The Boundaries Observatory presents a way of capturing what Popper alluded to in 1945 when he said “Even a man who opens a new shop, or who reserves a ticket for the theatre, is carrying out a kind of social experiment on a small scale; and all our knowledge of social experience is gained by making experiments of this kind” (Popper, 1945).
The ideas explored in The Boundaries Observatory are ideas which are important to everyone, since everyone is touched by technology. To understand and address the deep problems presented to us by technology, large-scale, self-sustaining participation in open research is necessary and we believe that the bringing together technologies for Citizen Science and Open Learning is a sensible path to adopt in achieving this: the Boundaries Observatory provides a means whereby ideas can be explored, critiqued, validated or rejected by all. Validated ideas then find application in models, resources, and other approaches whose utility lies in helping to clarify understandings. Every engagement with the Observatory, whether it is reporting findings of an intervention, or exploring the resources, or playing a game, or exploring the visual analytic tools is itself considered a new experiment producing data, and possibly indicative of new regularities which need explaining.
The Observatory is understood as a resource for open education as well as open research. Unlike existing open education platforms, users of the observatory, and it is important to emphasise that the Observatory and its community are open to all, are directly engaged in researching their own experiences as they seek information about a topic, or explore the data that has been collected. The Boundaries Observatory will support the bridging of academic practice and discourse with popular understanding by being transparent about academic research processes through inducting users of the observatory into those same processes.