A few words on the FDO Forum

Organizing the International FAIR Digital Objects (FDO) Community

We are pleased to announce an organizational process to advance the specification and application of FAIR Digital Objects (FDO). The objective is to achieve a better coherence amongst the increasing number of initiatives working on FDO-based designs and implementations. The result will be to formalize an international FDO Forum. The FDO Forum is proposed as a neutral place where policy, researchers and technological experts can meet to exchange information about all relevant aspects related to FDOs. This initiative has the support of major global initiatives and by a variety of regional and national initiatives. A sign-on process is being put in place.

Motivation & Community

The revolution in both scientific and commercial data generation and availability over the past few decades has yet to be matched by a revolution in the ways in which that tsunami of data can be efficiently and effectively managed, used, interpreted, and exchanged. The FAIR Digital Objects (FDO) community brings together the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) Guiding Principles, including its strong emphasis on machine-actionability, with the concept of Digital Objects (DO), which supports interoperability across existing and evolving data regimes using powerful principles of abstraction, persistent binding, and encapsulation.

We aim toward a new infrastructure, an architectural extension of the Internet – the Internet of FAIR Data and Services – that can help achieve an interoperable, stable, and persistent domain of digital artifacts and thus a reliable and usable digital memory for the coming centuries. An organized FDO community can help pave the way to automated data management and processing and can serve as an accelerant for advances in semantic technologies, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. FDO Forum activities will be in the service of providing direct and coherent access to the new world of data for science, business and government.

The International FDO Forum will bring together:

  • Infrastructure researchers, engineers and developers responsible for the design and implementation of the evolving domain of digital research artifacts,
  • Information technology researchers, tool builders, and data/service providers, including those from industry, looking to both provide and exploit new infrastructural capabilities, change data management and processing practices, extend the Internet architecture, and design and deploy new semantic technologies,
  • Researchers and Data users who can describe use cases where the need for these new developments are critical in solving technical and societal challenges,
  • Policy makers, funders, and leading thinkers who are guiding the future of the evolving Open Science and Open Data cultures.

Relevant Topics & Request for Ideas

The International FDO Forum organizers have already identified some important topics that need to be addressed in 2021, including

  • Evolving FAIR compliant data and services landscape and approaches to designing a stable and interoperable domain of digital artefacts
  • Strategies for FAIR ‘on boarding’ existing and legacy systems, and the tremendous opportunity for the development of approaches that are ‘FAIR by design’.  
  • Core concepts, specifications and technologies that can foster the domain of FAIR DOs and create worldwide service landscapes (protocols, security, AAI, type registries, ontologies, etc.)
  • Legal, privacy and other socio-technical issues and approaches surrounding adoption and use of FDOs
  • Current data practices and the ways in which FDOs can improve them (filling gaps, FAIR Implementation Profiles, etc.)
  • Impact of FDOs on the federation of repositories, registries and service centers
  • Canonical research-driven workflow frameworks based on FDO and their impact on current research practices
  • Use of FDOs in advancing data publications
  • FDOs and semantic cross-walking between artifacts from different silos and disciplines

While the concept of FDOs is very clear to those founding this Forum, it is a concept that has many facets.  We recognize that a consensus definition of FDOs will evolve and become more clearly defined with scientific advancements, research practices, and techniques.

We would like to encourage the community interested in FDO related matters to make suggestions for further topics that need to be addressed and which can serve to advance the FDO domain and to create momentum. If you have identified a topic, please, send a short description of the intentions including an indication of the co-chairs (1 page) to the following address: secretariate@fairdo.org

Workshop Series, International Conferences

In 2021 and 2022, the International FDO Forum will organize a series of virtual workshops to advance information exchange about FDOs, to identify gaps in the specification and service landscape, to foster additional specifications where necessary, to enable an interaction about implementation issues, and to liaise closely with policy level discussion forums.

In September/October 2022, the International FDO Forum will organize its first International FDO Conference which will be structured and informed by the workshops held in the months before.

Communication with the Community

It should be noted that we intend to publish workshop outputs in official data journals when this turns out to be useful to advance the discussions. Both, the number and the timing of multiple 2021/2022 workshops, is under discussion and will in part be determined by responses to this announcement.

In addition, the Website “fairdo.org” will be used as central point for all information exchange. It will contain material and references relevant in the context of FDO and maintain a continuing communication about ongoing activities.

Steering Committee & Collaboration Structure

A first Steering Committee (SC) of the International FDO Forum has come together and is the present structure that will be used to guide the formation of the forum during its initial phase. The current Steering Board includes the following persons, all of whom are already highly engaged in FDO issues: Christophe Blanchi, Luiz Bonino, Jean-Claude Burgelman, Bonnie Carroll, Bob Hanisch, Alex Hardisty, Edit Herczog, Simon Hodson, Lianglin Hu, Christine Kirkpatrick, Dimitris Koureas, Larry Lannom, Mark Leggott, Barend Mons, Peter Mutschke, Beth Plale, Robert Quick, Alena Rybkina, Ulrich Schwardmann, Washington Segundo, Natasha Simons, Koenraad de Smedt, Rainer Stotzka, George Strawn, Deepak Subramini, Mikiko Tanifuji, Joseph Wafula, Claus Weiland, Peter Wittenburg, Carlo Zwölf. It is one of the primary tasks of the SC to see that other regions will be represented. The Steering Committee gives input on the scope of the forum, represents resources they may bring to Forum working groups, pilots, workshops and other forum activities, and apprises the SC of synergies with other initiatives and funding opportunities.

An initial set of working groups (WG) has been defined to identify and develop specific aspects of the FDO landscape. Each WG is organized to achieve its goals within the FDO Forum and participation as member may request substantial efforts. Each WG is led by WG Co-chairs. Interested experts with sufficient time may join by contacting the WG Leader, who will then add them to the WG website’s member list. Working groups are free to develop processes as needed and are asked to summarize these on the group websites in the spirit of transparency.

Co-Chairs from the EU and the US coordinate between the SC, WG Leaders, and other partner organizations. They create SC agendas, pace momentum of the Forum, and lead or participate in other ad hoc working groups, e.g. related to specific workshops. Founding Chairs, Wittenburg and Strawn, have been joined by two additional Co-Chairs, Koureas and Kirkpatrick, to ensure leadership diversity, capacity, and continuity.

Reference Reading

For background on FDOs and the work of the community, the following are some suggested readings. A reference list will be kept on the Website.

Some References