3 questions to...Caito Scherr

With the start of our Call For Participation we would like to introduce you to some of the people behind the scenes. Our program committee is a group of experts in Big Data who review every submissions and rate it accordingly. They help us create the program and give useful tips and overall support to make Berlin Buzzwords happen. And they do it all in their free time. If you want to find out who's in it, you can find them all here.

This year, Caito Scherr joined the program committee and we are very excited to have her onboard. To find out more about Caito, we asked a few questions that you can read below. To find out more about who Caito is, please see her profile here.

1. What is your expectation for Berlin Buzzwords 2021, which topics would you like to see?
At the last Berlin Buzzwords, I really enjoyed the balance of getting to deep dive on topics that are close to my heart, and getting to learn about topics that are new to me and outside of my area of expertise. On a high level, I'm looking forward to the absolute joy and enthusiasm that the speakers always bring to this particular conference, and that can make old and new topics alike be equally interesting. If I had to choose, I'm a huge nerd for anything about stream processing and data analytics and would love to see more of these topics. Additionally, I would love to see more machine learning talks, and last year's speakers did a great job of getting me invested in seeing more search engine talks. 

2. Do you think the pandemic will have an influence on Big data technology and the open source community? In how far does it alter community engagement?
I think the pandemic has, and will continue to have a lasting impact on Big Data tech and the open source community. For the industry itself, the pandemic has carved out a new set of topics that are suddenly and urgently relevant to the entire world. It has also opened up space in Big Data, data science and machine learning for non-engineers. Many of my previously non-engineering friends and peers are now learning how to use open source COVID-19 data to correlate data relevant to their company and/or geographical location - across all different professions. I've seen more open source, real-time data sets being made available, not just in general in my technical circles, but amongst these non-engineering circles on social media as well. This is a pivotal moment for open source Big Data. 

As for the community: the global lockdowns, stay at home orders, grieving, disconnection, and other personal and psychological repercussions of the pandemic has had an impact that will likely be long-lasting for almost every industry. As the severity of this is so closely tied to community, it makes sense that movements and organizations that were already community-focused would have the most noticeable impact. I've already seen a drastic shift in the open source community - both in terms of the participants, and for those who moderate these communities. I've seen more newcomers, as well as more engagement from current participants. Additionally, I've seen an uptick in community-building - particularly when it comes to things like codes of conduct or streamlining review processes. That being said, this time has been tough on open source and other community leaders, and not everyone has been prepared to or able to retain this new level of engagement. This is a great opportunity for many open source groups to really flourish, but it's also a time that for some, may require even more effort, resources and intention to keep up. 

3. You are working from the US West Coast for a German company, which means asynchronous, remote collaboration. What are your best tipps to structure your day and how do you get out of bed really early in the morning?
Note: my tips are very specific to my role and my experience. As background, I was well prepared for this from prior experience leading a wide range of projects and structuring my own time in various contexts. For me, the 9 hour time difference is a benefit - it’s easier to minimize disruptions - but I want to be transparent that even with the "right" experience and good techniques, I don't expect this to suit everyone. 
On a more granular level, I’m a shameless geek for tactics (when customized well) like the Pomodoro technique (a timer system of focus mode and breaks) which lends itself well to remote work. I also lean on tools that are built for asynchronous collaboration, like sharable roadmap and task tracking apps, and good separation of concerns for communication/Slack channels. Additionally, as cliché as it sounds, there's not underestimating the power of consistent (if boring) documentation, particularly for meeting notes, task logs, and anything else related to transparency or collaborative tasks. 
In terms of getting out of bed (good question) - I realized a while ago that putting in some initial effort to eliminate decision fatigue provided me a huge return on investment in terms of energy and flexibility. This has helped make drastic shifts (like late nights to early mornings) surprisingly easy. It's hard for me to give the short version of this (I really geek out about personal automation- I’ve given talks & courses on this), but much of it includes optimizing for the things that you least enjoy, and automating those tasks. For me, I really... really do not enjoy cooking or clothes shopping, so most of my automation revolves around this. Simple examples include making meals (or base meal ingredients) on Sundays that last me most of the work week, and getting clothes out several days ahead that take into account my meeting, social, and sport schedules. Beyond that, it helps that I enjoy my work and interacting with my coworkers. And, that they are very understanding that I will try to have my video on for 7 and 8am meetings, but not so much for 6am meetings :-)