While the CyberTracker project demonstrates the potential value of employing trackers in conservation and scientific research, it also raises a more fundamental question. If hunter-gatherers were practicing scientific reasoning it is possible that it may have evolved by means of natural selection and that it may well be an innate ability. This would imply that all humans, throughout history, would have been capable of scientific reasoning, irrespective of their culture.
The implications for community participation in science are far-reaching. Imagine communities throughout the world gathering data… from remote villages in the Kalahari, the Congo, Australia and Mongolia,… to school children in New York’s Central Park, to London, Paris, Tokyo, New Delhi and Beijing… citizens gathering data on birds, animals, plants… millions of people all over the world sharing their data on the Cloud, creating a worldwide network to monitor the global ecosystem in real time.
This may have far-reaching implications for an inclusive citizen science and the democratization of science. If citizens have an innate ability to do scientific reasoning, there is no reason why citizens should not be able to participate in science in a more fundamental way.
Citizen science involves volunteers, regardless of education, in scientific research. The degree of involvement of citizens in science varies from a very basic level of participation through to the publication of original research in peer reviewed science journals. Citizen Science can be extended beyond the Participatory Citizen Science model to a broader, more inclusive Tracking Science. These categories, however, represent a continuous spectrum from the most basic through to the most advanced levels.
Liebenberg, L., //Ao, . /Am ., Lombard, M., Shermer, M., Xhukwe, . /Uase ., Biesele, M., //xao, D., Carruthers, P., Kxao, . ≠Oma ., Hansson, S.O., Langwane, H. (Karoha) ., Elbroch, L.M., /Ui, N., Keeping, D., Humphrey, G., Newman, G., G/aq’o, . /Ui ., Steventon, J., Kashe, N., Stevenson, R., Benadie, K., du Plessis, P., Minye, J., /Kxunta, . /Ui ., Ludwig, B., Daqm, . ≠Oma ., Louw, M., Debe, D. and Voysey, M., 2021. Tracking Science: An Alternative for Those Excluded by Citizen Science. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 6(1), p.6. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/cstp.284
Liebenberg, Louis. 2015. Citizen science: creating an inclusive, global network for conservation. The Guardian.
Liebenberg, L., et al., 2016. Smartphone Icon User Interface design for non-literate trackers and its implications for an inclusive citizen science, Biological Conservation, https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.04.033
To get involved in Citizen Science you can find projects here: