The EASIER Data Initiative would like to extend our appreciation to everyone who participated in and was involved with our Workshop on Open Geospatial Science and the Decentralized Geospatial Web! This was a one-and-a-half-day event with 30+ domain experts and leaders from innovative organizations, federal agencies, and universities who cultivated discussion and showcased projects covering the overlap between geospatial science, the decentralized web, and open science.

The guiding questions for discussion and exploration were:

  1. What is the current status of open science practices?

  2. What are the challenges and opportunities in enhancing the openness of geospatial science and technology?

  3. In what ways does the decentralized web influence open science, particularly within the geospatial sector?

  4. What barriers must be overcome to establish a decentralized geospatial web that supports open science?

Brief Summary#

The workshop opened with an overview of fundamental concepts critical to understanding the decentralized web and addressing common issues in the geospatial web, the decentralized web, and the ongoing developments in open science. There were a number of perspectives, including proponents of Web2 vs. Web3. This resulted in many rich discussions including the overall benefits of a decentralized open science and the challenges of reproducing and replicating data in geospatial sciences. Several workshop presentations supported open science practices and demonstrated how the decentralized web can enhance geospatial science. Additionally, the workshop explored how decentralized technologies such as blockchain and content-addressing could improve the openness and reliability of geospatial data, therefore contributing to a more transparent and robust scientific process. Here is an excerpt of a couple of ongoing discussions from the workshop.

What are the unique benefits of the decentralized web compared to today’s technology?#

At the heart of the decentralized web is democratizing access to data. The decentralized web enables the potential for cross-organization collaboration in various ways, such as by consolidating APIs into a single point of entry and exit. The decentralized web also enables the longevity of data. One of the ways that it does this is through a unique feature called content addressing, which resolves many issues such as dead links, link rot, and data provenance. The decentralized web also uses Data DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), which can keep specific datasets or scientific knowledge alive indefinitely through funding.

What are trust and permissions in open science?#

In a traditional centralized system like Web2, trust is placed in a single entity or organization to manage the system fairly and securely. In contrast, a decentralized system minimizes overall trust by distributing it across the system. This juxtaposition naturally leads to which systems are more susceptible to not acting honestly, managing data responsibly, and misusing their power. The concept of permissionless participation is the ability to participate without authorization from a central governing authority. Lowering the barrier of entry encourages collaboration, experimentation, and innovation. Trust in research and open science is crucial to building a reputation, as permissionless decentralized systems encourage users to validate information themselves based on the system’s rules, not individual approval. If you would like to experience some of the presentations from the workshop, take a peek at the YouTube playlist we’ve put together. In the meantime, stay tuned for more details including an executive summary of the workshop!