Crowdsourcing and the Citizen Scientist

Rise up all ye amateur scientists and join the revolution that is just beginning! A little dramatic to be sure, but right before our very eyes is an evolving wave of collective, nearly self-organized, efforts in discovery for scientific principles, mapping in natural habitats, and even individual consumer behavior.

Crowdsourcing is the notion where a large, undefined group of individuals collectively contribute to the solution of an “open call.” This idea is beginning to be used by more organizations, from those who sell t-shirts to those who are searching for life in the cosmos.

The growing realization that the masses can be useful is only a boon to those who are interesting in doing real science, but are not directly implanted into the deep academic universe. There are many endeavors that require a great deal of data collection, often over vast geographical regions, where a small team of scientists–let alone a single researcher–could never reach the the individual capabilities required to complete the task at hand. Here is where the citizen scientist comes into play: an individual who has a sincere desire and interest to learn something new and contribute meaningful information to a larger scientific program is an asset to the professional scientist with unmeasured value.

These collective efforts will not only act to drive the individual success of some academic higher into the ranks of the University (although, it will certainly help!), but they will provide critical information for a broader understanding of our universe (locally and throughout the galaxy). And — possibly, more importantly — these personal efforts as an amateur researcher offer grand enjoyment and education for oneself and an entire family, if the kids are allowed to join in the discovery process (and they most certainly should be a part of the experience!)

The following video clip is only a plug to present the new book by Jeff Howe called “Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business.” This author has not yet read the book–it’s released at the end of this month–but, it will certainly be on my short wish list for books to read by the end of the year. The video is clearly developed by a small production team and not a result of crowdsourcing efforts, but none-the-less, if does provide a great overview of the potentials and an interesting view into the future of crowdsourcing.

“The Rise of Crowdsourcing” by Jeff Howe :: WIRED Magazine :: Issue 14.06 – June 2006 :: [ READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE ]

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Last updated November 23, 2020