For our last session of the day, Irene Greif (IBM) and Tom Kalil (The White House) talked about gamification in the broader context of achieving particular societal goals, as well as applications of gamification dynamics at IBM Research.

Tom talked about the idea of “societal apps”, which are applications that solve social problems. These are potentially rich areas for collaboration between the government, academia, nonprofits, and industry. Tom mentioned several interesting programs at the Navy, including one that helped new Navy recruits – many of whom have only a high school education – become IT experts within several months. These recruits outperformed those with several years of hands-on IT experience in practical and theoretical tests, which suggests the possibility of massive knowledge increases, and for that matter salary increases, as a result of applying gamification methods. Tom spoke about other applications as well, such as, which has generated outsized increases in protein folding knowledge using volunteers’ free time rather than computing resources.

Irene spoke about several applications of gamification and social networking knowledge at IBM Research, including the “Beehive”, an internal social network that creates connections among IBM employees, on both personal and professional levels. Implementation of the Beehive system revealed interesting dynamics relevant to today’s discussions of gamification; points became part of the Beehive system, to help users grade other users’ contributions, for example. Interestingly, users complained when the point system was removed. In its place, users were around to put “honey” on various contributions to help bring the community’s attention to them. ¬†Other demonstrations included early community-visualization technologies, as well as social bookmarking services such as Dogear.


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