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Online Communities in Citizen Science & BirdCams


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Guest lecture for COMM/INFO course on online communities at Cornell University.

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Online Communities in Citizen Science & BirdCams

  1. 1. Online Communities in s! Citizen Science C am rd i B & Andrea Wiggins Postdoctoral Fellow University of New Mexico & Cornell University 19 November, 2013
  2. 2. What is citizen science? Members of the public engaging in real-world scientific research Crowdsourcing Collaboration Community
  3. 3. What is citizen science? intelligent mobile sensor net work crowdsourcing science human computation ? Public Participation in Scientific Research
  4. 4. Participation in scientific tasks PPSR$models: Contributory* Collabora1ve* CoACreated* Define*a*ques1on/issue* Gather*informa1on* Develop*explana1ons* Design*data*collec1on*methods* Collect*samples* Analyze*samples* Analyze*data* Interpret*data/conclude* Disseminate*conclusions* Discuss*results/inquire*further* CAISE Report, 2009
  5. 5. Goals and the role of place Type Primary Goals Physicality Action Action & Intervention Conservation & Stewardship ✓ Investigation Science ✓ Virtual Science Education Education & Outreach Conservation ✓ ✓ Wiggins & Crowston, 2011
  6. 6. Contribution types Data collection (“sensing”) • Most common • Observations & measurements Data processing • On the rise • Entirely online • Image recognition & puzzle solving Data transcription • On the rise • Mostly online
  7. 7. Participant experience Sharing my data/experiences • Fits into daily life • People like to share their passions Working on their/our tasks • Novel tasks • Can reinforce hierarchy Playing games & solving puzzles • Fits into daily life • Explicit symbolic rewards, entertaining
  8. 8. What does it accomplish? engage%cri)cal%thinking% (Trumbull%et%al%2000)% science%learning,%bonding% (Kountoupes%and%Oberhauser%2008)% environmental%ac)on;%social%networks% (Overdevest%et%al.%2004)% social%capital% (Ballard%2008)% improved%policy% (Wing%et%al.%2008)%
  9. 9. What does it accomplish? documen(ng*range*shi0s* (Bonter*et*al.*unpublished*data)* iden(fying*poten(al*mismatches* (Batalden*et*al.*2007)* iden(fying*vulnerable*species* (Crimmins*et*al*2008,*2009)* health*planning* (Leve(n*and*Van*de*Water*2008)* an(cipa(ng*effects*on*water*sources* (e.g.,*CoCoRaHS)* processing  large  image  data  sets (e.g.,  Zooniverse  projects) applying  human  computa:on  skills (e.g.,  Foldit)
  10. 10. Galaxy Zoo Classifying images of galaxies Participation involves: Looking at pictures of galaxies online Answering a few questions about them Started in 2007 by a team of academic astronomers Instant success and exciting new discoveries Galaxy Zoo 1, Year 1: 50M classifications, 150K volunteers Galaxy Zoo 2, Year 2: 60M classifications in 14 months Hanny’s Voorwerp Green Pea galaxies
  11. 11. eBird Collecting bird abundance and distribution data Participation involves: Choosing observation methods Recording bird observations (analog or digital) Entering observations and metadata online Launched in 2002 by Cornell Lab of Ornithology (with National Audubon Society) World’s largest biodiversity data set: 150M records Currently receives about 3M observations/month Data used in research and decision-making for land management, policy (and recreation)
  12. 12. ICTs for Citizen Science Web-based data entry & social tools “Vanilla” website CMS Custom platform Mobile Games CitizenSort image courtesy of Eric Graham
  13. 13. Images courtesy of Nathan Prestopnik and the CitizenSort team at Syracuse University US NSF Grant # 09-68470
  14. 14. Online Communities We don’t know much! Potential value Important in entirely online projects Recruitment tool But what about... Place-dependent projects? Pre-existing communities? Scale of participation? Retention tool Capture serendipity Promote inquiry Gather evaluation data More...
  15. 15. Online & Offline Communities Online interactions Blogs + forums + social media Leaderboards, visibility of others’ data, “shared checklists” Core activities often offline Observing birds -> go outside! Non-integrated social activities & technologies
  16. 16. Communities in Citizen Science In-person recruitment most effective Not feasible for entirely virtual projects Important for retention Come for the coffee, stay for the conversation Main community engagement strategies Traditional: tapping into existing communities Virtual: creating a new community
  17. 17. Challenges Strategic implementation required with existing communities $$$ Active management Technical resources Zooniverse research underway to learn more Planet Hunters & Sea Floor Explorers
  18. 18. d The Truman Show... ir B s! m a C
  19. 19. d ...For Bird Watchers! ir B s! m a C
  20. 20. Bird Cams Nest cams: spring through early fall Inside nest boxes (owls, small birds) Outdoors on larger nests (heron, hawk) Feeder cams: late fall through early spring Equipment Consumer devices for under $100
  21. 21.
  22. 22. Nest Cams “The first video nest cam was created in 1998 by the Midwest Raptor Resource Center to monitor a Peregrine Falcon nest in Iowa” Over a million people viewed CLO’s Heron and Hawk cams in their inaugural year (2012)
  23. 23. Care & Feeding BirdCams Project Leader plus seasonal staff Volunteer moderators Unpredictable activity Multiple social media under various control
  24. 24. Emergent Community Different from most bird cams: live chat Most people never chat, but many read it Different reasons to chat (or not)
  25. 25. Unexpected Outcomes Everyone learns from the birds Self-organizing cliques Emotional Addictive Empowering
  26. 26. $ustainability Donation button Chat groups ran fundraising campaigns Merchandising
  27. 27. Thanks! @AndreaWiggins