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A Code of Conduct for data scientists from the Bellagio Fellows

September 25, 2013

The 2013 PopTech & Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellows – Kate CrawfordPatrick MeierClaudia PerlichAmy LuersGustavo Faleiros and Jer Thorp – yesterday published “Seven Principles for Big Data and Resilience Projects” on Patrick Meier’s blog iRevolution.

Although they claim that these principles are meant for “best practices for resilience building projects that leverage Big Data and Advanced Computing,” I think they’re more general than that (although I’m not sure exactly what a resilience building project is) I and I really like them. They are looking for public comments too. Go to the post for the full description of each, but here is a summary:

1. Open Source Data Tools

Wherever possible, data analytics and manipulation tools should be open source, architecture independent and broadly prevalent (R, python, etc.).

2. Transparent Data Infrastructure

Infrastructure for data collection and storage should operate based on transparent standards to maximize the number of users that can interact with the infrastructure.

3. Develop and Maintain Local Skills

Make “Data Literacy” more widespread. Leverage local data labor and build on existing skills.

4. Local Data Ownership

Use Creative Commons and licenses that state that data is not to be used for commercial purposes.

5. Ethical Data Sharing

Adopt existing data sharing protocols like the ICRC’s (2013). Permission for sharing is essential. How the data will be used should be clearly articulated. An opt in approach should be the preference wherever possible, and the ability for individuals to remove themselves from a data set after it has been collected must always be an option.

6. Right Not To Be Sensed

Local communities have a right not to be sensed. Large scale city sensing projects must have a clear framework for how people are able to be involved or choose not to participate.

7. Learning from Mistakes

Big Data and Resilience projects need to be open to face, report, and discuss failures.

  1. Guest2
    September 25, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Gramsci, the Italian neo-Marxist, found that local intellectuals were crucial to revolution, so these recommendations remind me of him.

    Problem is, of course, social differentiation and differentiation of the knowledge-base is nearly asymptotic, rendering these suggestions useless.

    You also have the tricky situation pertaining to expert knowledge, which needs “experts” just as much as, if not moreso, esoteric knowledge (which they produce, which only they are privy to).


  2. Abe Kohen
    September 25, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    No commercial use? Let’s not forget that it was the commercialization of the internet that made it such a huge success, and gave birth to many other innovations. I say this as someone who used the ARPANET in the late 70s, used UUCP to send email in the 80s, and marvel at the smartphone I use today.(OK, it’s a stupid iPhone instead of an Android, but that’s another story.)


  3. beewhy2012
    September 26, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Is it naive to assume that ‘resilience building” has to do with developing strategies to mitigate or counter the onslaught of disaster-bound trends in today’s world; e.g., global warming, concentration of wealth, de- and unregulated markets, pollution of essential resources like water, subjugation of the masses, political and economic chaos, etc., etc?
    Does anyone have a more precise or accurate definition?


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