I'm convinced that unused computer resources may well be the single most potent and significant untapped resource available to humanity today. Grid computing provides the technical interface which allows those of us with computers to make those resources available to the benefit of humanity. Not only does grid computing allow servers to harness and coordinate all that unused and idle computing power, it provides "free" processing to scientists around the globe who are trying to make a difference in areas like health and environment research.
One of the most recent initiatives is the Ontario Cancer Institute's Help Conquer Cancer project. Igor Jurisica is the principal researcher involved, and his web site documents just how effective personal and business computers can be in analyzing millions of photographs of crystallized cancer proteins.
You don't have to be a geek, a technophile, or even the owner of a powerful computer to see the utility of grid computing. If all you have is an old desktop, or a game machine that sits idly most of the day while you're at work or school, you can make a difference. Even at work, if you can secure your IT department and management approval, idle computing time while you're away in meetings, out to lunch, filing, or merely thinking or planning is time and resources that can be utilized to benefit humanity.
Yes, it's good to donate money to the charity of choice. It's even better to donate time to volunteer work for associations and charities that make a difference in your local community. But if you think of your computers as currency, then you are wealthier than you think. Let's make that wealth available. Let's make 2008 the year when grid computing and charities achieved a significant milestone in scientific research.