Scientific innovation used to be a very private endeavor, with narrowly specialized scientists delving deeply into specific research areas. The Internet changed some of this giving rise to Wikipedia - now orders of magnitude larger than the Encyclopedia Britannica, and similar wiki resources for gene annotations, RNA libraries, radiology images, open-source software and other content.
Science funding agencies may appear to be crowdsourcing solutions too - as they employ broad calls for proposals and utilize peer reviews to evaluate the proposed ideas. Their models , however, are not very effective in triggering societal impacts. They impede collaboration in many ways as the researchers are not truly working together and the feedback is not constructive. Reviewers are experts but not direct stakeholders of proposed projects . They add management overhead (Latour, 1996).
One may argue that science is highly competitive and will always be driven by egos and desire for personal vs collective success. Yet, as Johnston and Hauser note, these very human needs could be met by more efficiently designed open source models, extending beyond snapshots of consensus, enabling to capture specific contributions of each participant and permanent record of the life history of the project from conception to completion.
The ease of discovery declines every year - scientists have to search for smaller asteroids, heavier chemical elements and more complicated connections. This has to be matched with either exponential increase in the number of scientists or more innovative collaboration.
People take pleasure in synchronized activities - such as singing or marching together, folding proteins or syncing their brains in a conversation. Could scientists have meaningful conversations on unimaginable scales, conversations including citizen scientists and people whose health needs could be solved by science?
Some researchers are already using help from crowds collecting their donations to support research - like the recently started open-source research project to develop cure for neglected tropical disease schistosomiasis.
Or the Open Source PCR project supported by the public.
Recent call for collaboration asked for a framework to exchange and disseminate information, produce guidelines and summarize finding for Participatory health research (PHR) addressing local health issues. Government agencies are using twitter and expect crowds to supply epidemiological metrics to test health policy efficacy.
Meanwhile, many are already utilizing google docs in the quest for collaborators and exchange of ideas. See for example this Folder of Useful Google Docs including:
- Startup Ideas - Front page linking to Editable Table
- Innovators - Form to Submit Your Data to appear in this Table (see HN Yellow Pages Thread)
- Entrepreneurs looking for Co-founders - Front page linking to Editable Table
- Seed accelerators and their companies
- Startups Hiring - Form for Employers displaying info in this Table
- Software Contractors - Editable Table (HN Contractors Thread about it)
Or check this call for collaborations in the microbiome and metabolome spaces, to solve neglected medical conditions.
Scientists, let's unite and start collaborating in even more creative ways!
Johnston SC, & Hauser SL (2009). Crowdsourcing scientific innovation. Annals of neurology, 65 (6) PMID: 19562693
Wright MT, Roche B, von Unger H, Block M, & Gardner B (2010). A call for an international collaboration on participatory research for health. Health promotion international, 25 (1), 115-22 PMID: 19854843
Auer S, Braun-Thurmann H. Towards bottom-up, stakeholder-driven research funding — open science and open peer review: Available at: http://www.informatik.uni-leipzig.de/~auer/publication/OpenScience.pdf. Accessed May 21, 2009
Lawrence PA (2009) Real Lives and White Lies in the Funding of Scientific Research. PLoS Biol 7(9): e1000197. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000197
Marsh A, Carroll D, & Foggie R (2010). Using collective intelligence to fine-tune public health policy. Studies in health technology and informatics, 156, 13-8 PMID: 20543334
Huss JW 3rd, Lindenbaum P, Martone M, Roberts D, Pizarro A, Valafar F, Hogenesch JB, & Su AI (2010). The Gene Wiki: community intelligence applied to human gene annotation. Nucleic acids research, 38 (Database issue) PMID: 19755503
Latour, B. 1996. Aramis, or, The love of technology Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass
Butler, D. (2010). Open-source science takes on neglected disease Nature DOI: 10.1038/news.2010.50
Facebook page, Just giving fundraiser page.
- Innocentive - crowdsourcing scientific solutions to organization's problems
- Science Commons - generic license agreements
- TekScout - crowdsourcing R&D solutions
- YourEncore - crowd of retired veteran scientists and engineers
- Biocrowd - social network for bioscience professionals
- Eureka medical - medical open innovation platform
- AddictLab - creative think tank
- Brain Reactions - post questions and get ideas/feedback on them
- Fellowforce - innovation challenge board covering many disciplines
- iBridge Network - platform for university innovation
- IdeaConnection - idea marketplace and problem solving
- Idea Crossing - organize innovation quests
- IdeaMagnet - powering idea generation
- Ideawicket - open innovation portal
- Innovation Exchange - open innovation market place
- WhyNot - idea exchange
- IdeaBlob - monthly contest for entrepreneurial ideas
- Bodyshock - call for ideas to improve health in the next decade
- Incuby - online community for inventors
- Cofundos - open-source software ideas
Crowd-Task-Solving and Freelance
- World4brains, collaboration instead of competition for best ideas, advice and solutions - innovative payment system rewards all valuable input given
- TaskRabbit, linking over-stretched consumers with runners for errands, tasks and other to-do’s
- oDesk - global marketplace for remote work
- Elance - freelance marketplace
- Guru - freelance community
- Ki Work - sourcing online work
- Amazon Mechanical Turk - micro-task crowdsourcing
- HumanGrid - small online tasks solving
- A Swarm of Angels - crowdfunding a film
- Kickstarter - fund ideas and endeavours
- Kiva – crowdfunded micro-loans
- IndieGoGo - a collaborative way to fund ideas
- WePay - ways to collect and manage money