Save the Data!

On Saturday, February 25th, I met an archivist friend for lunch and then we went to our first DataRescue session, hosted by the University of Minnesota. The event went from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening.

I was going to go on Friday, but switched my plans midweek based on the weather forecast. On Friday, the metro area was supposed to see up to a foot of snow, which I was happy about because the week before, we had seen temperatures in the 60s. Instead we got a few flakes and temperatures in the mid thirties. I shouldn’t have to tell you how unusual that is for Minnesota in February. The promise of working at the climate change data rescue helped me channel some of my own frustration. Some things, like science, shouldn’t be political.

The goal, of course, was to capture federal information that should remain free and available, and back it up on DataRefuge.Org. Our focus was primarily climate data, identified by professors and instructors at the University as being essential to their teaching and research.

When we got there, the room was nearly full of information professionals all over the Twin Cities, all at different levels: 1. Nomination, 2. Seeding, 3. Researchers, 4. Checkers & Baggers, 5. Harvesters. Here is the workflow from github that we were working from.

We signed in and were directed to what I will call “Station 4.”  We walked back to the table and low and behold, Valerie Collins, from the D.C. NDSR cohort was there! Valerie and I have met before, and I was delighted to see her. She got us caught up to speed and my friend and I got to work. We checked datasets and then uploaded them to the Data Refuge site, creating records and filling in the metadata. It was archiving, it was cataloging, it was resistence, and it was fun. There were snacks, and cool, passionate people, and there was a real sense of being in a room where people knew how to use their skills to make sure knowledge about the reality of climate change stayed in the hands of the scientists and the people who need the information.

I hope they host another one.

This post was written by Kate McManus, resident at Minnesota Public Radio.

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