Content tagging at Moon Zoo & Tiny Planets Carl Goodman Pepper’s Ghost Productions Ltd
Background: Tiny Planets, educational television property and virtual world• Aired in 110 countries around the world• Million visits per year to the various Tiny Planets websites• TV series co-produced with Sesame Workshop in US• Winner of two BAFTA awards in UK• Online content distribution relationships with Yahoo! Kids and National Geographic Kids• Upcoming distribution relationships with Discovery Kids and ReadMe Stories (iPad + mobile)• Principle education advisor Ann McCormick, founder of The Learning Company
Candidates for annotation in virtual world based on a space theme• Objective was to explore several formats with respect to annotation, varying from straightforward game-play to educational / altruistic• Criteria for latter was: substantial volumes of data, ideally astronomical in nature to match space-theme of site, educational credibility and ability to reassure parents• COPPA compliance (US Child Online Protection and Privacy Act) requires Tiny Planets to adhere strictly to rules concerning protection of children’s Personally Identifiable Information• Parental opt-out necessary to allow parents to prevent children from submitting
Galaxy Zoo: Oxford University Department of Astrophysics and the Citizen Science Alliance• Approached OU in 2010 with a proposal to create children’s version of existing annotation activity.• Galaxy Zoo: ‘an online astronomy project which invites members of the public to assist in the morphological classification of large numbers of galaxies.’• “Scientists are increasingly finding it difficult to cope with what has been called the "Data Deluge", where modern research is producing vast sets of information. Often the teams involved dont have the time, resources or brainpower to analyse it all.” Kevin Schawinski, project co-founder.• Classification scheme for Galaxy Zoo required users to answer a series of quite simple questions about a particular image and respond by clicking the appropriate icon.• Galaxy Zoo 2 allowed for more detailed observations; it achieved 60,000,000 classifications from February 2009 to April 2010 (Wikipedia)
Classification of galaxies: is your image recognitionalgorithm smarter than an 8 year old?
Classification of galaxies: is your image recognition algorithm smarter than an 8 year old?• "Most of these galaxies have been photographed by a robotic telescope [Sloan Digital Sky Survey] and then processed by computer. So this is the first time they will have been seen by human eyes.“Schawinski• From a human perspective the Galaxy Zoo images seemed comparatively straightforward to classify – easy enough that a child in the Tiny Planets target age-range really ought to be able to out-perform a computer.• However, CSA was in the process of launching another project around the same theme.• Moon Zoo would take data from the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to examine crater sizes and boulder distribution. This would require marking images in a slightly more complex fashion – a Flash interface appeared most appropriate.• Moon Explorer is Tiny Planets childrens version of the activity
Moon Explorer: Crater Marker, Boulder Wars andsmall furry aliens… And a friend.
Moon Explorer: Crater Marker, a tool for makingsimple size estimates of craters.
Moon Explorer: Boulder Wars, comparing twodifferent images for ‘boulderiness’
Moon Explorer annotation activity as a part of the Tiny Planets virtual world• Activity is linked to the Tiny Planets game economy; players earn virtual currency to buy items to decorate their space-station and for their pet alien as a reward.• After initial trials on a ‘satellite’ website Moon Explorer proved sufficiently poplar to move to the Tiny Planets main site• Concept of Moon Explorer has proven especially popular with parents, including US home-schooling community (science / education theme, plus the idea that the annotations performed by children are actually used in data analysis)• Currently averaging c.500 annotation sessions per month with an average session length around 8 minutes. This results in between 5-8000 annotations per month. (Data from Google analytics)
Moon Explorer rewards players with Stars (virtualeconomy) in order to buy virtual goods.
The Universe Game: another approach to annotation ofastronomical images through game play
The Universe Game: an intermediate level strategy game• Motivation: to attempt to develop an ‘intermediate level’ (i.e. moderately complex but not to full simulation standard) strategy game that incorporates annotation as part of the game play.• Turn based game loosely following the ‘battleships’ scenario of hunting hidden objects / hidden enemies• Annotations of a library of astronomical images grouped into 8 top level categories• Purpose of annotation is two-fold; to ‘educate’ the casual player to recognise specific categories of astronomical objects, and to obtain annotations from advanced players as to more tightly defined sub- categories of objects.• Annotations reported in RDF format and submitted to DBpedia.
The Universe Game: Step 1: deploy your supplydepots around the galaxy
The Universe Game: Discovering hidden objectsand annotating them – players’ process
The Universe Game: annotations become more complex• Galaxy sub-categories: Elliptical, Spiral, Irregular, Barred spiral, Ring, Lens, Dwarf, Spherical• Nebula sub-categories: Diffuse, Reflection, Planetary, Emission, Supernova Remnant, Dark• Comet sub-categories: Long period, Intermediate period, Short period, Single apparition, Periodic, Sun-grazing• Asteroid sub-categories: C group (darkish), S group (stony), X group (metallic), T type (reddish), D type (very dark), V type (bright)• Meteor sub-categories: Ordinary chondrites, Carbonaceous Chondrites, Enstatite Chondrites, Rumuruti Chondrites, Achondrites, Primitive Achondrites• Star sub-categories: Blue giant, Red giant, Binary, Triple, Red dwarf, White dwarf, Neutron
The Universe Game: rewards and motivations: in-game bonuses and upgrades, RDF console
The Universe Game: Out in the wild…• Submitted Universe Game to Kongregate game portal late April 2011 – a site not known for restrained comments...• Around 900 plays in a period of 4 – 5 hours• User comments: purpose of annotations were confusing (this was prior to two-tier approach) and users were perplexed that if they tagged ‘Saturn’ as a ‘Galaxy’ they could still get it ‘right’.• Typical comment: “needs more levels. needs upgrades”• Some users did almost get it though: “rosou, its like "battleships", you gotta destroy enemys hidden ships (the red dots) before he destroys yours. you cant attack the other player directly. You win by probing the green spots and getting the questions right.”• In 5 out of the top 9 responses the idea of getting the question ‘right’ was deemed to be important enough to mention prominently.
The Universe Game: Conclusions• Hard core gamers such as those who frequent Kongregate are going to be a very tough audience to please (not a surprise)• However, even the most critical feedback gave clues as to how to develop the game. Most of this feedback has now been integrated into version 2.• Games require and provide simplistic, definitive outcomes – which is perhaps why they are popular alternatives to ‘real-life’• Activities such as Moon Explorer which are presented in an entirely different way to a game and which offer entirely different rewards provoke a markedly different response from players – even though the underlying purpose is the same.• Universe Game version 2 is almost at the point where we’re ready to upload it to games portals for comment. Watch this space...