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Big Idea 5: Impact of Computing

Crowdsourcing

2 min read•november 16, 2020

minnachow

Minna Chow


AP Computer Science Principles ⌨️

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5.4 Crowdsourcing

The rise of the internet has led to a rise in the amount of data and human capital available to researchers. This free flow of data and information makes identifying and solving problems easier, and more people have access to the solution once it's found. Think about all the problems you've been able to solve with a quick Google Search, where before you'd have to consult a manual or a professional.
The spirit of collaboration the internet can foster (on a good day) extends to larger, more formal systems as well. Two examples are known as Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing.

Citizen Science

Citizen science is a term that describes scientific research that the common population helps to conduct. Ordinary citizens help contribute data to research projects using computing devices. They might, for example, count birds they see at local feeders or observe the sky to find new galaxies. Citizen science gives a wide range of people the ability to contribute to scientific studies and, in turn, provides more diverse data for scientists to work with.

Examples of Citizen Science

NameDescriptionURL
Christmas BirdsEvery winter, the Audubon Bird Society hosts the Christmas Bird Count, where volunteers go out and count birds. The data is then used to help measure the health of bird populations.https://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count
eBirdeBird is an online database of bird information that birdwatchers help to collect. It is among one of the world's largest "biodiversity-related science projects," with more than 100 million bird sightings contributed per year.https://ebird.org/home
ZooniverseThe largest platform for citizen science, Zooniverse hosts over 50 projects in a wide range of fields, from the arts to astronomy.https://www.zooniverse.org/
NasaNasa hosts several citizen science projects, from tracking penguin colonies to studying giant kelp forests.https://science.nasa.gov/citizenscience
National GeographicNational Geographic also lists a wide range of citizen science projects, mainly in the fields of biology and earth science.https://www.nationalgeographic.org/topics/citizen-science/?q=&page=1&per_page=25

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is the practice of getting a large amount of input or information from people on the Internet. Citizen science is an example of crowdsourcing, but crowdsourcing can also take other forms. Companies can turn to the "crowd," or the general public, for feedback (like those College Board surveys you get in the mail). They can crowdsource for employment. Uber and Airbnb, for example, crowdsource their labor force of drivers and renters. They can also crowdsource to solve problems or to get content.
Crowdsourcing can also take the form of financial support in a process known as crowdfunding. Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and Patreon allow people to raise money for all manner of causes, from creating works of art to (unfortunately) funding medical bills.

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