PPIG 2019 - 30th Annual Workshop
The Naturalist’s Friend - A case study and blueprint for pluralist data tools and infrastructure
Antranig Basman
Abstract: Spreadsheets liberated individual end users to own their own data and curate its structure and relationships. However, most realistic individuals are embedded in multiple overlapping communities and societies, each of which brings different visions, ontologies and working practices. No modern digital tools perform the same liberating functions for communities that spreadsheets did for individuals. We will sketch the working patterns and relationships amongst some communities of naturalists that we have studied, distil these down into the description of a set of “challenge problems” and then sketch the design and infrastructure of a tool, codenamed “The Naturalist’s Friend”, This tool will enable multiple communities to collaborate on simple, tabular-structured data for which they have mismatched criteria for membership and interpretation of both rows and columns, without obliging any of them to compromise their autonomy over their own data standards, or lose the modern digital affordances of constantly live access to version-managed and publicly addressable incarnations of their shared data.