Monday, November 21, 2011

Crowdsourcing science

Great article in the Boston Globe about crowdsourcing science.

About FoldIt, the protein-folding game:
“Although much attention has recently been given to the potential of crowdsourcing and game playing, this is the first instance we are aware of in which online gamers solved a longstanding scientific problem.”

About perverse academic incentives:
The larger challenge is that most scientific data is proprietary. A scientist works long and hard to generate original data. [...] She is not going to want share this data with others, particularly strangers.
“It is essential that scientists be rewarded when they share.” 
About new challenges:
It takes a certain brilliance, and a lot of work, to recognize problems that can be shared with a crowd, and set up the systems needed for strangers to work together productively.
About untapped potential:

“We have used just a tiny fraction of the human attention span that goes into an episode of Jerry Springer.”

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