A few weeks back, crowdsourcing pioneer and all-around swell fellow Adrien Treuille stopped by the office to talk about his experiences crowdsourcing science. Treuille is one of the creators of FoldIt and EterRNA, visual puzzle games that help scientists solve the riddles of protein and RNA folding, respectively. Here's a video of the talk titled 10 Reasons to Crowdsource Science.
Like the rest of the internet, we follow Apple products. Frankly, it's impossible not to. Avoiding a live blog or a review or an unboxing of an Apple product is as difficult as avoiding sketchy emails with stock tips, ads about the One Weird Trick to Do Something You Didn't Want to Do Anyhow, and cat gifs. Always with the cat gifs. At any rate, these things that flood the internet are spectacular opportunities to do sentiment analysis: there's oodles of data, it's easily accessible, and everyone has an opinion. Here's what we learned:
Data science isn't new, but the demand for quality data has exploded recently. This isn't a fad or a rebranding, it's an evolution. Decisions that govern everything from successful presidential campaigns to a one-man startup headquartered at a kitchen table are now be made on real, actionable data, not hunches and guesswork.
Back in 1906, Victorian fancypants Sir Francis Galton had an idea. He was at a livestock fair and villagers had been given the opportunity to guess the weight of an ox. Nearly 800 people guessed and, surprise surprise, none hit the 1,198 pound mark exactly. Galton's stroke of genius was calculating the median of all guesses. That number? 1,208. The mean? 1,197. That's right: the crowd was one pound off.
Humans spend 3 billion hours a week playing video games. And while some research has suggested that regular gaming can improve social skills, mood, and even health, these benefits bear out largely on a personal level. That is, unless we're talking about Foldit.