Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NASA again ahead of the pack

In NYtimes Science section's Multimedia column they show the images from the "People's Camera", a program that allows people to suggest to the project scientists to take pictures of areas of the Mars they are interested in.

This program has two very appealing facts: NASA follows an open access policy with their imagery, at least to a large extend, and in this case allows not only the project scientists to choose, what they want to have covered, but the public.

I find this very appealing because projects like this have the chance to capture much more data than individual scientists ever will be able to digest, and thus using this "idle" time to capture something that is of value to somebody is very powerful and allows non "systems" persons to make use of such large endeavors and raises the chance for insights the insiders might not have.

For me this is the perfect way to complement other decision making mechanisms to select what to do: In a world very dear to me, I could imagine that the Biodiversity Heritage Library could come up with a similar mechanism that would guide them what to select next. So far, something along this line might be happening, but it is for me not clear, how such decisions, it at all are being made.

If BHL would come out and say, we are interested to redirect some of our scanning towards projects that provide improved products (essentially scans and metadata), theny this might be to their benefit - immediate use of their data that in return would be the best way for them to justify their existence and scanning into the future.