The Research Data Alliance: Creating the culture and technology for an international data infrastructure
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The Research Data Alliance: Creating the culture and technology for an international data infrastructure

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All of society’s grand challenges -- be it addressing rapid climate change, curing cancer and other disease, providing food and water for more than seven billion people, understanding the origins of ...

All of society’s grand challenges -- be it addressing rapid climate change, curing cancer and other disease, providing food and water for more than seven billion people, understanding the origins of the universe or the mind -- all of them require diverse and sometimes very large data to to be shared and integrated across cultures, scales, and technologies. This requires a new form and new conception of infrastructure. The Research Data Alliance (RDA) is creating and implementing this new data infrastructure. It is building the connections that make data work across social and technical barriers.

RDA launched in March 2013 as a international alliance of researchers, data scientists, and organizations to build these connections and infrastructure to accelerate data-driven innovation. RDA facilitates research data sharing, use, re-use, discoverability, and standards harmonization through the development and adoption of technologies, policy, practice, standards, and other deliverables. We do this through focussed Working Groups, exploratory Interest Groups, and a broad, committed membership of individuals and organizations dedicated to improving data exchange.

I also discuss some early ideas on building community and connecting like minded organizations at different scales.

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    The Research Data Alliance: Creating the culture and technology for an international data infrastructure The Research Data Alliance: Creating the culture and technology for an international data infrastructure Presentation Transcript

    • Unless otherwise noted, the slides in this presentation are licensed by Mark A. Parsons under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License The Research Data Alliance: Creating the culture and technology for an international data infrastructure Mark A. Parsons Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Boulder Earth and Space Science Informatics Group 21 August 2013
    • All of society’s grand challenges require diverse (often large) data to to be shared and integrated across cultures, scales, and technologies.
    • Research Data Alliance Vision Researchers around the world sharing and using research data without barriers. Purpose to accelerate international data-driven innovation and discovery by facilitating research data sharing and exchange, use and re-use, standards harmonization, and discoverability. through the development and adoption of infrastructure, policy, practice, standards, and other deliverables.
    • We need to start thinking about software in a way more like how we think about building bridges, dams, and sewers – Dan Bricklin, Software That Lasts 200 Years http://www.bricklin.com/200yearsoftware.htm
    • Dynamics of Infrastructure Edwards, et al. 2007 Understanding Infrastructure: Dynamics, Tensions, and Design. • Infrastructures become “ubiquitous, accessible, reliable, and transparent” as they mature. • Staged evolution • “system-building, characterized by the deliberate and successful design of technology-based services.” • “technology transfer across domains and locations results in variations on the original design, as well as the emergence of competing systems.” • Finally, “a process of consolidation characterized by gateways that allow dissimilar systems to be linked into networks.”
    • Ecology of Infrastructure Figure derived from F. Millerand based on S. L. Star & K. Ruhleder (1996)
    • When is infrastructure?
    • When is infrastructure? Who is infrastructure?
    • Deliverables that make data work “Create - Adopt - Use” • Adopted code, policy, infrastructure, standards, or best practices that enable data sharing • “Harvestable” efforts for which 12-18 months of work can eliminate a roadblock • Efforts that have substantive applicability to groups within the data community, but may not apply to all • Efforts for which working scientists and researchers can start today RDA Principles Openness Consensus Balance Harmonization Community Driven Non-profit
    • RDA Organizational Framework
    • Positive deviance says that if you want to create change, you must scale it down to the lowest level of granularity and look for people within the social system who are already manifesting the desired future state. Take only the arrows that are already pointing toward the way you want to go, and ignore the others. Identify and differentiate those people who are headed in the right direction. Give them visibility and resources. Bring them together. Aggregate them. Barbara Waugh Leadership Model: Positive Deviance Slide courtesy Ted Habermann, NOAA
    • RDA Members are from 51 Countries 15 July 2013 Academia 58% Private 8% Public Admin. 11% Other 23%
    • • Data Type Registries • PID Information Types • Standardization of data categories and codes, working specifically with the ISO 639 (human languages) • Data Foundation and Terminology • Practical Policy (pending) • Community Capability Model (in review) • Data Citation: Making Data Citable (in review) • Metadata Standards (in review) Working Groups
    • • Metadata • Preservation e-Infrastructure • The Engagement Group • Data in Context • Publishing Data • UPC Code for Data • The Long Tail of Research Data • Agricultural Data Interoperability • Certification of Digital Repositories • Structural Biology • Big Data Analytics • Defining Urban Data Exchange • Marine Data Harmonization • Digital Practices in History and Ethnography • Toxicogenomics Interoperability • Brokering • Legal Interoperability Interest Groups
    • Going Glocal Beginning of the inchoate part of the talk
    • Themes from B. Caron on Community (with a nod to J. Bacon & G. Graen) • Network Effect (esp. networks of subnetworks) • Sub-communities enhance belonging • Connections breed connections • Requisite Variety • Ashby’s law: “variety absorbs variety” • Surface-level diversity (race, age, gender) vs deep-level (values, conceptual metaphors, personality). • Adjacent Possible—the importance of local • Need for a common cause, a “collaboration-driven ethos”, an “axiom of unity,” a dream.
    • Themes from A. Tsing on Collaboration Friction—An ethnography of global connection • “Actually existing universalisms are hybrid, transient, and involved in constant reformulation through dialogue.” They work out through friction. • “There is no reason to think collaborators have common goals.” • Unity and diversity cover each other up. Need to remember the local.
    • Themes from Parsons on Relationships (I’m an introvert) • The central challenge is diversity. We address it through (deep- level) diversity, more specifically through friction. Friction is manifested in relationships. • Fostering relationships is central to community and data science. • they build social capital—success through giving • they uncover tacit knowledge • they inform methods
    • Methods • User-driven design is not just end user. Engage providers and funders too. • Case studies not just use cases. • Ethnography—study relationships because data are often at the center of that interaction—a boundary object. • Agile is not just for software. • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools • Working software (working volunteers) over comprehensive documentation • Customer collaboration (member collaboration) over contract negotiation • Responding to change over following a plan.
    • Relationships grow through personal, unscripted interaction around common interest—shared stories. Figure courtesy webbirdmedia.com
    • Get involved! • Join RDA as an individual member supporting our principles at http://rd-alliance.org • Join as an Organizational Member (nominal fee) or an Organizational Affiliate (jointly sponsored efforts) • Initiate or join an Interest Group • Propose or join a Working Group • Attend the RDA Plenaries • Nominate yourself or someone else for the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. —Henry Ford
    • Next Plenary: 16-18 September 2013 National Academy of Sciences Washington DC Hashtag: #RDAPlenary RDA Plenary 3 in Dublin Ireland, March 26-28 2014, hosted by Australia and Ireland
    • Questions and comments to: enquiries@rd-alliance.org or parsom3@rpi.edu Twitter: @resdatall