Cultures of Knowledge – Constructing Scientific Communities in the 19th and 21st centuries

This evening’s seminar, “Constructing Scientific Communities in the 19th and 21st Centuries: Science Periodicals and the Zooniverse” by Professor Sally Shuttleworth and Victoria Van Hyning, was held in the History faculty and talked about the Constructing Scientific Communities project.

Constructing Scientific Communities image

These are live notes and, as yet, unedited.

Sally Shuttleworth

Focussed on the Science Periodical. How does science and culture interact? Interested in looking at the scientific periodicals, including the long tail. Want to know how the Nineteenth century might help inform Twenty First century.

Huge spread of scientific activity and the modes of publication. You can see the periodical start off grandly and then refocus, perhaps changing their name. Chris Lintott had realised that the Zooniverse community had trained themselves (like the Citizen Art experts) to a high level but were not being linked to trained scientists. The boundaries between professional and amateur blur and the terminology is not sufficient.

Looking at the science periodical as no longer being hard copy publication but online. Changes the publishing model. This alters the readership but opens itself up.

Darwin corresponded with a wide range of subjects and correspondents. Used it to crowd source information, such details on Otter Hounds.

Naturalist clubs and societies come out of this scene. Some are gentry, others working class and some mixed.

All this drew from the knowledge of people who know this information, rather than a kept community. Natural History and Meteorology (Predicting the Weather) became large communities who used this to improve their work. Public Health was another beneficiary of this movement.

Eleanor Ormerod became a consulting entomologist (though unpaid) for a while and gaining her advice. She became an international expert. Rose up through her knowledge.

Victoria Van Hyning

Zooniverse looking at ways of playing withe data. Is this a real peer review?

Tasks need to be engaging to keep the users engaged and the UI kept nice. Some are classification, others transcription. Latest project is Operation War Diary. An important part is that post-docs can use the data but engage with the users.

Narrative is a powerful tool in crowd sourcing. How do you get people to stay if they don’t want to be part of a game? The UCL paper, “I want to be a Captain! I want to be a Captain!“: Gamification in the Old Weather Citizen Science Project.

A successful UI allows participation,  a great one allows them to learn and acquire skills. Using consensus engines to reduce the human editing required but cannot replace the editor.

Another talk about transcription not being enough, needs to add meaning to the transcription. Context is required.


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