I want to get you involved in the Azimuth Environmental Data Backup Project, so click on that for more. But first some background.
A few days ago, many scientists, librarians, archivists, computer geeks and environmental activists started to make backups of US government environmental databases. We’re trying to beat the January 20th deadline just in case.
Backing up data is always a good thing, so there’s no point in arguing about politics or the likelihood that these backups are needed. The present situation is just a nice reason to hurry up and do some things we should have been doing anyway.
As of 2 days ago the story looked like this:
• Saving climate data (Part 1), Azimuth, 13 December 2016.
A lot has happened since then, but much more needs to be done. Right now you can see a list of 90 databases to be backed up here:
• Gov. Climate Datasets (Archive). (Click on the tiny word “Datasets” at the bottom of the page!)
Despite the word ‘climate’, the scope includes other environmental databases, and rightly so. Here is a list of databases that have been backed up:
By going here and clicking “Start Here to Help”:
you can nominate a dataset for rescue, claim a dataset to rescue, let everyone know about a data rescue event, or help in some other way (which you must specify). There’s also other useful information on this page, which was set up by Nick Santos.
The overall effort is being organized by the Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities, or ‘PPEHLab’ for short, headed by Bethany Wiggin. If you want to know what’s going on, it helps to look at their blog:
However, the people organizing the project are currently overwhelmed with offers of help! People worldwide are proceeding to take action in a decentralzed way! So, everything is a bit chaotic, and nobody has an overall view of what’s going on.
I can’t overstate this: if you think that ‘they’ have a plan and ‘they’ know what’s going on, you’re wrong. ‘They’ is us. Act accordingly.
Here’s a list of news articles, a list of ‘data rescue events’ where people get together with lots of computers and do stuff, and a bit about archives and archivists.
Here are some things to read:
• Jason Koebler, Researchers are preparing for Trump to delete government science from the web, Vice, 13 December 2016.
• Brady Dennis, Scientists frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump, Washington Post, 13 December, 2016. (Also at the Chicago Tribune.)
• Eric Holthaus, Why I’m trying to preserve federal climate data before Trump takes office, Washington Post, 13 December 2016.
• Nicole Mortillaro, U of T heads ‘guerrilla archiving event’ to preserve climate data ahead of Trump presidency, CBC News, 14 December 2016.
• Audie Kornish and Eric Holthaus, Scientists race to preserve climate change data before Trump takes office, All Things Considered, National Public Radio, 14 December 2016.
Data rescue events
There’s one in Toronto:
• Guerrilla archiving event, 10 am – 4 pm EST, Saturday 17 December 2016. Location: Bissell Building, 4th Floor, 140 St. George St. University of Toronto.
There will be one in Philadelphia:
• DataRescuePenn Data Harvesting, Friday–Saturday 13–14 January 2017. Location: not determined yet, probably somewhere at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
I hear there will also be events in New York City and Los Angeles, but I don’t know details. If you do, please tell me!
Archives and archivists
Today I helped catalyze a phone conversation between Bethany Wiggin, who heads the PPEHLab, and Nancy Beaumont, head of the Society of American Archivists. Digital archivists have a lot of expertise in saving information, so their skills are crucial here. Big wads of disorganized data are not very useful.
In this conversation I learned that some people are already in contact with the Internet Archive. This archive always tries to save US government websites and databases at the end of each presidential term. Their efforts are not limited to environmental data, and they save not only webpages but entire databases, e.g. data in ftp sites. You can nominate sites to be saved here:
• Internet Archive, End of Presidential Term Harvest 2016.
For more details read this:
• Internet Archive blog, Preserving U.S. Government Websites and Data as the Obama Term Ends, 15 December 2016.