Citizen Science has a very long history
despite essentially being marginalised for nearly 150 years when research became a profession [Miller-Rushing, A., Primack, R., and Bonney, R. 2012. The history of public participation in ecological research. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 10(6):285-290].
However, there is some right in discussing contemporary citizen science as a new phenomenon, as its coming back has been heavily influenced by the web, and by our advanced understanding of statistics and system dynamics. In facts, most of the citizen science projects that have hit the headlines in the past decade all share something: they have assumed the character of massive crowdsourcing of problems, leveraging either contributed computing, or volunteered wisdom, by mean of the internet.
There is more than meets the eye to this new wave of citizens participation in science, and value is generated and openly contributed in ways that are not always immediately evident, and not easily quantified.
Not only do citizens contribute speeding up research contributing computer power “passively” or solving elementary puzzles, they nurture curiosity about the questions and scopes of research, studying and contributing to public engagement and relevance… and with more advanced platforms (virtual machines,…) their contribution is becoming ever more complex.Unfortunately though, we have little tools to account and give credit to our fellow citizens for their contribution: heterogenous scoring systems (serving also the purposes of gamification of the tasks), and ever too seldom acknowledgements or symbolic authorships in the resulting paper (e.g.: WeFold/Foldit).We are tinkering with cryptocurrencies, their design, and the technology behind them for other philanthropic purposes (more to be found under the Fearless folder soon), and we have started wondering whether they could be leveraged in order to make citizen science accountable. Would we be able to credit adequately all contributions, and transform informal communities of citizen scientists into viable partners for formal research applications (e.g.: as partners in Horizon2020 project proposals)?We are starting negotiations with our partners, and inspiring stakeholders to rapidly pilot some concept designs we are producing, and we will soon share more with you.Please, read this announcement as an open call for expression of interests, and for suggestions. We are looking forward to reading from you.