Transcript of panel discussion: Science and the Information Ecosystem


The following is a transcript of the October 24, 2012 panel discussion "Science and the Information Ecosystem: Builiding an Encyclopedia of Puget Sound" held at the Fishery Sciences building auditorium on the university of Washington Seattle campus. 

Joel Baker- Thank you for coming to the kickoff of the University of Washington’s Encyclopedia of the Puget Sound.

My Name is Joel Baker I am the director of the UW’s Puget Sound Institute and I’m a faculty member of University of Washington in Tacoma Environmental Sciences, and I am going to get things started today.

We have a really interesting program for you. I want to spend a few minutes just talking about why we are here and what the encyclopedia is all about then I will turn it over to a panel discussion. And then most importantly at 4 o’clock

(Background feedback and laughter)

He is restoring the audio here.

This is all about using new technologies to communicate.  This is why it’s not such a great idea to go back to paper and pencil, at any rate, there is nothing I can do on that. So let me, oh great help is on the way.

So, um, let me just say a few words and make some introductions, then we will get kickoff’d here.  But at 5 o’clock there is a reception immediately following, you perhaps noticed we have beer and wine sitting there.

Just a few words about why we are here and what we do, the Puget Sound Institute is about 2 years old. It is a research center here at UW and it was really created as a partnership between the United States environmental protection agency at the federal level and the Puget Sound partnership at the state level and the university. To really systematically address this age old problem of how do you get the information and how to get the academy into the resource management agencies.

This is something we have struggled with and likely will continue to struggle with forever, but the institute is really designed to help all of us at the university and indeed at research institutions around the region and indeed around the world.  

To bring that information to bear on the really tricky problem of restoring and protecting the Puget Sound ecosystems.

So that’s what we’re all about, the Puget sound institute is designed to not only conduct research but probably more importantly coordinate the research of others and to disseminate that information.  And that is what we are here to do today is to talk about the product of that the encyclopedia of Puget Sound.

This really started with a conversation at Mary Ruckelshaus house, I and a few others had several years ago while we were all helping the Puget sound partnership while we were staring down the barrel of the gun of creating another very thick phone book size technical synthesis report that was going to take several years to do. It was going to take a lot of money and we knew it was going to land with a thud and no one was ever going to read it. We said there must be a better way.

We think the encyclopedia is a better way. And we think that this is a new way of creating this kind of synthetic activity that lives, engages a large community, and is actually used by policy makers. I give a lot of credit to Mary Ruckelshaus for getting us started down this road.

I also acknowledge a few people, Jeff Rice who is here is the managing editor of Puget Sound. Maybe the idea was Mary and I sitting around having a beer but the implementation of this really rests with Jeff Rice who has done a phenomenal job of pulling this together and the credit goes to him.

Kris Symer who is here running around is the web architect of the encyclopedia and is responsible for all the background work that has been done.

We have a number of students and others help us and are listed here.  I wanted to acknowledge in particular the web development team at UW Creative Commons are a really talented group of web developers who helped us pull together the encyclopedia.

Lots of collaborators, outside the university of course.  The funding comes from the EPA as I have mentioned, and Ben Cope, and Chris Castner, and Dan Steinborn have helped us launch this thing along the way and have been quite supportive, I think Dan is here, thought I saw him earlier today.

The Puget Sound Partnership, of course, Ken Currens who was the science director at the time, Tracy Collier who is here is the current science director, and Scott Redman.

This really started by adapting some work that we have done previously by UW scientists and others from federal agencies and state agencies in something called the Puget sound science review.

So we really built the encyclopedia on the good fundamental work done by a large group of authors led by Mary Ruckelshaus as the lead editor of that.

We also collaborate with NOAA in our mapping products that are embedded in the encyclopedia through the office of response and restoration, Amy Merten and Ben Shorr and Ben is here representing them today.

And a number of other colleagues and you are going to hear from some of them in a moment. I want to particularly acknowledge the support the college of the environment who was instrumental in getting the Puget Sound Institute established in the first place.

Partnerships with the Encyclopedia of Life and the Encyclopedia of Earth, and when I say partnerships meaning we stole a lot of their ideas, we called them we asked them for advice and in fact invited a couple of them out today to help us launch our editorial board.

We also very recently formed informal partnerships at this stage with Friday Harbor labs, and Seattle Online. And we also link to things like nature serve to pull in content, so lots of collaborators here.

The other thing we want to do today is to announce the editorial board, the roles of the editorial board is to be the senior advisors to the encyclopedia, and help bring content to us and help us as this enterprise moves forward.

Alphabetical order by first name if you are trying to figure out the order of this.

Amy Snover, from climate impacts group obviously will cover issues climate change impacts on the Puget Sound.

‘Si’ Simenstad from school of fisheries and aquatic sciences will cover all things that swim in the water. He claims this is too broad; fish and near shore habitats

Joe Gaydos from SeaDoc Society is taking on birds and mammals; he also says this is too broad, he needs help. But he is starting out doing birds and mammals for us.

This guy knows something about water quality and will cover the water quality aspects of the encyclopedia

Mary has agreed to step in from Natural Capital Project and help us with any management issues in the encyclopedia.

Nate also from Climate Impacts Group will help on the climate change work.

Patrick Christie from the school of marine and environmental affairs will oversee the economic and social science aspects of Puget Sound encyclopedia

Parker MacCready who I saw here earlier from the UW school of Oceanography will handle all things physical.

And then Tim Quinn the Chief Scientist for Habitats, Upland Habitats for the Washington State Department of fish and wildlife will cover all things upland.

So as you can imagine there are pretty broad portfolios to start, but the idea is this is a core group and they are going to reach out to their colleagues and hopefully will reach out to many people in this room for assistance.

My message to you is that we want this to be a collaborative exercise from all of us that are engaged in Puget Sound research. Graduate students, undergraduates, faculty, and staff of state federal local agencies. This tends to be a big tent and in fact it has to be a big tent in order for this to work.

We need you to contribute to us and we need for us to help you do your jobs in synthesizing and integrating Puget Sound information in order for this to be successful.

So that’s my introductory comments, I would like to now introduce Dean Lisa Graumlich, the Dean of the College of the Environment.

Lisa Graumlich- And to Jeff and Kris who are back there making things happen. When I got here two years ago as the dean of the environment I was told in the first couple weeks about the Puget Sound institute, and it was an idea then and a newly funded idea. You have taken that idea and given it form and we are here to celebrate that today. But, and Joel you were very inviting about please join us and, I would actually like to invite the panelists as well as the audience to not just join in as patting everybody on the back and saying good job, and it’s really beautiful, and isn’t this great to have an encyclopedia. 

But, I think there’s, this is a new way of doing science. And this is something that we need to really sort of kick the tires up and ask hard questions and figure out how we are really going to have this be something besides that’s a very beautiful compendium of information but something that moves us from science towards solutions. So I urge you when we have time for audience questions to feel free not just ask the nice questions, to really take this seriously and talk about how we can really fully use this tool.

So with that I would like to invite our panelists to come join me up here.  So we’ve got Michael Pidwirny, who is a board member of the Encyclopedia of Earth and an associate professor of physical geography at the University of British Columbia. Michael’s research interests include climate change and use of technology in education and the impact of land use and biodiversity.

Panelists will you just start taking your chairs up there.

Tracy raise your hand thank you, the Encyclopedia of Life is an online portal that began in 2007 with the goal of providing a web page nearly for every species on earth. Tracy has worked for the Boston public school system the student conservation association of America

Rob Fatland, Rob is at Microsoft research and there he works on applications of technology to information challenges in environmental science. He is a real scientist; his career has included research on glacier dynamics and seismically surface deformation based on data from the synthetic aperture radar satellites. When he is at Microsoft he works to release research tools for adoption and use by both the academic and the operational geoscience community.

And finally Jen Davison is a research scientist at the college of the environment at UW, where she works to accelerate the communication of science both within the college and from the college to its surrounding communities. She is also a co-organizer of science online Seattle.

So, welcome to our panelists.  And I’d like to start by exploring a little bit about the background and sort of inspiration that we’ve had for the encyclopedia of Puget Sound, and to start with Michael and Tracy both.

You both have thought about many of the questions we are going to address tonight on national/international scales and your roles with the Encyclopedia of Earth and Encyclopedia of Life.  Could you just take a minute or two to explain, Michael if you want to start, what your role and how the encyclopedia of earth and life has evolved.

Micheal Pidwirny-Well I can talk about the encyclopedia of earth, I’m a board member of this encyclopedia and it began in 2006 as an idea of Cutler Cleveland, a professor at Boston University, he was able to get some funding and we started with this idea. And the idea was basically to use the internet to provide a source of information about the earth and the earth’s environment that could be accessed by all, by the public, and teachers, and students, and instructors and professors. Over the six years I have been involved with it we went from several hundred articles to seventy five hundred articles. We have about nine hundred people writing articles for us and about one hundred and ninety topic editors.  My role has been writing articles, being a topic editor, and more importantly sort of steering the development and direction of the encyclopedia. Today we had an interesting sort of discussion about the encyclopedia of the Puget Sound, and I found it interesting probably the most important thing that was discussed was who is going to access this information, who was it for?  I think we realized that this is for scientists, which is different than the role the encyclopedia of earth has, the encyclopedia of earth is geared for anyone to read, it’s interesting.

Lisa Graumlich-Thank you, Tracy do you want to tell us about the Encyclopedia of Life.

Tracy Barbaro-The Encyclopedia of Life is a global effort to bring together information about all life on earth and put it all into context of a species page, one for every species. I can just say it’s a work in progress. Everything on the Encyclopedia of Life is under creative commons licenses. And the hope is that it will be used for a purpose. Our proof concept was just basically the aggregation can we create these partnerships and collaborative relationships to have people share content. And we really went on the good faith effort that this information is important and needs to be fairly accessible people who can’t get to dusty archives or Harvard natural history museum or the library should be able to see a type of specimen and also see biological primary literature online. So that’s sort of been our goal. In terms of how it’s evolved, in 2007 EO Wilson had his wish and that was to have a web page for every species, and now we are working on that every day. The goal is to serve authoritative information but also to serve information from the general public, have a strong citizen science component contributions especially photos, videos, and sounds. Started out with about twenty content partners, fish base was our first content partner and funnily enough it kind of looked like we were the encyclopedia of fish when we first started, but now we have over two hundred trusted content partners’ individual scientists, graduate students, undergrads, and fellows. Developed curatorial network and everything I’m talking about is still very much a work in progress and we are learning quite a bit from these conversations that we’re having. We are moving towards trying to make things accessible for everyone so this is kind of a tall order.

Lisa Graumlich-Thank you. Mary if I could turn to you for a moment, Michael said, and made the comment, who’s it for, it’s for scientists. I think this clearly rose out of the work that you and others were doing with the Puget Sound partnership and can you give us once again somewhat briefly a little background on why this type of effort was needed and some of the work that has gone on to actually synthesize the science of Puget Sound.

Mary Ruckelshaus-I think Joel gave a really good thumbnail of this; it was over some beer conversation and others. In my view back then when this started, this was probably five or more years ago, I was feeling a real push and pull. So a push for this kind of synthesis and science information about Puget Sound from the academic community and especially younger scientist, that I see some of in here but not enough. Because I think younger scientists understand the value of this other medium, which is not print, which is web based information and really the desire and push to get out their information in a timely fashion. That was the push we that we noticed. And the pull in this case, and I think this gets to the audience question as well, was from the Puget Sound Partnership leadership council and their boards. And that’s really I think is an important audience for this is the idea that that community of decision makers trying to decide what should we do to restore and protect Puget sound wanted to know where can I go where can there be a one stop shop for understanding the scientific consensus about what we know about Puget sound in all these many facets of the people and nature part of the system.  I think that pull the policy draw, they wanted some site they could go to, some place where they could say, could you guys just agree on some scientific information that we can then use for as the basis of our decisions. It was really those dual purposes that we first led into this Puget Sound science update. We modeled after IPCC reports where you have an outline identified by the decision makers who would end up using the information, so the general broad brush of the content was identified by the partnership leadership group. And then really great author teams were competitively chosen so a lot of professors from the University of Washington, scientists from agencies and NGOs put together information that was peer reviewed and that was meant to be the scientific consensus around particular issues as defined by the leaders, policy leaders who would then use it to make informed decisions. That was the germ of the update, which if you have looked at it, its incomplete, it’s a start, the outlines were long and not all the content is in there yet, but the idea was, and this is one of the beer inspirations was to make this, in Joel’s view, it was always to make it live and electronic and quickly updateable so that people who wanted to get the latest information on D.O. in hood canal could go there and find out what’s in the peer reviewed consensus view of the scientific community around this issue. So I hope there will be great incentive for people to populate this as Joel and Lisa has talked about because you know there are people out there who are going to use this information and they want it to be rigorously reviewed and that hopefully will be good incentive.

Lisa Graumlich-Right, that’s a great summary, it’s part of the design, so we have scientist doing the push and the decision makers doing the pull but what’s different from the IPCC reports, is its not huge volumes, it’s a web based medium, and that is why the panel also consists of both Rob from Microsoft Research and Jenn who works with Science Online Seattle and open science issue. If we can start with Rob to sort of explore these opportunities in web based medium. There is a huge amount of research that goes on in the Puget sound, Salish sea ecosystem and I have heard that the restoration efforts in Puget Sound has been referred to as quote a thousand acts of science. How can technology help us overcome the vulcanization of information resources and help us understand the Puget Sound ecosystem not in this really granular ways, but in ways in which we can create more inercritive synthesis and in the end actionable kinds of information? How does the work you do at Microsoft help us think about that.

Rob Fatland-well that is obviously a really broad topic let me start with an example. The group that I’m in at Microsoft research focuses on collaboration with academic people outside of Microsoft and so I happened to be introduced to Caroline Mackleroy, who is the Skagit climate consortium, and she is trying to pull together papers that are written by scientists who are working in the Skagit watershed all the way up from the top of the cascades all the way down to the eel grass. We kind of took her work as inspiration to get involved in that kind of thinking. In part because it goes beyond the science and academic and into the question of how does the public perceive the kind of scientific research that is going on? So I had an intern start reading papers and she chewed fifty or sixty papers and she decided to write a game that would allow you to become a manager for the Skagit watershed. So she did that she sat down and ran the programming language and she wrote this game and she used the visualization engine that we provided as a research tool to sort of tell stories like you have a cut scene in a game. And the idea of the game is that you are managing the dams in the upper Skagit and as you make money from your hydropower you can invest that in infrastructure to try and deal with the fact that, tell you that the snow line is going up and if the snow line is going up when the winter storms come the water can no longer be stopped by the snow pack instead its going be flushed down.

Flushed down to the century of floods is not going to come thru down to your flood or something like that and so my Interns conclusion was no matter what you do, if this climate trend continues then you’re going to be faced with this sort of flooding situation.  So it’s to sort of back that up she went and did the research and wrote the game and so if the question is how can technology can help well now if we can successfully push that game out to where people can play there is an opportunity to get engaged in the science without having to go and read fifty papers but instead you start playing the game, turn by turn, spending money so quickly then you find out what the consequences are, and see where things are likely to lead.  So that is kind of a tactical example but I have some other notes if you want me to keep on rambling in this way (laughter from the crowd).  Short answer for how we can make progress with technology is that there is two parts to it in mind.  First part is Sociology and the second part is Meta data which is not really a realistic word.  But the Sociology part we think about this a lot. We think about incentivize people to use technology, for example one of the big huge flags is ‘do you publish your data’?  NSF is trying to incentivize that thru these data management plan requirements. If you’re going to get NSF money you got to have a DOP.  So what we built was a tool that allowed you to publish a data set up to the data one depository from excel, so we are trying to make that easy. So the first part of incentivizing participation in technology is to make it easy to do and the second part is to provide a reward which has to happen the sociological way, for example, if you can get tenured by providing data out there that other people use and that data can be cited rather than having to publish and hold on to your data so no one else can use it, that’s kind of a switch or a flip in the paradigm of power, sort of do science. And so that sort of leads into this sort of how you flip over the paradigm incentivize things, how you can get Ph. D. or tenure thru contributing to a bigger data pool and that in turn sort of implies who’s this for who the encyclopedia  for, in sense it might be for a scientist who hasn’t been invented yet, someone who doesn’t think about I’m going to go generate my own data and I’m going to carry thru and publish a paper, and I’m going to go generate some more data, and publish a paper and that that data is going to vanish into the ether;  instead you can become a scientist who says I’m going to go out on to the web and find some data and I’m going to understand that data because it’s going to be so well managed that I can use it and I’m going to go write papers from that so I can kind of cut myself lose from the date acquisition part.  Which gets over into the technology piece of the cloud, people talk about the cloud infrastructure and it’s a great thing but there is more to research than just using the cloud and sort of tuck it there into it but basically the standards and services of ways of talking between computers is a really great way of getting beyond the I’m going to go build another data portal, which there is lots and lots of data portals out there, but you always have to interact with them as a human being where as it can match to make your system talk in terms of services then suddenly you open up this sort of unanticipated use of what  data and that’s, I’ll stop there, that’s a starting point.

Lisa Graumlich-That’s a great starting part that’s a very rich set of comments there and I think it perfectly sets up Jen who is someone that thinks a lot about crowd sourcing, social media, and in particular open science, and Jen, do you want to comment a bit about how the technology is adding value and some advantages and disadvantages you might see for the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound engaging in open science. 

Jennifer Davison-Yeah, thanks.  First I would like to give you a contextual definition of ‘open science’, because it’s kind of a broad statement and vague a little bit.  From my understanding of ‘open science’, it’s really based on three drivers which is the fact that the issues we are dealing with now are wicked problems, there’s no one lab, one discipline, one perspective that can solve things like Puget Sound restoration, and then we have this amazing opportunity with technology with the internet and social media to redefine the way that science actually is done. We can take a really different approach a more collaborative, more inclusive approach to scientific research.  Then I believe a third driver in this kind of open science trend is the fact that scientists are now called upon more now than ever to explain why their research is important.   So these three kinds of drivers are what are behind what’s called open science, which is really the opening of the whole process of the scientific research continuum from asking questions…what kind of questions do we ask? How do we ask them?  What kind of data do we gather? How do we gather that data? How do we analyze it, and then how do we then take those data and synthesize them and create results and then interpret those results and apply them.  All of these things can now be much more collaboratively engaged in, and this is what open science is.  So we are talking about citizen science, talking about open data, open data archives that you can then access and then you can create brand new knowledge from all this existing data that hasn’t been figured out before.  We can also talk about crowd funding and even interdisciplinary that really allows us to ask more pointed questions that kind of get at the wicked problems that we are dealing with.  So I think that technology is absolutely critical to this open science movement and this whole idea is advantageous to the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.  We are dealing with the wicked problem; we are dealing with the restoration of Puget Sound, and more directly, you can think about all the open access research that is coming on line.  The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound will have access to this research, you can share it and then again you can then again Meta analyze it for new insights.   It’s really more about taking a new look at the way we do science and aligning it to the problems that we are dealing with. 

Lisa Graumlich-Absolutely. Thanks Jen.  So a question that I think is the open question then, and is relevant to the people that are in this room,  which is how do we actually incentivize people to participate?  Mary, can I start with you, which is…your busy, but what are the advantages  of a working scientist, perhaps not the scientist that hasn’t been invented yet that Rob has, which we need to talk about as I want to invent that scientist.  But what incentivizes a busy scientist to get involved in an effort like in things like the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound?

Mary Ruckelshaus-I think that is a really good question. I think one for those people, and I know there is a lot of the next generation coming up who really feel this way. A lot of scientists, myself included, we really want to do good high quality science and have it be relevant to some social problem and be used.  So not just write a peered review publication and get that checked off and whatever promotion path we are one, but that it actually informs social problems.  So that’s one incentive that I feel personally, and I know a lot of the younger generation scientists coming in, a lot of the people coming in my lab and who work with me are really driven by that, and that’s really inspiring to see…that’s one thing.  And the second one is the timeliness  of communication, so there is as you know, there is a big time lag in getting peer review publications out, and so if we can get good peer reviewed scientific information into the public sphere faster this way,  with all of the dangers and red flags that go up with a peer review process that is this quick or open, then I think it also, that the lags that are built into our system right now which are incredibly frustrating for a lot of us would be broken down.  So I think for me those are the two things, the relevant and the timeliness.   That’s why I participate in things like this.

Lisa Graumlich-Do one or two of the other panelist want to comment on this about incentives and other obstacles? 

Jennifer Davison-I can comment from an academic perspective as well that the incentivizing for scientist to engage in these things I think in part has to come from the top down, in that they need to be able to create space for scientist to do these things as part of their career path, and like Rob said, it needs to be easy, and it needs to be rewarding. 

Lisa Graumlich-Ok, so now, Joel didn’t really tell me I could do this, but I have a bunch of questions here, that I am curious about, but I am guessing that I am not the only person in the room that has questions and we have these mics down here so you have 26 minutes until the bar opens (laughter in room).  Would anyone like to come down and ask this panel some questions?  Ok Jeff, can you hold the mic?  Ok, here we go, and can you identify who you are? 

Dale Caulkin-My name is Dale Caulkin and I represent a little creek in Northern section of Seattle in Carkeek  Park, I’m president of Sea Cap and we are involved in fish restoration in that department and just the other day we had an issue of water quality.  Seattle city came and looked at our water and our water quality is so poor it’s like being a little bit pregnant.  It’s poor, and the thing is that I would like to know, ‘what in the future could this organization do to increase the water quality?  For example we have a huge e-coliform in the creek and a lot of other things and I know for darn well that there are probably lot of contamination, of minerals and things like those things so that was my basic question.


Lisa Graumlich-I know it’s wonderful to have citizens here that are as knowledgeable as you.  I want to open it up to the panel and or Joel if you wanted to comment on that?  We actually have a water quality guy?

Joel Baker-There is a really good point.  One the things I learned the hard way, several times, is that nobody knows more about the environment than the people who live in it, and if this system and it’s crowd sourcing, or whatever you call it, if we can use the technology to tap into local expertise by the people who live on the stream, the people who observe it every day from residents in neighborhoods to the tribes to anyone. We do a really lousy job pulling that information together and digesting it. We get a lot of one off anecdotal stories and we kind of file them away and don’t frankly do much with them.  If we can build systems that integrate that information so it’s available to us for meta-analysis that would be fantastic. 

Dale Caulkin-Can I say one other thing? Our creek is the most prolific creek as far as NOAA and all these other organizations, there is a tremendous data that we have that has been stored for 20 to 30 years on that very issue.

Joel Baker-So it’s making that data available, (Dale Caulkin-absolutely”), is the issue? Proves the point

Lisa Graumlich-Thank you.

Steve Harold-Hi, my name is Steve Harold and I’m an anthropologist and I have heard some really interesting anthropology from everyone on the panel about how the culture of science and sociology of science as Rob called it, influenced the way this encyclopedia is put together.  The simple question I would like to ask is two parts, but simple.  One is…how much of this sociology of science is in the encyclopedia itself? How much of the encyclopedia tells us about what you guys have all very interestingly said today, and then how much other science of, say, economics, anthropology, tribal history, and so forth is included in the encyclopedia?    

Patrick: Editor of Encyclopedia-Can I respond to that as the editor.  So, that is to be determined and I lay out an invitation at your feet to say let’s talk about it and let’s talk about what will be useful for the encyclopedia.  I think a lot of this is yet to be determined we just had our first editorial meeting today, so really the sky’s the limit, perhaps.  I think there is issues about what information could be brought to bear; I think there’s a dearth of information and sources of information about the human dimensions or social sciences of Puget Sound but there is a growing group of individuals who are conducting that science that can be brought to bear.  I think the question you bring up about the sociology of science and the practice of science would also be an interesting, because we typically think about the lens of analysis being the people, the public, the tribes, and the fishermen of Puget Sound.  We don’t typically think of the subject analysis being the scientist themselves.  And yet this is exactly of much of what the social science is about is what science is being done?  Why is that particular science being done? How does it influence policy or not, so I think there a wealth of ideas and opportunities there to offer to the encyclopedia.

Lisa Graumlich-Are there other members of the editorial board in the audience that could raise their hands?  We have Patrick, we have Parker back there, Amy’s here,  so once again, we’ve got the panelist, we’ve got Joel, we’ve got Jeff, we’ve got Kris, so we really do have a wealth of people that are going to leave this room with the ideas that you collectively have had as part of their marching orders, so don’t be shy. 

Usha Varanasi-So can I just add to what Patrick just mentioned? 

Lisa Graumlich-Can you please identify yourself?

Usha Varanasi-Oh yes, I am Usha Varanasi.  I am a scientist at large (laughter in room).  What I wanted to say is that the sociology and anthropology for Puget Sound is a very interesting question because we have done this in different decades we do things for Puget Sound.  And from larger documents and reports that just go into somebody’s bookcase.  Slowly they are coming to using the technology and try to do things as they are happening.  So we in one way we have made progress from decades to decades. It talks of getting the science in front of people even the scientist right away, which has not happened, as the dean said about a thousand random acts of science that quite often we don’t know.  The other part of it that we really need to do in developing the encyclopedia is the story telling because we do, do through this every ten years or every twenty years and some of us have been here for 40 years and remember this type of service.  There are things that belong as we move along and that to me is anthropology, part of it. What worked and what didn’t work.  In some analysis of it and it just becomes more anecdotal rather than certain type of analysis which I think is the sociology. Not only the sociology of what happens to fish vs. people. Do we like Puget Sound, do we feel that it is healthy, it is good for our children that part of it but also the community of scientists have been doing all these years and what can we learn from that? It would be an interesting aspect of the encyclopedia because it’s not that we live in a book but a continuously living history.

Lisa Graumlich-Usha very interesting comment from a Scientist at large (room laughter), I like that, um, any specific comments from the panel has about the comments?

Micheal Pidwirny-I have a comment that is related to the last two people who discussed their issues.  It’s really important to recognize that this is a seed that is planted and while the board believes they know the direction this is going to grow in.  The encyclopedia of earth did not grow the way that the board members thought it would, and a lot our development was stirred by the people outside the board, people that contacted board members as offers to articles and so I would recommend to this audience that if you have an idea, if you think there is something that this encyclopedia should deal with, contact the managing editor and the board members.

Tracy Barbaro-Yes, I would second that.  At the Encyclopedia of Life, throughout the five years that we have been in existence, people are using it in ways that we didn’t expect, and it’s really helpful when they tell us how they are using it so we can help tailor it to their needs. 

Mary Ruckelshaus-I was going to make a similar type of comment.  One thing that Joel and I have talked about from the beginning and the co-authors of the initial sort of seed content was we really hoped that graduate students, faculty members running grad courses, anybody in this region who is interested in a topic and is motivated to write about it, like this history would be fascinating to do, is to come forward and we need people to bring in those ideas and write the content, and then as you say, that will guide the direction that it goes, which is sort of the real bottom up beautify of this thing.  I don’t know how many of you in here could think you could run a course; and if there students term papers could turn in something like this or something where you are already getting your students or you are a grad students and you have a thesis chapter that you think you can turn into this or get a friend who is a good writer to turn your wonky thesis chapter into this format.   And just things where we can get multiple benefits out of things we are writing anyways or synthesizing it would just be a wonderful way to populate it.

Jeff Rice-I was just going to add one more thing about this whole discussion gets back to the idea of the incentivizing people to work and create content for the encyclopedia and at some point I would be interested in getting to the idea of important is the interface and finding new ways of contributing information.  I was interested in what Rob said about the games and the creative ways in presenting information.  Is that one way to incentivize people to create an interface that really draws them in?

Rob Fatland-Yes, the sort of field of dreams problem is recurring also on the technology side of things.  If I build this will people be using this, right? And how do you make something that’s not only attractive and linked into the website that also engages people to come back and back to it.   And honestly the game would be one idea, but another thing is just to anticipate that people are going to come to it with a limited amount of time in a day so you want to make as easy as possible and that’s the problem of my job that I struggle with a lot. So, I think it’s the type of thing that you can’t skip on you have to really do that and then Wikipedia would be a great example of something that was sorted booted itself up and if you just sort of managed to do something engaging in that way, partly because it wasn’t to tuff to learn how to write content and then it was easy to link your content to 17 other different articles.  So that is just one facet of the human computer interaction that was a great cumulative example; those sort of success. 

Jennifer Davison-I just have a question and kind of comment about what you’re talking in design, I think it’s interesting to think about if the EoPS is going to be used not only for as a compendium but also for creating solutions to be used as an interactive design that allows for this iterative not just Wikipedia and of editing but also this more of a collaborative environment might be really exciting and also easy for someone to come back and they feel like they actually get to be involved in creating new knowledge creating new solutions  in the encyclopedia itself.  Is that something that you are thinking about?

Jeff Rice-Yep, thought about a lot of things.  (Laughter in the room)

Lisa Graumlich-and probably quite a bit more by the end of this.  So how about a question over here

Jerry Joys-Hi my name is Jerry Joys and I’m involved in the citizen science programs.  But I also chaired the birds and mammals work group for the Puget Sound ecosystem monitoring program. And working in that group we know that birds have wings and whales have tails and ecosystems don’t know political boundaries. So I am just curious why this isn’t the encyclopedia of the Salish Sea.

Joel Baker-That’s me. So we recognize that the Puget Sound is an arbitrary boarder and the animals don’t know that and neither does the water. We were asked a couple months ago if we would consider changing the name of our product to the encyclopedia of Salish Sea, and I didn’t have the heart to go back and tell Jeff that he had to redo all of his branding and all of his logos. And we do in fact consider all of the Salish Sea in this, we have had conversations with Canadian colleagues on bringing some of their content in. although the name of it is not going to change, the encyclopedia of the Puget Sound, the scope of it is the entire geographic scope of the Salish Sea.

Paul Williams-Hi my name is Paul Williams and I work for the Suquamish tribe I’m a biologist. My question is what about adding failure to the list of data that you could put into the database? There are a lot of scientists that feel that their careers wouldn’t go very far if they had to publish their failures. I tried a little bit of research, it was very tough I made a lot of mistakes and a lot of failures, but I learned a lot so I think that would be a rich source of data.

Usha-so we don’t reinvent, so we don’t make the same mistakes.

Lisa Graumlich-ok, here in the burgundy sweater

Unknown Audience Member #1- I was just curious if we might put some science that is in action that’s actually happening, that maybe hasn’t been peer reviewed yet or could be edited by someone so that if you’re thinking about doing your project you can see kind of what’s happening already and maybe I should partner with this person instead of starting my own project. And along those same lines maybe information about long term monitoring programs and the data that has already been out there in certain areas for many years that you can follow up on or be a part of.

Lisa Graumlich-what’s on with the panel do you know of examples like this.

Jennifer Davison- I know that there are efforts to publish negative results or failures. I also know there are efforts to publish or put online grant proposals whether they were funded or not. Which is another great space to explore like what’s been done, and what are great collaborators?

Unknown Audience Member #2-(name) from oceanography and ecology. Some of you I have met last at the stake holder meeting of EPA review of Hood Canal Science and at that point I think the most important message that came through is really how much uncertainty there is still in the knowledge of Puget sound and how much work still needs to be done and how much we don’t know. Even there are some controversies about whether not the human impact in the Lynch Cove area of the Puget Sound is significant or not. So how is this encyclopedia capture such uncertainties and possibly controversies and disagreements among scientists because as some ways as a collective community is to explore the thing that we would most want to communicate to the managers they called us that we simply don’t know the answers?

Lisa Graumlich-Recall that the panel was chosen in part that they are coming in from outside the development of the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound but have relevant experience. If I could make a friendly amendment to your question: which is what is for the panel, do you have some ideas for best practices and expressing uncertainty in such a way that at times it can be very paralyzing we’ve sort of seen.

Unknown Audience Member #2-Yeah, I think like in Wikipedia sometime points in articles gets kind of edited by various fighting factions and then its gets protected from further editing efforts. And when that happens I think the whole credibility of the article, whether which side is right it doesn’t matter, sort of deteriorates I think. How such a thing could be avoided if this is sort of a participatory kind of exercise.

Lisa Graumlich-it sounds like, Tracy do you have something.

Tracy Barbaro-yeah we deal with that a lot as an aggregator we have information that side by side is often conflicting and we try to come up with mandate that science is not all wrapped up and people have disagreements and different points of view and let’s share all of them. One way we’ve dealt with that is providing a mechanism of communication on our website where scientists can communicate with each and its moderated so that’s just one way of the process.

Unknown Audience Member #3- who pays the moderators?

Tracy Barbaro-sorry, when I say moderator I mean curator. We have people on staff and also have a network of volunteer curators who will sort of, don’t want to say mediate, but help out, facilitate the conversation.

Jeff Rice-and I should also add that a lot of the technology allows us to have real time conversations about the science. And one of the things we want to do on the encyclopedia is allow people to make comments and add accounts and so forth. If that is one way to sort of address some of that.

Mary Ruckelshaus-I think this is a really good point and it does kind of get at the crux of sciences as a process and there will be certain things that we can borrow from the IPCC approach here where this is, and the board will just be talking about this I’m sure.  As Joel has mentioned we just had our first meeting today, but how they have a consensus statement, and then they have really clear statements of topics or issues that are not yet under consensus and they talk that very explicitly and then if we combined that with these side forums where people can talk and debate.  That’s one really useful approach and the other one, and I’m not sure how many of you have seen Sea Monster or similar blogs like that it sounds a lot a like what you guys do at the Encyclopedia of Life.  There is a moderated, very, very heated debate, it’s all blogged, it’s been around food security in the oceans and there’s been a couple of interesting ones.  And then they call it after a while so they invite very heated discussions back and forth, back and forth, and then the moderator, in this case, it was Emmett Dumfries.  He pulls all the information together, posts it all, and then comments on it at the end and then that’s all public and out there for people to digest, and it’s always drawing on peer review literature, but also peoples latest greatest data which is another great model to draw on.  But we have to capture it somehow.   

Tracy Barbaro-Yes, just to follow up on what you were saying, is to make it be transparent; have those comments and those discussions public so that the general public and scientists can view it.

Unknown Audience Member #4-Speaking of heated debates, I am a county commissioner from Jefferson County, which has waters of Puget Sound ranging from Discovery Bay to, and including, the Hood Canal.  And our county and every county that does have shore line, is tasked with writing a shoreline master plan.  And the shoreline master plan must be based upon best available science.  The struggle we have is between persons who lean towards wanting to protect the natural qualities of Puget Sound with a person who wants to exploit it for Industrial purposes such as, in water, Atlantic salmon net pants.  I will be curious to see if members of the panel believe that the encyclopedia would be seen as a source of best available science so decision makers such as myself and other county commissioners, rarely are we natural scientists, I’m a psychologist, which doesn’t help (laugher in room), we would look toward the Encyclopedia as a source of best available science.


Rob Fatland-I’m obviously external to the encyclopedia but I have a related question, which is, I’m just curious how many of you in this room have heard about the Puget Sound Watershed characterization work that is being done at Washington State Ecology?  Lots…look like about 60% in the room!  So that would be a related piece of effort where people inside of the Department of Ecology are taking sort of a standardized chopping of the map of Puget sound into little watershed units, assessment units and saying for each one we are going to give you a score for water quality and water flow and habitat and from that sort of derives is that worth saving, worth restoring, protecting or is this just too far gone we should build Wal-Mart’s there (laughter)?   That group is now concerned with they finished the study now how do they get the information out to decision makers, right? And if you can sort of extend that to shoreline stuff too it’s the same kind of problem.  So one of the things that I allude to briefly, is the idea of a services instead of web portals and if you can think about the ecology guys making their information available that doesn’t mean that the encyclopedia would then have to go over to their computers and ball up all of that information and make a copy of that and make that available also, but instead we want a sort of a transparency.  We don’t need to know what particular disc drive this information is coming from we just want to be able to see into it.  So that kind of confederation of different systems in turn requires a certain amount of technological backing and so just to throw yet another random idea out if you are looking as a scientist for ways of making progress in technology one option you have is go into your computer science department at your University and look for an idealist who want to make a living in ecology and recruit for writing computer programs. There is actually a guy at UW that does this kind of stuff in computer science.  Progress in the area of getting this group sort of crossing that bridge to make a stronger cyber infrastructure to enable a kind of information discovery that you were talking about.

Joel Baker-So we are going to bring this to a close.  I want to thank the panel and thank Lisa for leading the panel and thank all of you for coming.  There are some refreshments and we can continue the discussion in the hallway.  Again, thanks to the panel and thanks to all of you.  (Clapping)