Computer simulation and large-scale data analysis used to be the province of scientists proper. Distributed computing is a kind of public engagement with science that involves large numbers of participants. The worldwide user-base of citizens interested in donating computer power to proteomics and bioastronomy are modern examples of the mutual interaction between scientists and nonscientists.

This paper will look into questions such as why people decide to collaborate in the distributed computing projects and analyze the discourse surrounding bioastronomy and proteomics. It will look at how ideas about protein dynamics and bioastronomy are articulated through various participatory platforms: weblogs, computer fora, wikis, YouTube videos and the Folding@home software.

The paper also analyses the flow of skills from subsets of the user pool into the core of the distributed computing project, suggesting that a group of users have knowledge about the intricacies of software technologies that have been useful in the evolution of the Folding@home project.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

A study of the distributed computing community Folding@home

Gustav Holmberg   Research Policy Institute, University of Lund

Computer simulation and large-scale data analysis used to be the province of scientists proper. Distributed computing is a kind of public engagement with science that involves large numbers of participants. The worldwide user-base of citizens interested in donating computer power to proteomics and bioastronomy are modern examples of the mutual interaction between scientists and nonscientists.

This paper will look into questions such as why people decide to collaborate in the distributed computing projects and analyze the discourse surrounding bioastronomy and proteomics. It will look at how ideas about protein dynamics and bioastronomy are articulated through various participatory platforms: weblogs, computer fora, wikis, YouTube videos and the Folding@home software.

The paper also analyses the flow of skills from subsets of the user pool into the core of the distributed computing project, suggesting that a group of users have knowledge about the intricacies of software technologies that have been useful in the evolution of the Folding@home project.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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