Daniel Goldman

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Using crowd funding and social media as the new medium for research.

Have you ever wanted to learn more about a topic currently being researched, but have come to realize that it would involve years of preparation? Right now academic institutions have somewhat of a monopoly on research. You must be either a college professor or a student at the college to become involved, even if the college happens to be a great distance from where you are currently living.

However, is this an appropriate or viable option for innovation in our modern world? In order to keep up with the changing needs of our world and to determine what innovations would be beneficial, we need to bring as many people into research as possible. I therefore propose crowd funding and social media as the new paradigm for research opportunities.

This would give far more people direct access to research projects. No longer would a person have to spend years in college and even move across country to become involved in a topic of interest. Instead, people could post a research proposal and look for interested members of the general population to contribute either financially or through non financial contributions such as acting as research assistants or as expert advisers.

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    Nov 22 2013: Like all evolving technology-related ideas, this one will need to go through a number of incarnations before it becomes a bonafide option for funding research.
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      Nov 22 2013: Well I rather hope that I can just come up with a good product the first time, and improve upon it over time as I get more customers!
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    Nov 19 2013: This sounds good! Keep us informed on proceedings.
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      Nov 19 2013: I will. I'm just trying to figure out how. I've been thinking of a mailing list. Just shoot me an email and I'll add you.
  • Nov 16 2013: I am waiting to hear more about this idea once you "go live," Daniel! As a recent graduate (MEd.), I am still very much interested in educational research. I feel my hands are tied without the use of data bases and principal investigators, much less the ability to have IRB access. Of course data base subscriptions exist and IRB's are available...but both are economically unrealistic. Moreover, I believe if we can create communities of researchers that may or may not be linked to research labs, we can move research ahead at a much faster rate. Systems thinking shows us that emergence of these types of collaborations are viable with the correct amount of feedback and energy. Energy, here, I believe is greatly tied to funding. Obviously the physical energy and mental energy is there or the researchers/innovators would not pursue this.

    I am working (volunteering -- because this means that much to me) with an emerging company developing education apps; as a teacher I am very interested in their work. I believe they could move their work forward with seed money, I could run studies in classrooms, statisticians could analyze data, universities with labs investigating similar issues could help provide oversight and access to IRB and data bases (or even run empirical studies in tandem). You can see the cycle. There are lots of issues to address, I realize, not the least of which are accountability, ethics, balance of "power"...but I think it is worthwhile to begin this type of dialogue. Not everyone who loves research wants a PhD; not everyone who has a PhD continues to do research. Daniel Kahneman teaches us that "experts" can't be expert on everything...innovations may will require innovative methods. Our global and digital society has never been more ready to tackle this.
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      Nov 16 2013: As soon as the crowd funding system I want to use goes live, so well my project. In the meantime, I could set up a mailing list. Also, if you'd like to see some of my personal views on education, feel free to check out a short eBook on amazon linked on my profile. If you don't like, it can be returned and refunded with aa mm month.

      What kind of research would you like to do, and what questions do you want to have answered by research?
      • Nov 16 2013: Ok, don't laugh, but I'm a "purist" and don't own an e-reader. I'll figure how to download on my iPad. You should feel honored because yours is the first book that interested me enough to investigate e-books. (I much prefer the old fashioned method! Paper!...please no comments on going green. HA) As you can well imagine, because I am a teacher, I am very much interested in views of education. But...I am not about bashing. I DO bash...but then I have to think about solutions. There are plenty of people out there who can tell us what is wrong. WE (teachers) can tell you what is wrong. Fixing it is another thing altogether.

        Naturally I want to do research based on education, but educational methods/curricula based on neuroscience. It only makes sense to teach the way our brains are wired to learn. That means all learners. For students with cognitive disabilities or difficulties, we need to know what those are, how to teach these students, and have tools that are proven to do just that. No small order, right?

        My background is varied and includes special education and English as a Second Language. I suppose I can sum up my pedagogical ideas by saying any means that is proven to be effective for a "special population" should, in theory, be generalizable to the entire population. I believe Todd Rose is the one who addresses teaching to the extremes because there is no "average."

        That leads to the questions: Why our children are lacking number sense and what can we do---is my biggest concern. This is huge issue that follows individuals up through adulthood.

        I also want to know the effectiveness of various models of bilingual instruction. I am all for multi-lingualism; but I'm concerned about the ways models are being implemented --that is without fidelity of the model used to justify various programs.

        I want to know more than I have characters left to type!

        Sure, I think you have generated enough interest that you should create a mailing list.
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          Nov 17 2013: Ha. I use my tablet for reading ebooks. You can download the kindle app or read kindle books from your desktop.

          I appreciate your interest. Let me know what you think. Criticism is fine. I don't expect 100% support since I am harsh on the system and have some "radical" ideas. Not to mention that it is not professionlly done.

          I find your idea of extending to all to be interesting.. My personal view is that one size fits all is the reverse of what we neee, but then again, what is at the core of special education? It's the IEP and that is one idea I would like to extend to all students.

          Okay. I'll set up a mailing list. Anyone interested just email me. politicoid@gmail.com
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        Nov 18 2013: I want to see tons of studies with brain analysis.
        People linked up to wires while they do activities, brain puzzles, watch certain stimulus, answer questions...etc. Gender studies of the brain, I want to know all the differences between men and women and how they think, react, store and retrieve data...etc.
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          Nov 18 2013: I have to admit that as we find more noninvasive methods of neural analysis I also find myself wanting to pick apart the brain. I'll keep that in mind with this project.
    • Nov 19 2013: Good idea!
  • Nov 16 2013: this is a great idea, but most of the discussion here is about science and I'm interested in historical and investigatory research. I'm already beginning to use social media to facilitate citizen and scholar involvement in both in a small non-profit project.It"'s already yielding results I can't keep with so the idea of a platform that can both generate research (information) and assistance to process that research is very attractive to me. Where can I go to keep up with your progress on this project?
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      Nov 16 2013: The core bottleneck right now is the crowd funding system. I'm working with an upcoming firm that I will we. Once they go live, so do I. I would have provided more specific information, but I wanted to treat this post more as a general discussion than an advertising plug, which I doubt TED would like. Just contact me directly for more info. I think TED has a contact feature in the profile.
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    Nov 13 2013: This already exists. If you do a search for "crowd-funding science," you will find many articles and links to a variety of such crowd-funding sites.
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      Nov 13 2013: Do these sites have tools to perform research through their systems? It seems that a collaborative environment combined with research tools and crowd funding services would be optimal.
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        Nov 13 2013: These are two different things. There are crowd-funding sites but there are also sites where anyone can sign up to participate in "citizen science."

        You will find both through an internet search.
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          Nov 13 2013: I see. What I have in mind combines the two into one, and also has some other concepts.
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    Nov 18 2013: Daniel's proposal is quite obvious and well done. However I think that some more learning effort is needed to make crowd-researching really effective!
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      Nov 18 2013: Could you be more specific as to what you mean by more learning effort?
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        Nov 18 2013: I mean that cooperation and teamwork are normally difficult in face to face setting, so they are even more difficult on a web platform. So training investments are needed in order to fully exploit crowd-research.
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          Nov 19 2013: Ah. Backers will be able to help get involved in the project in other ways besides providing financial information. In many cases this would involve some training on topics such as working with project teams and doing research. Over time, I would probably hire people from within the backer community who have shown exceptional talent for research. In a way, it would be much like a guild for researchers.
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      Nov 16 2013: No. What I am talking about is an integrated research and development environment.
  • Nov 15 2013: This is a great idea.
    Please continue to push it forward.
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      Nov 15 2013: Thank you. I hope to make it a very successful paradigm for research. Maybe one day if it grows enough I could work with TED to male it even more effective.
      • Nov 16 2013: Daniel, It is a hard thing you try to do. Stick with it.
        I've been working since the early '70's, on a project of my own.
        I wanted to reduce the out of control inflation of medical care.
        But, never found much research assistance.
        Today, I am retired, and want integrity put into government.
        I've researched back 45 years watching those NSA boys working with IBM
        to crank up their spying and surveillances with Top Secret Cyber IT and IA.

        But I notice.... .. almost nobody else is researching.
        Ok, Edward Snowden, and WikiLeaks.
        But they are running out of data.
        And the government will just wait them out.
        3 or 4 more years, and POOF !!!

        It makes great news for the Guardian in the UK.
        However, our own NY Times seems to just ignore the really bad things.
        Americans will be back asleep soon.
        Sorry, Daniel, I got off track.
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          Nov 16 2013: Yes; that was a bit off topic, but that's okay. I also run a political blog, although I try to avoid mixing the politics and the research idea as much as possible. Although, doing research on political ideas can help move us forward as well. As for the NSA, some projects in research that would be useful are more ideas on how to produce secure technologies.
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    Nov 15 2013: This is an interesting thread. Would it relate to the well documented subject of open innovation?

    Our growing social openness seems to create more direct linkages among innovation stakeholders. The traditional process of innovation seems to be challenged in that sense.

    As mentioned in this thread, several dozen crowd-sourcing platforms (see a few here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_crowd_funding_services) are already in existence. Petridisch.org (http://www.petridish.org) appears to be an example fairly well suited to this thread focused on scientific research.

    What is intriguing to me is actually the impact of our new digital openness on our traditional ways of creating, of sharing assets. This applies to both the intangibles (knowledge, ideas, collaborative creative thinking) and the tangibles ones (share economy on tangibles assets such as homes and cars with high-growth startups in each vertical).

    After all, don't we need this new form of cross-pollination among global thinking bees to find new, more sustainable forms of research and development to breed innovation?

    What would the resulting global honey taste like?

    P.S: If you are interested, I submitted an idea that was published in our TED community that has a lot of overlap with core elements of this topic, but in a different "use case". I could share the link with those who would like to participate.
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    Nov 15 2013: Here are some citizen science projects for starters: http://www.scientificamerican.com/citizen-science/

    Here is an example of a college student and a high school student who successfully crowd-funded their project through one of the many science crowd-sourcing platforms: https://www.microryza.com/projects/seattle-biohacker-space
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      Nov 15 2013: I'm aware that such projects exist. However, is there a single model that combines the funding and "community science" element into one? Does this model provide tools to make such projects easier? Also, is the business that is using the model, utilizing it as best as it can be used?
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        Nov 15 2013: I don't know whether rolling this all into one would be a significant improvement, and it could have more drawbacks than benefits. Different projects involve different tools. So would a site need to provide any tool someone could conceivably want, or would it need to add tools as people proposed projects that needed them, or what?

        It seems steering people to the sites where the tools are ready to go and maintained by those with expertise in those tools might be a lot more efficient.

        Consolidation isn't always the best way to go, just like it isn't necessarily ideal for one business to equip itself with the equipment to manufacture every conceivable item consumers might want.

        By the way, have you noticed online all the citizen science opportunities involving research into honeybees?!
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          Nov 15 2013: It's difficult to tell exactly how well the model will end up working. It's true that such a site cannot accommodate all forms of research, but I think it can accommodate quite a few, and be very successful in this approach. The original plan was just to have a research and development company with both private and publicly listed projects, with the publicly listed projects being interactive with the community as a whole. In other words, I would have the necessary tools because the company would be picking which projects to even post.

          However, I decided if I was already going to go through that much effort, I might as well try to reach out further and help others work on research projects that my R&D company might not be willing to focus its efforts on.

          Ah; I have indeed noticed quite a bit of research on honeybees. It's not surprising. The honeybee is very important to humans. Both honeybees and humans have had a long history of effecting each others' evolution, and the honeybee is in serious trouble thanks to CCD.
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    Nov 15 2013: Crowd sourced innovation already exists. Take Kickstarter ( http://www.kickstarter.com/ ) as an example.
    Another example would be all the open source software on the market. Obviously the open source concept is not confined to software.
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      Nov 15 2013: Kickstarter isn't really designed for the collaborative process of research and development though. I'm thinking more in line with a platform designed to handle all of the elements of research from start to finish, as an alternative to the institutionalized system of research in academia that is currently used.
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        Nov 15 2013: Daniel, you have already alternatives to academia. It's called the industry.
        And often, the 2 work together.
        The industry runs research in order to make money. Academia doesn't have this kind of pressure so the focus might be different in academia from the one in the industry, but the 2 complement each other.
        Perhaps you could provide a specific example of what kind of research you have in mind.
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          Nov 15 2013: My goal is to set up the platform more than doing specific research, although I do plan on getting a research project on honeybee genetics going. Actually, that's one of the reasons I had the idea. I am interested in research on the topic of honeybees, but I think the idea of having to move to another state just to get involved with a research team is ridiculous in this day and age.
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        Nov 15 2013: Ok, so let's assume the honeybee project. You still need a lab somewhere to do the work. So you are still bound to a physical place.
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          Nov 15 2013: Not every project would need such facilities, but in this case you're right. However not all the research has to be done in the same place. There are labs that do processing for you. I do plan on starting a research foundation as part of this business model. Note that, while a lab is needed, not everyone has to actually be near it to work on this project.

          I wouldn't even be able to get involved with such a project, if it was run through an academic institution, unless I actually went to that college. I think that such a system is a little archaic.
  • Nov 14 2013: The best part about these types of sites is that you can find more than just technology. I've witnessed small companies trying to bring a product to market, just as a larger company rolls out a more refined and polished version (led wifi lightbulbs for example). The great angle to this is that we can witness the science and the controlling capitalism in a single shot. It's as if the "student" were in two classes at once.