A Quick Prescript – Why the New Name?
As you might have noticed, we have changed our name from cyberNABO to DataARC. The team decided to make this change for a few reasons: (1) DataARC is growing in visibility in cyberinfrastructure circles, and the name was not readily understood by those not familiar with archaeology, (2) the new name “future proofs” the project, as many reviewers on the proposal saw value in future expansion to other parts of the Arctic, and (3) the name is more inclusive to other data providers who may not be directly associated with the NABO community. Regardless of the new name, NABO is still very much at the crux of this project moving forward.
Why Do We Need DataARC? (see public abstract for NSF)
Research on the interactions between Arctic environments and people requires linking data from over thousands of square miles, hundreds of years, and multiple disciplines, from climatology to archaeology to the humanities to truly understand these complex interactions. Datasets often exist to be able to address these questions, but it remains difficult to find these data, make them interoperable, and analyze and visualize them in new and meaningful ways. Investing in comprehensive online cyberinfrastructure provides the opportunity to link collaborators and data from the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities, resulting in the opportunity for a holistic approach to understand the rapid social and environmental changes that occurred in the past and for the creation of digital tools for expanded capacity to engage other users, including students and Indigenous northern communities.
Who Is Involved? (Thus far! All are Welcome to be Added):
**This is the list as proposed in the funded project, but can and will expand as the project matures – do you want your data included? Let me know**
Core Cyberinfrastructure Team:
· Colleen Strawhacker, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado
· Adam Brin, Digital Antiquity, Arizona State University
· Rachel Opitz, University of South Florida
· Peter Pulsifer, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado
· Jack Cothren, Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, University of Arkansas
Core Data Team:
· Tom McGovern, City University of New York
· Philip Buckland, Umea University
· Emily Lethbridge, University of Iceland
· Anthony Newton, University of Edinburgh
· Gisli Palsson, Umea University
· Tom Ryan, City University of New York
· Ingrid Mainland, University of the Highlands and Islands
Core Outreach Team:
· Tom Dawson, University of St Andrews
· Rachel Opitz, University of South Florida
What Will We Do? Funded under the Resource Implementation for Data Intensive Resources Program (RIDIR) at the National Science Foundation, DataARC will create data-intensive online tools and infrastructure to connect archaeologists, climate scientists, humanists, and local communities with data and vignettes directly from researchers to study the long-term human ecodynamics of North Atlantic. The ultimate goal of this project is to transform the discoverability and utility of data collected over multiple decades by multiple disciplines. The four main products of this project will be,
When will things get done? We currently are funded for the next three years. In the first year, initial prototypes will be developed for feedback from potential user bases.
Where? We are currently focusing on the North Atlantic – specifically Iceland, Greenland, and the Scottish Northern Isles – but we have plans in place to expand to other parts of the Arctic in future iterations of the project.
How Do I Become More Engaged? Let me know!
A Note About the Budget: Cyberinfrastructure projects are expensive, and money is limited. We are actively exploring other options to increase our funding to grow DataARC iteratively to include more data sources and expand to other regions.
Co-written with Peter Pulsifer and originally published for the Arctic Horizons Program.
Data is a hot topic right now. All over the news and social media, there are mentions of “big data,” “data science,” “data visualization,” and beyond. It is no secret that data, and lots of it, can be powerful tools for scientific research, enabling research questions across broad spatial scales over deep time periods. A close collaborator (who likes to avoid all things digital) once said in response to a presentation on aggregated archeological faunal data across the whole of Europe, “I think being able to aggregate all of these data provides interesting interpretations, but I always wonder what’s behind those pie charts and visualizations…” She was right to be skeptical, highlighting an urgent need to consider all aspects of data life cycle, because in addition to the need of “lots of” data, these data also need to be high quality and reliable. Indeed, when compiling lots of data from many different sources (if you can even find them and access them), how reliable are those aggregated data?
While my collaborator would never use this term, she recognized the need for data “curation,” which is far more than simple data storage, archival, management. To be reused and aggregated, these data need to be high quality, accessible, discoverable, which takes a lot of time and effort from both the scientist and the data manager (if they are two different people, of course!) to document metadata, employ standard terms and vocabularies, and provide file formats that can be accessed by open source software now and in the future. In addition to being scientists, however, we are also social scientists, meaning we often deal with data that are sensitive in nature, contain identifying information about our research subjects, or provide information about locations that need to be protected (e.g., sacred or archaeological sites). Another term that comes up often that we need to carefully consider is “open data.” While “open data” is a championed scenario (to enable data sharing and access) and often required by funding organizations, we like to add the word ethically to the start of that phrase. By ensuring “ethically open data,” we can make the data appropriately “open” based on the specific needs to the data, whether by ensuring the anonymization of research subjects or randomizing the location of protected sites.
Fortunately, many initiatives are ongoing in the Arctic research community to build capacity, infrastructure, and community to enable data curation for the Arctic social sciences and to ensure high quality data are accessible, discoverable, usable, and linked with various projects. Based out of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Strawhacker leads the DataARC (formerly known as cyberNABO) project (supported by two grants from the National Science Foundation - SMA 1439389 and SMA 1637076) designed to support the linking of databases from archaeology, climate science, paleoecology, and the humanities and the development of data products to enable research on the long-term human ecodynamics of the North Atlantic. Another project, Patchwork Barents based out of the Jefferson Institute, is designed to make data more widely available and easily visualized for data journalists working in the Barents Region. Both of these projects show how we can approach creating data products for a variety of audiences.
While this focus of this blog has been on social science data, given our research context in the Arctic, it is not surprising that much of this topic feeds into Indigenous Knowledge. In the previous blog, we discuss the special considerations needed to curate and manage data, information, and documentation of Knowledge coming directly from Indigenous communities in the Arctic, focusing on many efforts from the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge in the Arctic (ELOKA, eloka-arctic.org).
Indigenous Knowledge, Open Data and Connecting to the International Research Data Community, #IDW2016 and #IKatIDW
Co-written with Peter Pulsifer and originally published for the Arctic Horizons Program.
Indigenous knowledge holders of the Arctic and their communities are representing and using their knowledge in new ways. At the same time there is an increasing recognition by non-Indigenous researchers, policy makers and the general public of the value of this knowledge. Consequently, we are seeing many activities that result in the collection and documentation of Indigenous observations and knowledge.
IK has Many definitions. One definition is:
knowledge and know-how accumulated across generations, and renewed by each new generation, which guide human societies in their innumerable interactions with their surrounding environment.
While Indigenous Knowledge and ways of knowing have existed for millennia, digital technologies and data sharing are relatively new, necessitating careful and thoughtful approaches to managing and displaying this information. There are many questions and some concerns around the most appropriate ways to represent this knowledge outside of its original cultural and geographic context. As alluded in our previous blog about social science data, the focus on “open data” has serious implications when it comes to Indigenous Knowledge. What are the limits to that openness? How can communities share while maintaining a level of control that is appropriate for any given usage situation?
The Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge in the Arctic (ELOKA, eloka-arctic.org) has been working in partnership with a number of Arctic communities to create data, information and knowledge representations tailored to these needs and has extensive experience in achieving balance between the desire for data to remain open, but protecting and respecting the Knowledge that belongs to Indigenous Arctic communities. These products include community websites, atlases documenting important places on the landscape, and databases where Arctic residents can upload their local observations. Building relationships and collaborations with Indigenous communities has been a major activity for the ELOKA team, in recognition that the indigenous communities should be driving the products that ELOKA creates.
For example, the Yup’ik Atlas was developed under the leadership of Calista Education and Culture with a strong sense of ownership by community (see http://www.deltadiscovery.com/story/2016/03/02/from-the-editor/yupik-place-name-atlas/4064.html and http://www.deltadiscovery.com/story/2016/03/09/in-our-native-land/traditional-yupik-tales-and-narratives-and-stories-of-war/4099.html). The community makes the decisions and drive the design with support from ELOKA. Starting in 2015 and continuing in summer of 2016, Indigenous youth interns have been adding and modifying the data. Another example is SIZONet, which provides an online interface to a database that archives and shares these important sea ice, weather and wildlife observations gathered by the community. The community drove the design of the user interface, including priority on the use of graphic icons, as well as the development of the “Use Agreement” that must be accepted before accessing data, providing a level of security for the database containing the local observations.
While ELOKA’s main priority is to build partnerships with the Indigenous Communities that are based on respect, responsibility and reciprocity, we continue to meet these challenges by engaging in the wider international community centered around data and cyberinfrastructure. To contribute to the dialogue, ELOKA staff has been working closely with the organizers of International Data Week, an event that “will bring together data scientists, researchers, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, policy makers and data stewards to explore how best to exploit the data revolution to improve our knowledge and benefit society through data-driven research and innovation” during the second week of September in Denver. Below is a schedule of events that are specific to the challenges and considerations of working with Indigenous Knowledge, and we will be tweeting actively about the events at #IKatIDW for those who cannot attend. These events, as well as other ELOKA activities, aim to positively contribute to a movement being led by Indigenous people of the Arctic that will see all aspects of Indigenous data production, research, and knowledge under their authority, resulting in Information Sovereignty. Over the coming years, ELOKA will be prioritizing partnerships and activities that move toward that goal.
Tuesday, September 10th - SciDataCon
8:30 am - 12:00 pm
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Wednesday, September 11th - International Data Forum
2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
7:30 - 9:30 pm
Thursday, September 12th - Research Data Alliance Plenary
2:30 - 3:00 pm
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Well, I can’t say my travel to Yakutsk was as seamless as I dreamed it would be. The plan was Denver to Frankfurt to Moscow to Yakutsk, on two separate tickets (saving money, but making any travel road bumps more difficult). My flight from Denver to Frankfurt went perfectly (I even finally got to watch the new Star Wars!) as our takeoff just beat incoming afternoon monsoon thunderstorms that I love so much about living in the West.
I had a tight connection in Frankfurt - about an hour. The university’s travel agent did not seem too concerned about this, but I have done this rodeo before. I reluctantly accepted that ticket (as you can imagine, there are not a ton of flexible options to get to Yakutsk from Denver), resulting in me power walking… then jogging… then sprinting through the sprawling Frankfurt airport (seriously, I checked my Fitbit and I clocked over 11,000 steps) only to be stopped by another airport security line. I checked the time. They were 5 minutes into boarding my Moscow flight. I had time if this went smoothly. I asked the security agent what I should be taking out of my bag, taking off (shoes, sweaters...) given that security rules in every country are always different. He said I was totally fine! Just take out my laptop and I was good to go…
INCORRECT. I get through the security line feeling confident that I was going to make my flight to Moscow with about 5 minutes to spare, only to see both of my carry-ons pulled over for additional inspection (mind you, this was after a 9.5 hour red eye flight and then a 4 mile sprint, so my patience was waning). The inspecting security agent seemed to move in slow motion as he unpacked both of my bags, carefully inspecting every nail clipper and tweezer. The first bag was good, he said, as I carefully repacked the bag for the next flight. He then began to unravel my second bag, looking at me with disgust as he pulled out a water bottle filled with water, indicating that I would have to go back through security with all of my bags again. I explained my tight connection and asked if he could simply dump out the water so I could be on my way. He obliged, throwing out my entire water bottle while tossing a look of disgust at me. The joys of flying. I lamented the loss of my water bottle, collected my things, ran to gate, and settled in for the 3 hours to Moscow. I became excited as we began our descent into Moscow - not only did I have a full 5 hour layover to calmly cross the border, collect my bags, and recheck in for my Siberian Airlines, but perhaps I could sit down and have a proper meal not made in a plane galley. I looked out the window at some impressive thunderstorms we were bypassing, and then realized we had been flying at about 15,000 feet for a while. This was not good. The flight attendant crackled over the intercom first in German (when most of the flight broke into sighs and frantic whispers), and then I patiently waited for the bad news in English: we were being diverted to Kazan due to thunderstorms in Moscow. Where the hell was Kazan?!
Kazan is somewhere in central Russia. We landed at the tiny airport, with a few other large jets that were also clearly bound for Moscow. The pilots and flight attendants kept us updated on weather in Moscow and of course, arguments between the Kazan airport and Lufthansa over jet fuel payments. Welcome to Russia. After 3 hours on the Kazan tarmac, we finally took off, bound for my not-so-final destination. We landed at 8:45 pm Moscow time, 5 hours late and 15 minutes before my flight to Yakutsk was supposed to take off, with me having to cross the border, collect bags, exit the terminal, recheck bags, and reenter the terminal. I sighed again. I would need to find a way to rebook my Siberian Air ticket (due to a flight delay on another ticket…) and get my butt to Yakutsk before the boat to Zhigansk left the next morning. This was not promising. My heart sank. This is where my trip ended.
I frantically searched for the Siberian Airlines desk to see what I could do. The Siberian Airlines desk consisted of about 50 check in lines with thousands of people sprawling to check in and no indication of where help could be obtained. I found an unoccupied agent. “English?” I asked. She rolled her eyes and shook her head, swatting me away. This scenario then reoccured about 6 times. I sighed in frustration, but continuing to run around trying to find someone who could help. After about 30 minutes (9:45 pm now and yes, I am persistent), I found someone who spoke English. I explained my situation. “Yakutsk?! Flight 109?!” She exclaimed in horror. Yes…that was my original flight, was there another option tonight or first thing in the morning? “Come, come!” She printed out a boarding pass, put a gate check ticket on my massive bag and screamed for a young man to escort me through the gate. Am I actually going to make this flight? Is this flight still even here?! The young man calmly told me to follow him as he escorted me through the first class security line (as the security agent checked my passport and ticket, said something in Russian to my escort that could only have been, “is she actually going to make this?” with a smug smile). My escort left me at security and nodded. Ok, so I guess this means I now need to find my gate. No time to check screens… I ran to the gate listed on my boarding pass, and they were still boarding the flight. I MADE IT. Somehow, I made it. I laughed with relief with sweat again dripping down my back. I could not wait to take a shower, but I was on my way to Yakutsk.
One flight diversion, two sprints through airports, and three times through airport security does not make for a pleasant or relaxing trip. That being said, I have officially arrived in Yakutsk, luggage in tow and sanity barely intact. Tomorrow, we take an 18 hour river boat (14 hours? 12? reports vary…) to Zhigansk to start the fishing festival. I have been told that the fish we will catch get up the 20 kilos, so I'm looking forward to getting some in strength training after my airport cardio sessions.
an addendum: On our second day in Yakutsk, my host here - Tero Mustonen, President of Snowchange - informed me that a few hours after I flew through Frankfurt that they had closed and evacuated the very terminal that I sprinted through. Somehow, my travel day could have been much worse.
Yup, you read that right. I’m off to Siberia! When I began my graduate work in New Mexico and Arizona back in 2006, I never thought I would say that, but I here I am, about to get on a plane feeling an equal mixture of excitement and anxiety. My final destination will be Zhigansk (from Denver to Frankurt to Moscow to Yakutsk and finally via 14 hour river boat to Zhigansk) in the Sakha region of Siberia where I will be attending the Second Festival of Northern Fishing Traditions (the first of which was held in Finland in 2014) as a representative of the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge in the Arctic (ELOKA, eloka-arctic.org).
Snowchange, a partner of ELOKA, has worked hard on connecting communities in both Finland and Russia. The description of the Festival I received was, “Created in 2012 by a Finnish professional fisherman Olli Klemola, the Festival emerged in 2014 as a mechanism and a forum to bring together representatives of the various professional and artisanal fisheries in the Eurasian North to exchange views and direct discussions on the priorities of cooperation, especially on issues like climate change, preservation of traditions, ecological restoration of aquatic ecosystems, partnerships with research and so on.” My role will likely be to observe, enjoy, and talk a bit about various ELOKA products that can be created in partnership with these communities to help preserve and visualize the deep knowledge of these communities. You check out some ELOKA sites created in partnership with Snowchange on the region I am heading here: http://eloka-arctic.org/communities/russia/index.html
I’m a seasoned international traveler at this point, thanks to many opportunities presented by projects I’ve participated and led since graduate school, but I’ve never been to Siberia. Indeed, I’m not sure what to expect, especially as an academic and field worker that “grew up” in the desert U.S. Southwest, and as you can imagine, my experience with fishing was limited to times spent at the Jersey shore, and I don’t get a ton of time on the water in landlocked Colorado. I was also asked to be prepared to cook fish in my “traditional” style. The first thought that came to my head was… fish tacos? I’m prepared to be embarrassed a lot on this trip.
Fortunately, I’ve spent the last two field seasons in Iceland, and I am carrying much of my Iceland gear: my lopapeysa, my waders, 66 North waterproof gear but minus the trowel. Stay tuned for pictures!