A Curious Site

Photo Credit: NASA, via Wikimedia Commons

A brand new website seeks to connect curious people around the world, in order to help them advance human knowledge.

Spearheaded by Tom Matthews, Colin Matthews, and Jess Timmons, Endeavorist has three major features.

First is a crowdfunding tool called Research Campaigns, which allows anyone to solicit funds to research a problem. With the Grant tool, you can set up a bounty to have research on a problem done, and award the grant to the most qualified applicant. With the Call to Action tool, you can put out an all-purpose bulletin to help gather resources – mentors, equipment, peer reviewers, and so on – to tackle a particular issue.

The site has been roughly two years in the making, and it was soft-launched last November. Although it has not had any major publicity yet, it has several hundred registered users.

One of those users is Brian Prine, an early adopter who has launched a Research Campaign (http://ndvr.st/1dy) to investigate invasive Asian carp populations, their densities, and movement in several locations in the upper Midwest. Cheekily called "Carpe Carp (Seize the Carp)," the project seeks to create a self-sustaining business which, working with local DNR and wildlife officials, assists in the reduction of these species (silver and bighead carp) through targeted harvesting.

According to Timmons, the art and design director for the site, and a self-professed space exploration enthusiast, the site is about making connections. “I’ve always thought there’s got to be a better way to get people the resources they need to do science,” she said in an interview last week. More importantly, she believes that “everyone can be a scientist” and she wants the site to be a bridge between professional full-time researchers and citizen scientists.

“For me,” said Colin Matthews, “[this site] was a combination of always being passionate about science, and also listening to the complaints from my professors in college about how hard it was to get funding, never having enough money to really do what they wanted. I would love to see people like me get into it and say ‘I have impacted our search for knowledge in a meaningful way.’ We have social networks where people can show off their social life, but until now nothing to show off their impact on human knowledge.”

Tom Matthews agrees. “We think of ourselves as a network, making it possible to share access to information. We want to democratize the pursuit of knowledge.” He added, “We’re trying to build something people will want and care about, and build a real community.”

Although there are some basic guidelines for setting up requests on the site, anyone can post a Research Campaign, Grant, or Call-to-Action. Endeavorist will be largely self-policed and self-regulating, with postings getting attention and resources based on their merits as determined by the community.

For more information, check out the site's FAQ.

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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.