Governments, Academia, and businesses are not the only institutions that can conduct scientific research. In fact, there are many instances where these bodies are unable to fund, implement, or design research parameters on a specific subject effectively. This is where members of communities can step in and either fully or partially research on behalf of these institutions, or even pursue knowledge entirely by themselves without ties to other organizations. This is called citizen science, and it may never have been easier or more necessary.

A synopsis of Citizen Science

This essentially boils down to research endeavors taken on by members of various communities without or with only partial guidance, oversight, or assistance from higher institutions. What is rather interesting is that this type of aproach acts as the civic duty of scientific citizenship, which is as necessary to science as voting is to democracy. It mandates participation with individuals beyond the traditional and professional worlds of science and knowledge.

Decentralized Knowledge Generation

Another incredibly useful aspect of citizen science is that is can also traverse borders. This is not to say that governmental, business, and academic research is not capable of this. It means that in addition to the resources such as time and expertise that are crowdsourced, it also can build cross cultural communities and get create decentralized knowledge for a better collective human experience.

The Internet obviously plays a huge role here considering the number of these kinds of projects blossomed after the advent of the digital age. One of the greatest things about the Internet is that it can allow for this kind of collaboration. And if the Internet stays neutral, it may be an immensely powerful check against government budgets that slash certain areas of scientific research.

Specifically, I am talking about NASA’s budget under this current administration. I am excited that we are going to Mars, but instead of just adding more money to NASA’s budget the agency has to sacrifice Earth science -climate change- research. This is a place where citizen science projects both in the US and globally –like Anecdata– may be able to pick up the slack until budgetary concerns turn back in the favor of science and not coal.

Blockchain Technologies to Help Citizen Scientists

Time and active research are not the only ways that you can contribute as a citizen scientist. Your resource may be your computing power, you can also get compensated for that resource. Gridcoin is a cryptocurrency that utilizes a Distributed Proof of Research (DPOR) as a reward system for solving BIONIC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) hosted work.

It is a really efficient way to utilize unused CPU and GPU cores, considering you get a small token for your electricity and computing power while also contributing to worthy scientific endeavors. Gridcoin is a really interesting project to show off the multifaceted uses of blockchain technology.

Citizen science is a great way to further scientific research, and usually projects are eager to have amateur scientists like you help out by contributing your expertise or volunteering your time. While few of these pay very well, they are incredibly interesting. But if you are incredibly busy and do not have time to contribute in a more direct sense, Gridcoin may be a satisfying and passive way to add to noble work. The fact that you get some cryptocurrency out of it too makes it all that sweeter.

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Dariusz is a Digital Anthropologist who has been closely following the world of cryptocurrencies since 2014. He has been somewhat of a crypto-evangelist, trying to educate more people on the exciting realm of cryptocurrency. During his time at University College London, his Master's dissertation focused on how communities inhabit, modify, and create virtual places via social media.