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May
28

Turning points and games with a purpose

Today I was talking to one of my old mentors from my postdoc days (in big pharma), for the first time in a few years. I realized that working with him and exposure to computational chemistry software¬† was a real turning point in my career in 1996. Several more turning points later …and I am using computers everyday in my research & writing and that got me to where I am as described in my last post. As these things do, that discussion lead to me thinking about what would be the next turning point for me and perhaps science?

Last night I was catching up on some long overdue reading. Most people have  heard of FoldIt, the protein folding/ protein design game from the University of Washington. But what about other games with a purpose like Open-Phylo and Dizeez, I bet few have heard of these computer games. Has anyone reading this played them? What did you get out of them? How long did you spend on them and did they maintain your interest? As someone that has not played any of these games nor for that matter Angry Birds, I would welcome any insights before I try to find the time to give them a go. I am intrigued how others can spend time on computers and increasingly mobile devices to play games, while for a couple of decades I have used computers and software as tools for work and research and little else. What if I could use games to get my work done!

So could my next turning point be using software games as tools for drug discovery? How do we bring the software we use out of the expert domain and put it into the hands of the crowd for public good? I do not have any answers but I thought I would start a little list of such games with a purpose.

Here are the first 3 for the biological sciences:

FoldIt (see this, this, this this)

Open-Phylo

Dizeez

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