Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Zooniverse - working with 750,000 volunteers!

The Zooniverse is home to the internet's largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects. Beginning with a single project, Galaxy Zoo, in 2007 the website now allows users to actively participate in a wide range of ongoing projects in the sciences and humanities including mapping moon craters, transcribing weather observations and catagorizing whale sounds. There has been an overwhelming response from the public, with over 780,000 volunteers now contributing.

Dr Chris Lintott, director of The Zooniverse project, researcher at the Department of Physics,University of Oxford, and co-presenter of The Sky at Night, will be presenting at Digital Past 2013 on the challenges of leading a crowd-sourcing project of such scale and the advantages that can be gained. These include:

  • The ability to cope with extremely large data set by providing many persons-years worth of classification
  • The ability to gather multiple independent interactions with the data, providing quantative estimates of error
  • large and powerful training sets for machine learning approaches to classification problems
  • By exposing data to large numbers of users there is a far higher chance of serendipitous discovery
  • Involving volunteers directly in the process of research provides an extremely powerful tool for both formal and informal education.
Chris will also be talking about Zoouniverse's latest project which is being carried out in partnership with the People's Collection Wales, the aim of which is to transcribe all place names from the 2nd edition Ordnance Survey mapping for Wales.

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