Benjamin BARBIER, Université Paris Nanterre-Laboratoire DICEN-idf, France
Severo MARTA, Université Paris Nanterre-Laboratoire DICEN-idf, France
One of the main challenges related to citizen science platforms regards the creation and animation of participation. Several platforms provide users with tools for facilitating the exchanges between them, such as forums, chats or messages. Yet often these tools are scarcely used because of the added workload for users and they are not suitable in order to build a real sociability. Conversely, it has to be noticed that social media offer a digital environment which affordances are particularly designed for creating social links, for talking, for building reputation and facilitating community dynamics.
This communication aims to study the role that social media are playing and can play in the context of citizen science projects. The analysis will focus on the cultural field. It has to be recognized that amateurs of culture have found in the Web 2.0 and social media a perfect environment to practice their passion and exchange with others about it. Social media allow building a public profile, expressing oneself, sharing content and finding friends with similar interests. If we consider one of the most famous projects of crowdsourcing in the cultural sector, Transcribing Bentham, we observe that the institutional platform is enriched by a blog and by a Facebook page as well as a Twitter account. Hence users can participate to the project and interact with the other participants in the digital space where they are the most comfortable. Similarly, several projects hosted by Galaxy Zoo provide a hashtag, a Twitter account or a blog to increase sociability and facilitate community building.
In the context of the collective project COLLABORA, funded by the French Agency for Research (ANR), we have recently built an observatory of participatory cultural platforms. As of today (February 2021), the observatory has collected through a participatory approach 106 platforms ranging from archaeology to comics, including history, genealogy, town planning, etc.
Our analysis grid has enabled us to bring out a set of general trends about the objectives of these platforms, the various means to achieve these objectives, the research documentation tools made available, the question of the role of citizen-contributors within these systems as well as issues of authority and of diversity of statuses regarding the data produced.
This communication will investigate how Web 2.0 tools and notably social media have been used in relation with these platforms. First, we will provide some statistical data about the presence of the different types of tools. We will consider both the use of social tools inside the platforms (forum, chats, messages) and the offer of social tools outside the platform. Secondly, when Web 2.0 tools and social media are implemented, we will study their function in relation with the citizen science project. Finally, we will consider the ethical and legal issues raised by the use of commercial platforms in the context of citizen science projects.