Thanks to all of you who filled out the survey (most of the committee did). Your responses contained some excellent suggestions for the coming year. I was also struck that the majority of you joined to learn and share knowledge of open source software. Most of you also committed to volunteering a significant amount of time for the committee.
Because this is a large committee (46 members), I suggest we organize our work by project, each with a clear goal that benefits the community. Please scan the projects below and think how you'd like to contribute. We'll also need someone to lead each project. I'll keep track of who's contributing to which project and will send out reminders to the people we don't hear from. Here's the list:
1. Wiki / Forums
We need one or more people to maintain this web site, and think how it might best serve the community. At the very least, it needs to provide a starting point for actuaries to learn about open source software that may be helpful to them. It might also be a good place for actuaries to learn about new relevant developments in the OSS world.
2. Webinars / Seminars / Presentations
In recent years there have been a number of R seminars, webinars, and presentations put on by actuaries, including by several members of this committee. The lead of this committee doesn't necessarily need to lead a seminar him/herself, but does need to keep in touch with the other relevant CAS committees and help coordinate webinars/seminars as required.
3. Actuarial R repository / Virtual Machine
Installing R and its various packages is a high barrier to entry for many actuaries. The hardware may not be available; IT policies may conflict; there is a changing list of packages to install. Lee Bowron and Dan Murphy made some progress last year with this issue—I believe the next step we discussed was to set up an Amazon Machine Image with everything pre-configured.
The majority of you said you joined in order to learn more about R and share what you know. I think the best format for this would be a high-quality blog. Contributors to this project would write-up their experiences with some application of open source software to an actuarial problem. We have a range of skills levels on the committee from beginner to advanced, so I'm sure a wide range of topics would be appreciated. The leader of this project would coordinate and schedule blog entries, and help figure out the implementation details.
Don't feel limited by the above, please post below if you have other ideas or suggestions. For instance, recently committee members have mentioned the idea of an open-source textbook, or have thought about making R source code more popular for published articles. Keep in mind though, that to be successful projects need to produce some kind of beneficial, tangible output, and be realistic given the resources at our disposal.
Where to go from here
Please post in this thread about which project(s) you'd like to contribute to (or if you have a new idea). Mention too if you'd be willing to lead a particular project. In a couple weeks I'll take stock of the responses and see where we stand and if everyone's voiced an opinion.