Fold it participation

apanofsky September 20, 2011

Apparently a major discovery of the structure of a key retrovirus protease was made with the help of online gamers playing “Foldit”. Not only are the players helping scientists with the “drudgery” of research (as in distributed computing or people submitting animal sightings), but these game players are “providing answers beyond the capabilities of experts in the field.” Thus good game players have some kind of very specific expertise that scientists don’t have.

Interestingly the scientists offered authorship to the game winners, but they declined and only asked for recognition for their Foldit teams. The sharing of credit is interesting, and uncommon. But also it seems that there might be an interesting OP dynamic here. Competition in the game seems to have been key, also teamwork. An interesting question for us: where did the teams come from? Were they preorganized or did they organize through the game? What makes the team superior to a bunch of individuals working on the game separately?