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Citizen Science is hardly a new concept, but during the last decade it has seen a rise in both
academic and popular interest for the topic. This trend is in part driven by an increased
interest for open paradigms, as well as, Information Communication Technology (ICT)
innovations such as smartphones, mobile Internet and cloud computing. This has given
rise to the emergence of a growing and highly diverse crop of new – and often innovative –
initiatives that are being, or could be, labelled as Citizen Science.
Whilst there are often big differences between projects, for instance when it comes to
power relations – “Who is working for who?” – or the determination of goals and outcomes
– “Who is solving whose problems?” – there is hope that, at the very least, this rediscovery
of citizen science might lead to a renewed mutual interest, and perhaps understanding,
between scientists and the general public.
Most citizen science initiatives are set in affluent areas of the world, and by and large they
target an educated, or at least literate, public. Extreme Citizen Science aspires to extend the
reach and potential of citizen science beyond this restricted context and is defined as:
Extreme Citizen Science is a situated, bottom-up practice that takes into account local
needs, practices and culture and works with broad networks of people to design and build
new devices and knowledge creation processes that can transform the world.
In this presentation, we are going to explore the various ExCiteS projects that span from the
Arctic – where we aim to develop tools grounded in the needs of Yupik and Iñupiaq coastal
subsistence hunters who are adapting to the rapidly changing climate – to the Congo basin
rainforest – where we enable marginalised and forest communities to better to share their
vast environmental knowledge more effectively locally and with other regional, national and
We aim to design, develop, evaluate and deploy a generic platform that enables people with
no or limited literacy – in the strict and broader technological sense – to use smartphones
and tablets to collect, share, and analyse (spatial) data along with a methodology for
introducing, engaging and empowering marginalised communities to participate in and
benefit from citizen science. The platform is and will be used in a variety of concrete
projects, often related to environmental monitoring. Ultimately the goal is to let
communities build so-called Community Memories: evolving, shared representations of the
state of their environment, their relationship with it, and any threats it faces.