The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of the world’s most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Its purpose is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

The Wisdom of the Crowd

Held at the Royal Society in London in partnership with the University of Oxford, The Wisdom of the Crowd was a one-off event hosted by esteemed mathematician and author, Marcus du Sautoy, on the principle of ‘citizen science’.

Typically, citizen science takes two forms. Either observing the world around you, recording your findings and submitting the data; such as butterfly and ornithology counts or astronomy. Or reviewing existing data such as star photos and logging what you find.

However, you could consider fairground games of ‘guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar’ as very much in the world of citizen science. The idea being that a large enough number of people guessing would, on average, get the number of jellybeans correct – the ‘wisdom of the crowd.

This is exactly what was being tested, in real-time, using Glisser.

Technology to crowd-source answers

Glisser was the perfect audience engagement solution for the presentation. Throughout the talk, Marcus interwove the interactive features into his slides to spur audience engagement and gather data that stimulated discussion and revealed interesting results. This collaboration was a perfect representation of the benefits of citizen science.

In addition to those physically present at the event, Wisdom of the Crowd also utilised Glisser Live, our hybrid events platform, which enabled them to live stream the presentation and allow additional participants to vote and ask questions remotely. This doubled the attendance without doubling the costs, and gathering a broader data set to hopefully increase its accuracy!

What did the presenter think?

“In our presentation on The Wisdom of the Crowd at the Royal Society, Glisser’s technology allowed me to embody the topic of the lecture as part of the lecture itself. Rather than talking about the Wisdom of the Crowd, Glisser’s technology allowed the audience to demonstrate live the power of the crowd in action. Science engagement is about finding ways to get an audience to actively participate in the science rather than passively listening to stories. This technology meant we could do live experiments to test which questions the crowd was good at answering and which questions they were hopeless. It was genuinely exciting both for the audience and me as a lecturer to be able to live the topic of the lecture so effectively.”

Marcus du Sautoy
Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford

The Breakdown

Breakdown of participation during the event:

  • 416 attendees
  • 120 questions asked
  • 440 questions upvoted
  • 17 tweets
  • 28 polls
  • 12 quizzes