Reporting on Research Data Alliance Digital Humanities Outreach Efforts

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Reporting on Research Data Alliance Digital Humanities Outreach Efforts
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The Research Data Alliance (RDA) is a global initiative with over 2,800 members from more than 100 countries that aims to build the social and technical bridges that enable open sharing of data.The RDA vision is researchers and innovators openly sharing data across technologies, disciplines, and countries to address the grand challenges of society. Bridget will report on two recent RDA humanities outreach efforts: 1) a 28 May workshop hosted by RDA-US at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, USA 2) a 2 July 2015 meetup at DH 2015 in Sydney.
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everybody is now seeing my slides as stuff you mentioned I'm going to report on RT a digital humanities outreach effort there's the Twitter tags for research day Alliance myself if you want to tweet during the talk um I assume
that most of the people on the call at least have an inkling of what RDA is but I will just give a very brief overview I'm focusing on the things that are most relevant for the outreach efforts i'm going to talk about so the research data alliance is a global initiative with over 3,000 members from over 100 countries is aiming to build the social and technical bridges to enhance open sharing of data and the RDA vision is
research and innovators openly sharing data across technologies disciplines countries to address the Grand Challenges of society so those are the official a marketing speak of what re is and what but but I think more
importantly is what is our be able to continue and hoping to produce right and I think there's two two main points here one is social infrastructure and to that end RDA is providing a global forum for communication and collaboration and a wide interdisciplinary community of experts working together to identify problems and film solutions and I think the interdisciplinary point here is really important because particularly for the humanities it's an opportunity to reach outside of our discipline and and get access to experts from other communities there's also technical infrastructure and prayed the and so Rea is investigating documenting and leveraging existing infrastructure solutions but also building new solutions to fill the gaps and I'm going to share a couple slides from Fran Berman the high of the REA us organization because I think they really present a picture of what infrastructure
is in other areas and data rate and so if we look at what infrastructure is made up of there are maybe six key areas right there are adopted policies that that state what you can do and what we agreed to here to there are solutions for systems of interoperability and the classic case here encino that we can all plug our laptops a matter what country were in because we have handy little gadgets that allow our adapters to work with the plug size of each country has so it doesn't really matter that every country doesn't adhere to the same standard here but we have the brokers and tools that allow those things to interoperate and similarly there's common type standards and metadata there are common sizes four pieces of wood and four buildings that sort of things or wires and cables all of these things are infrastructure in that physical world and there are analogs or in the data world as well then another key point is it has to be sustainable right there has to be some sort of economics that enable us to keep this solutions that were built something going the community has to adopt the solutions or a traffic light only works if everybody agrees to go on green and stop on red otherwise chaos ensues and then you know we also need to train and educate the people are the users of the solution so although these are not specifically data solutions we're talking about here I think there's definitely a lovats in the data world of this is a good overview of where r EA is focusing its efforts but prioritizing
this work and infrastructure can be challenging right because there are barriers to data sharing and collaboration all over the place it can be difficult particularly when professional cultures aren't supportive and in the community this is maybe a really key point funding is often limited and this is not specific to the you guys it's women everywhere right but humanity's maybe is often at least in the u.s. I know it's more challenge than some of the hard sciences and we looted funding you often find yourself competing with people that you would really like to collaborate with their lack of incentives like they going environments lack of infrastructure all those things can make work on infrastructure difficult and I really love this quote that friend is here from the Syracuse mayor that talks about infrastructure being overlooked because politicians don't really want to spend money and I can develop Bill Lee because you don't cut ribbons from the water mains right so it's not it's not exciting to talk about infrastructure you can't you have a big party when you have a water main but that's what's really matters and and that's the case it forget it infrastructure it's hard to make the case to do something innovative when it comes to infrastructure but I do believe that working on collaboration is an innovative activity so so there are
lots lots more to say about our da there's when we can talk about the way the organization organization is structured into working groups and interest groups but most of them and talk about specific outcomes that we have so far but that information is all available on the our gate website and is not the main point of the talk today so I wanted to give you a brief overview of what we're doing with our da and then really go into the motivations and objectives for doing some outreach from RTA to the digital connectors community and vice versa so for me the this is really a personal crusade I guess you like all I got involved in or ei because I really felt that the digital identities were underrepresented and I wanted to make sure that I could make use of whatever solutions were being built so one key motivating factor here is really two ways briones with anything currently mostly scientific re a community of the relevance of humanity's use cases and then going the other way
to raise awareness within the D H community of the activities of our TA and how they might be relevant humanists data needs and because after all we do have day that you can maybe not all goodness think about what they're doing as being producing or using data it is Dana and you know to the outcome of this to raising of awareness really ought to be then to invoke to result in work right agent increasingly engagement by humanists and designing developing and adopting the interdisciplinary solutions for data sharing so that's really if its heart why I move although these are with them Oh outreach efforts and why my colleagues and I know you are as well so
what are the incentives for people to participate in our gay and participate in indicated in a global community such as re and I think that some of the most important incentives are the ability to reach wider audiences promise of having your work sustained beyond the length on a single project and this is particularly where I think it's a multi interdisciplinary aspect comes in because if we work with solutions that support not only humanities but the geosciences astronomy we have a much wider community that's working to sustain those solutions and of my a wider range of projects that would be depending on them ensuring their life beyond beyond any one project and you know resulting in progressively better use of the dollars so or euros or whatever the money we're talking about is and less less of it would go to redevelopment infrastructure and more to the actual scholar room scholarly research that's the point of all the data production so how do we realize the
potential of our da and and this is one of the things too that I think is unique is being a bottom-up organization it's really up to the people participating to make what they will of it either we do the work together and we produce solutions that we don't so it really depends upon engagement and if and how we've ever completed each of us as individuals and organizations that we work for I think that within our da the
working group structure and its focus on producing adoptable outputs is really essential striving to real solutions and not just talk right so I I think that by participating in working group I can be assured that the work I'm doing is important not only to me but to the other people who have committed to adopting it and the results in a much more real solutions I think and it
offers an opportunity to look inside the usual list of suspects for collaborators to don't sustainable solutions and this gets back to the point I was talking about before I hate collaborate with somebody in astrophysics or in astronomy or earth sciences and it not only results in more sustainable solutions but more scalable and more robust solutions as well so so that's the
that's the background are yeah and the motivation for the outreach activities and now I'll talk a little bit about those activities in a more detail and we started really this effort with a humanities panel at the plenary in San Diego and mark and this was an outreach probably from humanities to Rea and followed that up with a workshop at Johns Hopkins Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in May and then most recently we had a meet up at the th 2015 conference in Sydney July so
the humanities panel at 25 we asked the panel is to answered two sets of questions first what is different about digital humanities infrastructure and more specifically can those differences be described in terms of use cases because getting back to the producing adoptable outputs we need to have will use cases behind the things we talked about so that we make sure that what we're doing is solving a real solution
are there again a second set of questions were other specific RTA products or recommendations that are digital you know these projects can adopt now and if not why and particularly to look at the question of whether the requirements data models are different and that whether that's contributing to of a lack of adoption or lat ability to adopt the work that's happening are da the participants were
repeated with the road for the next point data feed center and I'd award from the hectare in Australia tech you in from another shark in Canada game fortune from rpi Center columns were with us for the Ireland and myself you can find out more about the panel on the RDA website as well the key takeaways I
think that all of the house represented this perspective in different ways of the question of what is the same across digital command base and the others other disciplines I think the key point of agreement here was that core infrastructure really is the same both in terms of the needs of the infrastructure needs for persistent identifiers solutions data type registries metadata standards and entity access an authentication solutions etc Ed's core these these corn needs are not really different across disciplines across the humanities of the other disciplines but additionally the challenges around poor infrastructure our offer the same as well a lot of redundancy similar solutions for the same problem that the long-term commitment to sustaining the solutions lack of recognition for the work of supporting data sharing and interoperability lack of incentives and support so these things really look the same whether you're talking about the humanities or hard sciences but there
are some differences and the differences are really in the nuances of the data data formats may be very different and the new human is in particular you may have any more of types of non born digital data that we have to accommodate there's probably many more copyright and access complexities in the humanities both data and metadata means of subject to copyright restrictions or maybe social cultural issues around access that need to be considered semantics are different and at its heart and understanding of what data means may be different in the humanities and the sciences we're not only talking about spreadsheets and rows and columns of numbers but texts and annotations and various other types of data there are cultural language complexities data may be a variety of different languages and little variety of different cultural assumptions behind its collection and use research methods may be different in the humanities they're all very often nonlinear and recursive and not just about collecting data that about the work of doing curation and producing data as result of curation and reach and research in this sort of recursive collaborative long-term way that without a clear beginning and end point and in the humanities are often very traditional who board models we're digital and data production is not really at the forefront of people's minds so some of the the key takeaways
from the panel will really that I think that from within our da the case for involvement at the humanities seems clear that doesn't seem to be a question that that it would be useful and valuable to have human is participating in the discussion so it did feel a bit like preaching to the choir and it was clear that we needed to do outreach to engage a humanist themselves and RDA activities and further that we needed to find ways to enable and identifies this work within the context of our gay because in order to enable people to participate they would could be funded and incentivize to do so so so these last two points really fitting to the next average effort which was an
outreach from our da to the humanists so the other direction and that was our Baltimore workshop that was hosted at
Johns Hopkins the the RDA perspective objective on this was to learn more about the Disciplinary of the digital humanists with regard to data infrastructure and data sharing but sort of the underlying objective was really to to have this discussion about how to engage the humanism and how to enable that that engagement so participants were invited to share use cases for infrastructure and the RDA US leadership presented the the RDA structure and when to somebody to all of my outcomes are you today we have a roundtable discussion following that's and then asked for a reaction from the funders so the just to give you
an overview of who participated the workshop itself was hosted by Johns Hopkins University and our EA us RDA us leadership was present we had us hundreds of humanities their national endowment for the unity is it's cute and Library Services and the mellon Foundation all had representatives and we had participants from a number of project in addition to doing the
providing an overview of RDA activities we also presented a serve a deep dive look at the relevance of some of the RDA outcomes for the humanities because i think this question of about how to make the value proposition clear is still the one that we're struggling with a little bit so so i took one outcome the data type registries which is one of the first half comes from RDA and and provided a little example laughing it some of the use cases that the participants provided to explain where i saw the value being provided by this type of solution and so some of the questions that I feel could be answered through the use of data type registry so as well as other pieces of infrastructure were things such as you know answering questions about data that should be considered at the beginning of the project or as you work on a project questions about visualizations and how to aggregate questions about copyright and and then you know how also how how to manage your data right do I need to create a new data type or can I here's one who else has data like this these are all the types of questions that having solutions and infrastructure solutions like data type registries might might help answer so some of the
key discussion points after the presentations collaboration was a topic
in it and the fact is that collaboration is often difficult because humanities project and funding are often invested in nationalistic are localized precedes pursuit so here we are talking specifically about global collaboration and we spent some time identifying some grand challenges that that might serve as unifying issues to spur collaboration so for example interoperability of linked data was a point lead data is a is a very actively pursued topic in the humanities right now and there's definitely a lot of work to be done there about ensuring our interoperability and another grand challenge that could be considered would be ways to address the plurality of languages found in the data so the other
discussion points we talked a bit about our be a working group structures and how they should account for you'd swear of the age community where infrastructure may already exist but we need to be generalized for wire use and I think this is not a human a specific topic really you know in any discipline there are bits of infrastructure that exists and and I mean if we that could be generalized more fully to make it a more a wider and more scalable solution so working groups might not need only to to design new solutions but look at existing infrastructure and generalizing the other point was really the RDA needs to make its value proposition to humanists more clear communication is really a challenge here talking about data is often not it's not that easy to do especially when dealing with traditional humanists and we we all read their training is really essential to engaging of innocent pursuits the most
interesting parts of the discussion was really the feedback from the funders the others felt that our da does really have the potential to prevent the reinvention of the wheel syndrome which is something that's obviously a great interest to them when it comes to efficiency of spending of money they felt that
projects could look good perhaps look to take advantage of ians role as an entry with disciplinary global authority providing Diana stamp of approval so for example leveraging an RDA working group structure to ensure projects are producing a new thing sustainable solutions we talked a bit about how it could be the type of thing that going forward in our funding applications we talked about presenting solutions to a working group or leveraging a working group to to put the stamp of approval and how that might spur funding activity other feedback
from the funders was that RDA really does need to help tackle data publishing and copyright challenges in order to be relevant particularly in the humanities and there was a some thought that preservation needs could perhaps serve as a unique beautifying factor four th projects and and here in particular libraries were called out is having an important role to play both on preservation as well as in providing training so that so that's really the the the takeaways from the Baltimore workshop there was no concrete actions determined from that outreach activity but participants were in her to sign up and become members of RDA to explore participating in working in interest groups and I think more importantly it was really it was really good to have this audience with the funders so they could begin thinking about how how they could leverage the work of RDA to support funding of infrastructure so
last a outreach effort that I'll talk about here is the meetup we had at the bh 2015 conference in sydney thing that Mason helped me organize this and we had an informal lunch time gathering with about 10 to 15 in 10 days it's always difficult when you're computing with lunch to get a good crowd but no it was interesting that most of the participants had not really heard of our game before they had they really had only a very big understanding of what r da was doing and how it might be of interest to them I think they the people that came will mostly drawn by the topic of infrastructure and the ability to the opportunity to have a chance to talk a little bit about what they thought they thought the needs of infrastructure work it was pretty clear that the researchers do not yet have a clear view of how their work benefits rea and vice versa so thinking about infrastructure in bits and pockets no at the bigger picture is I think a challenge here everyone did of course
agree on the importance of infrastructure the need for humanists researchers to be engaged in defining the problems and solutions we had some really interesting conversation on this point particularly around topics of Providence and complexities of prominent province when it comes to a humanities data as well as complexities around access and authentication copyright solutions so in exploring those topics a little bit it became clear that you know we really do have from the humanities perspective a point to provide here in helping ensure that the solutions in these areas are movable bust because by considering the humanist needs the the solutions will have to take into account things that they might not have otherwise when looking at some of the more concrete sciences so if the end result of the media participants were encouraged to sign up and join working in just groups and we have very pointers to a few that were perhaps of interest the other I think you take away is that the adho organization is going to begin to investigate ways to collaborate or participate with our gang I think that's a good thing in a good way to engage the givenness researchers a bit more so
what's next on the road map here going
back to a point from early in the talked I do really believe it's up to the community to engage at this point humanities Rangers need researchers you need to begin to participate and working in interest groups are they if they want to have their voice be heard in the work that's being done there of course for funding this is maybe a bit of a chicken and egg scenario right we want the activity that we're doing here to be funded but we really need to start doing it in order to prove its value so I do think this remains a challenge but but I also think it's something that we can we can work with and bite by starting the work and the momentum should pick up and we can begin to to see whether or not it's something that's worth doing so for
those of you on the call who want more tools on how to get involved first sign up at the RTA website it's free you can start by exploring existing relevant RDA humanities activity I provided some links in the slides here there's a more detailed report on the Baltimore workshop that you can access also from that same page you can access the use cases that were uploaded this by the participants in the in the workshop and they're really interesting to take a look at I think there is a digital practice practice as a history and ethnography interest group that is the closest thing at the moment to human humanities with domain specific group in RDA and I think the approach they've been taking to this has been very interesting I've been doing some project share and move use where they explore different solutions for digital humanities projects and it's it's very interesting to me to see the approach the ethnographers take to exploring these projects I will put a plug in here for the nascent PID collections working group of which I am a co-chair this is a proposed working group not not accepted yet but I do think it has a large degree of relevance for the humanities this is about dealing with persistent I got a virus for collections of objects whether their virtual collections or physical collections there are a lot of different use cases that are that are of interest here so I encourage you to take a look at our pace statement and provide some feedback on the site's about that if you're interested another interest group that I think is worth participating in from the Gibbons perspective of the data fabric interest group which is looking at at at the big picture of taking the the outcomes of RDA and putting them together to provide a full-featured solution across the data fabric and they've been calling for use cases from a number of different domains and so that's an opportunity to present your use cases and to see what's happening across the other domains in this area so I heard you to add the use cases to start or join an interest or working through and there's also a tab election coming up so i encourage you to nominate yourself like you're tough for the technical advisory board that's something that's of interest to you I'm approaching the end of my term and I really do book to see additional humanities colleagues
participating at that level I think that's at the end of my slides and we can stop for questions