Possibly the most helpful and educational tool in any citizen scientists utility belt is…drum roll please…Mailing lists. “What?” you say, not something fancy and covered with web 3.0 jargon. Nope, simple mailing lists.
I was first introduced to mailing lists when I subscribed to the DIYbio google group. I was expecting it to just be like a forum where I would occasionally visit the site when I wanted to read or post about some DIYbio stuff. Yet to my very thank ful surprise when I woke up the next day, I opened my inbox to a flood of DIYbio conversations. Ranging from talk of using a swiffer wetjet as a component for a DNA synthesizer to someone asking for (and community members providing)an amplification circuit for use in their diy thermocycler.
The benefit of being surrounded by people with your same (or possibly even greater) level of passion for your field of interest can not be underestimated. Yet its not always possible to be in the same room as people ,especially when they live on the other side of the globe. So being able to communicate openly and at your own pace instantly with thousands of passionate and knowledgeable people is why I think Mailing Lists are the most import tool for any Scientist.
Here are the few mailing lists I subscribe too…
DIYbio (“Amateur” Biology)
OpenSourceMedicine(medicine) not as active as I’d like
If you subscribe to an active mailing list that you think other citizen scientists would be interested in, leave a link with a short description in the comments and I’ll edit them into this post.