Looking forward to Copenhagen

We're in Copenhagen for the Subsurface Bootcamp and Hackathon, which start today, and the EAGE Annual Conference and Exhibition, which starts next week. Walking around the city yesterday, basking in warm sunshine and surrounded by sun-giddy Scandinavians, it became clear that Copenhagen is a pretty special place, where northern Europe and southern Europe seem to have equal influence.The event this weekend promises to be the biggest hackathon yet. It's our 10th, so I think we…

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Weekend worship in Salt Lake City

The Salt Lake City hackathon — only the second we've done with a strong geology theme — is a thing of history, but you can still access the event page to check out who showed up and who did what. (This events page is a new thing we launched in time for this hackathon; it will serve as a public document of what happens at our events, in addition to being a platform for people to register,…

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Productive chaos

Wednesday was a good day. Over 150 participants came to Room 251 for all or part of the first 'unsession' at the AAPG Annual Conference and Exhibition in Salt Lake City. I was one of the hosts of the event, and emceed the afternoon. In a nutshell, it was awesome. I have facilitated unsessions before, but this event was on a new scale. Twelve tables of 8–10 seats — covered in sticky notes, stickers, coloured…

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Woo yeah perfect: hacking in Salt Lake City

Thirty geoscientist-coders swarmed into Salt Lake City this past weekend to hack at Church & State, a co-working space in a converted church. There, we spent two days appealing to the almighty power of machine learning.Nine teams worked on the usual rich variety of projects around the theme. Projects included AIs that pick unconformities, natural language processing to describe stratigraphy, and designing an open data platform in service of machine learning. I'll do a run-down of the…

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An invitation to start something

Most sessions at your average conference are about results — the conclusions and insights from completed research projects. But at AAPG this year, there's another kind of session, about beginnings. The 'Unsession' is back!   Machine Learning Unsession   Room 251 B/C, 1:15 pm, Wednesday 23 MayThe topic is machine learning in geoscience. My hope is that there's a lot of emphasis on geological problems, especially in stratigraphy. But we don't know exactly where it will go,…

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The geospatial sport

An orienteer leaving a control site.  If you love studying maps or solving puzzles, and you love being outside, then orienteering — the thinking runner's sport — might be the sport you've been looking for.There are many, many flavours of orienteering (on foot, on skis, in kayaks, etc), but here's how it generally works:Competitors make their way to an event, perhaps on a weekday evening, maybe a weekend morning.Several courses are offered, varying in length…

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It’s Dynamic Range Day!

OK signal processing nerds, which side are you on in the Loudness War?If you haven't heard of the Loudness War, you have some catching up to do! This little video by Matt Mayfield is kinda low-res but it's the shortest and best explanation I've been able to find. Watch it, then choose sides >>>>There's a similar-but-slightly-different war going on in photography: high-dynamic-range or HDR photography is, according to some purists, an existential threat to photography. I'm not…

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The right writing tools

Scientists write, it's part of the job. If writing feels laborious, it might be because you haven't found the right tools yet. The wrong tools <cough>Word</cough> feel like a lot of work. You spend a lot of time fiddling with font sizes and not being sure whether to use italic or bold. You're constantly renumbering sections after edits. Everything moves around when you resize a figure. Tables are a headache. Table of contents? LOL.If this sounds familiar,…

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On principles and creativity

I recently heard a quote that resonated with me:   I grapple with this sentiment whenever I feel the selfish twinge of hesitation to donate money to Wikipedia or QGIS, or pay page fees for open access to an article, or otherwise cough up for my convictions.Curious about who had uttered this wisdom, I looked it up. Turns out it was Bill Bernbach, celebrated advertiser, and supposedly an inspiration for the Don Draper character in Mad…

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