Okay, the headline's unnamed scientists did not specifically say that the idea for the FactMiners social-game ecosystem we're developing in support of The Softalk Apple Project is a great idea. What they are saying is that game-powered crowdsourcing methods are a tremendous resource for doing real and important science research.
In today's world where pure science and many domains of research are financially challenged, getting gamers to have "serious fun" helping with underfunded research activity is a win-win for sure. But beyond creative financing, many scientists are also finding that social games with a "serious fun" side can be a great way to engage the public; a great way to have science be something 'we' do rather than something 'scientists' do 'over there' (and without 'us'). More win-win.
You don't need me to fill you in further, simply check out this exciting article at The Guardian and Observer website, 'How online gamers are solving science's biggest problems'. The column's author, Dara Mohammadi, has thoughtfully provided an excellent overview of this exciting gaming trend and then profiled ten examples with links to on-line games where you can help do serious scientific research by playing games.
This article gives me the proverbial goosebumps. It affirms my personal belief about the potential for the FactMiners social-game ecosystem to be my "pay it forward" tribute in honor and recognition of the importance of Softalk Magazine. This article – and especially the games and associated projects to which it links – provide context for what we're doing here to create the first FactMiners Fact Cloud as a companion to the on-line digital archive of Softalk Magazine. It is also good context to justify the excitement I feel about the ideas captured in the thread of blog posts looking at the potential to create FactMiners game plug-ins to build a Fact Cloud for the million-plus Public Domain Image Collection of the British Library.
If FactMiners sounds like it might be an interesting idea to you, by all means check out this article. In the meantime, I have to get back to writing an entry for the Neo4j's January GraphGist Challenge. I am writing a piece to explore the embedded metamodel subgraph design pattern used for "self-descriptive" Fact Clouds that are part of the FactMiners social-game ecosystem.