Notebooks, specifically Jupyter notebooks (but also notebooks from platforms such as RStudio), are generating a great deal of excitement and are potentially a significant step forward in terms of reproducibility, education, code documentation and academic publishing. A recent paper found nearly 1.2 million unique notebooks based on searches through GitHub; another even more recent blog gives evidence of nearly 5 million notebooks on GitHub.
This is colossal growth of the use of notebooks by researchers. The RDA absolutely needs to engage with this as it enables sharing of both data and software.
More recently the development and deployment of resources such as JupyterHub, myBinder and EGI notebooks mean that notebooks can be deployed in the cloud and helps reduce issues that occur when running on a user's own system. For beginner and intermediate users this could become the easiest pathway for using cloud computing resources. It is clear that frameworks such as EOSC and the EGI will make extensive use of notebooks, and their offerings affected by them. On the other hand, the closure of services such as Azure Notebooks means that the preservation of these notebooks is also key.
An Interest Group will be proposed to match this BoF session and build on the BoF held at RDA Helsinki . A set of topics (discussed in detail in the objectives below) has been arrived at that a) would make a tangible contribution to the notebook community and b) make use of the combination of expertise within the RDA community not available elsewhere. Briefly these are:
Long term preservation of notebooks
Notebooks as FAIR digital objects
Notebooks for big data and compute
The RDA community benefits from this as it provides an opportunity to shape how this rapidly expanding technology is deployed and used.
The meeting objective is to build on the work carried out there and discuss the formation of WGs to carry out explicit tasks.
Martin Fenner of the Software Source Code Identification WG has agreed to coordinate between the two groups.