Episode 221

Malvika Sharan on the The Turing Way


February 23rd, 2024

38 mins 29 secs

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode


Malvika Sharan


Richard Littauer

Show Notes

In this episode, host Richard has a conversation with guest Malvika Sharan, a senior research associate and open source community manager at The Turing Way. Malvika gives fascinating insights into the journey and rationale behind The Turing Way, which is a data science guide and community collaborative project, seeking to make data science more open, accessible, and inclusive. The Turing Way is also much more than its curated guides, serving as a space for enthusiasts to exchange ideas and contribute to the project. Richard and Malvika dig deep into the importance of effective recognition for contributions, Malvika’s commitment to financial compensation within the constraints of the system, along with the persistence of volunteerism in open source work. Amid her busy year, Malvika is preparing for this chapter of The Turing Way’s journey to enter an exciting 2024 and 2025 phase as they look to engage more directly with organizations that haven’t yet adopted open source collaborative practices advocated by The Turing Way. Press download not to hear more!

[00:01:17] Malvika explains The Turing Way as a collaborative book project on open science and data science, founded by Kristie Whittaker in 2019, which has evolved significantly with her as co-lead. Also, The Turing Way started as a book on GitHub aimed at making data science more open.

[00:04:09] Richard clarifies that The Turing Way is a Jupyter book, and Malvika discusses the evolution of The Turing Way and its role in advocating for open source practices within data science projects.

[00:05:55] Richard asks why there isn’t a specific guide for open source, and Malvika explains that The Turing Way integrates open source principles throughout and addresses concerns about open practices in sensitive areas.

[00:08:07] Richard inquires about the name, The Turing Way, an Malvika recounts its origin relating to the Alan Turing Institute and the idea of reproducibility.

[00:09:26] The discussion turns to community involvement in The Turing Way. Malvika talks about different types of community events and how individuals become part of the community through collaboration and self-identification.

[00:12:15] The concept of “emergent strategy” from the book by Adrienne Maree Brown is explained as an influence on the community aspect of The Turing Way.

[00:13:13] Richard inquires about the sustainability of The Turing Way as an open source project and its funding and staff structure. Malvika explains that it’s funded by the Alan Turing Institute and discusses the Institute’s support and staff dedicated to the project, including a new project manager.

[00:16:16] Richard asks how The Turing Way collects feedback and demonstrates its impact on sustainability for projects that use it. Malvika shares experiences of community members using The Turing Way to influence their organizations and mentions collaborations like The Environmental Data Science book project.

[00:18:03] Malvika talks about how she launched The Turing Way Practitioners Hub to gather and share evidence.

[00:19:42] Richard questions what it means to adopt The Turing Way, and Malvika clarifies that it refers to adopting the practices of open and collaborative data science.

[00:20:16] They address the breadth versus depth of The Turing Way’s content and the idea of creating sector-specific resources.

[00:24:00] Malvika speaks about outreach through talks and workshops, and highlights the diversity of narratives within The Turing Way community, such as activism for

[00:26:20] Richard notices the lack of Welsh language resources in The Turing Way and wonders why it’s not included. Malvika acknowledges this as a shortcoming due to underrepresentation in the community.

[00:27:19] How does The Turing Way support careers of its contributors? Malvika talks about the importance of recognition, mentioning the All Contributors Bot for immediate recognition, chairing working groups, and listing significant contributors in the book.

[00:30:31] Richard asks how The Turing Way supports contributors financially. Malvika stresses the value of volunteerism for skill-building and personal growth. She also talks about The Turing Way’s efforts in compensating contributors through grants and mentions the limitations of institutional funding structures.

[00:33:58] Malvika tells us where you can find updates and involvement opportunities on The Turing Way, and where you can follow her online.


[00:05:08] “The project itself is built on a lot of open source technology.”

[00:06:00] “The Turing Way is a sneaky open source.”

[00:09:48] “Sometimes it happens that you don’t think you’re a part of a community, but you are part of a community, it’s just someone didn’t tell you that you are part of the community.”

[00:24:27] “I think of The Turing Way as an extension of digital commons that people should use and fare, but also maintain and support.”


  • [00:35:31] Richard’s spotlight is the Montpelier Library in Montpelier, Ohio.
  • [00:36:11] Malvika’s spotlight is Laurah Ondari, a wonderful podcaster, and her podcast, The Science In Real Life.



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