About ‘Science Gossip’
The publication of books and periodicals are key locations for visualizing knowledge about the natural world. The Biodiversity Heritage Library has digitized and catalogued millions of pages of printed text between the 1400's and today related to the investigation of the natural world. Illustrations are a large part of these printed pages, and we need your to help identify, classify and correlate them. The data you create by tagging illustrations and adding artist and engraver information will have a direct impact on the research of historians who are trying to figure out why, how often, and who made images depicting a whole range of natural sciences in the Victorian period.
BHL and Constructing Scientific Communities
‘Science Gossip’ is born from a collaboration between an Arts and Humanities Research Council project in the UK, called ‘Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries’ (ConSciCom) and the Missouri Botanical Garden who are providing content from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL).
BHL is currently engaged in several citizen science initiatives that help leverage the crowd in improving access to its content. Projects include: Art of Life, where the public helps in describing natural history images; Purposeful Gaming and BHL where players engage in online games to help with text correction; Mining Biodiversity where annotators help train mining algorithms for named entities, such as taxa, places, habitats and traits; and the Field Book Project where “volunpeers” transcribe hand-written field book content. More information about these projects can be found in the BHL blog post on Crowdsourcing and BHL
The ConSciCom project is investigating the role of naturalists and ‘amature’ science enthusiasts in the making and communication of science in both the Victorian period and today. Historians at the Universities of Leicester and Oxford are investigating the particular roles of the periodical press in the nineteenth century as an arena in which citizen scientists of the past participated in scientific research. Periodicals and books of the Victorian era were heavily illustrated, but little is know about who made the illustrations and how they ended up in print. The data you create by tagging illustrations and adding artist and engraver information will have a direct impact on the research of historians who are trying to figure out why, how often, and who made images depicting a whole range of natural sciences in the Victorian period.
Better understanding the range of individuals who made science through their images will help us ascertain what constituted a nineteenth century scientist and citizen scientist. This is the first Zooniverse project where citizen scientists are both the researchers and the subject of the research. Citizen scientists of today can have a direct impact on how we understand historical and modern notions of what it means to do science.