Ecsite 2018 – Day 2: technology advocacy, evolution, citizen science in parody trial, and DITOs

The second day of Ecsite 2018 included several interesting sessions (here is day 1) which includes a morning discussion about the role of science centres and museum in the public discussion of science and technology, a parody trial of citizen science, and a discussion on the nature of multi-country projects, where I gave a presentation of the Doing It Together Science (DITOs) as an example.

Technology advocates or whistleblowers?

DSCN2809Laurent Chicoineau (Quai des savoirs, TOULOUSE France) – his first experience with the challenges of communicating science and technology was in Grenoble with protests against nano-technology in the 1990s. At the time, the science centre explored the different views about it through an exhibition, public discussions, etc. The view from the government was that science communication was failed, as it didn’t convince the public that nanotech is good. In Toulouse, they made an exhibition in which people could choose from 15 innovations – people were more interested in medical innovation, and not in the one about enhanced- or trans-humanism. In a cartoon representation of the development of science and technology, it was asked: “why the future taste like bleach?” – it is a view of technology that emphasises clean and organised future. instead, thinking about Balck Mirror as an inspiration, and then have a story with a weird situation and then use them as a provocation to make people think and discuss potential future.

DSCN2810Ian Brunswick (Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin) – he takes the view that science centres should be more whistleblowers – problems such as climate change, environmental and other issues are social problems and therefore require social awareness. We should provoke people – the view that privatisation of space exploration is championed well enough – e.g. Elon Musk, so the centres should be raising challenges. If we don’t do that, we leave the critique of the future to populists. We should ask about various aspects of current technological developments – e.g. if the AI can write articles, poetry, or art. There are issues of sustainability – e.g. lead-free bullets that can be used without contaminating the water table. Or asking questions about 3D printed guns that show the potential of technology. or issues of climate change – in Climate Bureau that was pointing to a discussion about the winners and losers and profiteering from it. Each glimpse to a wider issue, we want people to make people feel.

Herbert Muender (Universum Managements GmbH, Bremen Germany) running a science centre in an area surrounded by technology and science companies and universities. The question is the topic is controversy – do the visitors understand our views? AI was mentioned and need to think about its current impact. For example, how much news is written by journalists: about 65% of news is now written or produced by bots. The understanding of what it means, and what Deep Learning mean? There is an issue that technology is running faster and faster and science centres cannot follow it up. Are they well informed about it or need to raise the information about the dangers and challenges? When it comes to fake news and science, the science centre is a trusted place and we need to consider the pro and cons. In Bremen, they experience fight over animal testing, and the scientist had to be protected by the Police, and the dialogue broke. Issues about anti-vaccination: what shall they do about it if the issue will come up? If we are talking about probabilities of 1% of a problem, how do we explain it to the public? Mentioning that media need to highlight minority position in order to raise their sales – and this is not wrong, it is how the process work and they have to accept it.

Joanna Kalinowska (Copernicus Science Centre, Poland) led the discussion: There are other positions in the spectrum and society have a great ability to absorb science – e.g. the change in the acceptance of surgery. At the London Science Museum – when there is new science, they present multiple views, and if something is controversial, they tend to take them away for a dialogue. Also created a situation that people will have to take a side and protest their side. In Science Gallery Dublin, the issue of climate science – they scientists requested the respect of the public and not their trust. They consider that the scientists don’t have their interests at heart – the one to one conversations are more effective. Another experience is seeing data that is pushed by companies that are driving specific views from companies – they also fund exhibitions and influence the funding. The limitation of the approach of Science Gallery Dublin with a more provocation approach is that beyond the creation of feeling and connections to the topic, it is the need for people to give them knowledge, but don’t link it to action – sometimes pointing to events that are linked to it. Museums and Galleries should be safe space for controversial topics. Discussions about vaccines require a safe space to be discussed and provide the range of information that is coming from it.

We need to consider what the protest is about – for example the French protest about nano-tech was there mostly about the model of industrial development and the role of public research in society. Science is not neutral or value-free. Another view: science centres do not have the expertise to judge on an issue, and they don’t have the ability to set the views. Issues of public

Public engagement with evolution: beyond giraffes and genes

DSC_0736.JPGJustin Dillon (University of Exeter) seeing evolution as a fundamental concept in science and the job is to engage people with a proper understanding of evolution. From our own experience, there are different ways of understanding how it works and what works and what doesn’t work. The session will allow different conversations with panellists.

Tania Jenkins (EvoKE- Evolutionary Knowledge for Everyone | SCNAT) Coordinating the Evoke project, and there is a basic understanding in scientific circles about giraffes and finches, and similar things. In the public imagination, it is about human evolution of religious beliefs. The evoke is trying to demonstrate that it is relevant to everyday life – from vaccines to climate change and biodiversity, The project is about engaging many researchers in information and formal education – COST Action 17127 is dedicated to the citizen engagement with evolution. The discussion that she led was solution-oriented – thinking about analogies: not believing in evolution, but about engaging in something like language. There is a potential interaction with kids and can classify things. There’s a major misconception that evolution is slow, not only antibiotics, and the way things evolve and not the linear view of evolution.

Maartje Kijne (Naturalis Biodiversity Center Leiden) Running a workshop with families, and doing work on their ancestors (in terms of human evolution) and dealing with people that are critical with evolution and with science. The discussion concludes that we recognise critical people – they deny what you’re saying, or ask for a proof. With people who deny things, you can explain the scientific process, seek common ground, point that evolution is not disconnected from faith. No awareness of micro and macro aspects of evolution.

Yamama Naciri (Corvatoire & Jardin botaniques de Genève) Geneticist, and working on the interface between population genetics and in the reconstruction of the trees of life, and specification. In the botanical gardens, they are thinking about the creation of an evolutionary trail – how interaction can increase the participant experience. Discussed in the group that facilitators have an important role, and engage in a discussion. Having evolutionary biologist in the exhibition can allow them to give facts, and less engage too deeply in a discussion and step back when things are too antagonistic. It is really important to explain the rules before the beginning of the workshop or the tour. Can be valuable to work with small children, especially with immigrant communities.

Henrik Sell (Natural History Museum, Aarhus) and would like to discuss how to make an exhibition about evolution – many people that visit the museum believe in evolution, and about 10% reject it – the visitors already believe in the issues that are presented to them. How to engage with people who are not accepting the theory? Should their view present? Especially when it comes to human evolution there are people who express their view that it is incompatible with their religious belief and then shut down. Use examples that are contemporary, e.g. demonstrate with dogs evolution. Provide historical perspective.

Citizen science on trial (parody trial)

DSC_0738.JPGSharon Ament (Museum of London) convened and chaired the session – A case of this magnitude requires a jury, that will make a decision about the case. The question that we are asking: is citizen science a robust model that is going to stay, or is it just a fashion that is going to go away like many other fashions in the past.

Aliki Giannakopoulou (Ellinogermaniki Agogi SA) plaintiff – arguing the citizen science – this case is not about citizen science but about citizen scientists. They are white, male, untrained, and anonymous. In many cases, there are bad intentions, and when it is implemented, it leads to ethical and legal questions. Are we take advantage when it is supposed to be democratic? Is it in a world that so many people are left behind is citizen science creating a barrier? scientists in most citizen science do not even interact with people. Citizen science is serving institutional goals of getting work for free, participants are not engaged in other public engagement activities. Not enough evaluation of citizen science is available, not enough about the ethical issues with it. We live in a time of big data – are people that are downloading an app really contribute to sign? The ICT doesn’t make people into scientists? What about the risks and the security of the participant.

DSCN2816Brad Irwin, (The Natural History Museum, London) defence  – an outdated opening statement – we heard that citizen science is the domain of old white male scientists. One of the most important new forms of science engagement. Will demonstrate that citizen science is contributing to world-class science, and engaging the public that takes part. It is engaging the public in dealing with the big issues that are facing the world. People are involved in collecting the data and finding ways to address these problems. It is here to stay.

DSCN2821The first witness for the persecution: Justin Dillon – is citizen science real science? the answer is No – science is a relatively complex process of systematically building knowledge, and make a model of how the world works, and then experimenting on real-world phenomena. If the prediction of the model matches the experiment, the model is held, and otherwise, it fails. That is what scientists do. Counting the number of eggs in a nest is is not science – looking at galaxies on the screen is not science. Need to remove the science from citizen science. Volunteers who are doing valuable work for scientists who don’t want to pay – citizen slavery or citizen technician.  What about the quality of the data? (laughter from the witness) scientists require so many volunteers is that because of the quality of the data is so poor, and therefore need to have so many of them to get it right. Generally, the quality of the data is poor. Final question: are citizen scientists acknowledge on publications? You would expect them to be on the list of authors – since the scientists are not considering as real scientists, they leave it to a footnote. Using the brochure of Spotteron to point that the people who are doing citizen science don’t look like scientists.

Defence interrogation of the witness: made a claim that people don’t have better things to do with their time – is there something better thing than to contribute to science? Answer – maybe they can’t do something better. The citizen scientists are not scientists and therefore can’t do science – and using the example from a paper by Dillon on “moving from citizen to civic science to address wicked conservation problems“.

Walter Staveloz – are citizen science project inclusive? 80% are white middle-class people, other people are not included. The whole approach is to tell people what to do because scientists know better – this is the deficit model all over again. Need further steps to make people know what they are doing, which a lot of time is not the case. Defence – regular science is white, can we first change the paradigm. Citizen Science can create an illusion that they participate in something meaningful way in science, and many times when people collect data they don’t know what do with it.

Matteo Merzagora – advocate a science that is useful for the whole society. Science needs to be independent and challenge societal values, not like what RRI call for science that is aligned with society. I want to challenge technology development. When we talk about citizen science we assume activists. Actually, citizen science is a trojan horse for market-driven science. The knowledge that Google is producing is based on co-production of knowledge? Is the new way of using us is done in collaboration with citizens, and it is market driven and an example of the issue.

DSCN2823Jim Browton (NHM) – the NHM in London is trying to get with citizen science – believe in the universality of experience and building knowledge. The citizen science project – Microverse is aimed at micro-fauna of cities and help people to discover real health issues that affect communities in the UK. The participation of schools is not in volunteering, so is that citizen science?.

Marianne Achiam – Citizen science can be exclusive – this is not a problem of citizen science, there are projects that are skewed and we should not leave the field. A project in the University of Copenhagen that is focused on ant include a significant outreach. Properly design citizen science can be inclusive indeed. Evaluation is important, and research is more important – we missing knowledge on how citizen science work and how it should work.

DSCN2828Caren Cooper – it is incorrect to say that citizen science is not real science: half of what we know about climate change on migratory birds is from citizen science, also an amateur astronomer who published a paper. There are many types of citizen science: there are citizen science projects that are community driven, and they are hard to quantify.

Prosecution questions: does this make the participants – they are citizen scientists and not scientists. It’s a different way to contribute to science.

Final prosecution statement: propose to ban large project and focus on the small projects, be really participatory and stop calling it citizen science. Defence: citizen science – we heard from people that are writing one thing in the trial but write up something.

The verdict: the case for the defence, to be clear the jury of the opinion is that citizen science is important, but the jury wants to say that citizen science should be inclusive of all communities and need to work to do it so. The science element should be robust. The citizen bit needs to be participatory and meaningful.

Multi-country science engagement programmes

This was a short session (45 minutes) that discussed four examples of multi-country projects in the area of science communication. Details about the session are here. The session was in a short Pecha Kucha style, with 15 slides that progress every 20 seconds, and I’ve used it to describe Doing It Together Science (DITOs) is a 3-year project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, that is aimed to increase awareness of and participation in citizen science across Europe and beyond. It is focused on communication, coordination, and support of citizen science activities. Therefore, the project promotes the sharing of best practices among existing networks for a greater public and policy engagement with citizen science through a wide range of events and activities.


Ecsite 2018 conference – day 1 Morning: Opening speeches, and citizen science frontiers

img_20180607_094946.jpgThe Ecsite conference took place in Geneva from the 7 to the 9 June. It followed the ECSA conference (or more accurately, ECSA conference was set to coincide with Ecsite). The conference theme was “creative collisions”. The conference was opened by the director of Geneva’s Natural History Museum Jacques Ayer. Organising an Ecsite conference is a crazy adventure – but enriching. Science and the transmission of knowledge are important and it at a risk of dealing with ignorance. By reimagining science and its communication, we can deal with the pressure on science from different directions. The richness and beauty of the world come from its diversity and we need society to appreciate it.

The Mayor of Geneva Sami Kanaan – Geneva have a long history of science, including the academy that was set by Calvin, which became the university and it is central to the city. Scientists left us knowledge and that is managed in the Natural History Museum and the Botanic Gardens – they belong to the city, and therefore to the citizens. They also active in sharing the science with the wider public. Geneva’s citizens are involved and curious – and they use every opportunities to engage with it, including the science night in July in one of the central park. It is a city of dialogue – it specialised in bringing people to organise new norms to organise society. They are interested in the role of science and technology in the life of the city. Thierry Apotheloz – Geneva is the land of sciences from Jean Piaget, Jean Jacque Rousseau. Geneva is also important in the Natural Sciences, and it is been a welcoming place for dialogue and collaboration. Geneva always attributed knowledge as important in its progress, Making science publicly accessible is a mission that the politicians in the city are seeing as very important. We need to maintain social cohesion for democratic functioning – science collides with charlatanism, fake news etc, we need science that is open to the world and respond to it. We need scientists to leave their lab and classroom and go out, this is a critical for societal missions.

Herbert Munder (Ecsite president) – in the conference there are about 1000 participants. In the early 1990s, the opening up to the science – more informed public is more sceptic and critical of research and understood that need to listen and have a dialogue with the public, and then a growth of co-design. The general public is expected to accept scientific finding, but now we experiencing politicians who are not believing in science. Are we back in the 19th and 20th centuries? There is a wide networks of science communication expertise that can address it, there are global challenges and need to address them across the world through network. We have to work together at a European level but we don’t know the challenges and the lack of acceptance of complex model that has been accepted a while ago. There is an effort to ensure funding through programmes such as Horizon Europe.

Catherine Franche – Fact don’t change beliefs, should we change other people language or should we speak other people’s language. Science communicators need to provide the link and the ability to discuss the values that are being integrated into innovations. We need to think about the ongoing changes in society, and we need to offer dignity to everyone in the world and consider how the Sustainable Development Goals are part of our goals.

Philippe Moreillon – the Swiss Academies of Natural Science, followed a rich history in scientific research in Lausanne, and science means knowledge without discrimination – natural science, humanities and social knowledge should be all respected. Ecsite mission of communicating all sciences is important – the academies are there to provide advice on science to policy. We can see the amazing aspect of us as nature studying itself – homo technologicus – it is frightening, but also a success of evolution and nature. The things that we are doing are imitations of the success of nature and the role of museums, in charting these transformation and links. Think about the energy consumption of human brain vs data centres. Museums are the critical in transformation of this knowledge.

It was noticeable how the theme of science under attack, the risk of irrationality, and the solution to it with more science communication was common to the speeches.

Panel: Citizen science: the new frontiers

DSC_0707.JPGBrad Irwin (The Natural History Museum, London) opened the session – talking citizen science, citizen science has got an increasing role in science and engagement, and we have seen new professional societies, activities, and conferences – so what the future holds?

Robert Dunn NCSU – citizen science in the wider context. For example, in anatomy, Galen in early Rome, as a doctor of to gladiators he was starting to make sense of anatomy. While the details were not clear, but the fall of Rome – the next 1000 more forgotten than what was known. With the Renaissance, there was an assumption that the ancient knowledge was correct, and the beginning of understanding that we need new discoveries. Much of what we do is about showing what was already known. Citizen science is to engage people with what is not known – with 20 million animal dissections in class, of which none led to data recording. We also don’t have knowledge of species. Rob’s lab focus on the species that are leaving near us and with us – each breathing bring 1000 species into the lungs. By working with 1000s of students in the class – the outcomes, as related to scientists and the delivery of real science in the context of a museum in which there is sometimes an open, passive-aggressive warfare. Projects include dissecting and learning about the anatomy of humans and animals guts and discovering new things in the process. What is exciting is a collaboration with the museum, from things that scare us to things that we love – sourdough bread is a place that provides a wide range of discoveries. The potential of wide Europe projects – what makes these projects succeed and expand.

Karsten Elmose Vad Senior Consultant The Natural History Museum of Denmark – The NHM in Copenhagen is part of the University of Copenhagen. Two projects, We want to link both ways – citizen doing science which means real science and the linking scientists to the public – public scientists. The Real Science project is for high school students, about eDNA in water sampling. Students are collecting data and analysing the data, and they develop and test new eDNA systems. Students are excited to see a link to research. The evaluation shows that students are motivated by that it makes sense, that it is linked to science and use of data, and it is not just made for students to try. The Ant hunt includes real scientist, doing real research, with real experiment and questions. No tradition of post-school education – Julie, the scientist (PhD student) when around and met participants – and the person who writes back the thank you. Out of 75 responses from participants – about 65% find that it is important to link to scientists and value to have a role model. How close can we get to link citizens and the scientific process and how far we put the scientist in front of the campaign?

DSC_0716.JPGCaren Cooper (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences) – linked to the museum. Projects are linked to citizen science and wrote stories about citizen science in her book. With all the stories, there are common themes: citizen science is real science – a lot of what we know if not only from science. There are many unknown things that we will discover through citizen science. We also develop new social capital and it can see sustainability, social justice and environmental justice outcomes. We need to ask questions about who is developing them and how we create the ones that will lead to a better world. Museums are a place of exhibits, collection, but also research. In the same way – a lot of people are doing something without becoming professional – athletics, arts, activism – but science is out of it. People are joining citizen science from curiosity and concerns about their area. Museums have a very long history of collections that are from non-professionals – e.g. egg collections of birds which were donated by hobbyists. The restrictions on collecting eggs from the conservation perspective stopped this. She revive the practice in the practice of Sparrows which are not protected. The Sparrow Swap is helping in understanding the patterns, heavy metal in the shell, understanding contaminants and provide replacement eggs as a conservation control. In Sound around Town, there are using lending of professional equipment to let people collect sound samples and classify them in their backyard. The eMammal use camera traps and classifications to allow analysis of animal patterns. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science do human subject research, e.g. taste, or belly button biodiversity to test for the hygiene hypothesis. There are also transcriptions projects of collections – and the WeDigBio as a collection of all these projects. SciStarter provide a gateway to move into specific projects, such as projects for the Girl Scouts and can earn badges in citizen science, and also do that with undergraduates with every student in NCSU will get credits for their effort of joining a project and match it to their study

Where citizen science in the next 10-15 years? Caren – citizen science is evolving into discovery and decision making, and that is needed in smart cities, Internet of Things, etc. We should make them intentional and get them into other areas. Rob – becoming institutional – from schools and universities that integrate it throughout education and that is hard, but it might become with flagship institutions that need to do that. Another part of it, is that tools for discovery are becoming very cheap and how citizen science uses them will be important – e.g. sequencing of DNA is changing rapidly, and when it’s going to be very cheap – same for camera trapping the world, or how we address and build on that is important. There are issues of pollution monitoring and sensors when low costs sensors will become reliable – this will change the very small area. Agriculture: there is the potential for using the new sensing capabilities. Karsten – the scientist role in this need to change, and in that way, we need more scientists that are willing to do citizen science. The Copenhagen university mentioned citizen science in its strategy briefly but it is an issue of how to change them. Caren- Scientists need to make a mind shift on how they engage, and they need the skills. Rob – the skills that are needed will make them better scientists in general. We will end with a better scientist. Brad – how do you change the culture? Very slow transition? Caren -In NCSU there is a buy-in from all levels, but in the people that come into science will drive it.

Q&A – Polish experience: running citizen science in science centre – one where the participants are real scientists, a small number, on the other hand, citizen scientists as just data collectors – you told me that I’m a citizen scientist, this is just data collection. The more scientific it is, the more there is a need to adapt and change the project, and keep the scientists and participants along the same route is hard to manage and run. How to create projects at large scale as real scientists, beyond collecting data. If they only have done the data collection, and not in the analysis, they complain about the experience. Rob – the more quickly we can relate the data collection relate to the wider study, this helps. Also can do a more advanced style of studies, with a small group of participants and have an onlooker effect. Caren – thinking about different levels, and gives a way to allow people to engage at a higher level.

People who participate in prototype feel that they don’t feel that they do real science, and it is hard to convince them that. Museum and science centre are places where you don’t expect to do something new – even with scientists who work behind glass, some people think that these are real scientists and not actors. Putting on information – showing the stories of discoveries by scientists is something that needs to communicate.

What is the place of citizen science in museums there is a role of engaging in environmental challenges, and it is not clear what the museums need to engage with societal issues? Caren – museums are still seen as trusted organisations, so discussion about technology and science policy are done in museums. Rob – one model of what museums can be about.

Citizen science from researchers perspective, education, but what about empowering people and addressing local problems – a coalition with engagement organisation (e.g. Science Shops) can be important. It can be promising.

Another question – who is owning the definition of what real science is, and a lot of visitors feel that it is far away, and the scientists are keeping their position. Need to bridge perceptions of participants and scientists are lots of time data collectors.

Are there other examples of addressing questions that the public participates in the question? When we collect information and other forms of knowledge that can be included in science? Rob – linking to food is an opportunity to engage and build on what people know, and demonstrate wider forms of knowledge. People can taste the results.

Final question from Justin Dylon: Is it ever morally acceptable not to pay people for citizen science? [my answer: the wrong question, considering that it’s the most educated in society who participate, the volunteering is a social payback]

European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) 2018 Conference – day 2: Beyond the deficit model, inclusiveness, libraries, and

The second and last day of the conference (day 1 is covered here) started early, with a keynote: “Science society continuum: From ‘deficit model’ to social demand on research – the reform of science in progress” Lionel Larqué, FR – [physicist and head the collaboration of education, civil society organisations, and science. Influenced partnerships between science and society on non-deficit model of science.] The organisation ALLISS was set in 2012 – to address Science & Society Continuum. There is a book on “sciences participatives” and it is in French and aimed at the local community. Speak from the French perspective, the founders of the institution that he runs – 1800 members (institutions) and 15-20 years of cooperation. Science-society concepts: seeing it as good answers for the wrong questions, at the background of the public policy – what we can and can’t do. Science/society came from institutions – a structural bias, it came from scientific and European institutions – the reason to start it. It starts with wrong and incomplete data, ideas from the 1970s and 1980s about mistrust of citizens in science. What is the reality of current public view on science is unknown, we don’t know if the questions were well written. The policy was based on scientific prejudice, and assumptions about public mistrust in science – but generally, from 1972 to today, in France 78%-85% people have trust in the knowledge from science (without linking to technology or how science run). There is no strong data that will show the strong mistrust and mix criticism with mistrust. The French science academy is full of non-rational scientists who feed the discourse of public mistrust. A lot of bad reasons for creating agnotological public debate – some scientists want to instrumentalise the public debate. by saying that there is a mistrust, then you can rely on deficit model and ignore the public and that is useful. It also seems obvious to claim that it is obvious, as all institutions face mistrust – politics, media, law and order, and therefore assume that science is also getting it. The pressure on scientists is getting higher and the scientific community is suffering from the pressure – political power, social actors, finance. Scientific institutions are the last trusted institutions and ask to answer all the questions, and the scientists feel pressured by these demands and they see that as a problem that they want people to leave them to their own actions. There is a vicious cycle of address the deficit model because. ALLISS put forward the idea that we need to ask the new question. We need to face institutional walls – they don’t want to accept that society at large is way more educated and therefore scientific institutions need to change. ALLISS tries to figure out the institutional challenge.

The French situation: high level of trust from the public towards science, but criticism towards the institutions. There is a large scale cooperation between civil society organisations and scientific organisations (CNRS, INRS…). The number is very high, but the institutions are not looking at it in their strategic plans – cooperation developed despite institutional policies. In 2001-2009, the World Social Forum, from 8500 workshops, only 70 talked about science and technology. For a lot of social actors, science is outside the frame and in 2007 launched the “science and democracy world forum” – can we share a common view about it? The workshops show that dialogue was not the issue, but what can we change the context – what can you do to change partnerships. Need to change something: policy, concept, etc. . A mass of initiatives won’t be enough to change policy. The barrier of science institutions is a big barrier and it hasn’t changed from the 1970s to today. The main tradition of science is a problem for citizen science – it is put in a box and put into a specific space so it won’t change the bigger institutions. Citizen science dynamics is one that allows us to change things: we need to understand where we came from – design of research and science policies – the key design was for making Europe stronger, rebuilt, and link science and industry. Now there are local actors, local groups, and the science-policy doesn’t have tools that allow that – a non-industrial research policy focused on society is needed. Scientific institutions we have a wider policy alliance. Are the people that work in museums, institutions. Things won’t change the way we want them – they don’t have a sequential process, e.g. feminism impact in scientific study and what helped: bicycle, war, and image in the mass media in the 1960s of women in the media. Changes are not rational, but even when the forces are strong we need both the cumulative experience and the politics. Open science initiative might help us, maybe close to the SDG initiatives and we can explore them through research. We observe that the sociology of citizen science is that a lot of citizen science is coming from institutions that propagate the deficit model and we need to play both with these institutions and the cost are very high. We need to be clear that we need a change, we understand what we can change and what can’t be changed. The Shock Doctrine is something that we need to be aware of it – think outside ourselves. ALLISS and ECSA need to be ready.

Workshop “Empowerment, inclusiveness & equity in community-based research and CS”

Claudia Göbel, Michael Jorganson , ECSA (DE). Notes on and there are issues at Michael: CBR – civil society have issues that need to be addressed by authorities but this need to be documented, There is also need for the development of new knowledge or new proposals (e.g. urban agriculture). Empowerment – knowledge might empower – but not enough, there is also translations and alliances to make it effective. There are sometimes need to figure out new methods in the institution and in society. Working deliberately with empowerment. Claudia – looked at the Soleri 2016: empowerment – capacity to make a change. The terminology can be about equity and inclusiveness. It’s about who is participating, and it builds on conversations that evolve from the CSA conference but also ECSA conference in 2016, workshops in Living Knowledge conference, policy roundtables. From the living knowledge conference, there are different ideas about research, especially different epistemologies of science “distant vs engaged research. The idea of a working ground on empowerment and some activities that a group can do.


Barbara Kieselnger – ideas of citizen social science – building on participatory action research, data activism, action research – but we now combine it with other sources. Done a classification of citizen science projects. Different projects that engage citizens, for example, a project in Barcelona and using an existing of environmental activists and political and street actions. Want to understand ozone pollution. The Careables – it’s a project which involves people with physical limitation and maker communication, sharing the co-design openly.

Balint Balazs – pointing about the silence of citizen science in central Europe (same issues at the UCL workshop on Geographical Cit Sci). Making invisible project visibility. Thinking of citizen social science. Aspects of empowerment: autonomy, competence, belonging, impact, meaning, resilience – need to think how they work.

Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou– question the notion of inclusiveness: e.g. a transgender friend that ask about having us as a bigger group to colour a project. Adding a symbolic inclusiveness. In order to put in evidence the power of community – a summit in Ghana on the AfricaOSH – a big conversation about making/ hacking/bio-hacking and to bring together as a community what is the open science mean to us.

Muki Haklay – I’ve focused on passive and assertive inclusiveness, the need for a more nuanced view of participation as we have societal benefits from highly educated people, and the problem of methodological individualism in the analysis of empowerment and inclusion. Call for also a realistic understanding of resources – the more inclusive you are, the more expensive the process of including them is – e.g. the need to morally justify the intelligent maps effort, where each engagement in very expensive.

Libby Hepburn covered the issue of the global initiative of citizen science, which is providing an opportunity for different organisations and programmes to collaborate and the potential of leveraging the SDG to address societal challenges, demonstrate the needs for citizen science applications and use.

The session’s discussion turned to different aspects of inclusiveness and the creation of an ECSA working group.

Speed Talks “Citizen Engagement”

Nina James, University of South Australia (AUS): Strangers, Stewards and Newcomers in CS identities of those that participate – looked at 9 contributory project, 900 participants, and 1400 non-participants. It is very diverse fields – motivated by different things, she found in conservation 49-69 female mostly (70%). Different from non-participants. highly educated, sense of connection to the environment. First identity is environmental stewards – connected to nature, strong awareness, also actively politically engage, and participate in more than one projects. Science enthusiasts – participate in other cit sci, interested in science, interested in technology and confident about it, and less politically active. Also included in a project that there are introverts and extroverts (a project in a museum and also online). The men are topic oriented, motivated in science and technology, and in the outback in the fireballs in the sky that includes 77% men. There are newcomers – motivated by the topic. Millenials are in small percentage. The strangers are haven’t participated in citizen science – less politically engaged, lower education, too many conflicting interests. People are participating in different projects. The participation of female (70%) is an issue – result of an online survey.

Cat Stylinski, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (US): Embedded Assessment of Skills in CS. Embedded assessment in citizen science – provides an introduction. Volunteers need to develop skills in citizen science to participate, and this is important to upheld scientific standards. Need to identify the skills, train support, then assess the skills and then a need to think how this work. Assessment includes formal tests, informal observations, and data validation. Embedded assessment is done as people involved in the project – so giving an activity and then developing a rubric to compare what people did. Embedded assessment try to streamline the process – data validation is usually focusing on science variable, and instead of looking at the volunteers and how they learn the approach. Figuring out a new way to integrate the assessment with project’s process.

Kate Lewthwaite, Woodland Trust (UK): Engaging older citizen scientists in the digital era. A painful case study of moving people to a new website – working on woods and working with many volunteers in Nature Calendar – many recorders are over 60 and even 80. Important contributors to phenology. They wanted to move the website to a new system because of the technological change – but some people used the website for 10 years. Consulted with the scientific users of the data on improvements – better location information, ask the number of visits, and improving data about participants. Used persona for the design process. Overall the participants struggle much more than expected. Registration through verification links in email and needed to assist in copy and paste, and need to use an alphanumeric password. They haven’t read the website and couldn’t understand why there was a need to add a security information. The manipulation of mapping (survey123 style of moving the map) was confusing. Don’t do change – there was once a decade to do a change and plan support, expect more staff resources to make it happen, and they needed the support. They talked with 20 interviews and the development team explore the issue with infrequent users, That why they thought that everything is ready. Continue to run a paper-based system. They’ve lost some of the people in the transition, and don’t have the ability to provide an app, yet – it’s planned.

Karsten Elmose Vad, The Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen (DK): What motivates families to do CS? evaluation of the Ant Hunt (mentioned in the previous post) – an experiment of food preferences of ants. Take several hours, capturing ant, and sending them. They focused on families with children 6-13, Denmark doesn’t have an after-school science. Put the researcher on video and she wrote back to participants. got 356 experiments, 260 users, 24 species and 6000 ants. The evaluation shows that for more people having scientists connected to the project it was the majority, and it was valuable for them to get a response from a scientist which coordinated the project – felts that it provide participation in something big and the opportunity to work with a scientist. Valuable cross-generation activity, open-ended experiment, the scientific method. They didn’t care about the competition.

Gaia Agnello, ECSA (DE): Motivations and perceived benefits predict citizen
scientists´ level of engagement. Used the volunteer function index (clary & snider 1998) the analytical framework for voluntarism. Looking how these factors influence the programme – looking through an online questionnaire. 174 responses – more motivated to nature issues. It is important to understand motivation in relation to engagement. The initial motivation is not driving the level of engagement.

Talks  – “Social Innovation”

Tiberius Ignat et al., Scientific Knowledge Services (DE): Working Together: CS and Research Libraries – presented with Paul Ayres of UCL libraries. The request to talk at the conference is about the role of libraries in support activities especially research library – these are areas of research libraries that are important. They have supported organisation, highly standardised, well connected in a network and work well. They build collections or resources, data and material. The manage the incoming and outgoing of scientific communication with researchers and world leaders of open science and advocates of it – pushing open access and are experienced advocates. They are also open to innovation and work through transformation for all their roles. Fun people, centrally located, and also have a culture of being politeness towards answers. They have 10 major skills: collaboration between libraries, they have communication skills, have a FAIR concept that is integrated into their practices, good in infrastructure and governing it. They have experience in maintaining and curating collections. They have experience in open access, connecting people. They have demonstrated advocacy as a network – open access and fees campaign for example. The confluences are areas of opportunities – skills development, support, collection, FAIR data, infrastructure, evaluation, communication – general skills but also in the recruitment of volunteers, marketing and in advocacy. In 2017 there was a set of presentation on the “Roles for libraries in the Open Science landscape” and done 12 presentations and in 2918 presenting on 2018 “Focus on Open Science”. There is a demand for citizen science in these events. Looking at the OSPP of the EU, citizen science is one of the 8 pillars of open science. There is a consistent line of supporting open science in 2016 in Amsterdam, then in the OSPP which just produced a recommendations on citizen science, and LERU advice paper on open science in May 2018. Library engagement in citizen science – an example from UCL East – UCL library thinking about a local oral history in the borough of Newham. The other example is the Transcribe Bentham is the crowdsourcing with 624 and it is very cost effective – an example of contribution through the special collection . Another example is the establishment of university press that is dedicated to Open Access . The answers – why do citizens collaborate? What is the motivation to volunteers? and so on. Libraries have a very important role and there is an open survey at

Susanne Hecker et al., Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
UFZ/German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-JenaLeipzig (DE): Innovation in and with CS. The journey about the ECSA 2016 and the development of the new open access book from the conferences –  bringing the experiences of the conference, bringing 120 researchers and what we can expect from the book – 29 chapters in 5 sections. Part 1 is about innovation in citizen science – setting the scene: it will include the description of the Ten Principles of citizen science, standards for citizen science, then the contribution on scientific impact, my chapter on participation in citizen science, then technology and infrastructure and evaluation. Part II, focus on questions on society – understanding the social theory, empowerment and scientific library, inclusiveness, support (technically and socially) and the integration with the higher education system. We have 40 case studies in the book, but in particular in China, Europe, Global mosquito alert, and water quality. The third part, focus on the science-policy interface, including policy formulation with an input from people at the EC and from Environmental Protection Agencies, also Responsible Research and Innovation. The next section is the innovation in technology and environmental monitoring (part IV) and it looks at technologies, light pollution, data protocol, and national monitoring programmes. The last part – section V – looking at science communication and education – making it education, addressing science capital through citizen science, children, school education, and stories that change the world. Key recommendation complete the book. The discussion included questions about the production of the book at open access and the need to promote it to policymakers and to wider audiences

Closing session

Claudia Appenzeller-Winterberger-  – citizen science is engagement of scientists and of the citizens, and you need to think why are we doing it? Is we summarise the dialogue, it is about the question of scientists and let the public ask questions. Thinking global and acting local. We will have to think about these new questions: a lot of it is testing and doing citizen science.

Science & Dissent – Day 2 – Afternoon session, round table and conclusion

The afternoon and concluding session of the workshop (here are part 1 and part 2)

Making as Dissent: The Performance of Producing Pharmaceuticals in Biohacking (Gabriela A. Sanchez, University of Geneva, Switzerland) looking at laboratory protocol to develop insulin and the researchers want to use a 50 years protocol. The Open Insulin Project at the Counter Culture Lab – Maker, DIY bio, citizen science – inviting people to participate in the creation of technoscience. There are similarities between different groups. Thinking about “Impure Science” by Epstein from 1996, looking at the AIDS campaign – the DIe-in at the FDA. The challenged scientific authority. Th Act-up network worked with the medical establishment. The Open Insulin is different – the do things differently – the biohackers are doing a performance, which is not saying that they will be creating a pharma class drug. They are creating stories and narrative. Looking at how the open insulin work we can see three narratives. Greedy pharmaceuticals is the first narrative and arguing about the costs of insulin and costly monopoly of 3 drug companies and activities that block. The pharma insists that they are doing their best -but there is an increased price of drugs significantly. The second story is about empowering patients – Laufer’s alternative of an epinephrine injector (2016). The media is structuring the story around DIY approach as a way to addressed times of needs, with stories from wartime – perceptions of becoming self-sufficient. The concept of open sourcing diabetes therapy as a way to provide a way to remove the financial incentives. Finally, there is the narrative or alternative science – bring the focus on biohackers as challenging and disruptive to big pharma. The biohackers assume a budget of $16,000 and volunteers effort, the equipment is recycled and second hand, and some other bits that are 3D printed – e.g. the Arduino Open PCT. The people on the projects are presenting their background and degree – many have PhDs. The identity of participants is not mentioned in media. The place of work is the Omni in Oakland that link it to the Occupy Oakland Protest. The stories point that the biohackers engage in the performative role of community scientists, working on a shoestring budget, and they materialise a different vision of making drugs and making the critique of society, capitalism structures, and the pharmaceutical industry practice. Using the narrative of the biotechnology industry that insulin. The different sites of biohacking are having an influenced by the location of the laboratory – in the SF area, another famous lab is more educational and focus on hardware and software. There is an element of promoting biotechnology but it is culture dependent.

The Politics of Data in the Intersection Between Hacker Culture and Citizen Science (Christopher Kullenberg, University of Gothenburg, Sweden) merging citizen science and hacker culture and where do they link – looking at different projects that are in citizen science since 2014 in Gothenburg – and looking at collecting and using data for a societal change. Building on the paper on Citizen Science as Resistance – when you use citizen science data to promote change. In this paper, he argue that it’s a power form of using data. What is the role of technology in citizen science? from the perspective of dissent – this is coming from the hacker culture, and hacking initiative is seen as dissenting practices, possibly anti-social. The description is not accepted by hackers – it’s constructive, building new knowledge, learning about technology. The meeting between hacker culture and citizen science is linked to different tools – three cases:, Public Lab DIY microscope, and Safecast Geiger counter. Approaching the project on the basis of digital traces. The approach to technology looking at the concept that technology is locked from us unless it is breaking down. We have devices that we don’t understand – the hacker culture is an active disassembly of technology to learn about it, not because it is broken but active breaking down. Opportunity to collapse local/global differences and building on Latour (2013:221) “We shall never find the mode of technological existence in the object itself, since it is always necessary to look beside it: first, between the object itself and the enigmatic movement of which it is only the wake; then, within the object itself, between each of the components of which it is only the temporary assemblage”. What is happening beside the gaze at technology. We can ask about resources – who can afford building technologies? What values are embedded – open/proprietary? is the knowledge complex or simple? and the question of truth or data quality – is the instrument accurate enough. Sensors for measurement station for air quality that is doing measurements of PM2.5 and PM10. The concentration of sensors in different parts of the world. The project started in Germany, in Stuttgart. The project was transferred to Sweden (the project webpage is only in German). Possible to compare Sweden and Germany – the data also allow analysis of who adopted the technology: price, knowledge of setting up, etc. Noticing which areas are covered – looks like that data is collected in middle-class areas. It is also possible to look at social media in facebook groups. The analysis shows how knowledge is transfer – it is based on actual experience and tacit knowledge: German organised a local workshop, and the questions online provide further information. Sensors are cheap and provide false results – e.g. when humidity is high. This allow showing the values – environmental value, public health concerns, also open source, open hardware, sharing results. In terms of actors and networks, we can see low barriers to make the city join in and get help in calibration from officials. There is a way to link the Mertonian norms – Communalism vs open hw/sw, Universalism vs open standards, disinterestedness vs cheap not for profit, Organised Skepticism through community peer-review. See dissent as a relational concept, and the scientific method is a powerful intensifier of dissent science it generates positive knowledge – seen as apolitical.

Discussion day 2 – some of the issues that emerged today: studying the way in which groups of people are doing things in transnational ways across boundaries and the city which operates locally, so there can be institutionally mismatched. Another aspect is to think about patients groups and their interests, such a patient owned organisation that lead to pharmaceutical reorganisation and speculate about it. Dissenting scientists many time reabsorbed in the public system or in UN organisation and even had to move countries. In the US attacks on scientists personally are not new, and there is far less purchase by evidence and official data – e.g. noise and air quality data from the city own instruments are being ignored. There are challenges to the norm of science that we’ve seen in Argentina and doing it alone and without a network is a very risky approach. Potential questions: is science a tool that is central to dissent? Can academics challenge citizen science, or is citizen science challenging mainstream science? There are also question about science as data, facts? Those four questions are framing a large research project and under what conditions the questions play out? There are lots of things happening, and try to reduce them to a very narrow range of issues. Many scientists taking scientific techniques and reject other features, such as the role of it in progressing society, etc. There is also aspects of what expertise and counter-expertise we get inside institutions and outside institutions – people from outside science having local knowledge, or people that travel all the way to become scientists, people who developed skills insides and travel outside (biohackers). The “counter” is depending on context: Germany or Bulgaria where it is about challenging the city, whereas in Sweden it is all about working together between the city and the people who build systems – “the same citizen science is counter and non-counter” (or is it not the same?). It is also about thinking about expertise – need to be understood in a specific place and time, and not making them “immutable mobiles”. How to call people? people are presenting themselves in different names – even using different CV depending on context. Need to consider how science communication needs to transform to support those changes. In terms of the role of universities and colleges – there are in the US emerging practices in colleges that are doing things through undergraduate education – small colleges provide a scope for critical research when they are not under pressure of research. There are also anxieties about employment, changes to neoliberal structures in universities in the US, Europe, and India mean that the scope of getting students engage through their science to societal issues is more limited.

Round Table
Shannon Dosemagen | Public Lab, United States – working with Public Lab, started as 8-9 years ago with the BP oil spill and done community organisation and working on different issues – from kayaking to informal science communities. Working with communities in Louisiana with experience of the Bucket Brigade issues with refineries. Using data that was captured from community effort and then thinking what the data will be used for. The BP spills provided an opportunity to mapping reports of the experience from it in the Gulf. Ushahidi wasn’t a good tool – giving information without the ability to respond. Started doing community “satellites” – balloon and kites mapping 2000-300 fit to capture the situation and that is because there was a restriction of flying over the area. Building with it a robust archive of information of community views. Public Lab is about making technology useful: for an actionable purpose, top-down citizen science, and establishing alternatives.

Dinesh Abrol | JNU-STEPS, India – journey as people science movement activists since 1975. State led science is much practised. In parallel to other activities in different countries, with rural science. Kerala model worked on mobilising science teachers and educating and it led to a movement in 10 states after 1984 – Bophal was an important catalyst and creating science activism that is done in people’s language, abuse of science and technology in pesticides and chemical releases. Not only observe and passively react in mainstream science and technologies but also create new institutions and programmes: a new notion of development itself. There was lots of local knowledge and artisan abilities and started on how to upgrade capabilities, especially the lower class. Taking from the freedom movement ideas and engage with it. Principles: science be reflexive, responsible innovation, encourage participation of all stakeholders (also through All India Science Network), balancing and changing power relationships. Then developing and transforming science capacity, and need to understand the decolonisation – and lots of learning since the 1930s. Need to understand and deal with new colonialism through science.

Muki Haklay | University College London, United Kingdom – covered the background participatory mapping and ExCiteS, and the use of values and STS in our work. In particular, the progression from Public Access to Environmental information to PPGIS, then to Citizen Science in environmental justice context, the merging of VGI and understanding of crowdsourcing through engagement with OpenStreetMap, and finally the creation of the ExCiteS group.

C. Shambu Prassad | IRMA, India – started journey in 1984 and influenced by Bophal and went to be a mechanical engineer. Ask question about technology and development and following the People Science Movement. Looked at science and technology paths in India and then moved into learning. Exploration of artisanal techniques of spinning cotton that showed different potentiality of technology and the history of cotton. The history of technology and science can be helped in understanding what we are seeing now, such as the impact of using the America cotton variety in the industrial revolution, which didn’t match the Indian variety. Interest in innovation in the margin, and exploring controversies around issues – we can see dissent and marginality (e.g. soil experts in the green revolution).  Explore how is that starting to change scientific practice. We need to look beyond the citizens and their experiences. Controversies are happing in journal and blocking of publications of a certain type as a way to influence the discourse.

Kelly Moore | Loyola University, United States – trained in looking at social movement and mostly on the structural way. Became interested in political movement that is about knowledge. Some activism aspects in life (bike) and public space movement in NYC, also in Green Mapping project with Wendy Brewer. Involved in a campaign about O’Hare airport and impact and learn about technopolitics and how power get organised and how unions can push it away. Worked on “Know your rights” in videos that are helping people to address issues in surveillance. We haven’t covered enough decolonisation and work for people without power and justice projects, and more scholarship and engagement on understanding on what count as a citizen science. There is lack of engagement with people in the field with scholars in science studies so trying to copy models between places instead of trying to understand local context.

Follow up discussion: Some open issues: to what a city is a great place for mobilisation, and how it addresses global issues. Elements of governance, municipality, NGOs, good public transport, exposure to inequality, public spaces to meet, and social networks. There are examples from Delhi of suburbs that create marginal residency can be very difficult to engage but it is possible to do citizen science. For city and climate change, there are impacts of dredging and worsening impacts of storms. however, the protection is at the city level. Hyperlocal to the regional is critical. Questions about dissent – how to be explicit about the scale in which things are working, and rejecting that the national is always the right level. A city is a geopolitical unit, and the urban might be another way – networks of places that can be linked together. Need to bring in to these issues gender, ethnic – issues of knowledge from the margin (Logan Williams). There are issues of science and what it should be done – e.g. doing a participatory activity to address trauma instead of dealing with infrastructures. There was an example of the hacking air quality sensors that are not represented in marginalised groups, this is something that needs to take ideas of language, funding. The scientists abilities to deal with issues is coming from the political regime, e.g. issues with NGOs funding? Considering the power and considering how to hack the situation and discuss things that they couldn’t discuss without it.

The literature on participatory research, the pedagogy of the oppressedScience & Dissent – Day 2 – Afternoon session, round table and conclusion , participatory mapping are not appearing in the history of science literature.

Science & Dissent – Day 2 – Morning session

The second day of the workshop (day one here) started with The New Technocracy: Scientific Dissent and New Forms of American Governance (Kelly Moore, Loyola University, United States) what are the political conditions of scientists in the US and what are the reorganisation of epistemology and knowledge. Dissent and political reorganisation are dependent on the forms of science and the role of scientists in a specific political context. STS research focuses on techniques and topics of dissent – what are the ways of protest against nuclear power? What are the forms that health issues are addressed by women? Relationship to governance are under-analysed and lack of larger analysis. The questions: who is available to participate in the project? what are the financial support? where are they coming ideologically, politically, and legally? How do they think about science – e.g. science fundamentalists? What are the forms that science is taking place? Some of it based on “Disrupting Science” book – trying to understand how scientists understand their role in dissent – for example thinking about Cold War Technocracy in the 1950s. In the 80s and 90s, there was weak re-construction of science. The US dependent on civic associationalism, protectionist law for citizens, and rule of law – with roles of universities in the system. But since the 1980s, universities moved back to being fund by tuitions fees in the market and from military or industry, and science deliberation for the citizen is too weak to capture the processes in the US. More importantly, neo-liberalism – no protection of citizens and science is linked to commercialisation. An important framing is “Scientists as entrepreneurs”. 2/3 of R&D is private and create secret knowledge and IPR. Ad hominem attacks replaced engagement with the topic – and this is a risk to scientists. The prestige of science and scientists parallels hostility towards government. Two political shift – dissent is capitalised  – Frank Why Johnny Can’t Dissent – and the rule of law is under threat. Laws that are passed without review and some laws are not enforced. Citizens encounter science and technology in everyday life and US citizens are dependent on science and technology for their survival. A risk society in which people need to seek knowledge for everyday action – what is important is not if it something is true but if it works for you. What does it mean to think science and challenges to power?  Scientists – alliances with scientists work with people? They are ignorant of their own fields, history, and not politically, numerically, and legally available. On the citizens – citizenship varies widely across the globe, and the notion of the citizen is structured around framing them as a soldier and consumer and require to think about citizenship. We have seen scientists marching to defend science – making science political, let’s go back to Golden years sort of thinking Instead of studying science and society, we are looking at researchers – socio-technical organisers – bridge, brokers. Communication and community building – versed in technical, political, social history. We can see it in universities by researchers who work as community labs, civic sectors, they reorganise science. There is also participation by women and problem of calling what people are doing. Maybe call it of new sociotechnical reorganisation that centre the new brokers. Many of the reorganisation was driven by political movement, and maybe not be the popular movement, but they can have an influence on scientists. Science communication is there in the picture as protectors of science and passing information to the public and having issues with accepting new forms of understanding of science. We also nationalist neoliberalism and shrinking relationships with the world, and that is also for scientists – in the 1960s and 1970s there were lessons drawn from Latin America and elsewhere, but this is now disappearing.

Expert Networks and Networks of Expertise: The Epistemic Politics of Argentina’s Pesticide Conflict (Florencia Arancibia, National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina and Scott Frickel, Brown University, United States) in 2009 research shown toxicity of Glyphosate and that there are problems in its regulations in Argentina – this caused shockwave as there is large scale application across the country. This study reached the mass media – Argentina dependent on agro-export, and use GM Soya from the 1990s and there is a long use of Glyphosate for that. The toxicity is evaluated through DL50 methodology which considers the effect of doses that lead to lethal damage and not low and long-term exposure. The study in 2009 was a turning point, and Carrasco (the scientist who carried out the study) was attacked by the state and commercial organisations. He was doing a scientific rebellion by publishing in a newspaper and not in an academic journal, in order to make a point about the lack of public interest in the Argentinian scientific establishment. Looking at expertise from 2001 to 2015, and while at a national level there are no changes in policy, there been impacts in the local level and new identities by scientists (as activists) and the network grown from 12 experts to 58 both in clinical research and scientific research. Also, change in scientific knowledge with increased papers on pesticides effects. It started in concern in Cordoba City about the increase in local illnesses of children – including a health survey that was done by the community and the study was ignored by the government, so they invited biological and other experts and while some regulations were changed. The campaign evolved into a national campaign in the mid-2000s (2004-2009) “Stop the Spraying” branches. In 2009-2011 we see the creation of “Physicians of Sprayed Villages” (called after a book that described case studies and experiences). Clinical physicians and scientists. We see in the mobilisation of expert a role for early career people – PhD and early researchers. Important to understand mobilisation over a long period of time and need to analyse it as such, and we also see the censorship and oppression by the state and the changes in the experts that are participating.

Do We Need a People’s Critique of the Anthropocene? (Frank Uekötter, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom) – how much do we need to care about buzzwords? For 18 years we are talking about the Anthropocene – its aim is to change public opinion about the environment and humans and remained mostly academic (unlike sustainable development in the 1980s and 1990s). There are different debates in geology and related areas – does it matter for our social engagement. Defending the Anthropocene – raise the profile of environmental issues and brought new people to the discussion; served as a bridge between “the Two Cultures” (the Anthropocene working group got people from the humanities); raised big questions. However, the Anthropocene is a status report, not a guide for action; also a question about who is benefiting – in particular the geoengineers capitalised on it; eco-modernist master-planners – which is a good Anthropocene which are excited about technology, developmental fantasies from the 1960s that increased; Expertise in a self-ratification circuit of setting a single vision of Anthropocene. An example, the London Big Smog of 1952 and it was a way to write history – is that a story about smoke and soot or is it about particulate emissions from stoves so not about coal. It’s also about energy story that is linked to fossil fuels and a distraction from climate change. Maybe we look at it as a problem that was solved and a model campaign to solve the issue. Once you realise that there are so many ways to talk about the smog is that there are fewer ways of reading the event, not more as in anything goes. Back to the “one Anthropocene” it is part of the desperation of the climate change community and it is a top-down approach, and also we need to have a place for a meta-discourse. Environmental problems have a strong moral element about the right behaviour so maybe it is an attempt to move from that. The concept also has strange immunity from critique and there isn’t a place for a critical reflection. Conclusion – we need a people critique and we need a meta-discourse. Also, need to consider is this will be used for policy-makers to use the ecomodernist manifesto and should be prepared for that.

Independent? Yes. Expert? Perhaps! Political lessons from NGO activism in the French Nuclear Energy Sector (Sezin Topçu, EHESS, France) we can look at the issue of nuclear activities in France and the need to shift from technical democracy and celebration of it to government of criticism which is about co-opting and silencing debates. Looking at the different instruments of government over 5 decades, including the rise of social science in management of critiques and other tools. Focusing on the participatory aspects of it. Critiques are imbricated and in the nuclear configuration which is technocratic in France, there is a myth that it is always the same concept of nuclear energy. The summary of the development of expertise include the post May 1968 nd pioneer mobilisataion for building counter-expertise which include scientists and also trade unions – counter expertise which formulate the nuclear issue as a social choice, the French anti-nuclear movement was strong from 1975 and it was controlled in strong and soft ways; next the post-Chernobyl when counter-expertise – this created new actions: scientists and citizens working together, and insist on the identity of experts (e.g. not accept “lay experts” as a term), use of Gaiger counters and other instruments. Gradually recognised by institutions. The next configuration – post Rio period – 1995-6 moving from expert activism and having a rise and fall of more invisible dissent, and finally post-Fukushima period and slow renewal of anti-nuclear protest (2013 onward). The first period after the disaster was complete silence but then the development of counter-experts and even the same experts that appeared in the previous periods. In the late 1970s, the mobilisation of scientists was seen as a risk, while post Mitterrand in the 1980s they identified it as a positive aspect that can be used to help accepting state choice and to be independent. In the post-Chernobyl accepting the expertise helped in silencing it. In the third period, the transparency and sharing of information is used to show positive aspects, as well as messages of nuclear energy as green and democratic. Then there are also use of presenting institutions as participative and inclusionary in expertise, and therefore showing that some institutions are open to other voices. For example, the concern about leukemia at Hague region in 1997 – a pluralistic commission in order to study it and they succeeded as a helper for civic society. It is actually a top-down design that only invited NGO experts and not the wider public (e.g. concerned mothers in the region). They put together 500,000 measurements but this type of expertise was not really open in terms of recognising the local knowledge of people in the area. The local and non-institutional experts were supposed to work in their free time and had a disadvantage in comparison to institutional experts. There was lack of epidemiological studies to link cause-effect and from 200 they created a permanent function of monitoring. The precarious functioning of participatory functions, mutated again recently, with the opening of discussion on phasing out nuclear. There were examples of instrumentalisation of the participatory process in order to justify the functions of nuclear energy. Counter-expertise and participatory practices about a resource for collective action, but also for techno-scientific powers and think where they are situated, how sustainable they are, who is mobilising, and what do they serve to can be used for manipulation and move to strategic and dynamic political work by all actors. Expert activism is a strategy.

Activism Mobilising Science: Protest in the Uranium Mines in Niger and Namibia (Marta Conde, Universitat Autoònoma de Barcelona, Spain) studying environmental justice cases and the expertise and forms of co-production. Defining it as a co-production of new and alternative knowledge in terms of the dominant discourses in cases of mining communities. She looked at Uranium mining in Africa – Niger and Namibia. Issues of contaminates water, dust, radon, and health. The activism mobilised locally, with knowledge co-productions – in niger Almoustapha Alhacaen and in Namibia Bertchen Kohrs, they did that by contacting external activities – Bruno Chareyron from CRIIRAD to link to the different cases. The EU EJOLT project provided resources to link resources. Activism was done to protect from impacts – and for example the knowledge about radon. It was also useful for refuting information that is coming from official bodies – for example, that scientific threshold is not protecting workers. They also doing this in order to gain visibility and legitimacy. Further work looked at the perspective of the activists/scientists – e.g. Bruno from CRIIRAD who is a nuclear engineer and worked in different sites and countries of uranium extraction. Another one is Robert Moran who work as expert hydrologist who work as a consultant in many cases that are linked to mining. The identified three types of co-production: knowledge co-production – the expert know what to look for and the instrument but lack local knowledge where to look for, e.g. scrap metal in the market that comes from the mine. The second there is co-production of interpretation – what information is key, what results should be used – e.g. knowing that material from the mine is used for construction. The expert may come only at the interpretation stage – a community got data but need help in understanding it. Finally, a co-production of strategies – Robert Moran carried expertise about what would work, how it should be used. There are different forms of co-production and, these are bottom-up processes control locally and they continue to work with the local support and it won’t lead to productive relationships. There is a process of politicisation of knowledge and scientific expertise. There is an issue that there are a lot of dependence on individuals and their effort and focus.

Selling the City: Activist Professionals and the Transformation of Community Development (Apollonya Porcelli, Aaron Niznik, Scott Frickel | Brown University, United States) the work is ongoing – interested in how social movement mobilise experts, and how experts organise themselves in relation to movements. Based on 2 years of developing a database of experts activists – professional who are engaged in 134 organisations in civil society in the Boston area, people who are expert which mean that they have postgraduate degrees, with details of this 700 people and 51 interviews. In the late 1960s, there was a movement to deal with developments in the Boston area. Boston have a large inequality so despite the work on public claims to the city – people before highways. The role of the experts in grassroots organisation changed over time, an analysis that identifies threats to communities – the 1950s- 60s it was government urban renewal and then 1980s it was market-led redevelopment. In the 50s and 60s, activists became social scientists as a result of their action and it was a way to maintain activist connections. With neo-liberalism, there was a change and that rely on technical expertise in law, planning. In the 1950s-1970s there was government-led renewal and attempt to push out marginalised communities of colour and with the beginning of this effort, the movement of people before highways emerge. Community Development Corporation proliferated – they are community led activities that are focusing on neighbourhood renewals and they were a way to connect communities and government. Grassroots politicised researchers – e.g. MIT urban studies provided a way to learn, maintain links to CDC and continue to use their expertise. Local universities (e.g. MIT) provided mobilising context and Mel King is an example of activists that became state representative and an adjunct professor at MIT. Boston is a concentration of a lot of academic institutions, and programmes such as Community fellows, Urban planning aids, and DUSP in MIT produce 24 MSc and PhD on CDCs in Boston. The defunding of cities housing led to differentiation of the housing sector. The Community Development organisations were forced to move to the private sector, the link to universities – the cultivation of policy administration, funded research centres, and financing housing. Business and law now dominate the scope of experts. Lots of different things happening and different disciplines are involved, different cohorts of activities – social science and social work gave way to law and finance. Seeing generational changes in what community development is about – the technical expertise reduce the social justice mission of underlying political, ideological motivation that use to be there. There is even a view that CDCs are actually now developers. Neoliberalism opened up opportunity to expert activism on environmental health, which used to be the CDC role, and left open.

Alan Irwin talk on Citizen Science and Scientific Citizenship (JRC, October 2015)

The EU Joint Research Centre in Ispra has recently released the recording of a talk by Alan Irwin at the Joint Research Centre as part of the STS “Contro  Corrente” series of seminars from 15 October 2015, with Jerome Ravetz and Silvio Funtowicz (famous for their post-normal science) as discussants. The talk, titled Citizen Science and Scientific Citizenship: same words, different meanings? is using the two keynotes at the Citizen Science Association 2015 conference (by Chris Filardi and Amy Robinson) as a starting point for a discussion about the relationships of citizen science to scientific citizenship.

If you are interested in the wider place of citizen science within the scientific enterprise, this seminar is an opportunity to hear from 3 people who thought about this for a long time (and their work influenced my thinking). It’s very much worth to spend the time to follow the whole discussion).

Two very valuable points from Irwin’s talk are, first, the identification ‘that the defining characteristics of citizen science is its location at the point where public participation and knowledge production – or societal context and epistemology – meet‘.

Secondly, the identification that scientific citizenship is having the following characteristics – focus on sociotechnical futures with specifically asking question about the relationship between knowledge and democracy; which highlights the political economy of knowledge and the changing nature of citizenship as practised engagement.

Also valuable is the linkage of knowledge, power, and justice and how these play out in citizen science in its different forms.

I’ll admit that I was especially interested in the way that my model of participation in citizen science was used in this seminar. However, having a blog is also an opportunity to respond to some of the points that were discussed in the seminar!

First, Alan Irwin note that scientific citizenship does not happen at the top level of participation but throughout the levels. This is something that I’m emphasising in every talk in which I use this model. As Silvio Funtowicz correctly identified, the model is (yet another) borrowing from Sherry Arnstein ladder of participation as I clearly indicated. However, it is wrong to put the value judgement that is at the centre of Arnstein analysis of participation into citizen science – there might be just as much engagement in volunteer computing as in ‘extreme’ citizen science.

Second, Funtowicz commented that the equivalent of ‘extreme citizen science’ in Arnstein ladder does not reach very high level of participation. I disagree. Arnstein top level is ‘Citizen Control, have-not citizens obtain the majority of decision-making seats, or full managerial power’. If in citizen science project we shift into more equal mode of knowledge production where the project is shaped by all participants, especially marginalised ones, and the scientists working as facilitators in service of the community, aren’t we at the same place?


‘Nobody wants to do council estates’ – digital divide, spatial justice and outliers – AAG 2012

At the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, I presented during the session Information Geographies: Online Power, Representation and Voice’, which was organised by Mark Graham (Oxford Internet Institute) and Matthew Zook (University of Kentucky). For an early morning session on a Saturday, the session was well attended – and the papers in the session were very interesting.

My presentation, titled ‘Nobody wants to do council estates’ – digital divide, spatial justice and outliers‘, was the result of thinking about the nature of social information that is available on the Web and which I partially articulated in a response to a post on GeoIQ blog. When Mark and Matt asked for an abstract, I provided the following:

The understanding of the world through digital representation (digiplace) and VGI is frequently carried out with the assumption that these are valid, comprehensive and useful representations of the world. A common practice throughout the literature on these issues is to mention the digital divide and, while accepting it as a social phenomenon, either ignore it for the rest of the analysis or expect that it will solve itself over time through technological diffusion. The almost deterministic belief in technological diffusion absolves the analyst from fully confronting the political implication of the divide.

However, what VGI and social media analysis reveals is that the digital divide is part of deep and growing social inequalities in Western societies. Worse still, digiplace amplifies and strengthens them.

In digiplace the wealthy, powerful, educated and mostly male elite is amplified through multiple digital representations. Moreover, the frequent decision of algorithm designers to highlight and emphasise those who submit more media, and the level of ‘digital cacophony’ that more active contributors create, means that a very small minority – arguably outliers in every analysis of normal distribution of human activities – are super empowered. Therefore, digiplace power relationships are arguably more polarised than outside cyberspace due to the lack of social check and balances. This makes the acceptance of the disproportional amount of information that these outliers produce as reality highly questionable.

The following notes might help in making sense of the slides.

Slide 2 takes us back 405 years to Mantua, Italy, where Claudio Monteverdi has just written one of the very first operas – L’Orfeo – as an after-dinner entertainment piece for Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga. Leaving aside the wonderful music – my personal recommendation is for Emmanuelle Haïm’s performance and I used the opening toccata in my presentation – there is a serious point about history. For a large portion of human history, and as recent as 400 years ago, we knew only about the rich and the powerful. We ignored everyone else because they ‘were not important’.

Slide 3 highlights two points about modern statistics. First, that it is a tool to gain an understanding about the nature of society as a whole. Second, when we look at the main body of society, it is within the first 2 standard deviations of a normalised distribution. The Index of Deprivation of the UK (Slide 4) is an example ofthis type of analysis. Even though it was designed to direct resources to the most needy, it analyses the whole population (and, by the way, is normalised).

Slide 5 points out that on the Web, and in social media in particular, the focus is on ‘long tail’ distributions. My main issue is not with the pattern but with what it means in terms of analysing the information. This is where participation inequality (Slide 6) matters and the point of Nielsen’s analysis is that outlets such as Wikipedia (and, as we will see, OpenStreetMap) are suffering from even worse inequality than other communication media. Nielsen’s recent analysis in his newsletter (Slide 7) demonstrates how this is playing out on Facebook (FB). Notice the comment ‘these people have no life‘ or, as Sherry Turkle put it, they got life on the screen

Slide 8 and 9 demonstrate that participation inequality is strongly represented in OpenStreetMap, and we can expect it to play out in FourSquare, Google Map Maker, Waze and other GeoWeb social applications. Slide 10 focuses on other characteristics of the people that are involved in the contribution of content: men, highly educated, age 20-40. Similar characteristics have been shown in other social media and the GeoWeb by Monica Stephens & Antonella Rondinone, and by many other researchers.

In slides 11-14, observed spatial biases in OpenStreetMap are noted – concentration on highly populated places, gap between rich and poor places (using the Index of Deprivation from Slide 4), and difference between rural and urban areas. These differences were also observed in other sources of Volunteer Geographic Information (VGI) such as photo sharing sites (in Vyron Antoniou’s PhD).

Taken together, participation inequality, demographic bias and spatial bias point to a very skewed group that is producing most of the content that we see on the GeoWeb. Look back at Slide 3, and it is a good guess that this minority falls within 3 standard deviations of the centre. They are outliers – not representative of anything other than of themselves. Of course, given the large number of people online and the ability of outliers to ‘shout’ louder than anyone else, and converse among themselves, it is tempting to look at them as a population worth listening to. But it is, similarly to the opening point, a look at the rich and powerful (or super enthusiastic) and not the mainstream.

Strangely, when such a small group controls the economy, we see it as a political issue (Slide 15, which was produced by Mother Jones as part of the response to the Occupy movement). We should be just as concerned when it happens with digital content and sets the agenda of what we see and how we understand the world.

Now to the implication of this analysis, and the use of the GeoWeb and social media to understand society. Slide 17 provides the link to the GeoIQ post that argued that these outliers are worth listening to. They might be, but the issue is what you are trying to find out by looking at the data:

The first option is to ask questions about the resulting data such as ‘can it be used to update national datasets?’ – accepting the biases in the data collection as they are and explore if there is anything useful that comes out of the outcomes (Slides 19-21, from the work of Vyron Antoniou and Thomas Koukoletsos). This should be fine as long as the researchers don’t try to state something general about the way society works from the data. Even so, researchers ought to analyse and point to biases and shortcomings (Slides 11-14 are doing exactly that).

The second option is to start claiming that we can learn something about social activities (Slides 22-23, from the work of Eric Fischer and Daniel Gayo-Avello, as well as Sean Gorman in the GeoIQ post). In this case, it is wrong to read too much into the dataas Gayo-Avello noted – as the outliers’ bias renders the analysis as not representative of society. Notice, for example, the huge gap between the social media noise during the Egyptian revolution and the outcomes of the elections, or the political differences that Gayo-Avello noted.

The third option is to find data that is representative (Slide 24, from the MIT Senseable City Lab), which looks at the ‘digital breadcrumbs’ that we leave behind on a large scale – phone calls, SMS, travel cards, etc. This data is representative, but provides observations without context. There is no qualitative or contextual information that comes with it and, because of the biases that are noted above, it is wrong to integrate it with the digital cacophony of the outliers. It is most likely to lead to erroneous conclusions.

Therefore, the understanding of the concept of digiplace (Slide 25) – the ordering of digital representation through software algorithms and GeoWeb portals – is, in fact, double filtered. The provision of content by outliers means that the algorithms will tend to amplify their point of view and biases.  Not only that, digital inequality, which is happening on top of social and economic inequality, means that more and more of our views of the world are being shaped by this tiny minority.

When we add to the mix aspects of digital inequalities (some people can only afford a pay-as-you-go function phone, while a tiny minority consumes a lot of bandwidth over multiple devices), we should stop talking about the ‘digital divide’ as something that will close over time. This is some sort of imaginary trickle-down  theory that is being proven not to withstand the test of reality. If anything, it grows as the ‘haves’ are using multiple devices to shape digiplace in their own image.

This is actually one of the core problems that differentiates to approaches to engagement in data collection. There is the laissez-faire approach to engaging society in collecting information about the world (Slides 27-28 showing OpenStreetMap mapping parties) which does not confront the biases and opposite it, there are participatory approaches (Slides 29-30 showing participatory mapping exercises from the work of Mapping for Change) where the effort is on making the activity inclusive.

This point about the biases, inequality and influence on the way we understand the world is important to repeat – as it is too often ignored by researchers who deal with these data.