Protein folding is an important area of research in bioinformatics and molecular biology. The process and product of protein folding concerns how proteins achieve their functional state. A particularly difficult area of protein folding is protein structure prediction. There are many possible ways a protein can fold, and this makes prediction difficult, even with the aid of computational approaches. Protein folding prediction requires significant human attention. Foldit, an online science game, provides an innovative approach to the problem by enlisting human beings to solve puzzles that correlate with protein folding possibilities. Such work aligns broadly with emerging trends in citizen science, where non-experts are enlisted for productive alliances. We examine Foldit, commonly looked at as a dynamic community, and suggest such communities actually have potential to be relatively static and to reproduce and maintain a set of power relations. We make this argument by combining perspectives from Rhetorical Genre Studies and Actor-Network Theory.
genre theory, actor-network theory, rhetoric of science, rhetoric of technology, citizen science, Foldit
Copyright © 2015 Ashely Rose Kelly and Kate Maddalena
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Kelly, Ashley R.; and Maddalena, Kate. "Harnessing Agency for Efficacy: “Foldit” and Citizen Science." Poroi 11, Iss. 1 (2015): p. 1-20 https://doi.org/10.13008/2151-2957.1184
The authors would like to thank S. Scott Graham, Damian Maddalena, Brad Mehlenbacher, and William J. White for their comments, as well as the anonymous reviewers and David Depew for feedback and guidance.