For the last few days, I have been at the lovely Tamaya Resort and Spa, located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. I did not, however, take advantage of the myriad massages, mud baths, and body wraps available for guests. I instead immersed myself in the world of ecological and environmental data. It was the annual All-Hands Meeting for DataONE, where 80+ experts on all things data caught up with the project’s progress and future directions.
What is DataONE? It’s an NSF-funded DataNet project that is providing infrastructure to link together existing data archives and repositories. The idea is to provide a one-stop-shop for ecological and environmental data, which will speed the progress of science and facilitate rapid advancements in the field. The whole idea is quite amazing, actually.
The Excel add-in being developed by DCXL will be a part of the investigator toolkit for DataONE. The toolkit is meant to provide software, add-ins, and help for the data-savvy scientist interested in using DataONE. It’s still a bit early to predict how the add-in will integrate with DataONE, but we are excited about the possibilities. It will include
- DataONE R Package (ONE-R)
- Integration with workflow software and workflow tools like Kepler, VisTrails, myExperiment
- Tools for integrating with MATLAB
- Morpho (free metadata generation software)
- Metacat web registry
- Python, Java libraries
The first version of the DataONE search engine ONE-Mercury (based on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory DAAC search interface Mercury) will be available around the New Year. It will undoubtedly have a few bumps and kinks that need to be ironed out, but its very creation and implementation represents a terrific advancement for data sharing and preservation.
During the meeting, we heard about the siginificant progress made by the cyberinfrastructure group towards public release of the DataONE search interface. The CI group is only half of the DataONE organization, however. There is a second side focused on engaging and reaching out to the community of folks that will use DataONE. I am part of the Community Engagement and Education working group, and we spent the last few days thinking about ways to get scientists excited about data sharing. One idea was fun little videos, that offer a more light-hearted take on a rather dry subject: data sharing.
So what do DataONE participants think about the Excel add-in? There is quite a bit of excitement, and I was asked by several attendees when they might expect to see a product. I’m optimistic that we will mesh nicely with the current list of tools available to DataONE users. I expect that in a few years DataONE will be a household name in academic institutions, and this Excel add-in will facilitate the transition from the scientific dark data ages to an era of sharing and reuse.