In my previous post, I talked about the future digitization of library books along with the universal access to knowledge. Now, research labs of major universities have their turn to open their doors and share their files on a variety of subjects: from such diverse topics as the measurement of temperatures over the past centuries, all the way to the analysis of protein folding in space or how to count the number of worms on a given surface space.
The second international conference dedicated to "Citizen Cyberscience" was held on February 16 in London at the Royal Geographical society. On this occasion, François Grey, both a Professor at the University of Tsinghua in China, and a researcher at CERN in Geneva, said that "science is too important of an activity to be left to scientists alone."
We can all become scientists. The University College in London has transformed its research center into an “extreme” laboratory of citizen science. For its director Muki Haklay, "This is about involving more and more people in more and more places. The goal is not only to use citizens’ resources (time, machinery, or data collection in crowd sourcing-see my post from October 2007), but to analyze and develop real synergies within communities." By working together on many issues, such as measuring the amount of noise near an airport or the ozone pollution of an industrial site, "it irritates local institutions, but when we can show that the work is as good as those of experts, the relationships change and I love it!” says Muki Hakley, who hopes to "create a science of participatory science.”
Citizen science is beginning to catch on. It combines participatory research and critical scientific assumptions. It helps create a link, serving as an intermediary between researchers, who are often fixed in their ways, and regular people. Citizen science can provide society with simple answers and the explanations needed to improve democratic debate and economic and social life.
Citizen science is a new way of learning. We can all play our part as scientists and trainers.