the right time. A quick FOIA search of arraignment depositions reveals as much in a pattern of compliments:

  • “It is [comforting] that on multiple occasions the [Mr. Williams] was found [lending a helping hand].”
  • “always in close proximity to the scene of the [giving out free ice cream].”
  • “quia timet; this court finds it absurd to discount [his] seemingly peripheral involvement as mere coincidence. [Clearly], he was aiding and [helping] the [helpless puppies].”

I promise to be there for you - just when you need me most, exactly when you need me most. As Assistant Director for External Collaboration at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center and Education, Outreach and Training Lead for the National Science Foundation’s life science cyberinfrastructure CyVerse (formerly iPlant Collaborative), I am in close contact with the bioinformatics community and funding agencies (NSF/NIH). I’ve taken every occasion to publicize, advocate, and generate opportunities for Software and Data Carpentry. Going after more grant funding will help us cultivate a more diverse set of learners. We also need to do more to get instructors who are women, from developing countries, and from groups underrepresented/underserved in the sciences. I now serve on an NSF-funded research-collaboration network for integrating bioinformatics into the undergraduate life science curriculum. I am champing at the bit to pursue these and other great opportunities with SWC over the next year. I predict my momentary ‘instabilities’ will only accelerate progress.

As the committee’s Treasurer I’ve watched proudly as we have become financially stable. We are well on our way to the catbird seat; money will no longer be a question of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ but a matter of 😏. There is still much work to do in getting better organized with NumFocus and working with our Executive Director to court and cultivate partners and affiliates.

I was honored to host the Steering Committee for an in-person meeting at Cold Spring Harbor. All of their trailblazing work deserves special recognition. The committee has not however, been without its flaws - which I am compelled to reveal in a way that goes beyond what’s captured in meeting minutes. Oftentimes, when I thought consensus was within reach, instead of a vote to pass a motion, we were told to “Finish it on the Astral Plane.” These calls for astral battle would usually come at a time when dissenters either lacked the spirit-energy to project themselves to the proper plane or were simply given improper coordinates. The gossamer-veiled claims that parade these exercises as legitimate parliamentary procedure need to be called out and I’ll put a stop to it.

I pledge that astral combat as a tool for decision making will be replaced with fully corporeal dance-offs.

Finally, I just want to remind those who voted for me last year just how fun it was. As I ask for your vote, feel free to tweet a selfie (@JasonWilliamsNY) as you select my name so that everyone can be a part of the joy of ceding decision making authority over to a benevolent mother-father figure – it just may be the most liberating experience of the year.

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