What's Next - Democratization - Science/Community

Here’s another follow-up from the meeting on Dec 6.

Here is what was written here under kinds of topics to discuss:

  • Cloud infrastructure…(esp in other parts of the world): this is a huge challenge because open infrastructure is vulnerable security-wise, not to mention funding. But also would create a huge opportunity. Potentially could have some intermediate case where a small number of people in the global south get access as a pilot - this would help to figure out what is useful.
  • Mentorship.
  • How can we create a better roadmap for new people
  • How can we create pipelines so we don’t end up with no maintainers
  • Informal knowledge about the relationship between the people and the code stack, what is maintainer
  • https://github.com/pydata/xarray/blob/main/CORE_TEAM_GUIDE.md
  • Interface between money-making companies like coiled/earthmover and government-funded science - potential opportunities and pitfalls

Paige and I have chatted about the mentorship program idea, and how that might work. We were planning to touch base again early in the new year.

But it’s clear that one must think holistically. E.g. if there is no cloud computing available for folks, then such a program wouldn’t get very far.

Also, the mentor cohort would need an orientation session, which could benefit from compiling resources, including the thing about maintainers, what they are, and getting more of them in the pipeline.

I know the mentorship idea is just one way to try to grow the community in other parts of the world.

My premise is that people will naturally become contributors if they are not resource-limited to even get involved. The “informal curriculum” is where most of us learn how to get started, and not everyone has someone down the hall who’s already an expert.

But people also need to be able to store their own data and have computing credits on the cloud. I noticed there’s some overlap with the cloud infrastructure topic names, so we’ll see where that goes. I’d like to do some “power mapping” of who we collectively know who might know how to approach funding some bigger resource pots for these efforts.

Please discuss. And when we feel like it we can schedule a follow-up meeting.

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This is beautifully put, and I fundamentally believe this too!

Excited to see all the energy coming into the community, and looking forward to seeing how this goes.

Thank you @thenaomig for starting this discussion.

I think this is an important ‘branch’ of Pangeo that is in need of strengthening.

I appreciate that this is not the main concern of everyone in the community, but speaking for myself, democratizing the means of science is the main reason I became involved in pangeo in the first place, and to this day is my main motivator to do anything for my work.

I want to comment specifically on

  • Cloud infrastructure…(esp in other parts of the world): this is a huge challenge because open infrastructure is vulnerable security-wise, not to mention funding. But also would create a huge opportunity. Potentially could have some intermediate case where a small number of people in the global south get access as a pilot - this would help to figure out what is useful.
  • Interface between money-making companies like coiled/earthmover and government-funded science - potential opportunities and pitfalls

The discussion in What's Next - Cloud - Partner-managed Infrastructure - #13 by TomNicholas has really made me think about how specifically infrastructure should be used to democratize science.

In my eyes there are two end-members to how support can look like:

  • Efficient, cheap, services that get donated to other stakeholders. This will (as @briannapagan points out) trade off efficiency/convenience/quick implementation with self-sufficiency. The people who receive this help will be able to conduct science, but be dependent on the charity of others far into the future.
  • Support to build the same software and infrastructure in other countries, to achieve true independence to conduct science in other nations. This of course will be an enormous and long-term effort, requiring politics, collaboration and work across national boundaries.

My personal opinion is that we most certainly should employ the former (especially in the short term) but should not stop there. And not stoping there requires a conscious effort. There is probably a way to chart a way forward that allows donations of infrastructure as a transitional mechanism, but also formalizes a right to replicate, and a long term plan to research independence. But crucially I think that the way this decision progresses has to be discussed in a broder forum including:

  • the people who do not have access to science tools currently (maybe folks from the mentorship could be a start?)
  • folks with expertise in delivering developmental aid (which is what we are talking about?)

I am actually curious how/where/if there is something written down about the community commitment to democratizing science. I did not find a mention on the website. Maybe @paigem knows more?

I like this idea a lot

I’d like to do some “power mapping” of who we collectively know who might know how to approach funding some bigger resource pots for these efforts.

I think that in addition to the org structures named by @TomNicholas

What other models are possible? I can think of: federally-organised / philanthropically-funded / volunteer-driven as broad categories. I’m personally interested in thinking about which of these models can best serve the wider global scientific community, with diversity and inclusion as an explicit aim. We have some nascent discussion of that question in the What’s Next - Democratization - Science/Community thread that Naomi linked.

this might be in the wheelhouse of international orgs like the UN/WCRP, the IPCC, etc? I know next to nothing about these orgs, but it might be worth exploring some communications towards them. Just to maybe get us beyond the ‘federal funding’ barrier.

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Just wanted to follow up here and see if we want to schedule a meeting about this topic CCing: @thenaomig @jbusecke @yuvipanda

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@briannapagan That would be awesome. I am currently quite busy but should have more time towards End of April/May.

end of April is difficult for me, as is end of May, but first half of May could work

Let’s see if we can find a time to chat next week: pangeo democratization - When2meet

Thank you everyone who replied to the When2meet! The overlap with the most people able to attend is 10-11AM Thursday May 9th EDT (GMT-4). You can join with this link: pangeo democratization
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