Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More human computation with GWAP

It's oh so exciting to see that GWAP (games with a purpose) has launched. GWAP is part of the research on human computation that started the reCAPTCHA project. GWAP is a framework which allows researchers to create fun games which generate useful data. For example, "Matchin" is a game where you and a random stranger on the internet get a pair of images. You must agree on which one is "better" without talking with each other. The game is fast, fun, and very addicting. From this game, you can actually get quite a bit of useful information. Most importantly, it's possible to find the "good" photos from a site like Flicker.

What I find most exciting about GWAP is that it is a production service. Many researchers will write papers about ideas, maybe create a prototype or a mock-up. However, they don't really do anything to bring their ideas to fruition. Luis's work is different. For example, with reCAPTCHA, we've spent months developing systems for serving CAPTCHAs to the internet. Most of this time was spent making our code reliable, scalable, and fast. Our efforts really payed off. reCAPTCHA now serves CAPTCHAs on a wide range of sites including Ticketmaster, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Twitter and Bebo.

I think this tendency for productionizing is going to pay off with GWAP. Lots of time was spent on things like UI design and scalability. The UI makes the games fun to play, the scalability makes sure that the team can have a real world impact.

Congrats to Mike and the rest of the GWAP team on a job well done.