I share my thoughts after attending a meeting on Google Gears on Wednesday
and hearing a panel on Social Change through Games on Tuesday
Welcome to new people from there who have joined us!
I lead our "Minciu Sodas" laboratory http://www.ms.lt
for serving and
organizing independent thinkers around the world. We are working on a
wide variety of Endeavors
We have many small projects and a large gift economy. We have a vibrant
culture which I'm working to spread so that we might grow to 100,000
active and 1,000,000 supportive participants. I'm also concerned that to
find income for myself and our laboratory. The simplest for me would be
to find several large clients at $25,000 and up for whom we would organize
large global teams on projects where we meet each other halfway. This is
why I have put so much effort into the Includer http://www.includer.org
and solutions that we can organize to better include our participants with
marginal Internet access, as in Africa. This is important to us but
perhaps also to some large businesses.
I spoke briefly with Brad Neuberg of Google Gears. From his talk I
concluded that Google Gears (which is a browser plug-in that lets
create offline applications in principle, but it was actually much more
handy for optimizing performance of web applications (an AJAX on
steroids). Also, it can't run off a USB flash drive. And it must be run
in a browser. This means that indeed there is an opening for a simple
offline interface that could let one read and write emails and exchange
files. I was encouraged that there was quite a bit of interest. But Brad
didn't think that Google would be interested until we had some code to
show. If we're going to code for free, then I want that to be relevant
for our lab's core mission, which is to serve and organize independent
That leads me to another idea for our lab which is to create games that
help people participate in our culture of investigation. I want to at
least briefly mention Susana Ruiz of Darfur is Dying
who has joined our Fighting Peacefully
working group along with video producers Patrice O'Neill
and Marlene Velasco-Begue
And I share links to our Pyramid of Peace
to stop genocide in Kenya and our work in
many locations there http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?HelpKenyans
was interest in my point that our work in Kenya was like a game that
rewarded the skills of playing chess and engaging gangs. We could treat
real life as a game, perhaps even assign "avatars" who are real people
that we identify with.
Games can be a way for us to reach many people and include them in our
work and perhaps even collect and share resources. But what kind of game
would be most helpful for our work and our culture as independent
thinkers? Note also that a successful game should be simple to start
playing, should reward learning, and should be contagious like a virus.
The game that I would like to create would ask the same kinds of questions
that I ask each of us:
* What is your deepest value in life, that includes all your other values?
* What is a question that you don't know the answer to, but wish to answer?
* What would you like to achieve?
These questions are profound and hard! But now lets start with some
answers that we have already collected:
And now let's make it a very simple question. Given two such values,
"Learning from Each Other" and "Fighting Peacefully", which one, if any,
do you find warmer, more dear to you? This is a very simple question
(like "hot or not") and it yields fantastic data. Mathematically, this is
like taking sonar readings and listening for the echos, what is closer and
what is farther. If we collect thousands of such answers, then we can
reconstruct a map of the geometry of values as at:
This can help us empathize
with others and appreciate the variety of people who know themselves, who
are like stars in the sky, who see the whole sky but from some one
location, and who become interested in what they don't know, and explore
questions that they don't know the answer to, and thus reach out to the
So I envisage a gamelike approach where there are three kinds of questions:
* Self-report - if you can, formulate your own deepest value (or
investigatory question, or endeavor...)
* Hot or Cold - choose, if you can, given two values (or questions or
endeavors...), which is more dear to you
* Stories - given a value (or question or endeavor...), share your thought
about that, or a story about that.
As usual for our lab, the answers would all be in the Public Domain, by
the rules of the game.
It's not hard to make an online interface that would let one play such a
game. Perhaps the hardest part is to set up the player registration.
Perhaps I could set that up at our Ning site
and then expand to work with other ID
systems such as Facebook. This part I don't know.
But once we get the online interface up, then we can use basically the
same game to collect answers to specific questions (such as for collecting
food stories, or helping somebody's investigation). Indeed, as you play,
you may collect points and then use those points so that the questions
that you want to ask are asked of the other players. This way we can get
data for all of our investigations. Also, we can upload pictures and do
research, such as architect Christopher Alexander does, to ask, Which
picture makes us feel more whole? or interview people, as Mihalyi
Cszikszentmihalyi does, about their optimal experiences. Or we could get
paid to conduct interviews and surveys for various businesses.
Then it becomes very meaningful to create an offline version of this game
and thereby organize independent thinkers even in remote areas. The
offline game will help us get perspectives from people from entirely
different cultures. And so this will help us organize and apply our
global teams and show what we can do.
I will try to code this in July and August when I am in Chicago. I would
like to do some simple version in the coming weeks so that I could make
use of it when I attend Stephen Wolfram's summer camp in Vermont. I want
to look for cellular automata which create the nicest patterns and so I
would like to get answers from people, which patterns make you feel more
I appreciate our thoughts! And I invite us to introduce ourselves and
write about our interests.
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