Last week I attended the EarthCube Charrette with about 140 geoscientists from the National Science Foundation (NSF), US Geological Survey, academic institutions, and industry. Estimates are there are about 100,000 geoscientists in the world.

The goal of EarthCube is to transform the conduct of research by supporting the development of community-guided cyberinfrastructure to integrate data and information for knowledge management across the geosciences.

The charrette is aimed at architecting the design, not just another workshop. Attendees were asked to use language understandable to the public and avoid jargon.

A website has been set up to foster community collaboration, and will provide updated information, resource documents, and discussion forums so that community groups, consortia, researchers, and educators can share ideas, introduce concepts, and find and develop collaborative efforts. All the papers were provided ahead of time and I uploaded them to my social knowledgebase page for this activity. NSF seeks transformative concepts and approaches to create integrated data management infrastructures across the Geosciences.

In a new partnership, the Geosciences Directorate (GEO) and the Office of Cyberinfrastructure (OCI) recognize the multifaceted challenges of modern, data-intensive science and education. The organizations envision an environment where low adoption thresholds and new capabilities act together to greatly increase the productivity and capability of researchers and educators working at the frontiers of Earth system science.

They also plan to adopt NSF’s version of “social networking” for this discipline! All participants were encouraged to follow the guiding principles from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos:

1. All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.

2. Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.

3. There will be no other form of interprocess communication allowed: no direct linking, no direct reads of another team’s data store, no shared-memory model, no back-doors whatsoever. The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network.

4. It doesn’t matter what technology they use. HTTP, Corba, Pubsub, custom protocols — doesn’t matter. Bezos doesn’t care.

5. All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be extensible. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.

6. Anyone who does not do this will be fired.

7. Thank you; have a nice day!

All participants were asked to answer the following question and submit a two-page description of what they would do to support EarthCube which I did.

Question: When EarthCube exists and is widely useful in 2021, what does a day in the life of a scientist in your field look like? Think about your: Research, Teaching, Outreach, Workforce Development, and Interaction with the greater scientific community.

Answer: I will still have some form of the tools I am using now, they will just be more integrated with one another and even more connected to many sources of information and data so I can create data stories (like I do now for Breaking Gov) with greater ease and frequency because the time for collection and communication is lessened and the time for analysis is maximized — actually the analysis tool facilitates the collection and communication parts.

I also provided an example of the kind of agile analysis of Earth Science data that I had done earlier in the year for the Earth Science Federation Annual Conference.