I decided to speak to individuals in and outside of the field of science to gain a better understanding of the the difference in opinions on citizen science. Would experts be more skeptical of citizen science because of their extensive training? I was especially interested in the in this element of authority and expertise, as I have had discussions in the past with other designers concerning crowdsourced design and what qualifies one as a “designer” or “non designer.”
I dislike online surveys due to their static nature and lack of meaningful engagement, but iqt is an extremely convenient medium, though. In person interviews, while much more difficult to plan, allow for more natural responses and more insights, as conversation will usually flow more naturally than a box for typing. I wanted to conduct these interviews in a very quick and casual manner, so chose contacting a few of my friends over text message. There was a bit of awkwardness, as I prefaced the conversations with an explanation of what I was investigating. Some gave very casual responses, others gave very thought out answers.
I surveyed eight individuals, six of which gave me more meaningful and insightful responses. I selected individuals with different backgrounds and at different stages of their career. However, I do recognize that it is a very small sample size, selected from my network, and are not too different from each other (early 20’s, college educated). It would be interesting to see a more varied data set using, say, mechanical turk.
Responses have been edited.
I wasn’t particularly surprised by the results. Those with a science background overall valued expertise a little more than non experts, but did recognize the importance of outsiders in science. I especially appreciated the responses related to the bureaucracy and politics of science that isn’t often talked about outside of practitioners; all industries are suspect to such things and it isn’t talked about enough in my opinion. I originally asked people about authority and expertise thinking about “gatekeepers of knowledge” and “ivory tower” nature that sometimes surrounds academia, but, when framed in the context of the past election cycle, the question takes on a more urgent and possibly cynical character.