With the creation of vast data sets in contemporary science, there is a need for a new army of volunteers to help classify and analyse the information. The Zooniverse platform now has over one million participants who contribute to projects from astrophysics to climate science. Significant discoveries have already been made by these volunteers in the field of astronomy and publications have resulted. At the same time, the digital revolution, and open-access publishing, are set to create significant change scientific communication and exchange. How will these two trends interact with each other?
Clues to how we can begin answering this question can be found in the historical record. In the nineteenth century the scientific community was not well defined. Gentlemen natural philosophers and working class naturalists rubbed shoulders in a range of botanical, entomological and meteorological projects. The annual rainfall survey, to take one example, was the 'big science' of its day. The results of such large scale projects were recorded in scientific journals, but also in a much more heterogeneous range of publications including yearbooks and yearly reports, science digests and reviews and self published pamphlets and circulars. These prior trends in participation and communication in science are not direct equivalents of today's developments. They might, none the less, act as a storehouse of apt attitudes and ideals with which to explore, and form, new trends.