Setting the Tone session

We’re looking for a few 5 - 20 minute talks about topics of interest to the community as a whole. This isn’t a pitch your project session, it’s about synthesizing a problem, opportunity, idea, musing that you think we should be talking about. Something we’re all already thinking but need help forming into words, or something none of us are thinking but you sure as heck think we should be.

Here’s a template for what you could put. We’ll look through the posts and select a few for the conference. If you just want to peruse and give :+1: feel free using the :heart: button.



Why this matters to the Open Ag Tech community

Title: Trans-disciplinary processes: How do we efficiently involve stakeholders and developers in the development of technology.
Description: Trans-disciplinary is the the integration of perspectives across disciplines and from the beneficiaries of technology or research. There are questions of how to both ethically involve the perspectives of all those involved but also how to do it efficiently without getting bogged down in process and never ending feedback. This would just be a facilitated discussion of what the process of trans disciplinarity looks like, how it works, and what its limitations are.
Why it matters: It matters because in my experience when people trying to develop things together because they need the other but don’t share a language or value system, conflict occurs and it is difficult to achieve the outcome of actually developing something. Likewise, when the perspective of stakeholders is not taken into account the tech developed is not useful or just not used. Also, if everything becomes about sharing perspective and getting feedback nothing ever actually happens.


Howdy, I have two to contribute. I’d like these talks to offer context and prompt a wider discussion rather than me yapping on for 20 minutes each.

Title: Collapse and Adaptation - Applying Long(er) Term Design to Open Ag Technology

Description: Agriculture is a critical infrastructure that has existed for millennia and has long-lasting impacts on society and ecology. There are theories that various parts of the global civilization will inevitably collapse, including the global food system. This presentation will encourage participants to consider long-term impacts of our technology by prompting a discussion about: How are our Open Ag Technologies impacting and effected by global change? How should we design Open Ag technology now if the infrastructures and societies we designing for could collapse or are collapsing? How should we design Open Ag technology in a future characterized by global change?

Why this matters to the Open Ag Tech community: Because this addresses the long-term context in which we work. I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I think we should be considering the questions collectively.

– And –

Title: The Implication of Embedded Values in in Open Ag Technology

Description: The technology we designs enters an “Information Ecology,” meaning a complex system of parts and relationships for which the focus is on activities served by technology (Nardi and O’Day 2000, 49). Designers’ imbue their technologies with their values and social agendas, even if unintentionally. When users’ values and social agendas differ from those embedded in the technology, users may experience “reverse adaptation” (Winner 1977, 229). Reverse adaptation occurs when users adjust their process and conform to the values embedded in the information systems they use. This presentation will encourage participants to consider the implication of the values imbedded in our Open Ag Technologies: What are the values of Open Ag Technology? Are we embedding those values in our technology? Are we embedding values that support the values of the intended users? What are there tensions between the values of the users and of Open Ag Technology, and how do we address those?

Why this matters to the Open Ag Tech community Because it is a prudent for us to maintain a critical perspective on our work. I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I think we should be considering the questions collectively.

Nardi, Bonnie A., and Vicki L. O’Day. 2000. Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart. MIT Press paperback ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Winner, Langdon. 1977. Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.


I know it’s late but another offering:

#ConversationNeeded: Considering the potential gains of open Agriculture data within the context of Agriculture privacy and commercial concerns.

Academia, NPOs, citizen movements and a wide range of governmental institutions have all built significant momentum behind sweeping efforts making various data open. The positive results of such have clearly demonstrated the value of open data, from holding institutions to account, through multiple scientific revelations, significant cost savings, and the implementation of more effective solutions to environmental and human challenges. Agriculture has certainly not been absent in this move (see efforts of for instance; CGIAR, GODAN, AgGatway, Open Ag Data Alliance). But as a sector that is driven by both scientific research and large commercial players there remain legitimate concerns and entrenched cultural practices that are barriers to widely opening up Agriculture data beyond machine-to-machine interoperability. As a result, despite the ever increasing quantity of Agricultural data now available, key technological challenges remain to sharing these data and fully realising their potential (eg: remaining commercial walled gardens of incompatible data, a lack of community level low cost searchable and discoverable data archives, trusted mechanisms for the anonymisation of particularly geotagged data). However, perhaps even before the holes in various technologies can or should be addressed, there should be a larger discussion about the privacy, commercial and cultural concerns around making Agricultural data open and how these might be accommodated, acknowledged and - only then where appropriate - challenged.

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How to leverage existing open source ecosystems in an agricultural context.

While there are certainly some unique requirements some agriculture and associated research many of the underlying requirements are the same across disciplines. Choosing existing projects to build on top of is an important part open source development. Go low in the stack and you are creating more work for yourself (at least in the short term) but giving yourself more flexibility in the long run. It is often tempting to try and re-purpose a project that is already doing most of what you want for another context. Sometimes this works well, other times it does not work like you hoped it would. I propose that we need to get a sense of the group about where there are places where we can share common tools and where it makes sense to diverge.

Why this matters to the Open Ag Tech community:
Community dynamics and development philosophy are often more important than the technical choices. If we want to create a community of practice to share resources, experiences and ideas we need to make sure that there are some common tools and approaches that can be used across multiple projects. Getting a sense from the group about how to do this will be important in forming a cohesive community.

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