Should science be more transparent? Maybe, says Imperial College, London's Alice Bell in The Guardian, but some data isn't easily shared, and data by itself means nothing. "Information may be 'beautiful' but on its own, it is inert," Bell says. "Opening data sets doesn't necessarily unlock the craft of knowledge-making. It takes time to learn these skills." The public can certainly be involved in the construction of knowledge, but only in collaboration with scientists, "precisely because data needs context and often requires specialist skills to analyze," she adds. Instead of using a battering ram to knock down the doors to the lab, Bell suggests, "maybe an invite for a cup of tea and a chat would be a more effective model." Invite the citizens in, but remember that the scientists, their skills, methods, equipment, and expertise are still important too.
The Limits of "Citizen Science"
Jun 21, 2010