Yihui Xie

My First Uncoast Unconference in 2019

Yihui Xie / 2020-02-24


When Sam emailed me about this idea of “uncoast unconference” in November 2018, I replied her email within five minutes with “Yes! And Yes!” I don’t usually reply emails so quickly, but I had wished for a Midwest R conference for years.

Born in a poor family, I have always been a frugal person, even though I don’t consider myself poor any more. On the other hand, I usually don’t like traveling, either (especially by air, which is often time-consuming and costly). Sam explained the motivations of the uncoast unconference in her blog post, and the travel cost is one of them.

I drove from Omaha to Des Moines for a little over two hours, and attended my first unconference in April 2019. I should have written this post after I came back, but haven’t had a chance. In the past few days, I saw the announcement of the 2020 Uncoast Unconference, and thought I should write down some reflections before I completely forget this event. I’m sure I have forgotten many things, and this post is my attempt to recall the rest of them from memory:

I don’t plan to attend this unconference this year, but I recommend that you do. I don’t think you have a lot of chances to isolate yourself from the rest of the world for a couple of days and focus on coding with a group of people. Meanwhile, this year’s Day 0 workshop will be led by Amelia McNamara, the most amazing note-taker I mentioned above, and Ian Lyttle, the nicest person on the Internet. The application deadline is approaching, so I encourage that you apply soon: https://uuconf2020.rbind.io.


  1. In the picture in this post, you can see me in the jacket that I have worn for several years. When I appear in pictures with a jacket, I’m almost always in this jacket.
  2. On a weakly related note, I was also surprised by the pronunciation of “sew” in her rstudio::conf talk this year.