The first event of the network welcomed Grant Miller, the communications lead for the Zooniverse on-line citizen science platform, and Mark Hartswood, the co-founder of the Edinburgh University Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Network. Their presentations took place at the Social Informatics Forum on the 28th of May 2015, and it was an ideal launch of the network’s series of meet-ups and events.
Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most successful citizen science platform. Grant Miller’s talk, The Zooniverse – Real Science Online, focused on how Zooniverse works, the experience gained from 42 projects organized by Zooniverse, how the Zooniverse community is engaged to participate, and on the platform’s future.
The first community around Zooniverse was the Galaxy Zoo forum, where people where practicing classifying spiral and elliptical galaxies. Grant talked about a few other projects of the platform, such as Snapshot Serengeti, where you could indicate what you can see in images from camera traps on the Serengeti, and Old Weather, Zooniverse’s first humanity project, which started as a climatology project but humanities researchers and historians are now also involved.
As Grant explained, Zooniverse’s function is based on volunteering and simplified language of the task in order to make it easy for people to participate. Another important thing that they try to do is to translate the site, like in the case of Galaxy Zoo which is translated into Mandarin.
Mark Hartswood’s presentation, Intervening in Citizen Science: From incentives to value co-creation, reflected upon a collaboration between Zooniverse and SmartSociety, an EU project in which Mark is involved, and which explores how effective collectives of people and machines can be architect. Mark talked about motivations of participation, and the conceptualization of citizen science as co-creation value, by giving relevant examples from the literature.
Mark explained that the concept of “co-creation of value” has its origins in commerce and value, but it can be also used in order to interpret relationships and formations in science and citizen science. In citizen science platforms such as Zooniverse, different and complex forms of value are shared by participants who take part on different levels and for different reasons.