Welcome to new alumni - Daniel and Waldo

by SF Team, 1 September 2016

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Created by Massimo Variolo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Shuttleworth Fellowships are offered a year at a time. This provides both the Fellow and the Foundation with a clear decision point on the future. In this most recent round, we have two Fellows joining our alumni network

Daniel Lombraña González has had the maximum of 3 consecutive fellowship years and is ready to take on the world. Waldo Jaquith is moving on after 1 year, having achieved what he set out to do in this year, to take up an opportunity that will expand the reach of his work exponentially.

Daniel Lombraña González

Daniel has come a long way with the Shuttleworth Foundation. We first met him as a recent PhD graduate looking for a fresh challenge. He started working with then Fellow Francois Grey to promote and develop citizen cyberscience projects. From his collaboration with Francois and fellow Fellow Rufus Pollock sprung Crowdcrafting, a citizen science platform available for anyone to set up a project and invite volunteers to apply their time and effort, helping to solve a real world challenge. Having taken full ownership of Crowdcrafting, Daniel became a Fellow in his own right with a big vision for what this idea could become.

The project has since evolved into SciFabric, a technology company that develops tools for collecting, analysing and enriching data using crowd-based methodologies such as citizen science and crowdsourcing. PyBossa (the software framework) and Crowdcrafting (the web-based service) now have thousands of users solving problems that can not be processed by machines alone. And the user base has grown well beyond the hard sciences.

Daniel and his team, along with a host of volunteer citizen scientists, have contributed to real time mapping of refugee camps to inform aid decisions, environmental policy decisions based on light pollution data, and the rediscovery of previously lost bronze age artifacts. They have proven that the crowd is a thinking crowd, not just a mechanical turk. Their work has had real impact on the processes and results achieved by medical research and cultural exploration. It is however not just the technology that is revolutionary, but the behaviour change of individuals and institutions themselves that makes Daniel’s work exceptional.

It has been a privilege to have Daniel on the programme. He has an exceptional drive and ability to construct his own learning path, which he shares enthusiastically with the group. He has taken every challenge thrown at him and not only risen to it, but in doing so has added greatly to the collective knowledge of the Fellows along with his project partners.

Waldo Jaquith

Waldo’s stated objective is to help usher the US government’s use of technology, at every level, into the 21st century. His specific interest lies in open data, liberating data, that government collects, in a way that makes it more accessible and therefore more useful to all, both inside and outside of government. As a 2014 Shuttleworth Flash grantee, nominated by Fellow Dan Whaley, he used the $5000 award to buy a subscription to a government data service and open up the data. This in turn allowed a parallel state agency access to the data and resulted in increased tax income for the state of Virginia. Open data does not only benefit the public or corporations, it benefits government in the first instance.

As a Fellow Waldo made himself available to assist anyone working for government in support of their open data efforts. He worked tirelessly to drive government to implement the structural use of open data, becoming a trusted source for media outlets covering open data, and a regular speaker at events. He had a direct influence on state decision makers, such as the Virginia State Corporation Commission, whom he persuaded to give away data they had previously sold. His hallmark is bold, creative advocacy: from buying data to give it away, to sending cake to state leadership. For him to effectively challenge convention, Waldo had to be outside of government, with the flexibility to think, create and ask questions that a bureaucracy can’t.

After a year in which he successfully seeded real support for open data, stored in open source software, across government departments, Waldo is taking the necessary next step of working within the system to ensure the changes are implemented effectively. Now, as an insider, he can fully support the kind of behavioural change necessary for a sustained shift to embedded open practice.

To this end he is joining 18F, an agency supported by the US government to pool ICT funding between states and allow the development and procurement of free and open source software. We are proud to have collaborated with Waldo this past year and we are excited about the next one. While not an active Fellow any more, Waldo will still be pursuing the vision we share.

We look forward to both Daniel and Waldo’s continued participation in the Fellows network. There is still much to achieve and much to learn.

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