So we had our first week of Citizen CyberScience with Francois Grey (school bio here) last Monday, and it was awesome! We were introduced to both BOINC and Zooniverse, two very, very, very awesome platforms where your ‘average citizen of the world’ can contribute to scientific discoveries. We also got to listen to two really impressive guest speakers: Yiqun Wang of equn.com, a Chinese volunteer computing community, and Javier de la Torre of Vizzuality. Another great day to be an ITP student, I must say.
Anyway, so our assignment for this week was to check out BOINC and Zooniverse, answer a few questions, and join a project on each and then document it. Here goes.
They have 263,403 active volunteers, and 447,720 active computers. (from the homepage). I also don’t know how to find the inactive ones.
I went through the project list (of the 44 that are verified) on the BOINC page, and chose to participate in the ClimatePrediction.net project. Clicking on the link in the project list took me to the site’s homepage — which was basically a run down of what the project does, what they ask participants to do, etc. It’s interesting that they have that on the very first page, I wonder if they keep it there once I joined and created an account with them.
Anyway, it was fairly simple. I followed their step-by-step guide (download, install, and then select a project — ClimatePrediction.net). Then I got redirected to create an account on ClimatePrediction and register. That was also pretty basic — the coolest part was that I got to choose which country to represent (yea Saudi Arabia!) and whether I would want to join a team. And then the BOINC manager started automatically, and it’s been running ever since — it’ll suspend its tasks when I’m using the computer. I’ve noticed that the fan on my computer has been running more than usual (which is fine), but otherwise no effects. Yay!
To be honest, I liked the Zooniverse site and projects better than BOINC. Mostly because the website looked more welcoming and inviting, and less like a basic wireframe (which also makes it look very geeky). They don’t appear to have as many projects as BOINC — they’ve got two categories of projects: Science (Space, Humanities, Climate and Nature), and Laboratory (Space and Humanities). Total, they’ve got 15 projects — with 12 of them active. They also have 674,561 people participating. No indication how many of these are active.
I chose to join WhaleFM on Zooniverse, because I like whales and thought it would be fun. It’s different than BOINC — on BOINC, I join a project and then I pretty much let it run in the background of my computer. With the Zooniverse projects, you actually play an active role. I think you can do that with BOINC too, but I have yet to discover which projects let you and how. On WhaleFM, I listen to different sounds of whales and match them up to each other. Registering the account was very straightforwards. There were no teams for me to join, but there is a bit of a community — where I get to comment on some of the whale sounds and discuss them (of course I haven’t, and I don’t see that anybody else has either). And it’s very cool that I get to track the same whale. Although I’m not as good at matching them up as I thought I would be.
Citizen Cyberscience ‘superpowers’
Let’s see… I really like science, and I’m pretty good at explaining things in layman’s terms. I don’t know if I have any others