Future of Citizen Science: "honing the division of labour between professionals, amateurs and bots"

Fiona Romeo, who has worked with Greenwich Observatory on some successful "citizen science" initiatives, gave a presentation called "The near future of citizen science," explaining what she's learned and what she thinks the future will hold:

It’s my contention that the near future of science is all about honing the division of labour between professionals, amateurs and bots...

Selecting Flickr as our platform for the competition immediately got us to ask, what would be the space equivalent of geotagging? Astrotagging, obviously. If astrophotographers were to accurately describe what their photo depicts, and where in space that is, we could create a user-generated map of the night sky. But – as you might have already been thinking – working out where you are in space is much trickier than putting a pin on a map because there are the added dimensions of depth and movement. In addition to the space equivalents of longitude and latitude (RA and Dec), we required pixel scale and orientation.

Would anyone really go to the trouble of figuring out and tagging all of that information? Probably not. We were going to need a bot.

Fortunately Flickr isn’t just ‘a great place to be a photo’, the API also allows you to develop bots that act autonomously for a user or a group. Early bots in use on Flickr include Hipbot and HAL. Hipbot, for example, automates some of the moderation tasks in the well-defined squared circle Group, automatically removing photos that are not square, or are too small.

BERG presents Tomorrow’s World: The near future of citizen science