Can Data Democracy Save the World? It’s Worth a Try
Emmett Duffy, Smithsonian, Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network
Fisheries are special cases of interaction between prey and a uniquely efficient, generalist predator. Sustaining fisheries requires understanding interactions among fish, people, and our hybrid natural-technological ecosystems. Understanding in turn requires both cognitive contact with the system—that is, data—in its disparate forms, and systematic organization of that data, i.e., science. But sustainability technically means forever and this leads us into uncharted territory, arguably requiring a new model of science. I introduce the Smithsonian’s Marine Global Earth Observatory (MarineGEO), an experiment that aspires to produce solutions as emergent products of a loosely coordinated network: a data democracy.
Dr. Emmett Duffy is Director of the Smithsonian’s Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network and MarineGEO program, a growing global partnership documenting how and why coastal marine biodiversity is changing, and the consequences of change. He is a marine biologist who mainly studies who eats whom in seagrass and coral reef ecosystems worldwide, and contributes regularly to scientific syntheses linking biodiversity, climate, and ecosystem health. He was awarded an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship in 2006, Japan’s inaugural Kobe Prize in Marine Biology in 2011, and a Virginia Outstanding Faculty award in 2013.