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Business - Written by on Monday, February 9, 2009 17:04 - 4 Comments

Crowdsourcing versus citizen science

Following a theme here, I also like the distinction made between crowdsourcing and citizen science by Yale-based astrophysicist and Galaxy Zoo founder Kevin Schawinski:

“We prefer to call this [Galaxy Zoo] citizen science because it’s a better description of what you’re doing; you’re a regular citizen but you’re doing science. Crowd sourcing sounds a bit like, well, you’re just a member of the crowd and you’re not; you’re our collaborator. You’re pro-actively involved in the process of science by participating.”

On comparisons between Galaxy Zoo and seti@home, fightaids@home stardust@home, etc., etc., etc.:

“Galaxy Zoo volunteers do real work. They’re not just passively running something on their computer and hoping that they’ll be the first person to find aliens. They have a stake in science that comes out of it, which means that they are now interested in what we do with it, and what we find.”

On the application of wikinomics to astrophysics:

“It’s a new way of doing science. Mass collaboration makes things possible that were impossible before, mostly because of the size of our data sets. You can analyze a data set with hundreds or perhaps thousands of objects by yourself or with a small team. But if the question you want to answer involves millions of images or objects then there is really only one answer to this question: public participation.”

This interview, btw, was in my top five for 2008.


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Chris Lintott
Feb 12, 2009 10:26

Thanks for the kind comments about Galaxy Zoo. One clarification, though – despite it’s name Stardust@home is a true Citizen Science project; it asks people (not a screensaver) to sort through dust grains brought back to Earth by the Stardust spacecraft. In fact, knowing that people were willing to look at dust grains for a good cause was one of the inspirations for Galaxy Zoo.

Chris Lintott, Galaxy Zoo

Anthony Williams
Feb 17, 2009 14:18

Thanks for clarification Chris. Of course you’re quite right and I have amended the post.

Can a Crowd Deliberate? « civics, science and democratic practice
Sep 22, 2009 20:02

[...] few weeks ago I was thinking about citizen science as a sort of crowdsourcing, which lead to this and a couple other things google turned up. Simultaneously crowdsourcing surfaced on a couple of [...]

P2P Foundation » Blog Archive » Critiques of Crowdsourcing
Feb 6, 2010 8:06

[...] * How Citizen Science Differs from Crowdsourcing, by Yale-based astrophysicist and Galaxy Zoo founder Kevin Schawinski: [...]

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