Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The 7 myths of cyberscience

Today we're at the London Citizen Cyberscience workshop at UCL. We've all gathered together to discuss how best to promote collaboration on citizen cyberscience between the main London institutions and to share the experiences of those that have worked on/are working on citizen cyberscience projects.

The morning was kicked off by Francois Grey, coordinator of the Citizen Cyberscience Centr, who gave us a quick intro into citizen cyberscience including the following seven myths about it:

1. It doesn’t produce real science
Projects such as have produced real published scientific results, which are used by governments to make important decisions. 

2. It won’t work for my science
From biology to the humanities there are case studies for all types of citizen cyberscience projects.

3. Nobody will be interested in my science
When starting up LHC@home the creators thought nobody would be interested in the project; they needn't have worried. One thousand people downloaded the application in the first 24 hours, with no publicity effort at all. 

4. You can’t trust results from ordinary people
In fact crowdsourcing large groups of people will often be more reliable than one expert doing all the work, as they're far less likely to make mistakes through e.g. tiredness.

5. It is energetically hugely wasteful
As long as volunteers have chosen the right settings running a cyberscience project on your computer only add on a little bit of energy.

6. It doesn’t really engage people in science
While some volunteers do just download and run applications, others post strategies onto wikis, contribute to message boards and truly engage with the problems they're helping with.

7. One day we will run out of volunteers
Everyday more and more people are getting connected to the internet, whether by computer or mobile devices such as phones. The possibilities for citizen cyberscience are almost endless.

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