If you build it, will they come? Mobilising online communities for research
Online collaboration via websites and social media channels seems to put 'the power of the crowd' at the disposal of scientists and humanists alike. Projects such as oldWeather and Galaxy Zoo have mobilised tens of thousands of volunteers to contribute to scientific and historical scholarship, providing a compelling example of how digital tools can enable a new model of participatory research. By building a community of volunteers to transcribe more than a million pages of climate data from old Royal Navy log books, oldWeather has liberated historical data from the archives to enable scientists to gain a better understanding of climate change.
A joint workshop of the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network and the Digital History and Philosophy of Science Consortium on Tuesday 6 September 2012 will investigate what researchers in the sciences and humanities can gain from working with online communities as part of their research, and critically reflect on the challenges and problems raised by mobilising 'the crowd'. Does the rise of 'citizen science' devalue expertise and undermine scholarship? What is the best way to attract, motivate and reward volunteers? How big does 'the crowd' need to be, and what happens if it starts to talk back?