The GOAT Report

GOAT Report 2018 compiled by Ankita Raturi.

GOAT 2018 was seeded with a problem statement and four goals, as formulated by the organizers and stated on the website:

The technologies that produce our food and the data about our food system should be public, and enable control by the farms and farmers that produce it. Together, we can collectively address the problems which prevent the creation of advanced, high quality open technology and its adoption.

The four goals were:

  1. Coordinate existing development,
  2. Invite new development,
  3. Aligning technologies with actual users, and
  4. Creating a GOAT roadmap.

These were reiterated in the kick off session and was followed by a speed meeting session during which folks formed concentric circles and had the opportunity to have a 2 minute chat with at least half the full group.

GOAT 2018 was in effect the setting the tone conference, where we came together to figure out who we are, what exists and is missing in the open ag tech landscape, and think about what we want to become.

Each day began with a setting the tone session. There were 3 setting the tone sessions:

  • Day 1: Data Landscape (what are the challenges, esp. for different stakeholders?)
  • Day 2: Tool Landscape (what do we have and how do we fit together?)
  • Day 3: Future Landscape (we are an information ecology, what’s missing?)

Showcasing GOAT-participants

On the first day, there were 2 additional sessions for folks to showcase their work:

  • A lightning talk session (~70 minutes) consisting of 5 minute lightning talks.
  • A show & tell session with folks displaying posters and demonstrating prototypes.

Collaborative Conference Making

The first day closed with a session dedicated to creating the program for the rest of the unconference. This began with a brainstorming activity in which each person proposed a session of interest.

As a group, we clustered these proposed sessions thematically, logistically, and opportunistically, to form 25 unconference sessions, of which 22 were conducted.  Three sessions did not occur because many folks wanted to attend the Omega wastewater treatment facility tour: Community, User led UX, & Business Models for Open Source.

Below was the resulting conference program:

GOAT 2018 Program

Themes of GOAT 2018

On clustering the content of these sessions, the following 6 themes arose:

  1. Strategies for Open Sourcing agricultural technologies. Sessions included: funding open source, values and opportunities for open source
  2. Sensing & Control. Sessions included: mapping the solution landscape, hardware, remote sensing, Internet of Things sensors, robotics
  3. Software: From Farm to Table (alt: Software in Agriculture). Sessions included: mapping the solution landscape, crop planning, sales & marketing
  4. Data & Interoperability. Sessions included: mapping the solution landscape, Interoperability of products, data standards, data content, data & culture/values
  5. Communicating the sustainability of agriculture. Sessions included: blockchain applications, carbon verification & measurements, teaching & learning, waste & byproducts
  6. Community & Values. Sessions included: food culture, food security, access, data & culture/values, teaching & learning

Reflecting on GOAT 2018

The closing session was a follow-on from the setting the tone session of Day 3 (regarding the future of GOAT). Folks were invited to more broadly envision the future of open agriculture, technology and information, including considering key challenges, missing pieces, opportunities, requirements, and next steps. These were initially clustered for discussion in the final session.

Future Pathways

On further consideration and grouping of these responses, the following 5 themes arose as key pieces for the future of GOAT:

1. Coordination of Activities

  • Collaboration Pathways
  • Reduce duplication of efforts
  • Information Flows

2. Coordination of Technologies

  • Interoperability
  • Knowledge Sharing
  • Sharing DATA

3. Community cohesion || Shared philosophy, direction, and values

  • Lack of support
  • Lack of awareness
  • Lack of “beacon on the hill”

4. metaGOAT Futures

  • Governance
  • Funding

5. A healthier information ecology in agriculture

  • Missing fundamental technical infrastructure and core technologies
  • Missing representation of diverse food and agricultural system stakeholders

That’s all folks!

Until next year. Good GOAT, great GOAT.