Happy New Year! 2014 is here and as Snapshotters around the world know it brings the eagerly awaited season 7 with it (coming soon). A season that may never have happened if it weren’t for the generosity of many who helped the Save Snapshot Serengeti campaign.
Recently I filled out a questionnaire for a local nature group who were hoping to launch a citizen science project. They asked the following question.
What would motivate you to take part in a citizen science project?
• To help scientists
• To enrich personal knowledge
• To gain awareness of preserving biodiversity
• To have contact with nature
As someone who has taken part in various citizen science projects both online and in the field this got me thinking. What does motivate us? I am sure there are as many answers out there as there are people taking part. For me all of the above options play their part in the motivation but it’s more than that. There is of course just pure personal enjoyment. Let’s face it: it’s fun, being involved, interacting on the forums with like minded people, getting a glimpse of what the scientists are up to. It connects us to science. I think without this aspect citizen science wouldn’t be the success that it is.
The other motivation for me is the sense of being able to do something that helps. The news is full of doom and gloom these days; climate change, vanishing biodiversity, habitat loss. This can leave us feeling depressed and the scale of the issues can make us feel helpless to do anything. Citizen science offers us the opportunity to feel positive and provides us with a way to really help and make a difference.
Modern technology has not only lead to huge advances in data capture capabilities for scientists but to organisations such as Zooniverse to involve the worldwide public in analysing that data. The ability to join in from the comfort of your own home is really a revolution in science.There are also loads of projects that get you out and about and tap into the rich source of amateur naturalists. Bird counts, butterfly counts, phenology projects to mention just a few.
What is it that motivates you? We would really like to hear your thoughts, why do you participate in Snapshot Serengeti? Do you work on other Zooniverse projects? What about field projects?