Anne’s Orientation

After reading over the blog entries, it seems like I’m one of the only interns lucky enough to be working in the same physical location as my primary mentor.  As an added bonus, that location is the gorgeous Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which is located in amazing and amazingly weird Ithaca NY.

The lab is a great place to be, and not just because of the natural beauty in the surrounding Sapsucker woods.  In the domain of citizen science/ public participation in scientific research, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is possibly the single entity that has been doing the most scientifically rigorous work for the longest period of time.  As a result, the associated campaigns (such as eBird) serve as a sort of standard—not necessary as programs to duplicate, but as important benchmarks to which other programs are compared.  Because there are posters up all over the lab, I’ve gained exposure to some really interesting work just by walking from the kitchen to my cubicle with my morning cup of coffee in hand.  Equally valuable are the insights that I’m starting to glean from listening to others discuss the Lab’s work, particularly in relation to things that need to be improved.  It’s very enlightening to hear what a domain expert believes they could be doing better and it points to compelling directions for future work in PPSR.

In terms of my summer work, I’m beginning to scope it out.  The first portion of my internship will involve developing a curated list of exemplar PPSR programs in terms of data policy.  As an entry point to this I’ve been surveying a wide variety of programs and campaigns and reading whatever data policies they have up on their websites- “Terms of Service,” “Terms of Use,” “Data Policy,” “Data Privacy,” “About us,” etc.  This all goes into a giant document that will be analyzed (on Monday!) using a modified grounded theory approach.  I expect Monday’s analysis to produce the key metrics or conditions that different data policies employ.  Once I have a list of these metrics, I can go back to the programs and being to evaluate them individually.

I’ve also started exploring Copyright/ IP law, the legality around terms of use, and literature that explores data sharing norms in scientific research.  So far the most useful thing I’ve found is that “browserwrap” agreements, where a user implicitly agrees to a websites term’s of service just by using the site, do not hold up in courts as well as “clickwrap” agreements, or agreements where a user clicks a box explicitly saying “I agree” to policy x, y, or z.  Not surprising, but pretty cool and very useful.

Less academic highlights include seeing a snapping turtle the size of a rugby ball while on a lunchtime walk through Sapsucker woods.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *