Smorball

Smorball tackles a major challenge for digital libraries: poor output from Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software significantly hampers full-text searching of digitized material. When first scanned, the pages of digitized books and journals are merely image files, making the pages unsearchable and virtually unusable. While OCR converts page images to searchable, machine encoded text, historic…

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If you’ve lived in a city, you’ve probably encountered something like New York City’s Tenth Avenue after a rainstorm: a place that was so windy, the ground is littered with broken umbrellas. Why don’t we use that impressive windpower? The answer lies partially in technology–the turbines able to take shifting, multidirectional urban winds were only…

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In 2011, the New York Public Library (NYPL) released 9,000 digitized restaurant menus with “delicious data” that had been “frozen as pixels,” making the menus difficult to search, index, and discover online. Along with the menus, the NYPL launched an interface that asked the public to help transcribe the thousands of menus and the hundreds…

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I was on a call with Teresa Murphy-Skorzova, Community Growth Manager for OpenSignal, an app that uses crowd-sourcing to aggregate cell phone signals and WiFi strength data throughout the world. Teresa began to explain how OpenSignal maps signal strength and how this process contrasts the way cell phone networks map it. “We aren’t following a…

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In honor of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference; the critical role that citizen science can play in understanding and mitigating the effects of climate change. – LFF    Climate change is a very real problem facing our planet. The term “climate change” can cover a great many things, some natural and some man…

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We’re all used to citizen science projects that aim at education, or at producing scientific value, but the combination – especially involving groups of young children – remains incredibly difficult to pull off. The ‘Blackawton Bees’ study is a touchstone for much of my thinking, but hasn’t been replicated in the UK and required a…

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A new project called EyesOnHives has beekeepers buzzing. Developed by Santa Barbara–based Keltronix, Inc., the technology uses video to monitor hive activity in order to keep track of its health. A rapid decline in the insects’ population in recent years has concerned and at times baffled scientists and bee enthusiasts. EyesOnHives trains a camera-like device on…

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This blog is a summary of a very dynamic workshop that took place at the end of the NZ Ecological Society Conference last week in Christchurch. Amazingly, around 30 scientists, students, academics, teachers, consultants and project coordinators summoned their remaining energy to discuss some key citizen science topics. Earlier in the year, a call was…

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Citizen scientists’ important contributions to biodiversity conservation are constrained by their focus on data collection and public outreach in wealthy, accessible places. Sustainable conservation actions require initiatives such as those supported by the Participatory Monitoring and Management Partnership (www.pmmpartnership.com), in which data collected by land owners and resource users help to guide local decision-makers on…

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