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Are you a Citizen Scientist?

“I’m finding these snails absolutely fascinating,” he said and laughed. “You’ll probably think I’m very odd but I’ve bought a notebook and I sit and watch them for hours and write down what they do.”  John had bought a mini snail farm from me and was on the phone a few weeks later.

“You’re a Citizen Scientist.” I said. That’s an ordinary person who takes part in scientific research. If you’ve made a note of the birds visiting your garden each year and sent it off to Garden Birdwatch, which thousands of people do, then you’re a Citizen Scientist too. Do you keep an eye on the activities of the local hedgehogs or foxes? Do you notice when ash trees nearby start to succumb to dieback. This sort of informal recording is absolutely vital - we are all the eyes and ears of professional scientists who rely on us collecting this data because they can’t be everywhere.

Citizen science is an example of crowd-sourcing – engaging lots of ordinary people in an activity. Crowd-funding is another example. On Wednesday Crista Cloutier (www.theworkingartist.com) gave a talk at UCF about her use of crowd-funding to get financial support for her project. She used indiegogo (www.indiegogo.com) as her platform but kickstarter is another.

In the world, of book publishing Unbound (http://unbound.co.uk/authors) is a company that uses crowd-funding. You have to pitch your book idea and they post it onto their website to see if readers think this book is worth publishing. You get your book published if you get enough support. Give it a go! Get involved!

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19 May 2013

19 May 2013

On 22 November 2006 I took delivery of my first edible snails and the real adventure began. After more than six years of writing the book about that experience it is nearly ready to be published. At the moment I’m waiting anxiously for two of the people featured in the story to finish reading it and let me know if it’s alright to include them. As soon as I’ve incorporated their feedback the manuscript will go for final edit and preparation to go to print. It has taken such a long time to reach this point and now I just want it to be finished.

 

I write everyday early in the morning while I’m eating breakfast. Today I shall be off to Slow Summer Snail Farm for the morning to try and get everything ready for opening in a week’s time. There’s such a lot to do still because of the cold months in early Spring when I should have been busy outside but couldn’t bear to venture out. I’m making wire mesh pens planted up with spinach for the snails to live in during the summer months. The wire mesh is to keep predators out. Small furry animals were such a problem last year that they ate more than their fair share of my profits. Even Dusty and Freddie ferret couldn’t keep them at bay. As soon as we went home the mice and shrews and rats came out to play. Let’s hope the new pens do the trick. Fingers crossed the cold weather is over now and you can look forward to a warm summer with the molluscs and me.

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