The Mendeley Binary Battle is over and the winners have been announced. To recap, the Binary Battle is an innovation challenge similar to the X-Prize, for using the Mendeley API. The platform gives anyone access to a layer of social and demographic information about research, enabling scientific research to be used alongside any application like FourSquare uses location on Twitter.
The overall grand prize of the 2011 Mendeley-PLoS Binary Battle, receiving $10,001 and $1,000 of Amazon AWS credits, went to openSNP, which enables you to share your personal genome from 23andMe or deCODEme to find the latest relevant research and let scientists discover new genetic associations.
Runner Up, receiving $5,000 and $500 of Amazon AWS credits, went to PaperCritic, which allows for post-publication peer review in an open environment. Rate papers, write critical reviews or read those from others.
The winners were chosen by popular vote and a panel of judges including Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media, Juan Enriquez of Excel Venture Management, John Wilbanks former VP for Science for Creative Commons, James Powell the CTO of Thomson Reuters and Werner Vogels the CTO Amazon.com.
“I always tell developers to work on stuff that matters. It's time to stretch beyond the consumer internet, and what better place to focus than on furthering the cutting edges of science?” said Tim O’Reilly
As a community-driven platform for publicly sharing genetic information, openSNP really has potential to make an impact by enabling crowdsourcing of associations between genetic traits and the physical manifestation of those traits, such as eye color or propensity for some diseases.
The Medeley Binary Battle really shows the potential of how open data, APIs and hackathon contests can transcend mashups and all the fun and actually make an impact on the world around us.