Data Refuge Updates: 1.25.2017

Written by Jane Dmochowski, Billy Fleming, Dan Ford, Patricia Kim, and Bethany Wiggin


We write to you to provide an update on the status of our work from the Charles Lea Library, inside Van Pelt Library's Kislak Center, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in West Philadelphia. The first Data Rescue Philly event took place on January 13-14, a week before Inauguration. Now, five days after the Oath of Office was administered to our new President, the mood in the room is equal parts anxious and determined.

In the past few days, all mention of climate change has been removed from The People's website: Agency employees have been censoredprohibited from speaking with the public and banned from social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. In some instances, public outcry led the new Administration to rescind their gag order. In others, agency and departmental communication infrastructure has been seized and redacted - scrubbed of radical content, like the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere. Twitter accounts intended to satirize the National Parks Service popped-up quickly in the aftermath - a faux governmental voice tasked with providing a vital government service. The fate the nation's access to objective, reliable climate data is more uncertain than ever.

Yet, even as these Orwellian events unfold, more and more data rescue events are being planned. Organizers in Ann Arbor, MI are poised to host a rescue next week. Friends in New York will follow-on after them - and colleagues in Minneapolis, Boston, Seattle, Miami, Boulder, Davis, and Washington, DC aren't far behind.

Today's Event

We've gathered today to continue the work we began two weeks ago. In the middle of a Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 volunteers are huddled around laptops, phones, and cameras - tying up loose ends, talking strategy, and identifying new datasets to crawl. We've also been joined by a team from The Daily Show and their correspondent, Jordan Klepper.

Photo Credit: Naomi Waltham-Smith

Building Your Own Data Refuge

We hear every day - via Twitter, email, and this site - that many of you are interested in organizing or participating in a Data Rescue event. We've updated our site to get you started. If you're outside of Philadelphia, our workflow instructions are great place to begin.

We also know that many of you are interested in health, crime, and other types of non-environmental data - so are we! Though we'll continue to focus on mirroring the climate data collected and distributed by the federal government, our workflow can easily be applied to other types of data.


Date/um, an installation curated by Patricia Kim and exhibited for the second time in conjunction with our first Data Rescue event - will be moving to WHYY Studios in Philadelphia. You can also find coverage of that event here.