Trust and Epistemic Communities in Biodiversity Data Sharing

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Trust and Epistemic Communities in Biodiversity Data Sharing. Nancy Van House SIMS, UC Berkeley Trust and Epistemic Communities in Biodiversity Data Sharing. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Transcript of Trust and Epistemic Communities in Biodiversity Data Sharing

  • Trust and Epistemic Communities in Biodiversity Data SharingNancy Van HouseSIMS, UC

  • Trust and Epistemic Communities in Biodiversity Data SharingDLs: ready access to unpublished information by variety of users - crossing sociotechnical boundariesRaises issues of trust and credibilityKnowledge is socialWhat we know, whom we believe is determined by/within epistemic culturesBiodiversity dataGreat variety of information, sources, purposesCalFlora: an example of a user-oriented DLIncorporating users practices of trust and credibilityNegotiating differences x epistemic culturesImplications

  • DLs Facilitate Access

    To greater variety of information:Unpublished (unreviewed) informationRaw data such as reports of observationsInformation from outside own reference groupProblems:Which info, sources do we believe?How do we evaluate info from unfamiliar sources?Which info do we use for what purposes? By people from outside own reference groupInappropriate use of information?Burden on data owner of making data available, usable, and understandable to reduce misuse

  • Examples of Risks Botanical InformationUnreliable InfoErroneous, duplicative observations >> belief that a species is prevalent >> not preserving a population of a rare speciesChasing after erroneous reported sighting of a rare species or discounting significant sighting as amateurs errorInappropriate Use of InfoPrivate landowners destroying specimens of a rare plant to avoid legal limits on land developmentCollectors (over-)collecting specimens of rare species

  • Knowledge is SocialWhat we know comes primarily from others.Cognitive efficiency: we dont have time, resourcesExpertise: we dont have sufficient knowledge in all areasHave to decide whom we trust, what we believe.What we consider good work, whom we believe and, how we decide are determined and learned in epistemic communitiesDLs need to support the diverse practices of epistemic communities

  • Social Nature of Knowledge is of Concern in Many AreasScience studiesInquires into the construction of scientific knowledge & authoritySocial epistemology Asks: How should the collective pursuit of knowledge be organized?Situated action/learningPosits knowledge, action, identity, and community to be mutually constitutedKnowledge managementIs concerned with how to share knowledge

  • Cognitive Trust and DLsFor people to use a DL: Information must be credibleSources must be trustworthy DL itself must be perceived to be trustworthyHow can DLs be designed to: Facilitate users assessments of trust and credibility of info and sources?Demonstrate their own trustworthiness?

  • Epistemic Culturesthose amalgams of arrangements and mechanisms which, in a given field, make up how we know what we know. Epistemic culturescreate and warrant knowledge, and the premier knowledge institution throughout the world is, still, science.Karen Knorr-Cetina, Epistemic Cultures

  • CultureContext of history and on-going eventsPractice: how people actually do their do-to-day workArtifactsInfo artifacts include documents, images, thesauri, classification systemsDiversityIf all the same, no cultureIncluding diversity x areas of science

  • Epistemic Cultures DifferPractices of workPractices of trustArtifacts e.g. genresMethods of data collection and analysisMeanings, interpretations, understandingsTacit knowledge and understandings Values Methods, standards, and information for evaluating other participants work and valuesInstitutional arrangements

  • Communities and KnowledgeBecoming a member of a community of practice = identity learning practices, values, orientation to the worldWe learn what to believe, whom to believe, how to decide in epistemic communities. We tend to trust people from within our own epistemic communities.Similar values, orientation, practices, standardsAbility to assess their credibility

  • DLs and Epistemic Cultures DLs enable information to cross epistemic communities.More easily, more often than before.Raw data, not just syntheses, analyses e.g. publicationsCrossing communities often undermines our practices of trust.Who are these people?How did they collect the data?What do they know?What are their goals, values, priorities?DLs need to be designed to support practices of assessing trustworthiness and credibility.

  • Biodiversity DataBiodiversity: studies diversity of life and ecosystems that maintain itCentral question: change over space and timeUses large quantities of data that vary in: Precision and accuracyMethods of data collection, description, storageOld data particularly valuable Broad range of datasets: biological, geographical, meteorological, geologicalCreated and used by different professions, disciplines, types of institutionsfor different purposesPolitically, economically, sensitive data

  • Citizen ScienceFine-grained data from observers in the field Observers with varying levels and types of expertiseE.g., expert on an area, habitat, taxonExpert amateurs Private-public cooperationGovernment agencies, environmental action groups, university herbaria, membership organizations, concerned individuals

  • CalFlora http://www.calflora.orgComprehensive web-accessible database of plant distribution information for CaliforniaIndependent non-profit organizationDesigned/managed by people from botanical community, not librarians or technologistsFree In conjunction with UC Berkeley Digital Library (

  • Researchers & profls in land managementReady access to data for Addressing critical issues in plant biodiversityAnalyzing consequences of land use alternatives and environmental change on distribution of native and exotic speciesThe public: promoting interest in biodiversityActive engagement in biodiversity issues/workWildflowers as charismatic CalFlora Target Users

  • CalFlora PrioritiesFocus on people; put technology in the back seatPay attention to how the world works for the people who produce and use informationHonor existing traditions of data exchange

  • Botanists at Work

  • Components of Interest TodayCalPhotos

    CalFlora Occurrence Database

  • CalPhotosIn conjunction with the UC Berkeley Digital Library Project> 28,000 images of California plantsApprox. half of all Calif. species are representedSourcesSome institutions e.g. Cal Academy of SciencesMany from native plant enthusiastsCurrently accepting/soliciting contributions from usersMajor reported usesPlant identificationIllustrations

  • CalFlora Occurrence Database> 800,000 geo-referenced reports of observationsSpecimens in collectionsReports from literatureReports from fieldChecklistsSources19 institutionsAbout to begin accepting reports from registered contributors via Internet

  • CalFlora Occurrence DatabaseUsers canClick through the map to underlying dataDownload data for own analyses, toolsUses Land management decisionsLegally-mandated environmental reports (NEPA, CEQA) Identify plants (though not designed for this)Common analyses Which species are present in an areaWhich are common, which are rare Which species are restricted to a habitat affected by proposed actionsAnalyze various species in combination, by geo area

  • CalFlora Occurrence Database: Significance

    Most comprehensive source by far (for Calif)Common as well as rare taxaBiodiversity beginning to be interested in all populations, not just rare -- requires vastly more dataData downloadable, manipulableEasy to use (for professionals, anyway)Remote access via InternetE.g. botanist in remote National ForestAbout to accept observations from the publicSource of valuable data re rare and esply common species

  • Dilemmas and ConflictsUseful place to see tensions, breakdowns, conflicts across epistemic culturesNot whose right, wrong but underlying differences in values, priorities, practices, understandings

  • CalFlora DilemmasQuality filtering: made centrally vs. pushed down to userInclusiveness of observations vs. selectivity Speed of additions vs. review, filteringLabelling data for quality vs. providing info for usersAccessBenefits vs. dangers of wide access to informationFree vs. feeCost recoveryDiscourage frivolous useWho bears the costs?Externalities

  • Dilemmas, Cont.Institutional independence:Autonomy, ability to be responsive to multiple stake-holder communities vs. security and credibility of institutional sponsorship

  • How (Some) Experts Assess Occurrence ReportsThe evidence:Type of report (specimen, field observation, list)Type of search (casual, directed)The source:Personal knowledge of contributors expertiseExamination of other contributions, same personAnnotations by trusted othersAncillary conditions:Likelihood of that species appearing at that time, habitat, geographical locationOther, similar reports

  • How CalFlora Presents Occurrence DataLinks to data source(s) personal and institutionalCompliance with institutional sources requirementsFuzzed locationsLinks to institutional sources caveats, explanationsPublicly-contributed observationsInfo about observerInfo about observationAnnotations by experts

  • Contributor RegistrationBiography, credentials (free text)Expertise/interests (free text)AffiliationContact info/web siteI will submit only my own observations of wild plants. I realize that this system is only for first-hand reports about plants, native and introduced, that are growing without deliberate planting or cultivation.I willmake sure I have the correct scientific nameI will submit uncertain identifications only if I believe them to be very importan