Welcome to SciCafe 2.0 Blog– The European Observatory for Crowd-Sourcing

SciCafe2.0 will deploy different methodologies for participative engagement and crowd sourcing by way of experiments to evaluate approaches to widening and deepening the involvement of citizens in responding to social issues and in particular to co-evolve solutions to pressing societal challenges of our time.

This will promote the sharing of the resulting insights as to the best situated models for participative engagement and leadership so as to mobilise collective intelligence. It will interactively encourage both off-line and on-line methodologies, connecting the virtual and physical space of discourse and cooperation.

Accordingly one of the fundamental aspects of our study is how cooperation develops in the cyberspace, i.e., in Internet. Actually, Internet may have a lot of different meanings attached. In the ’90 it was the information highway: people used Internet mainly for searching for things. Over the next decade Internet was used essentially for shopping and delivering of contents. Nowadays it is all of this, but mainly a communication channel. And when I speak of Internet, I do not only mean the web, but also all kind of interchanges that maybe happen through cellular phones.

One of the most interesting phenomena that have occurred in relatively recent years is the appearance of collaborative flows over the Internet. . Most of the added value of many services is represented by the common effort of users. Let us just consider Google, which is a private enterprise. Its main service is the search engine, which is based on the “page rank” algorithm, which approximately computes the importance of a page counting the number (and quality) of links that are pointing to it. The idea is that links on a web page are generally hand-coded by humans, and that it is done after having evaluated the quality of the target page. Therefore, Google is mining the collective intelligence that humans have deposited into web links.

Similarly, there are many web applications and apps whose value is given by the participation of many users. Facebook is just a macroscopic example of it: people are using this bluish site only because many other users do the same.

The Internet communication channel has indeed expanded our possibilities. It is now possible to interact with a given community regardless of the physical distances, and with different degrees of engagement. And since the communities are the motor of social advancement, we can expect (and are already experiencing) big transformations promoted by interconnected citizens.

Indeed, the digital agenda for Europe supports the use of Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation (CAPS), i.e., “how to use networks to connect citizens and ideas for social innovation, leveraging on collective intelligence and action to address sustainability challenges”.

Despite the technological advancements, we are still primates who only recently (in evolutionary terms) abandoned the savannah. Our brain is still the Neolithic one, and we simply cannot pretend to become all Vulcans. This is to say that we have to investigate carefully how our social, cognitive and psychological capabilities can cope with the Internet possibilities. This applies in particular to the phenomenon of collaboration: most of the CAPS initiatives rely on a collaborative participation of users, but they mostly face the problem of being a smart solution for a given problem, without participants.

Probably, the most important collaborative task we have to face is how to take collective decisions. In the present technological era, we are often asked to decide on topics which require understanding of some scientific or technical knowledge. We often rely on experts for support, but we do not want to let them decide for us, but neither pursues any decision taking based on non-scientific prejudice. Therefore, the theme of collective intelligence includes the active participation of users, how to “extract” knowledge from experts without being abused, and in general science and technological education. The understanding of the possibilities and limitations of Internet for what concerns such participative methodologies is of paramount importance and is a key aspect of the vision and mission of the SciCafe Consortium and the European Observatory for Crowd-Sourcing (www.scicafe2-o.eu)

Accordingly one of the “social technologies” for the participative engagement that we are currently promoting is based on the Science Café experience. The Café Scientifique (a synonym) is a grassroots public science initiative that is typically organised in a café or a pub. More on this in a following post.

To sum up, here is a tentative list of topics that will be explored by the SciCafe Consortium members in the future:

  • CAPS and collaboration
  • Crowd-Sourcing
  • Participative techniques
  • Science cafés
  • Collective intelligence
  • The evolutionary roots of human behaviour
  • Cognitive basis of cooperation
  • Incentives, reputation and trust
  • Education
  • Resilience and risk perception in multiplex networks
  • Normative ethno-methodologically-guided requirements elicitation and ranking
  • Normative ethno-methodologically-guided requirements evaluation and Impact Assessment
  • Resolving Ambiguity in Socio-Contextual Problem Situations
  • Community Resilience
  • Sentiment Analysis
  • Constructivist-Constructionist Experimentoria: inviting, provoking, involving, doing, reflecting resolving and becoming
  • Crowd-Funding
  • The Social Materiality of Science
  • The interplay of the socio-psycho-cognitive constructs and contexts in co-creativity

and more.

Needless to say, we encourage your participation.

The SciCafe2.0 Consortium and The European Observatory for Crowd-Sourcing

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