Back in August I wrote about our search for someone we were calling a ‘community builder,’ which I said was ‘the most important job in the Zooniverse.’ The position was created because of the rapid expansion of the project, and the plans we have for the next year or two, which will mean we may be able to create hundreds or thousands of new projects. If the Zooniverse isn’t constrained by the slow process of project-by-project development, then we need to rethink how we choose what is hosted on our platform, what gets promoted—and how we talk about such things. We need, in fact, to try and build a broader Zooniverse community, capable of taking the choice of projects out of our hands. At the same time, we want the tools we use to engage with this community to let everyone have a say, from new classifiers on a single project to those who roam freely across all of our Talk discussion boards.
As many of you will have already discovered, we’ve found someone we can help us with this process — Darren McRoy. Darren is a 2010 graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has worked as a reporter and editor and is an experienced writer and communicator with a strong focus on developing online communities and strategic digital content. One of his first projects will be gathering and compiling the feedback that will inform the upcoming rebuild of the Talk discussion system. He will be a regular presence on the forums, responding to users’ comments and concerns and seeking opportunities to spur additional conversation. He will also be contributing some written content for Zooniverse projects, blogs, websites, etc. when needed, and giving feedback to the development team.
You should see quite a lot of Darren, and we’d like to encourage you to talk to him if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or other feedback about the Zooniverse community. In particular, right now he is seeking feedback about how Talk can be improved to better serve both the science goals and the growing community of contributors and volunteers.
Darren can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DZM on Talk. Please feel free to contact him — he is looking forward to working with all of you!
The Zooniverse is the subject of a new artwork co-commissioned by the Open Data Institute (ODI) and The Space (a website for artists and audiences around the world to create and explore digital art). We Need Us is a ‘living’ dynamic artwork, powered by your activity on the Zooniverse, driven by the thriving mass of participation across various Zooniverse sites. You can learn more about it at www.thespace.org/weneedus
We Need Us has been created by artist Julie Freeman. She takes anonymised information from your clicks, counting the number of volunteers active on various Zooniverse projects, and classifications that you all create, every minute. She stores this in a new database as sets of values, while also recording the frequency of activity over an hour, a day, and a month. These sets of values create rhythms that are translated into moving shapes, and play different sounds.
The result is a set of living artworks – one for each of 10 Zooniverse projects – and more are on the way! The live data ensures constant change to the visual and sonic composition. The sounds are processed and manipulated just like the data.
While many researchers have tried to analyse and understand the Zooniverse, We Need Us will be the first time someone has tackled the idea from the perspective of art. The Zooniverse community is an engine of discovery and a force unlike any other. We Need Us highlights its rhythms and patterns, showing how diverse and vibrant Zooniverse citizen scientists really are.
You can run the artwork in your web browser by visiting http://www.weneedus.org
Yesterday we launched our latest project: Penguin Watch. It is already proving to be one of the most popular projects we run, with over one hundred thousand classifications in the first day! The data come from 50 cameras focussed on the nesting areas of penguin colonies around the Southern Ocean. Volunteers are asked to tag adult penguins, chicks, and eggs.
Here are my favourite images uncovered by our volunteers so far: (click on an image to see what people are saying about it on Penguin Watch Talk)
See what amazing pictures you can find right now at www.penguinwatch.org
Building on the success of high-profile research crowdsourcing projects such as Galaxy Zoo (www.galaxyzoo.org), Planet Hunters (www.planethunters.org), Operation War Diary (www.operationwardiary.org/) and the rest of the Zooniverse.org platform, the successful candidate will lead the development of a ‘citizen art history’ project, working closely with a team from Tate and Zooniverse. As the lead front-end developer for the project you would have a background in excellent interface design and an understanding of user behaviour.
The application and further details can be found here.
We’re getting excited in Portsmouth to be welcoming some Zooites to the first ever “ZooCon Portsmouth”, which is happening this Saturday 13th September 2014 (An updated schedule is available on the Eventbrite page for the event).
The theme of this event is a Wiki-a-thon for Citizen Science – we have scheduled a working afternoon and improve the coverage of citizen science on Wikipedia. Mike Peel, Expert Wikimedian and astronomer from the University of Manchester will be joining us to lead this part of the event and get us all up to speed with how editing works.
We invite remote participation of the wiki-a-thon via this discussion thread on Galaxy Zoo Talk, or on Twitter with the hashtag #ZooConPort, and we also plan to livestream the morning talks via Google+.
In person attendees will have a treat in the afternoon – we’re all excited to have Chris Lintott narrate planetarium shows in the Portsmouth Inflatable Astrodome. And we plan to end the day with fish and chips at a pub by the sea. Keep your fingers crossed for nice weather.
The Zooniverse team has, over the last five years or so, shown signs of growing uncontrollably like some sort of bacterial colony that requires feeding with grant money. The job we’ve just advertised (at Adler Planetarium) might, though, be the most important yet. As those who are eager followers of this blog will know, we’re currently working hard on rebuilding the Zooniverse platform so that it can support many more projects.
If the Zooniverse can get to the point where we’re no longer constrained by the number of projects that can be built, we will need to think about how projects get chosen to appear on the Zooniverse, and about who should make that decision. Our opinion is that you – our community – should be more involved, and to work out how to make that happen we’re looking for what we’re calling a ‘community builder’. As you’ll see from the job description, this isn’t a technical post, but rather we’re looking for someone who knows how to build a community that is capable of awesome things. If that sounds like you, please get in touch.
PS The post is funded by a new grant from our friends at the Alfred P. Sloan foundation, to whom we’re eternally* grateful.
* – or as near as we can make it
Some colleagues and I successfully proposed for a symposium session on citizen science at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose, CA in February 2015. (The AAAS is the world’s largest scientific society and is the publisher of the Science journal.) Our session will be titled “Citizen Science from the Zooniverse: Cutting-Edge Research with 1 Million Scientists.” It refers to the more than one million volunteers participating in a variety of citizen science projects. This milestone was reached in February, and the Guardian and other news outlets reported on it.
As we all know, the Zooniverse began with Galaxy Zoo, which recently celebrated its seventh anniversary. Galaxy Zoo has been very successful, and it led to the development of a variety of citizen science projects coordinated by the Zooniverse in diverse fields such as biology, zoology, climate science, medicine, and astronomy. Most of you are familiar with many of them, and the projects include, for example: Snapshot Serengeti, where people classify different animals caught in millions of camera trap images; Cell Slider, where they classify images of cancerous and ordinary cells and contribute to cancer research; Old Weather, where participants transcribe weather data from log books of Arctic exploration and research ships at sea between 1850 and 1950, thus contributing to climate model projections; and Whale FM, where they categorize the recorded sounds made by killer and pilot whales. And of course, in addition to Galaxy Zoo, there are numerous astronomy-related projects, such as Disk Detective, Planet Hunters, the Milky Way Project, and Space Warps.
We’re confirming the speakers for our AAAS session now, and the plan is to have six speakers from the US and UK who will introduce and present results from the Zooniverse, Galaxy Zoo, Snapshot Serengeti, Old Weather, Cell Slider, and Space Warps. I’m sure it will be exciting and we’re all looking forward to it! I’m also looking forward to the meeting of the Citizen Science Association, which will be a “pre-conference” preceding the AAAS meeting.
Today marks the end of an era for the Zooniverse: the closure of the Galaxy Zoo forum. Read all about it on the Zooniverse blog.
Originally posted on Galaxy Zoo:
After very nearly seven years online, and over 650,000 posts by its members, the time has come to shut the doors on the original Galaxy Zoo Forum. Originally an afterthought, created to deal with the fact that we couldn’t possibly deal with the volume of mail that we were getting, the Forum quickly established itself as a very special place. It generated science – the Voorwerp and its diminutive colleagues, the Voorwerpjes, the Peas and much more came from discussions amongst its boards, as well as such random fun things as the letters that power My Galaxies.
It was also a very civilized place – entirely due to the standards set by Alice and the team of moderators that followed, especially Graham and Hanny who have served most recently. The forum inspired much of what the Zooniverse tries to do today, but time has moved on and we…
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Here at Zooniverse we’re starting some exciting new work in the humanities!
We’re pleased to announce our new collaboration with Tate Britain, a world-leading institute for art in the modern era, based in London.
Zooniverse and Tate are teaming up to tackle the difficult task of crowd-powered full-text manuscript transcription. This project follows on from the success of projects like Operation War Diary and Old Weather and will no doubt feed into other humanities projects in the future.
The new transcription interface will enable volunteers to read and transcribe the personal papers of modern British artists. Volunteers will encounter letters, notebooks and sketches that reveal artists’ everyday lives, creative practices and the processes by which great works of art were made.
We are seeking a talented front end developer with a passion for art and the humanities to work alongside our humanities specialist and the Zooniverse and Tate teams to deliver the project.
The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 25 July, 2014. For more information and to apply, see here: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AJB887/citizen-science-front-end-developer/
PS: We are also looking for a new web developer to join our team at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. You can view the job description here.
The Constructing Scientific Communities project (ConSciCom), part of the AHRC’s ‘Science in Culture’ theme, is inviting proposals for citizen science or citizen humanities projects to be developed as part of the Zooniverse platform.
ConSciCom examines citizen science in the 19th and 21st centuries, contrasting and reflecting on engagement with distributed communities of amateur researchers in both the historical record and in contemporary practice.
Between one and four successful projects will be selected from responses to this call, and will be developed and hosted by the Zooniverse in association with the applications. We hope to include both scientific and historical projects; those writing proposals should review the existing range of Zooniverse projects which include not only classification, but also transcription projects. Please note, however, ConSciCom cannot distribute funds nor support imaging or other digitization in support of the project.
Projects will be selected according to the following criteria:
- Merit and usefulness of the data expected to result from the project.
- Novelty of the problem; projects which require extending the capability of the Zooniverse platform or serve as case studies for crowdsourcing in new areas or in new ways are welcome.
- Alignment with the goals and interests of the Constructing Scientific Communities project. In particular, we wish to encourage projects that:
- Have a significant historical dimension, especially in relation to the history of science.
- Involve the transcription of text, either in its entirety or for rich metadata.
Note it is anticipated that some, but not necessarily all selected projects, will meet this third criterion; please do submit proposals on other topics.
The deadline for submissions is July 25th 2014. You can submit a proposal by following this link http://conscicom.org/proposals/form/