Citizen Science, Crowdsourcing, and the Zooniverse Project

Image of Zooniverse crowdsourcing platform

Page from the Zooniverse South Bend Lead project for crowdsourced classifcation

Working at the Shapiro Design Lab as a Student Developer was a valuable and unforgettable experience. I was able to explore different types of interesting projects related to both data science and our library community. It gave me an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills you learn in the classroom to a real-world situation and to collaborate with other student developers. Mainly I participated in the AwesomeBox, an interface that shows recommended books by peers, Measure The Future, a sensor that collects information about how people use library spaces, and Zooniverse, specifically data aggregation to measure the reliability of volunteers' participation in crowd-sourced scientific research projects.

One thing I liked the most about working in the Design Lab was its openness and the freedom in choosing a project. It was we students that thought about which projects might promote data sharing and improve the interface with the library community, and this led us to really think about new ideas that can enrich the resources available in the library. For example, I chose to dive into the Zooniverse project because I was interested in data aggregation and measuring its reliability. I worked on analyzing annotated data that came from two separate projects: a prototype transcription project with the Catalog of Copyright Entries and a project that looks at South Bend public documents for lead mapping. It was interesting to explore different methods for aggregating complex structures of classifications and possible reliability logics for them. At that time, I was learning about crowdsourcing and agreements on annotation in class, so it led me to think about which ones are applied to the project as well. It was fascinating to work on the project that aligns with my academic interests.

The Design Lab provides a unique space that people gather together, brainstorm, share ideas, and actually collaborate in building a service or platform that our library community is interested in. The involvement in different projects expanded my critical thinking skills as well as collaboration skills. Moreover, I was able to think about real-world problems, and how my knowledge could be applied to solve these problems and serve the library community. It has advanced my abilities necessary for my career as a data scientist.