Citizen Science @ OIISDP 2013 in Toronto


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Dissertation proposal background presentation for the Summer Doctoral Program 2013 run by the Oxford Internet Institute.

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  • Mention the importance of science communication and why it matters to society.
  • Citizen science is the participation of non-scientists in scientific research.Why does it arise? Changes in technology enable new forms of collaboration (in 1833 it took months to gather reports on a famous meteor storm via postal mail and newspapersNew availability of tools, such as GPS and cheap sensors.Scientists need to approach the public for participation in order to get funding.USA National Phenology NetworkGalaxyZooOpen Street Map
  • Citizen Science @ OIISDP 2013 in Toronto

    1. 1. CITIZEN SCIENCE Todd Suomela University of Tennessee @tsuomela
    2. 2. Situating myself • Early obsession with weather and astronomy • College education • Planned to be an astronomer • But transferred into the humanities: philosophy and English • “Real world” experience in business technology (MIS) • Back to the academy • HCI -> STS • Currently • Science communication • Philosophy of technology and science • Science/social informatics
    3. 3. Problem • Citizen science • “Citizen science [is the] participation of the general public in scientific research” • RQ: How is citizen science framed in different discourse communities? • RQ: How does information travel from experts to non- experts? • RQ: How does citizen science alter the relationship between public(s) and science(s)?
    4. 4. Methods • Research journal papers • Press releases • Media reports Content analysis • Scientists • Press officers • Journalists • Volunteers Interviews
    5. 5. Significance • STS – • Public understanding of science • Expert and non-expert divides • Science communication • Frame creation and diffusion • Information science • Everyday information creation • Amateur information seeking (?)
    6. 6. ToC • Science Communication • Citizen Science • The Critical Challenge • Problems
    8. 8. How/Why to communicate science? • The world is becoming more complex • Increasing levels of technology and scientific knowledge • Easier to share across wide areas • Grand challenges for science • How do scientists communicate large-scale issues like global warming among themselves? • How do scientists communicate to the public? • Examples: global warming, nuclear power, genetically modified organisms, vaccine use
    9. 9. Science Communication • Laypeople just need more education to understand the issues and concepts Deficit model • Laypeople have local expertise that can be harnessed to help understand a problem Lay expertise Brossard & Lewenstein, 2009
    10. 10. Science communication • Laypeople understand based on their contextual experiences Contextual model • Laypeople should be integrated into science and technical discussions Public understanding Brossard & Lewenstein, 2009
    11. 11. Public understanding • A more sophisticated understanding of science communication • Framing effects are present • Emotion, class, and other background factors effect the transmission of scientific knowledge to the public • Brings in democratic theory and practice • Builds a forum for communication between scientists and laypeople • Does not put one group above the other
    12. 12. Framing Science Social progress Economic development/competitiveness Morality/ethics Scientific/technical uncertainty Pandora’s box/Frankenstein’s monster/runaway science Public accountability/governance Third way/alternative paths Conflict/strategy Nisbet & Scheufele, 2007
    14. 14. Citizen science – an opportunity To bring public and science together.
    15. 15. History of Citizen Science • Introduced in the 1990s • But earlier antecedents exist • National Weather Service, Audubon Society Christmas bird count, AAVSO • Two traditions • Critical-emancipatory • Pragmatic-instrumental • Factors for growth • Improvements in technology • Public is a potential labor source • Funding requirements for public outreach
    16. 16. Projects, Papers • Recent project counts • 280 projects from Cornell lab mailing list (Wiggins & Crowston, 2010) • 500 projects currently listed at
    17. 17. Typologies Wiggins & Crowston, 2012
    18. 18. Where is the internet? • Recruitment: Mediator for connecting scientists to non- scientists • Data collection and analysis: project websites provide an interface for the collection and analysis of data • Data sharing: collected data may be shared with other scientists or the public via internet data stores or reports • Infrastructure: wires, routers, mobile, GPS, standards • Paradigms: 4th paradigm of data intensive science • But does it create a community, a crowd, or a public?
    20. 20. How critical do I go? • Balancing act between disciplines and traditions • Science communication • STS • Information science • Two traditions • Critical-emancipatory • Pragmatic-instrumental
    21. 21. To be critical =? theory • Currently working with Habermas • Communication and rationality • Technical, practical, and emancipatory inquiry • Can there be communicative action between citizen scientists and professional scientists? • Other options • ANT, sociotechnical imaginaries, trading zones, social epistemology, leisure science, participatory culture, user generated content, sociology of professions, informal learning, common-pool resources, feminism, rhetoric of science communication • What other options might work?
    22. 22. PROBLEMS
    23. 23. Problems • How critical do I go? • The problem of online crowd labor. • Other critical problems you may notice? • How much theory should I include? • The problem of scale: • Micro, meso, or macro? • What scale do you think would you be interested in hearing about at a conference or in a reading about in a journal paper?
    24. 24. References • Brossard, D. & Lewenstein, B.V., 2009. A Critical Appraisal of Models of Public Understanding of Science: Using Practice to Inform Theory. In L. Kahlor & P. A. Stout, eds. Communicating Science: New Agendas in Communication. London: Routledge. • Nisbet, M. & Scheufele, D.A., 2007. The future of public engagement. The Scientist, 21, pp.38–44. • Wiggins, A. & Crowston, K., 2012. Goals and tasks: Two typologies of citizen science projects. In Forty-fifth Hawai’i International Conference on System Science (HICSS-45). Wailea, HI.