Massively Multiplayer Problem Solving

The recent news about the game FoldIt and the group of players that figured out the protein structure for a key enzyme related to the development of the AIDS virus is both thrilling and marvelous… and it is just the tip of the iceberg on how to leverage cognitive surplus to solve wicked problems with massive, distributed networks collaboratively.

Just about everyone who’s following online news has read about the University of Washington’s FoldIt game.
Last Monday I posted about Adrien Truille and his games FoldIt and EteRNA. Today, FoldIt makes bigger news. http://fb.me/1fBClCWYc
aaronesilvers
September 19, 2011
Just a week before, the Association of Computing Machinery featured FoldIt and its creators — before there was any findings about the excitement over the AIDS enzyme.

And since then much discussion has taken place amongst my peers and colleages.

So @devlearn, what do you think? Should massively multiplayer problem solving be one of the tech trends I talk to? #foldit #dl11
aaronesilvers
September 20, 2011
@aaronesilvers Massively Multiplayer Problem Solving sounds interesting. Tell me more. #devlearn
bschlenker
September 20, 2011
@bschlenker Massively Multiplayer Problem Solving: How do you get 10K+ (100K+?) people working together on hard problems?
aaronesilvers
September 20, 2011
@bschlenker Do you remember the DARPA/MIT Red Balloon contest? That was a good start. #devlearn
aaronesilvers
September 20, 2011
@bschlenker You take a game like #FoldIt, designed to lead to long-term results, pull in thousands of players, allow them to self-direct…
aaronesilvers
September 20, 2011
@bschlenker …and interesting things happen, like they figure out a mysterious enzyme linked with AIDS that scientists hunted for 10yrs
aaronesilvers
September 20, 2011
@bschlenker You already have models for social bookmarking (Digg). Now throw in a purpose and design for recognition and reorganization.
aaronesilvers
September 20, 2011

The fact that FoldIt is a game should be noted. It need not be stressed necessarily, nor should it be overlooked. the MMOWGLI is more of a gamified collaboration portal than it is a “game.” My reason for including it is to provide another tangible example of how massively multiplayer problem solving works.

As noted above, I’m giving a presentation on a number of trends I see coming on the technical horizon, and massively multiplayer (also related is “massively distributed”)  problem solving is one of the trends I see becoming more pronounced in the next year(s).
DevLearn is coming up November 2-4, 2011. Click here to find out more about the conference — it’s going to be a great one.