Story yesterday in the L.A. Times indicating that somebody has figured out an excellent and serious use of the internet: Dr. Susan Love has started a website called Army of Women (http://www.armyofwomen.org/ ) which is trying to set up a million women who have signed on to be accessible to researchers doing work on breast cancer. Since finding and screening volunteers for any research project eats up a huge chunk of the research budget, anything that can streamline the process and quickly and cheaply draw in volunteers will mean more money left for actual research.
The idea is simple: Women (and men; breast cancer hits them too) can sign up and they will get emails from time to time from researchers outlining their particular projects and if a volunteer is interested, they contact the researcher and go from there, i.e. start the fine-screening process. The projects can be as simple as being part of a long-term longitudinal tracking study (i.e. update a health questionaire once a year) to actually participating in drug testing trials and anything inbetween. Your level of participation is entirely up to you.
Dr. Love is hoping to end up with as wide a selection of volunteers as possible. Plus, making volunteers available to researches can only make research projects easier to get going.
If that's something you would be interested in, click on the links and get more info. There's also Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation at http://www.dslrf.org/ and the Sister Study: http://www.sisterstudy.com/ .