We recently spoke to Jeremy Horne – one of the organisers of BrightonR – to take a deeper dive into one of Brighton’s newest tech meetup groups. Read on if you’re enthusiastic about data and are keen to meet others who share this passion locally.
So, what is BrightonR?
BrightonR is a meetup group full of friendly local R programming professionals, open to anyone with an interest in the R environment, be that curious, beginner, casual programmer – or heavy user!
The idea for Brighton R was formed towards the end of 2019 after Jeremy Horne and Paul Drake were introduced to each other by Mango Solutions (the organisers of LondonR) as they were the only two R professionals they knew in Brighton! Things really came together when Jeremy and Paul were joined by Simon Booth and Fergus Guppy – another pair of Brighton-based R enthusiasts, and Silicon Brighton’s own Steve Rackley, helping to form BrightonR in a local Brighton pub late 2019! Silicon Brighton have been closely supporting BrightonR to run and promote all of the groups events since then.
How did you come to work with Silicon Brighton?
I was meant to attend Silicon Brighton’s first AI event back in November 2019, but (it being the season), I was stuck at home with the seasonal bout of flu – so I gave my ticket to my BrightonR co-organiser Paul Drake. Little did I know that this would get us closer to bringing BrightonR to life as Paul chatted to Steve Rackley that night and even managed to recruit our first speaker before we’d even organised the event!
What can attendees expect from the events?
BrightonR brings a fantastic informal space for R users to meet, chat, share stories and listen to some inspirational talks over a drink or two. The group is back on June 9th with two fantastic speakers – including a talk on producing Gameboy (remember them) images in R. While currently fully online, Brighton R are excited about the opportunity to return to in-person events in the not-so-distant future! The organisers have used the online environment to their advantage by adding even more fun with prize draws and enjoyable quizzes where you can win all sorts of ‘money can’t buy’ R prizes (including precious R stickers and t-shirts kindly donated by R studio).
Pre-pandemic, BrightonR hosted their first event where they had a tremendous attendance from local R professionals. It’s been fantastic to see BrightonR maintain this strength through their online events.
Rumour has it that there’s some very exciting speakers lined up for the next few events!
How did Jeremy get into R?
Jeremy graduated from the University of London in 2005 with a first in Maths, Stats and Economics. He was lucky to walk straight into one of the City of London’s leading consultancy think tanks (thanks to his love of cricket – but that’s another story for another day). On his first day in the role, Jeremy’s boss chucked a book on his desk and said “R. Learn it” and he’s not looked back since! Anyone that knows Jeremy will vouch for the fact he will not stop talking about R (Jeremey even started teaching his son how to code when he was around 18 months old, much to his wife’s disapproval).
In 2014, Jeremy moved into the marketing industry and spent six years in various different agency roles before launching Datacove (his own data consultancy) in 2020 – which of course focuses on building solutions around the R environment and training the R analysts of tomorrow – so if you want to know more, do get in touch with Jeremy on LinkedIn or follow him Datacove on any of their socials, available at www.datacove.co.uk and please join the BrightonR page on meetup!
As an organiser, what have been your personal highlights from previous events?
Seeing the people keep pouring through the door at our first (and thus far only face-to-face) event was so exciting. We had to get more chairs out and lay out rows further and further back! It’s been fantastic to see such a passion for growth in Brighton.
It’s great for us as organisers to see everyone sharing what they’re up to in R. You should be able to leave each session with some inspiration for new things you can try out to help yourself or you clients.
How was the shift to running the events online?
It was a bit of a hard pill to swallow at first – having only had one face-to-face event that was more successful than any of us imagined, we didn’t want to lose the momentum! Thankfully, we’ve had some great speakers and have a fantastic community which has meant we’ve kept up this progress.
We’ve also been boosted by the Global R user group, an initiative started during Covid by the organiser of BarcelonaR, where R user groups from around the globe share events with all of the other groups – meaning that we now have a truly global attendance at BrightonR with people joining from Spain, Germany, Austria, Kenya and South Africa amongst other countries!
Any advice and tips for others looking to run an event?
Online events are very different to face-to-face events. Without the lure of free beer and pizza, the “after work” slot no longer works – put it at the end of the working day – no sensible manager would deny their team the opportunity to finish an hour early or so if the time is spent attending an event that will add value in the workplace.
Our events allow attendees to upskill in R and really provide that workplace value, especially when new ideas can be taken back to workplace the next day. I’d also recommend not overburdening the event with too many talks as it’s a lot harder to focus online that in person. Get a good balance of talks and fun (quizzes, prize draws, humour, etc.) to keep everyone interested.
Get involved with BrightonR!
BrightonR are always looking for amazing people to share stories at our events – so if you have something you’d like to talk about, please get in touch – it’s a really friendly environment, so if you’ve not had the opportunity to speak in front of people before and would like to get some experience, please don’t be afraid. Jeremy is someone who does it regularly and would be happy to share a few tips beforehand!