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Welcome to the Fall 2014 issue of Databits. The articles submitted for this issue cover a range of topics. A thought-provoking commentary presents a vision for archiving simulation model data and code - perhaps some of our readers will address current and emerging capabilities on that topic in a future issue. A guest contributor shares her experience in an exciting new program in Data Curation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. LTER and DataONE combine forces to address a complex data synthesis challenge that is relevant to all LTER sites.  Another feature article highlights a collaborative effort between scientists, artists, programmers, and educators to develop a visualization and sonification of the water cycle, driven by real-time sensor data. And finally, it wouldn't be Databits without a discussion of metadata. In this issue, we hear about new EML capabilities in the GCE Toolbox that improve interoperability with PASTA, and provide new features for workflow-driven data analysis. A second metadata article provides guidance on improving data discovery by internet search engines through the use of schema.org attributes in our web pages.

The balance of articles address data visualization, capturing spatial coordinates, and a useful R package - they are sure to provide helpful tips and inspiration.

DataBits continues as a semi-annual electronic publication of the Long Term Ecological Research Network. It is designed to provide a timely, online resource for research information managers and is supported by rotating co-editors.

Editors: Mary Martin (HBR), Wade Sheldon (GCE)

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Welcome to the Spring 2014 Issue of Databits!

This issue is dominated by two major themes - the past and the future. As we experience progressive changes in information management practices and technologies there is an illusory sameness, a sense that what "is now" always was and always will be. However, as articles in this issue will show, nothing could be further than the truth. There is virtually no aspect of the way LTER manages information that has not undergone dramatic changes - and that will not change again in the future (which is what makes Information Management challenging and fun). 

For the past, we have an extensive review of the development of geographical resources in the LTER Network, a retrospective on the career of Susan Stafford,  and a rough timeline extending from the start of LTER to the future.

This issue is also not without the present. A new resource for information on managing sensors, approaches to integrating data, and a survey of how some sites manage bibliographic data are all discussed. Additionally there are reviews of recent articles of interest in the Good Reads section.

Most dangerous, given the oft-quoted (but difficult to attribute) statement "predictions are difficult- especially about the future," we have some commentaries that try to dust off a crystal ball, with discussion of how data will be archived in the future, and James Brunt's predictions about how LTER Information Management will radically change in the future (as it has in the past). 

Co-Editors: John Porter (VCR) and Mary Martin (HBR)

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Welcome to the Fall 2013 issue of Databits, which covers a variety of topics. A Commentary article gives an overview of network products, highlighting 2013 as a watershed year for the roll-out of community-developed IM tools. Several articles in this issue contain further information about these products. Two other commentaries extol the strengths of the EML Congruence Checker and offer a way to assess IM costs by source of support, an important consideration as changes in network operation are evaluated. Featured articles include use of the GCE Data Toolbox for automating sensor data harvesting and quality control; new DEIMS data discovery features (faceted searching and the Data Explorer); tools for securing data, a significant current topic; approaches for assuring data integrity; and the use of PASTA audit web services.  Under "News Bits", an update is provided on the GeoNIS web service for processing spatial data and delivering mapping services to sites. The Good Reads section includes reviews of a book regarding "Big Data" and an article on common errors in ecological data.

DataBits continues as a semi-annual electronic publication of the Long Term Ecological Research Network. It is designed to provide a timely, online resource for research information managers and is supported by rotating co-editors.

Hope Humphries (NWT) and John Porter (VCR), Fall 2013 Co-Editors

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It's a busy time for LTER information managers, as the 21 articles from 27 authors in this Spring 2013 issue of Databits can attest. We have an astounding number of workshop reports and announcements and network working group project updates this time, running from information management systems to sensor networks to GIS to NIS components. We also have a wide range of commentaries, good reads and tools, and articles from guest contributors to keep you glued to your screen, reading long past your bedtime. Enjoy!

DataBits continues as a semi-annual electronic publication of the Long Term Ecological Research Network. It is designed to provide a timely, online resource for research information managers and is supported by rotating co-editors.

Aaron Stephenson (NTL) and Hope Humphries (NWT), Spring 2013 Co-Editors

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In the Fall 2012 DataBits issue we feature articles related to sensor networks as a follow-up to the SensorNIS workshop held at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest LTER in New Hampshire on October 25-27, 2011.  We use this opportunity to present articles that discuss  1) progress made on sensor site establishment including types of sensors, sensor selection, or sensor platforms, 2) means of data transmission or communication networks, 3) development or adoption of data processing middleware, 4) quality control or data qualifying procedures, 5) data archiving methods, or 6) sensor management tools or solutions.

For one component of this issue we asked attendees of the SensorNIS meeting at either Hubbard Brook or the follow-up meeting at the LNO to offer short updates about how their sites had changed over the past year.  We had hoped to have a short report from every site about their sensor-related activities, but instead we had several summaries and a plea for further development of management tools. Specifically, there were requests for standards, packaged tools, working demos or tutorials, and practice data.  This issue comes at an opportune time to advance the discussion on sensor networks and, hopefully, further some of these standards that we set out to achieve over the past year.   Please use this edition of DataBits as a springboard to keep the conversation going and work towards those goals.

Adam Skibbe (KNZ) askibbe@ksu.edu and Aaron Stephenson (NTL) ajstephenson@wisc.edu
Fall 2012 Co-Editors

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The Spring 2012 issue of Databits is focused on highlighting geospatial activities at both individual and cross-site scales, as well as identifying resources to help manage the large collections of GIS and imagery data at LTER sites.  The Information Management GIS working group provides updates on their recent workshops and their 2 cross-site projects: LTERMaps and the GeoNIS.

Feature articles include coverage of the Maps and Locals (MALS) cross-site project, the Malpai Portal in New Mexico (a prototype for the organization ad discovery of geospatial data), and a collection of selected geospatial projects from across the network.  In addition, there are two related articles that provide background information on geospatial metadata standards and resources to help LTER sites document their spatial data and contribute it to the network's data catalog.  Hopefully these articles will help to inform you on the variety of projects happening in the spatial side of data management and research.

We hope you enjoy the images and internet mapping websites we found as examples of some of the latest technologies in visualization, real time data, space imagery, and other interesting cartography/art using GPS and on-line maps.  The Interactive Cartographic Almanac provides a tool for LTER members to make cartographically pleasing map images for talks, publications, and websites.  Jamie Hollingsworth did a nice job putting this package together for the LNO.

The IM Committee Co-Chairs have prepared a commentary about the recent discussions around the network and NSF about online availability of LTER Data.  They provide some recommendations from IMExec for making data more easily discoverable, accessible, and usable.

While not geospatial centric, we have included two articles on content management systems. One is about general organization and layout of websites, and the other highlights a cross-site effort to develop a framework for LTER website development using Drupal software. This effort is helping many of the LTER sites move to a database driven development framework for their webpages, and the effort is paying off in shared expertise, tools, and connection to an Open Source community broader than LTER.

Lastly, we offer a listing of several workshops and meeting that are coming up in the next few months, including several of interest to those who would like to learn more about GIS.

Theresa Valentine (AND) theresa.valentine@oregonstate.edu and Adam Skibbe (KNZ)askibbe@ksu.edu

Spring 2012 Co-Editors

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In this issue of Databits, we see results from group and individual efforts to better serve the LTER Network, both from a technological and a socio-technical perspective. Noting that “one would be hard-pressed this fall to find an idle information manager,” IMC Co-Chairs Don Henshaw and Margaret O’Brien provide a detailed synopsis of the activities that have taken place since our last issue. Among the few activities Don and Margaret don’t explicitly mention are those of Databits co-editors Richard Cary and Theresa Valentine, whom I have the privilege of thanking for their help in editing, formatting and even contributing to this volume. I am also very grateful to everyone who contributed content.

Each article either directly addresses network level projects or demonstrates tools that would be useful in increasing connectivity both within and across sites. Two major gatherings of information managers prompted reports – the Environmental Information Manager’s Conference (EIMC), in Santa Barbara, CA, and the SensorNIS Conference at Hubbard Brook, in New Hampshire. In addition, reports from smaller group efforts, including those focused on the Drupal Environmental Information Management System (DEIMS), LTERMapS, and the Metabase, demonstrate the progress these groups made by using common frameworks to increase their technical resource base and more transparently illustrate the linkages between research and data. At individual sites, we are introduced to resources other sites can leverage to improve the connectivity of their own data, including a process to smoothly retrieve national climate and streamflow data, the ability to contextualize photos with spatial information, and the means to generate and use web services to streamline the population of ClimDB and HydroDB.

This issue also provides two outside commentaries from colleagues who have a stake in the accessibility of the LTER Network. Prompted by his attendance of the EIMC, Dr. Irbis Gallegos, of University of Texas, El Paso’s CyberSHARE Center, reflects on the overlap between his research and that of the LTER information management community. Gallegos discovers great potential for multi-disciplinary improvements in the management of ecological data through collaborations that extend beyond the LTER Network. Dr. Ted Gragson, Coweeta’s Lead Principal Investigator, reflects on the importance of integrating site science and information management, noting that individuals, not technologies, are the most important drivers of integration and accessibility in a network such as ours.

As we continue conversations about what kind of network the LTER is and how it functions, it may be useful to examine a variety of analogical models. One excellent approach lies in the models presented by Albert Barábasi’s book, Linked: the new science of networks. In it, Barábasi describes “scale-free networks” in which “hubs” naturally emerge to efficiently link the many nodes that develop in a context of self-organizing complexity. Since information managers frequently are asked to use many kinds of technology across a variety of domains and sites, we have the opportunity to act as at least one kind of hub to connect the many nodes of LTER. If the analogy proves applicable, then the articles here suggest a measure of success in doing that job well.

-- John F. Chamblee, CWT IM, Fall 2011 Databits Co-Editor

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Welcome to the Spring 2011 issue of Databits! This "bumper" edition of our information management newsletter contains 20 interesting articles, from 16 authors, representing 12 LTER sites.

This is a time of increasing change, with external funding agencies and people both internal and external to our network realizing the value of effective research data management. In this edition, we have evidence that information management in the LTER network is alive and well and making great progress in response to new demands. The volume of articles submitted for this issue demonstrates just how much is going on in the information management arena.

Inside, you will find interesting articles describing network-sponsored workshops; commentaries on a wide range of experiences; descriptions of collaborations between sites; summaries of good external informatics and technology articles; and pointers to useful tools that can support our activities. This is an exciting issue with something for everyone.

In particular, this issue contains several articles from our colleagues in San Diego. Is this because they are clearing out the cupboards? Apparently, it is. We are sad to note that Karen Baker and Mason Kortz are moving on to pastures new. No spoilers (read the article!), but the editors would like to be some of the first, and we are sure not the last, to thank Karen and Mason for their significant contributions to their sites (PAL and CCE), the LTER Network, and especially the IM community. We wish you well in your new endeavors. You will be missed.

Now we know you will want to read on. So, don't delay. Proceed to your nearest purveyor of premium, organically grown, coffee products, with your smartphone, netbook, iPad, or laptop, under your arm. Pause just long enough to order a "moccochoccovanilla, double something" and dive right in!

----- Co-editors: Philip Tarrant (CAP) and John Chamblee (CWT)

DataBits continues as a semi-annual electronic publication of the Long Term Ecological Research Network. It is designed to provide a timely, online resource for research information managers and is supported by rotating co-editors.

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Welcome to the Fall 2010 issue of Databits wherein 18 authors contribute from 11 sites and 2 institutes in 3 countries. Seven relevant and insightful feature articles relate to growth and refinement of systems. All three editorials share the theme of continuous change. And both the suggested readings reflect on past adaptations. Even the two tools recommended prove their worth in how they handle revision.

Keeping pace with evolving standards in information management may seem like “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." – Lewis Carroll. This ongoing challenge is captured in the Red Queen Principle, proposed by the late professor emeritus L. van Valen in 1973: “for an evolutionary system, continuing development is needed just in order to maintain its fitness relative to the systems it is co-evolving with.” The LTER Network has remained relevant through 30 years of change and was just last May recognized for its contributions by the American Institute of Biological Sciences. We continue to raise expectations for our practice. Within the large scope of information management we may feel small and progress may appear slow. Databits captures a twice-annual snapshot of information management co-evolving with Network needs. Now that all years’ issues are gathered within one site, the progress of LTER IM practice may be viewed like time-lapse photography. Enjoy!

DataBits continues as a semi-annual electronic publication of the Long Term Ecological Research Network. It is designed to provide a timely, online resource for research information managers and is supported by rotating co-editors.

----- Co-editors: M. Gastil-Buhl (MCR), Philip Tarrant (CAP)

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The depth and breath of thought in the LTER IM community is once again made apparent in this latest issue of Databits. Within, you will find a discussion of the software tools being used in the cyberinfrastructure development effort by the LTER Network Office. Lynn Yarmey provides a description of the Panton Principles for open data. Two articles discuss the ideas behind, and the challenges in implementing, Drupal-based websites. Philip Tarrant shares his initial thoughts as a new LTER IM. There are reports and updates on conferences and working groups. Margaret O'Brien explains the use EML in site data catalogs. Eda Melendez-Colom reflects on the role information managers play in education outreach. Don Henshaw shares his thoughts on a recent paper on data management models. And finally there is a list of upcoming conferences and events of interest to this community.

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