This October will be held the WORLD SOCIAL SCIENCE FORUM in Montreal.
Scholars from all over the world and across disciplines will address the ways in which digital technologies are being developed and used, and how they are transforming different spheres of social life and social sciences. I will be part of one exciting panel on the engagement of ordinary user in science.
Participatory Science on the Web : The Re-enchantment of Science by Online Collectives
The participatory Web (Web 2.0) enables and encourages ordinary citizens to participate in developing and sharing content online. In the sciences, new connections between amateurs and scientists are stimulating public interest in science. They are also changing the way scientific knowledge is produced in some fields. By examining four cases in the natural sciences, this panel proposes an examination of the rearticulation of relationships between amateurs and scientists and the role of Web platforms in providing providing spaces where different registers of knowledge co-exist. Our cases clearly illustrate the contribution of amateurs to producing, not only data for analysis by scientists, but also in shaping research questions and directions. This line of questioning is a specific examination within the larger field of the ways in which digital tools are profoundly transforming the scientific knowledge production process. The presentations in our interdisciplinary panel will examine these new partnerships in the fields of climate research, biomolecular research, botany and ecology from the perspectives of both scientists and amateur contributors.
Coordinator: Dr. Lorna Heaton
Organization/Institution: Université de Montréal
Schedule: Monday, October 14, 2013 – 09:00 – 10:45
As part of this panel my colleagues (Lorna Heaton,Xiao Liu,Florence Millerand ) and I will present a paper on the Changing Naturalist Practices: Engagement Around a Giant Grasshopper at ONEM
We present a case study of a participatory science project that involved collecting observations of a giant grasshopper and registering them online. Using a qualitative and ethnographically informed approach, we identify a number of factors that enabled widespread participation in this naturalist inquiry, organized by Observatoire Naturaliste des Écosystèmes Méditerranéens (ONEM). Our findings illustrate how the association’s double goals of stimulating an appreciation for nature and increasing scientific knowledge of the species under investigation are articulated as both naturalists and the general public participate. We propose a hybrid model of participatory science, neither scientist-driven nor grassroots-based, which originates in a commitment to ideals of openly accessible and free access to data, a “data commons.” This case illustrates how even low-level participation (crowdsourcing type) can produce significant results – not only in terms of generating scientific knowledge, but also in increasing public engagement with science and scientific literacy.