Why @the_zooniverse and #openscience sharing platforms are also tools for social restoration

Person in Room with 500 Monitors --- Image by © Louie Psihoyos/CORBIS

Person in Room with 500 Monitors — Image by © Louie Psihoyos/CORBIS

Zooniverse is primarily a research platform with a big citizen science component.  Reasons to consider putting image data you collected (even smaller datasets or image/video libraries) include the following:
1. It raises your public reputation and gets your name out there.  This is really important as you get sometimes get surprise funding and collaborations too from places you might not expect.
2. It makes the project and the funding from agencies look great, and it is really another form of publication/dissemination.  It is also another financial return on the all those cameras and all your time.  REMEMBER – many of these tools also have an interaction component to engage people and not just flip through pics.
3.  We can engage with a wider audience and get local stakeholders to see the photos, see the odd animal, and begin to care more and appreciate their system from a very different perspective. Seeing those pics at ground level often at night etc is a total window into a world that ranchers, the oil staff, the managers, and even many biologists do not get.  I see this is an important social-restoration tool in that it promotes looking at and paying attend to plants and animals within the system.  I feel the exact same way about the pollinator videos.
Not only do natural systems need restoration but people need their social perspective on the ecology of systems restored.
4. This system (and flickr) provide the free cloud storage of ALL your photo data for us, ie this is our cloud backup.
5. We can show students what we do and teach them or volunteers to help.  Of course, it is best if each PI does it, but the students or techs can also look at other things for us at some point. Windiness, total number of plants, total number of false hits for us, etc… or do other things we have not imagined yet – filter some, change contrast, etc.  that is the point of these tools.
In summary, I see all these outreach efforts (flickr, youtube, blog, twitter, etc) as a really important process of ecology, restoration, communication, and doing some social good.
These ‘snapshots’ are also an opportunity to illuminate natural history for individuals to see the system you care about.