At the moment, we can see lots of people watching Pokemons in their natural environment and this is very cool ! After the beginnings of the “pokebiology” as I told you in a previous episode, the searchers realized that they’re going to need some data. A lot of data. The maximum amount of data. How to understand the ecology of a Bulbasaur if we couldn’t watch enough of them in their natural environment ? How to describe the life cycle of a Weedle if there’s nobody to see it ? A researcher’s time is limited, the land technicians are expensive, and very quickly, Pokemon’s biologists understood that they could use the citizens to collect some information. Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, a lot of projects appeared, aiming to involve the citizens to take note of the presence and the trajectories of flying Pokemons’ migrations. One of the first was the North American phenology program of the flying Pokemons, and it lasted almost 90 years (after its launch in 1880) recording more than 6 million observations by tens of thousands of users. These kinds of programs have since multiplied in many domains. Today, researchers involve the citizens to count Butterfrees, Poliwags, Politoeds, Farfetch’ds, etc.. Today there exists a whole bunch of apps for smartphones allowing the users to note the Pokemons they meet, and to send this information to the data bases used by the researchers. We call it crowdsourcing, and its interest isn’t limited to the knowledge of Pokemons. Today, anybody can help in the research of galaxies, fossils, classifying archaeological objects, decoding historical documents or to detect interstellar dust impacts on specialized detectors. In fact, the crowdsourcing is so potentially effective that it’s even used in very advanced fields like theoretical physics, the research of prime numbers or maths theorems. There is something for every taste! And the help given to the researchers is huge. In some circumstances, they are very smart and they manage to extract the best of the citizens by making it entertaining. The best exemple is “Foldit”, a game which consists of putting the players against each other to make the winner the one who will fold the proteins the best, and that allowed us to finally understand the structure of a protein involved in the virus HIV in primates. Although this problem remained a mystery to researchers for years, it took ten thousands of players only ten days to solve it, and this has some very solid implication for the medical field. Other scientific games allow the players to fold molecules of RNA, to align DNA sequences to help geneticists to solve quantum problems with “Quantum Moves” to map neurones with Eyewire, and so on. Of course though, Pokemon Go is firstly a game and there is no research behind it so its relation to crowdsourcing is a bit tenuous. Or is it ? Pokemon Go and crowdsourcing have a major feature in common: they they make you a naturalist, an enlightened observer of the world around you. When you look for Pokemons in town, you’re seeing a different reality level than those who don’t have the app. In the same way, ornithologists, botanists or entomolgues see more stuff when they walk in a natural environment. they understand the interactions between species, their distribution, their history, in place where you just see birds and a bit of green, and they “play” by collecting individuals or checking on rare birds. that’s exactly the naturalist mentality Pokemon Go is slowly bringing back in our minds: being mindful of the environment, seeing more layers of reality, and collecting rare items. So if this ability to perceive more layers of the world surrounding you is what motivates you to start up Pokemon Go, or if you like to collect creatures popping out in front of you, you’re mature enough to experiment with other types of organisms. There are a tons of apps allowing you to count different species from your phone and sending your data to researchers, Like BirdLab or some other apps from VigieNature Network That being said, for now, those apps aren’t really super attractive… …and yet, I’m too kind. But everything needs to be done, developers can get inspiration from Pokemon Go to create an entertaining experience for the general public. Speaking philosophically, it’s nice because you participate in the building of science, and practically speaking, it’s awesome because you will help to solve some very complicated questions like the influence of global warming on this organism or another, for instance. Maybe, thanks to your contribution, researchers will be able to better understand how this species change their natural habitat due to this warming, or how this invasive species is completely messing up the ecosystem. Maybe you would leave your own mark, as small as it is, in the history of science! So? What are you waiting for? Hope you liked this episode. Don’t hesitate to share it if you liked the animations and the subject, to support this show on Tipeee, or follow me on social media. The animations where done by Marie, Lucie and my brother Colas from the the YouTube channel “AYEAH!” You can find a lot of cool animations, and a video called “Hitler the starfish” which pretty much tells you how cool they are over there, so go ahead and check them out right now! Also, thanks to Otam for your kickass music (he just released an EP, link in the description), as well as Lord Bif, who not only has a ridiculously glorious moustache, but also does very cool video game music covers in different genres with a lot of skill. I’d like to tell also I’ll be at Frames fest, at Avignon for the coming 3rd and 4th of September. It’s an event organised by the very talented Axolot, le fossoyeur de films, French food porn, and it’s happening in the motherfucking Palais des Papes! I’ll be hosting a conference about origin and evolution of beauty with Manon Bril from “C’est une autre histoire” as well as a preview of a part of a documentary I’m currently working on. That’s it! Don’t forget to go check out AYEAH!, Otam and Lord Bif’s channels, and for me, I will see you soon, and have a good back to school day! Kisses!