Join The Crowd!

Sometimes it is okay to follow the crowd. (Credit: mattbuck/Wikimedia Commons)

Not so long ago, you could count the number of available citizen science projects to try on one hand. There were things like the venerable Audubon Christmas Bird Count, a nearly 115-year-old tradition; Clickworkers, a NASA experiment in getting volunteers to identify and classify the age of craters on Mars images; and GalaxyZoo, the first project by Zooniverse, which asked astronomy buffs to help classify images of galaxies.

As I noted in Be the Change, the citizen science movement has exploded in the last five years, in part because of increased awareness, but mostly because the technologies for creating and maintaining citizen science projects have become cheaper and more widely used.

No where is that more evident than at a site called crowdcrafting. Supported by The Shuttleworth Foundation, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Open Knowledge Foundation, and the Citizen Cyberscience Center, the site currently has more than four hundred projects for you to try. Powered by open source software especially designed for citizen science projects, the site allows you to create projects too.

The sheer number of projects available means that there is something for everyone at this site. If biology is your thing, you can check out Arthropod Interactions, and help document different species of arthropods (insects, spiders, crustaceans, etc) interacting with each other. If something in the humanities is more to your liking, then try Bardomatic, a project to test how well you know your Shakespearean plays. In the sciences, there is DarkSkiesISS for assessing light pollution, and an air quality project that wants you to measure... lichens.

A complete list of projects can be found here. Beware that some of the projects here are tests or demos, so read the descriptions carefully before diving in.

To register, you can sign up here, either by email, or by using your Facebook, Twitter, or Google profiles. I hope to see your name at the top of the leaderboard soon.

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Chandra Clarke is a Webby Honoree-winning blogger, a successful entrepreneur, and an author. Her book Be the Change: Saving the World with Citizen Science is available at Amazon. You can connect with her on Twitter @chandraclarke.