# Data. Together. Let's read about it
[About the Data Together Reading Group](https://github.com/datatogether/reading_datatogether)
Our selections this month begin with traditional notions and practices of stewardship. We then look briefly at present-day theory and principles around data preservation. We continue with 2 different studies of modern day institutions: an ecological research science network & an university library, and look at the continuing challenges they face and how they deal with data stewardship. Finally, we finish with a selection on the problems facing open-source software and how to sustain digital infrastructure.
1. Pastor Henry Wright (2019). **The Stewardship of Time**
- Minutes 2:50-6:17
- Available at: https://youtu.be/RWCbK8qRkuo?t=170
- Transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1l8tfRlAAL6y4JDRpeK4s--NTRcdBitMHpjsVfAzbPtU/edit
2. Nora Marks Dauenhauer (1990). **Haa Tuwunáagu Yis**
- pp. 263-267, 277-281, Elders Speak to the Future
3. Kat Anderson (2005). **Tending the wild**
- pp. xv-xviii, Preface
- pp. 2-6, Introduction
- pp. 358-364, Coda - Indigenous Wisdom in the Modern World
- Available at: https://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520280434
4. Trevor Owens (2017). **Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation**
- pp. 6-9, Sixteen Guiding Digital Preservation Axioms
- pp. 122-130, Conclusion: Tools for Looking Forward
- Available at: https://osf.io/preprints/lissa/5cpjt
5. Karasti, Helena & Baker, Karen & Halkola, Eija. (2006). **Enriching the Notion of Data Curation in E-Science: Data Managing and Information Infrastructuring in the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network.** Computer Supported Cooperative Work. 15. 321-358. 10.1007/s10606-006-9023-2
- pp. 6-11, Challenges of Data Sharing
- pp. 14-16, Intensive Data Description
- pp. 23-27, Discussion
- pp. 30-33, Conclusions
- Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/220169111_Enriching_the_Notion_of_Data_Curation_in_E-Science_Data_Managing_and_Information_Infrastructuring_in_the_Long_Term_Ecological_Research_LTER_Network
6. Definititon of [post-custodial theory of archives](https://www2.archivists.org/glossary/terms/p/postcustodial-theory-of-archives)
7. Hannah Alpert-Abrams, David A Bliss, Itza Carbajal (2019). **Post-Custodial Archiving for the Collective Good.**
- pp. 5-12
- Part 1: Post-custodial, Anti-Colonial, Neoliberal
- Part 2: Labor
- pp. 18-21, Part 4: From Common Good to a Collective Good
- Available at: https://journals.litwinbooks.com/index.php/jclis/article/view/87
8. Nadia Eghbal. **Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure**
- pp. 8-10, Executive Summary
- pp. 40-45, Digital Infrastructure Changes Frequently
- pp. 53-58, Why do people keep contributing when they’re not getting paid?
- pp. 60-65, starting with “Structurally...” re decentralization, money, and project stewardship
- Quote on page 75
- pp. 125-130, How to sustain
- Available at: https://www.fordfoundation.org/media/2976/roads-and-bridges-the-unseen-labor-behind-our-digital-infrastructure.pdf
- Andrew Russel & Lee Vinsel (2016). **Hail the maintainers**
- Available at: https://aeon.co/essays/innovation-is-overvalued-maintenance-often-matters-more
- LTER (1990): **Long-Term Ecological Research and the Invisible Present, and Long-Term Ecological Research and the Invisible Place**
- Available at: https://lternet.edu/wp-content/themes/ndic/library/pdf/reports/Number%209.pdf
### **Check-in: What is the oldest memory, story, lesson, heirloom, etc. that you hold or have received from your family, parents, ancestors?**
### 1) Define & Redefine. How do we define Stewards/Stewardship? What are the qualities we start from and agree with? What can we learn from other traditions of stewardship? How did others pick up on the idea? How have your ideas changed or evolved over time?
> Stewardship is the management of various assets
> That don't belong to you
> Authority, Responsibility, Accountability
> Faithfulness is the minimum requirement
> For the steward - Wright
* The antidote of 'Dominion'. Proper use & care vs. using something up. To serve rather than to control
> ...one gains respect for nature by *using* it judiciously. By using a plant or an animal, interacting with it, where it lives, and tying your well-being to its existence, you can be intimate with it and understand it. (xvi) - Anderson
> ...our human forbears everywhere did not just passively gather food and basketry materials but actively tended the plant and animal populations on which they relied. **There was no clear-cut distinction between hunter-gatherers** – the category into which most California Indians had been tossed – **and the more "advanced" agricultural peoples of the ancient world.** (xvii, emphasis added) - Anderson
### 2) Proper Use. With the drive towards digitalization and it's assumed reduced cost and ease-of-use, what are we losing by not interacting with data on a more visceral level? In what ways can we encourage the use of data so that people can have that sense of stewardship over their/our data?
> Developers like to point to _usefulness_ as an indicator of whether a new project gets adopted or not. - (45) Eghbal
* Proper use/care is a quality for stewardship
* Ties back to Liz's sense of citizenship shared to those "we share dreams with" or to a sense of shared purpose
* Question for group: is there something in your life that became much closer to your heart when you began to interact with it more directly (rather than revering it)?
* Knowledge commons: without continuous use, the commons shrivels and dies (network effects), the tragedy of the anti-commons
> The traditional hand written field notebook or group station log of activities creates flexibility in practice with the possibility of in-the-field category modifications or inserted margin notes. These unexpected reorganizations and notations represent science-in-the-making yet create challenges for structured data flows and present challenges to update while data collection continues (329) - LTER
> manual data taking is inherently a question of data collector and their understanding and relationship with the instrument and the ecological site in which data is collected...the "sense" for data, that ecologists acquire as collectors of their own data in the field or laboratory, plays the most important role also in their use of data collected by someone else because it helps them to understand and to assess the data (344) - LTER
> Pushing forward with automated approaches presents a potential danger of marginalizing other approaches (345) - LTER
### 3) Continuity & Severance. The need for institutions & a long-term perspective. If we assume continuity, as another quality of stewardship, where have we seen that continuity been severed in data stewardship?
> The concept of California...as wilderness---erased the indigenous cultures and their histories from the land and dispossessed them of their enduring legacy of tremendous biological wealth. - (2-3) Anderson
> ...it is tremendously important for California Indians' connection to a place to have the depth of time, for them to be able to point to a particular harvesting patch, shrub, tree, living site, or sacred spot and know that many generations before them used the same plants, walked the same paths, tended the same land. - (363) Anderson
> The craft of digital preservation is anchored in the past. It builds off of the records, files, and works of those who came before us. (122) - Owens
> There is no end for digital preservation. The best one can hope for is to be one link in an unbroken chain of memory...those links to our past, those connections to facts, and the decisions we make about who's stories matter enough to constitute our collective social memory, are now more important than ever. - (130) Owens
* How do we reconcile the frequent change of digital infrastructure with need of institutions and long-term continuity for effective stewardship?
> Digital infrastructure changes frequently...Digital infrastructure not only requires frequent maintenance and upkeep to be compatible with other software components, but its usage and adoption changes frequently as well. - (40) Eghbal
### 4) Curation. We can't preserve everything, so what do we choose to steward and preserve? What should be forgotten? How do we identify areas in need of repair and maintenance?
> Hoarding is not preservation. - (7) Owens
> Accept and embrace the archival sliver. We've never saved everything. We've never saved most things. - (9) Owens
> ...one of the biggest challenges to its sustainability, is that there is no organizing body to determine what gets built or used in digital infrastructure. - (42) Eghbal
* I have hesitency about things like Secure Scuttlebutt (SSB), that have no way to edit posts. I want my art to be what remains, not my growing pains. I don't want my shame and mistakes to be entertainment or reason for capital punishment (cancel culture).
* How does maintenance and repair figure into the conversation as we focus on technological innovation and new tools?
### 5) Stewarding the Stewards. Preservation is a neverending process and so requires continuous care of not just what is preserved, but the people, practices, and culture doing the preserving. What problems can we identify with how we care for the stewards? How do we approach and resolve those problems?
> Instead of finding pathways for people to make their way into well-paid careers in libraries, archives, and museums, our society has established pathways from communities to prisons that provide cheap labor and further undermines the future of a professional cultural heritage workforce. - (127) Owens
> cost-cutting practices leads to increased dependence on lower-cost labor, including volunteers, interns, and outsourced workers..."This puts the long-term survival of archives at risk, which challenges the archival paradigm of long-term preservation and historical importance" - (10) Abrams, et. al
> Positions are temporary...lead to frequent staff turnover; these conditions also lead archival workers to focus on short-term goals and objectives that can be completed within the terms of their contracts. As a result, we operate without the deep knowledge that comes with long-term practice, and without the institutional memory that would enable us to sustain the many relationships on which post-custodial projects depend. - (11) Abrams, et. al
> Most of us take opening a software application for granted, the way we take turning on the lights for granted. We don't think about the human capital necessary to make that happen. - (9) Eghbal
* Issues with labor practices - EDGI has relied on the same volunteer labor and short-term contracts. If we see ourselves as helping to steward environmental data and governance, how do we reconcile those short-term labor practices vs. long-term visions & goals?
* Reputation-based motivations - developers contribute to popular projects and do so until they get hired at some company/corporation
* Open-source projects that are large enough to require funding and maintenance, but not popular enough to get the support they need.
### 6) Continuing, Repetition. Instead of how does this conversation end today; How do we continue these conversations, how do we continue preserving, how do we continue being good stewards?
> Through daily, firsthand observation, become intimately familiar with the needs, chararcteristics, growth, and reproduction of plants and animals being used. - (360) Anderson
> ...caring...is not solely a matter of following nuts-and-bolts prescriptions...it comes from human motivations. Motivation is fostered within the culture itself––through art, legend, kinship systems, ceremonies, and its overarching worldview. - (361) Anderson
> Money alone will not fix a struggling infrastructure project, because open source thrives on human rather than financial resources...An effective support strategy must include multiple ways to generate time and resources besides directly financing development. It must start from the principle that the open source approach is not inherently flawed, but rather under-resourced. - (125) Eghbal