Two years ago, in pre-pandemic times, we gathered for the last in-person MERL Tech conference in Washington, DC. During that conference, the idea was born to create the MERL Center — a community that would collaborate to develop resources about the intersection of MERL and open source.
Since then, a vibrant community has coalesced under the leadership of Mala Kumar, GitHub’s Director of Tech for Social Good. More than 40 members from five continents contribute through the community, coalescing around content that draws from their global professional experience in disciplines such as international development, public health, and education. Many MERL Center community members have come from the MERL Tech community. Collaborating via the MERL Center has enabled MERL Tech practitioners of all levels of technology capacity to engage on GitHub and break down professional silos.
This week, the community launched its new MERL Center website, which houses a range of content at the intersection of MERL and open source. Users of the site can filter MERL-related content by workflow or task (e.g., data visualization) or by content type (e.g., guides and case studies). Guides discuss important topics related to MERL and open source, such as the pros and cons of open data. Case studies outline specific examples of using open source solutions for MERL purposes, or MERL aspects of open source solutions. The site links out to the MERL Center repository on GitHub as well. It will eventually include a “project bank” of work that is ongoing and needs community support.
We’re excited to share this important resource with the wider MERL Tech community, and we hope that you will check it out, get involved, and let the MERL Center know what other content or guidance would be helpful for you in your work!