Designing for Public Participation in Paleontology Through the Development of an App

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Conference Paper

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European Conference on Social Media


Reading, UK

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Regardless of online or physical space, including museum exhibits, social media, fossil digs or web sites, peopleare fascinated by fossils. In this paper, we discuss the initial phase of design for a mobile app that extends the myFOSSILonline space in order to more fully support public participation in scientific research via remote collection of paleontological data and social networking. This initiative, part of the FOSSIL Project in the United States (NSF-DRL1322725), uses social paleontology to bring together amateur and professional paleontologists into a more formal community of practice. The project includes a public-private partnership between researchers at the University of Florida and a private software development firm, Atmosphere Apps. The FOSSIL App will afford documenting, connecting andconversing about a paleontological find with the established community of approximately 1,000 members. Use of the Appis predicted to increase public engagement and broaden participation with fossils and the science of paleontology. We describe a needs assessment based upon a review and evaluation of existing technologies and science specific mobile apps as well as the design framework, which is informed by social paleontology and citizen science.

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