“Eighty percent of ecological data disappears within 20 years,” UNH graduate student studying earth sciences Clarice Perryman said to a group of people getting ready to take part in archiving data. Perryman was the host of Friday evening’s DataRescueNH event.
Perryman and Dan Pontah, also a UNH graduate student, organized the data-saving event which took place Friday evening, Feb. 17, on the third floor of Dimond Library where students, faculty, community members, or anyone with an interest or passion for research and internet data, came together to take on the initiative of saving that data for future use.
The data-rescuing event was a part of “Love Your Data Week,” an international week raising awareness to the importance of online data remaining intact and accessible to the public.
According to the Love Your Data website, the five-day international events are held in order to help researchers take better care of their data.
“We’re archiving website information and data to be saved for future use by the public,” Pontah said. “As a data scientist, I care about public data and its accessibility because, in order to make accurate predictions and gain insights, we need that data.”
“It’s time for us to protect the resources we have,” Perryman said. “The time is now.”
According to Perryman, the idea to bring such an event to UNH became a reality only about a month ago when she shared her idea with colleagues. Saving data is not necessarily a new activity and many other libraries are hosting such events, but the event was held for the first time at UNH.
The evening began with a brief introduction to the history of saving data and the context behind the importance of it.
“Data deletion is the 21st century equivalent to book burning,” Hanna Hamalainen, UNH geospatial and earth sciences librarian and assistant professor, said.
“Data on the internet is data at risk,” UNH research data services librarian Patricia Condon said. “How we are going to preserve our research in the long term is a hugely important topic.”
Terms such as “crawling,” “seeding,” and “capturing” came up often when the event organizers were describing the process of selecting website data to mark for the Internet Archive, a nonprofit library creating a space for free books, movies, software, music, websites, data and research for the public.
The event took place from 4 to 8 p.m. and included a training session at the beginning and middle of the four hours. Participants were encouraged to participate however they wanted to, either by staying the entire time, staying for a portion, or walking in and out as they needed.
Both Perryman and Pontah agreed that the turnout of participants was higher than initially expected and students from other universities also participated.
“It helps us feel like we can do something. It’s a simple thing that we can do to make sure the information we need to have for a better world is accessible to everyone,” hydrogeologist and community member, Lisa Cote said.