On the intersection of technology, culture, and everyday life: My semi-updated space to collect and link my thoughts about interesting things I spot.
Can a competitive game played by thousands of people help discover novel proteins beyond what is currently possible with computation-only approaches? An interesting project out of The University of Washington, Fold It!, is experimenting with that premise. The game casts molecular folding problems as a massively distributed 3D puzzle game that enables players to discover the solutions to current open scientific problems — such as cures for cancer or AIDS. The idea that well-designed games are fun/addicting/competitive/collaborative and thus potentially powerful tools to create impact is gaining traction. Like Free Rice, it borrows techniques from casual games (Fold It’s game design has an even tighter connection between content and outcome).