Tribe of one
A constant stream of technology has become almost as vital to living as breathing. From entertainment to work and even while waiting at red lights we are connected to something or someone at all times. Sherry Turkle is a psychologist and professor at M.I.T. and wrote “The Flight from Conversation” in The New York Times. She says face to face conversations are messy and it’s through technology that we can edit ourselves. That we can present the image of ourselves we want people to see.
“We get used to being shortchanged on conversation and to getting by with less, we seem almost willing to dispense with people altogether.”
Either way technology has lead to significant advancements in every day life and major scientific discoveries. It’s not only scientists that can use technology for computing or scientific research. You, on your smartphone, laptop or computer can make significant contributions to science. Francois Grey from the Citizen Cyberspace Centre spoke at the Over the Air Hack day at Bletchley Park. He said we need more mobile or pad based citizen science. His suggestion is based on the success of the current mobile citizen science projects such as Project Noah. Many of the current mobile projects involve photographing plants or animals in your own backyard. With the LeafView iPhone app, users can photograph leaves and sent the images to a database where scientists can access them for research.
You may be thinking how does taking photos contribute to scientific research. Well, Grey explained at the conference that various computing and citizen science intervention, “has has proven to be incredibly useful across a wide range of study, including particle physics, epidemiology and protein analysis.”
Active and Social
Grey suggests scientists work with programmers to create “apps for a purpose”. After all, there has been over 25 billion apps downloaded from the Apple App store, so people are pretty keen on downloading new and fun apps. Channel that interest into citizen science and contribute to research all from your cell phone. Citizen Science apps have a social feel as well. Participate in missions, forums and chats. You can share your images or information with people working on similar projects. Although it may not be face to face conversations, it is still a social conversation with a common goal of recording and monitoring nature, plants, insects, animals and more.