Wilson Center’s Science & Technology Innovation Program

Why Citizen Science and Public Media Need to Get Together

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Foresight, Guest Blogger on October 3, 2014 at 4:47 pm

lilybuiThis is a cross-post, originally published in Medium, by Lily Bui. She is ​a researcher and M.S. candidate for MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program. Most recently, she has been a STEM Story Project Associate at the Public Radio Exchange (PRX); the Executive Editor at SciStarter, PLOS CitizenSci, and Discover Magazine’s Citizen Science Salon. In her spare time, she ​tinkers with electronics and t​hinks of cheesy science puns.

 

Broadcasting, believe it or not, comes from farming.

In modern vernacular, “to broadcast” means to transmit information by TV or radio, but the verb’s original definition meant “to scatter (seeds) by hand or machine rather than placing in drills or rows.” It may or may not come as a surprise to you that broadcasting has just as much to do with farming and media as it has to do with citizen science.

[For this context, let’s regard citizen science as public involvement in inquiry, discovery, and construction of scientific knowledge, typically in the form of data collection, classification, or documentation.]

In 1792, Robert B. Thomas started the Old Farmers’ Almanac, a periodical circulated widely and regularly to farmers. Still in publication today, the Almanac serves two important purposes: (1) It acts as an objective reference for weather and astronomical predictions, sourcing its observations from the farming community. (2) It facilitates a space where the community can share advice, anecdotes, recipes, and more with each other.

(But what does this have to do with citizen science?)

Dear Colleagues and Friends of Commons Lab

In News and Events on September 15, 2014 at 9:50 am

Dear Colleagues and Friends of Commons Lab,

As many of you know, Lea Shanley has left the Wilson Center to begin a new position. She helped build Commons Lab to where it is today and we want to ensure the continued success of this work, which is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan foundation.

Commons Lab is an important part of the portfolio of the Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program, so I will be taking over as interim director for the next 4-6 months as we work through existing projects and explore new directions.

Elizabeth Tyson, whom many of you know, will remain and take on a role as New Projects/Technology Scout. At the beginning of November, Anne Bowser will return from her stay at Microsoft Research and assume a part-time position as Researcher, Data Science and Visualization.

Stay tuned and stay engaged with us. We want to hear from you regarding what we are doing, how we are doing, and where we need to go. Please feel free to contact me directly with ideas.

Regards,

Dave Rejeski

UN Big Data Climate Challenge Winners

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Governance, Uncategorized on September 11, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Unbigdata1

What happens when you bring together the forces of innovation, big data and climate change?  The following amazing winners of the United Nations “Big Data Climate Challenge.”  As the barriers to access big data drop the ability for innovation increases and the results are incredible.

“The Big Data Climate Challenge is a global competition hosted by United Nations Global Pulse, an initiative of the Secretary-General on big data. The Challenge was launched in May 2014 to unearth fresh evidence of the economic dimensions of climate change around the world using data and analytics. Submissions were received from 40 countries, representing more than 20 topics from forestry, biodiversity and transportation to renewable energy and green data centers.

Two overall Big Data Climate Challenge winners and seven “Projects to Watch” were selected by a high-level Advisory Board and Technical Committee of global experts in climate science, sustainable development and big data. Submissions were evaluated on their use of big data, economic relevance, stakeholder engagement, originality and scalability. The “Projects to Watch” were chosen to highlight particularly innovative uses of big data in emerging topics and geographic regions.”

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