Science <–> Public
Or in science in general, really.
The basic idea is the following: what if researchers used the public as a bunch of data collectors? Organisations such as ‘Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation’ already engage people to become citizen scientists (more about them on their website).
Nelson and Fijn (2012) recently suggested that visual media could be extremely valuable for studying animal behaviour. Specifically, they discussed how YouTube video clips of play behaviour, given they met certain requirements, can help explore hypotheses and further ideas by providing inspiration. As they conclude:
… displaying behaviour using YouTube as a visual medium is an excellent avenue to report or illustrate findings in the field of animal behaviour, in addition to its potential for further observation and research.
For links to hilariously cute videos, I definitely recommend taking a look at their paper (see below)!
I have to say, this essay brought quite a few ideas to my mind. For example, why not formalise crowd-sourcing like this by creating an online platform dedicated expressly to citizen scientists’ recordings – video clips as well as photos? These wouldn’t need to be restricted to animal behaviour, either. I imagine a variety of content, from corvids playing in the snow to peculiar rock formations, accompanied by information on the recording (time, location, weather context, etc.).
Maaaybee I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Either way, I’m excited for the future and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more projects actively bringing science and the public together.
What about you? Has content from social media ever been an inspiration for your research?
Nelson, X. J., & Fijn, N. (2012). The use of visual media as a tool for investigating animal behaviour. Animal Behaviour, 1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.12.009