“Hold on to your seat, we don’t call this ‘Snore-age’ for nothing!” That was how a senior Maxtor executive introduced me to the bits and bytes, blocks and files of data storage. But look beneath the surface of even the most mundane of technical subjects and, in a digital society, they can have profound human and social implications.
This is what drew AoP to the University of Vienna’s Phaidra project, and it has helped us to craft a series of debates around this year’s PhaidraCon online.
The trusted voice of ‘science’ and academia has never been more important than it is in our current, turbulent world of fake news and social media manipulation. And yet, with ever increasing pressures to attract external funding for research, we are now witnessing the growing creep of commercial and political influence on academia. Are we in danger of entering a word of post-truth academia?
The scientific method has its own inbuilt mechanisms for scrutiny. But chief among these is the concept of reproducibility to test and verify results. Here, data storage and archival plays a vital role. And yet, whilst academic papers and literature are closely guarded by the librarian, data falls outside of their well-managed remit.
Storage of academic data and metadata in open, standardised, future-proof formats is now a vital part of what defines human knowledge: its accessibility, its validity and what we can define as truth.
If you are interested in the more political/philosophical side of this topic, check the link to watch some more informed debate (18th and 19th November) with writer and freeculture legend Glyn Moody; Sabina Leonelli, Professor in Philosophy and History of Science at University of Exeter; The Open Knowledge Foundation’s Lilly Winfree, PhD; and Stefan Hansik, PhD from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.
Want some more practical insight? Join the PhaidraCon technical sessions on Nov 20th.