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A Game for Independent Thinkers

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  • ms@ms.lt
    I share my thoughts after attending a meeting on Google Gears on Wednesday http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/713437/ and hearing a panel on Social Change through
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2008
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      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
      Javascript code access a SQLite database on the client) can be used to
      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
      http://www.takeactiongames.com who has joined our Fighting Peacefully
      working group along with video producers Patrice O'Neill
      http://www.theworkinggroup.org and Marlene Velasco-Begue
      http://www.linktv.org And I share links to our Pyramid of Peace
      http://www.pyramidofpeace.net to stop genocide in Kenya and our work in
      many locations there http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?HelpKenyans There
      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:
      http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?MapOfValues 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
      other stars.

      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
      http://www.ethicalpublicdomain.org 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.


      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas
      +1 312 618 3345
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