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More on Gaming, Mechanical Turks, and Future of Taylorism

Well, we appear to have found a solution to the old Taylorist dilemma of working being efficient but boring: turn it into a video game.

I heard on the radio this morning that FoldIt players had solved a virus structure puzzle in 10 days which had eluded the best efforts of scientists thitherto.  FoldIt turns macromolecule folding problems — devilish 3-d puzzles — into a videogame which can be solved in parallel by a bevy of “players”.  The account of the latest solution is in Science Daily here.

How Frederick Winslow Taylor, the inventor of “scientific management” (or, more eponymously, “Taylorism”) would have rejoiced!  Although his methods reduced work to rationally most-efficient segments, it is also notorious for draining work of all pleasure or meaning.

We don’t get the meaning back with video games, but we do get the pleasure.

Mechanical Turks of the world, unite!  Your have nothing to lose but your boredom.

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About the author

an Gordon is Research Director for Valhalla Partners, a Northern Virginia venture capital firm. Dan has twenty-eight years experience working with technology, as a computer scientist, software developer, manager, analyst, and entrepreneur. Prior to joining Valhalla Partners, Dan was a Director and senior staff member at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Technology Centre, analyzing technology trends and consulting on technology-oriented strategies in the software, e-business, wireless, optical, networking, semiconductor IP, and life sciences arenas. He worked with clients from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Dan was a Contributing Writer and Contributing Editor to the Technology Centre’s annual Technology Forecast, and a frequent speaker at industry and general business meetings. Before joining PwC, Dan spent 20 years in Silicon Valley as a software technologist, manager, director, and entrepreneur, including senior technical roles at well-known Silicon Valley firms like Symantec, Intuit, and Oracle. Dan has also been involved in startup companies in the applied Artificial Intelligence and Web applications fields. Dan has a B.A. (cum laude) from Harvard University and an M.S. from New York University in Computer Science. He is a Professional Member of the IEEE and ACM. Dan lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two children.