A few weeks ago, I had to purchase a new laptop to replace our old one which suffered an ignominious death by drop. The new one is a small AlienWare -- customized to purple by BootyKid2.
I decided to download Folding@Home for this new laptop as I usually do for all of the machines that I own. My son wanted to know why I decided to do this. I basically told him that there are mathematical problems that are so large and contain an enormous amount of data that thousands of computers are needed to solve the problem. Someday, we will be able to perhaps confirm the existence of aliens or even cure cancer.
On a somewhat related issue, One thing I had thought about how effective the Ushahidi engine was in regards to relaying information during the Haitian earthquake crisis. While no one person knew exactly what was going on and where it was going on in Haiti, the Ushahidi engine would effectively collectivize all of those individual voices and news articles and place them across a simple map.
Clay Shirky gave a talk at TED in regards to how this engine came about. He covers something that I briefly covered a few years ago. There's an awesome power of collaboration in the age we're living in. While this power can produce the inane like lolcats or non-creepy cosplay videos, the Ushahidi engine came about because of two programmers that read a blog from a Kenyan news activist.
This video runs about 13 minutes, but it's a good watch.
(for future blog support ted:896)