Francois Grey’s 7 myths of citizen science

Over the Air 2012 event was a wonderful event – it’s a 36 hours event, dedicated to mobile development and it is based on Bletchley park. This year, Citizen Science was a theme of the event. The final talk was given by Francois Grey from the Citizen Cyberscience Centre . Francois’ interest is on volunteer computing – the type of citizen science were people donate the unused cycles on the computers through software such as BOINC – as well as the wider range of citizen science project. Based on his experience from talks with scientists around the world about citizen science, he developed the 7 myths of citizen science which he covered in his talk (see it below). He suggest them as point of views that are expressed by scientists when citizen science is suggested to them. They are:

  1. It doesn’t produce real science
  2. It doesn’t work for my science – it is too complex to engage people in it
  3. Nobody will be interested in my area of science
  4. You can’t trust the results from ordinary people if you involve them in something other than automatic processing
  5. Volunteer computing is energetically hugely wasteful when compared to computer clusters
  6. It doesn’t really engage people in science
  7. One day we will run out of volunteers

Interestingly, the myths are covering the practice of science (energy consumption, validation), social practices (number of volunteers) and the educational aspects of science (interest, engagement). It is worth thinking about these myths and what they mean for various projects – as well as remembering that they are based on scientists’ views.

Published by

mukih

Professor of GIScience, University College London

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