New year, new responsibledata.io


/ January 19, 2018

We are overjoyed and completely thrilled to announce that we are launching a newly re-designed responsibledata.io!

The process leading to this launch started last spring with a deep dive into community research. Ruth Miller led the charge — plotting the key priorities around accessibility and posing complex questions about the future of the responsible data community. From there, we began sketching the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI); see how in our blogpost on making responsible UX decisions. We were lucky enough to work with Ozren Muic and Kate Fisher who turned these recommendations into actual designs. We’ve been tweaking and developing the site for the last few months thanks the WordPress wisdom of Alan Zard – The Engine Room’s Techno Gardner.

We could not have re-designed the site without the help of responsible data community members, and interviewees who so generously gave their time. Their insight into the community, and honesty cannot be understated. A major thank you to Stanford’s Digital Impact team, who saw responsibledata.io as a community resource that deserved more investment. Finally, an enormous hug to all the members who make RD such a special community. It is our hope that the redesign further supports your needs and highlights the amazing work you all do.

We know there will be bugs and hiccups on responsibledata.io, as is the case with any newly launched website! Please let us know if you encounter any issues that prevent you from engaging with the site. WE LOVE FEEDBACK! Just email maya@theengineroom.org.

What’s changed?

Who is RD?

The site now features community members on the Home page and the About page.
In our user research, we saw how important it was to highlight the individuals who make up the responsible data community, and what we mean when we talk about it as a whole group. The community is composed of so many thoughtful individuals who have a unifying interest in supporting the responsible use of data in social change efforts.

We plan to feature more members as time goes on – and if you’d like to see your name up there, drop us a line. The list as it is, is definitely not exhaustive, but is meant to get us started – and we hope this feature both gives well-deserved recognition to the people who make up this community, and makes it a more welcoming place for newcomers.

We also added a page that explains exactly how someone can get involved in the community.
It’s important to us that everyone who visits the site feels firstly, well-informed as to what it is – and secondly, empowered to engage and contribute to the community. The RD community will only get more impactful as the collective grows and evolves.

This includes making explicit that we welcome guest blog posts from anyone; and that we’re very happy to support your responsible data work however we can.

How do we talk about RD?

The words that we use matter. A lot has happened since we wrote the text on the old RD site and, as our UX research showed, left many wondering what exactly responsible data is. If we hope to invite new voices in our space, we realised that RD needs to sound more approachable and accessible. While we didn’t rewrite every resource, we did spend a lot of time reflecting on how to communicate about the community and define responsible data in a way that reflects what it’s become today.

Aspirations for 2018 and beyond

It’s much easier to critique something than it is to make something. We believe that both are needed in order to establish best practices in this fast changing environment. In the RD community, we want to walk the talk of responsible data and consider both what we shouldn’t do and what we should be doing.

That’s the reasoning behind the new tagline that you’ll see: ‘leading the way from best intentions to best practice.’

The RD community is a place not just to discuss what (not) to do with data, but also to practice those learnings. We’re proud of that combination, and we recognise that it is a delicate balance. It requires respectful approaches to hearing about things that others are struggling with, and recognising that everyone has their own learning curve. It also requires maintaining a critical approach to what we see, and having the self-reflection to admit mistakes and improve.

Brakes are in cars so that they can go faster, not slower. We see incorporating RD best practices as doing exactly the same thing; RD practices encourage thoughtfulness, so that your project can achieve the very best outcomes.

We hope that with this redesign, more people will see how they can be involved in RD, and how RD principles can support their work to do the good they are aiming for. We’re also taking this opportunity to relaunch Mission: Responsible, the newsletter we started in 2016, providing digestible responsible data updates.

Moving forward, we’ll be looking for guest curators on a monthly, rotating basis – so get in touch if you’d like to collaborate with us on an issue! We’re here for sounding board and editorial support, and to help you find the right GIFs when you need them.

We’ll also be launching a call for new partners in the coming weeks, as a way of recognising the many organisations out there who are leading the way in practising RD; as well as refreshing some of our community management tools, like developing a mailing list moderation policy. In the meantime, join the mailing list, check out the new site, and let us know what you think!

Maya Richman

About the contributor

Maya is an interdisciplinary technologist, researcher and improvisational electronic musician based in Berlin. In 2012, she worked with Development Seed, building websites and interactive maps. Later, she worked as a research assistant for Gabriella Coleman investigating the politics of hackers, and as a radio show host for a feminist, artist-run centre. She is now working with organizations of all sizes to influence their security culture, in addition to managing and developing new internal tech processes for a distributed organization.

See Maya's Articles

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