At events like International Data Week, much discussion has happened around the technical and legislative challenges and opportunities relating to research data. But in many presentations and group meetings, we have repeatedly heard that our human behaviour – our desires, ambitions, fears, traditions and habits – shape how effectively we create, manage, share and reuse research data assets, and how open we are to collaborating on research data infrastructure. As many speakers have noted, the technical challenges are usually susceptible to scoping and tackling, but the really intricate work is the work of creating social change and new behaviours.
As an artist and a researcher, I’m passionate about digital curation, digital preservation and research data management, and how those skills are useful to everyone in contemporary society to one extent or another. And I’m also passionate about the way that research data – and visual art – have so much potential to transform our lives, societies and the world around us. As I’ve continued to attend data-related conferences, I’ve become fascinated with this human element. I also noted that the International Data Week crowd is a welcome mix of nationalities, genders, ages and ethnicities. It’s critical that our conversations include people unlike ourselves, and there is so much to be gained from getting to know each other better in order to build the kinds of relationships that can help us make progress across communities, nationalities and disciplines.
To that end, I launched a project called “Humans of Data’. It’s a really simple idea – basically the same as the ‘Humans of New York’ project online, where there is a photo and a quote from each (unnamed) person. I hope this helps to get a more personal, human conversation going amongst the amazing people I meet at data conferences all over the world, connecting with their lives as individuals and having them say something about what they’re passionate about when it comes to data-related issues.
I’ll be posting the ‘Humans of Data’ here on the CODATA blog as each photo and quote becomes available. If you’d like to view them as a group, please click the ‘Humans of Data’ category to group these posts together. If you’d like to participate, please email me at laura.molloy AT oii.ox.ac.uk, or contact me via Twitter @LM_HATII.
Looking forward to our collaboration!