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World brain and global game – or the ‘save the world game’

photo of Sepp Hasslberger

Sepp Hasslberger
20th April 2011


Much is said in email discussions that never makes its mark beyond the sometimes very restricted circle of those who are active or closely following the discussion. This morning I read a string of emails from Venessa Miemis’ list at building-a-distributed-decentralized-internet@googlegroups.com and I thought how could I forward this to my busy friend who’s interested in this kind of thing – it won’t do to just forward a bunch of emails. Perhaps combining everything into one email … well, since I already will do the work, I am going to try and bring you a version of this train of thought in the form of a blog post – a form that can take this beyond the limited numbers of those who actually take part in the discussion – and I hope it can help stimulate others into action…

It is about gaming the world – developing a ‘save the world game’. Here goes:

– – –

April 16, 2011 – Robert Steele writes:

I have gotten more out of this list’s active contributors than any other list I have browsed that I can remember. Thank you.

Where I think we are headed is toward a world brain and global game, which is where 24 of of us including Medard Gabel, the co-creator with Buckminster Fuller of the analog World Game, have been focused since 2006. It boils down to facts, things, minds, and opinions.

Reference: World Brain Institute & Global Game

I have been a complete failure at getting anyone with funding interested–my preferred shot, Sir Richard Branson, is protected by corporate development folks that just cannot compute the value of “The Virgin Truth” on top of giving free open source cell phones to the three billion poor and monetizing the back end via call centers that both educate one cell call at a time, and serve as the virtual brain for the community, nation, region, globe.

There are two others whose work I would mention, the first for his interest in Open Hypertextdocument System (linking at paragraph level), and the second for Internet Economy Meta-Language.

Who’s Who in Collective Intelligence: Douglas Engelbart

Who’s Who in Collective Intelligence: Pierre Levy

I am personally convinced we can own all of this at $5 per rich person (that’s $5 billion), free to the 5 billion poor, and put this out in a chapter in 2008, but have never found the right group to work with.

Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them

I sincerely hope all of you make progress soon.

– – –

Poor Richard replies to this:

On Saturday, April 16, 2011 1:47:43 PM UTC-5, Robert wrote:

I have gotten more out of this list’s active contributors than any other list I have browsed that I can remember. Thank you.

Where I think we are headed is toward a world brain and global game, which is where 24 of of us including Medard Gabel, the co-creator with Buckminster Fuller of the analog World Game, have been focused since 2006. It boils down to facts, things, minds, and opinions.

Reference: World Brain Institute & Global Game

I only read the 2-page overview, but it reminds me of a premise I thought of for combining my “General Utility 2.0″ framework for modelling the major algorithms of the biosphere and human culture with 3D massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) simulations into a “save the world” game.

There are two others whose work I would mention, the first for his interest in Open Hypertextdocument System (linking at paragraph level), and the second for Internet Economy Meta-Language.

Both sound interesting.

PR

– – –

Robert Steele comments on that:

I tried to get the MMORPG guys out of Iceland to take an interest, but they are happy right where they are.

– – –

whereupon Venessa Miemis suggests:

why not just make a facebook app?

290 million people a month play games on facebook… some estimate it’s the equivalent of about 927 million hours of gameplay a month.

as of july, purchase of any virtual good on facebook will have to be done via facebook credits. (facebook takes a 30% cut. brilliant.)

more than 200 million people access facebook from their mobile device.

so you make a quasi-social facebook game that you play in the real world via your mobile device, but what the game is is performing microwork tasks that get rewarded via facebook credits. (like…. instead of picking vegetables in farmville, you pick vegetables at a local farm or CSA.)

so casual gamers get to get paid in credits so they can keep playing their games, and also are saving the world while they do it.

virtual economy, ftw!

– – –

Poor Richard has a question:

I’m a little unclear how you pick vegetables at a local farm or CSA using a mobile device….can iphones do that now, too?

PR

– – –

which Venessa answers:

lol. no, you actually do it with your physical body. but you find opportunities for games/points/rewards/credits via your mobile device.

try a search for “mobile augmented reality”

i believe it’s what they’re calling “gamification” of the real world

basically using game dynamics to incentivize actual work.

just you wait and see……

– – –

This gets om Design to throw in:

Blizzard is about to release their new system and I’m going through a friend to suggest to their CEO that we could use the ‘old’ technology to develop a worldometer that is fed by handheld phones via SMS.

– – –

Poor Richard again:

OK I get it. .. “gamification” of the real world. Eeu.

– – –

Robert Steele comes back with:

MORE PLEASE. This is of very high interest to me. UNICEF has done some incredibly good things in a narrow range (kid arm circumference at age of 12 is superb health indicator, fills a back office database). What works for me is a digraph or trigraph panel that folks can call in. I really like [what] the Crisis Mappers are doing, below is a link after three SMS links.

Worth a Look: UNICEF RapidSMS

Review: SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa

Worth a Look: GeoChat (SMS Plotted on Map)

Ushandi Moves Forward with Crisis Mapping Check-In

Crisis Mapping Libya: This Is No Haiti…

Live Crisis Mapping: Routing Around Old Mindsets

Reference: Crisis Mapping

Medard Gabel, whom I consider the top thinker in this area, has been working on a world dashboard concept, but his model is necessarily defined by the UN which is a horrible kludge of special interests and nowhere near a strategic analytic model such as needed at the top level (to UN credit, the high level panel on threats, challenge, and change nailed the key part: ten threats in priority order).

– – –

At this point, Venessa Miemis answers Poor Richard:

On Apr 16, 6:30 pm, Poor Richard wrote:

OK I get it. .. “gamification” of the real world. Eeu.

oh, come on. did you know that 3 billion hours A WEEK are spent playing online games?

yes, that’s 3 BILLION hours.

i’d say there’s a hell of an impetus to inject meaningful worldchanging activity with a bit of fun, play, creativity, and adventure.

i happen to see the world as an epic adventure, but many people don’t.

why not make positive change into a game that we want to win?

– – –

Robert Steele continues:

Here are four pieces. We never got to anyone with real money, after my for profit crashed I had to stop subsidizing the non-profit.

My dream would be to create the World Brain Institute at Stanford alongside their Liberation Technology outfit, with endowment from Sir Richard Branson whom I would love to see fund a global commercial company, “The Virgin Truth,” while funding Range Networks toward OpenBTS for the three billion poor. I lack the access to anyone anywhere to actually think seriously about this. It would pay for itself within three years and thereafter begin cutting waste and corruption by 20% a year (wag).

Medard Gabel is the ONLY person now living that actually created a World Game (as co-creator with Buckminster Fuller).

Journal: Brains Beat Algorithms….Again

Reference: The Revolution IS Being Tweeted

Graphics: Twitter as an Intelligence Tool

Jane McGonigal has great instincts, but has been up-marketed to the point of not connecting to people like Medard who could mentor her own genius by providing all the stuff she does not know (I hope it is clear I am equally admiring of both of them, they just won’t connect to each other, someone has to bring them together and I can no longer fund that kind of overture).

Who’s Who in Collective Intelligence: Jane McGonigal

URGENT EVOKE: The End of Old Government

Review: Reality Is Broken–Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

– – –

Venessa Miemis replies to Robert:

On Sat, Apr 16, 2011 at 6:44 PM, Robert Steele wrote:

MORE PLEASE. This is of very high interest to me. UNICEF has done some incredibly good things in a narrow range (kid arm circumference at age of 12 is superb health indicator, fills a back office database). What works for me is a digraph or trigraph panel that folks can call in. I really like with the Crisis Mappers are doing, below is a link after three SMS links.

right, well.. you’ve already listed Ushahidi, which is open source and first created for crisis mapping, but can be used for any kind of visualization and interactive mapping. i’ve had a lot of thoughts on how this could be used for soooo many things, just using your mobile device to send text, images, and video to map onto locations.

http://www.ushahidi.com/

here’s another cool tool i found and got implemented into our city – SeeClickFix, where you can alert the local government about issues in the neighborhood.. anything from potholes and graffiti to creepy people/vehicles lurking in neighborhoods.

http://www.seeclickfix.com/

i think i’ve mentioned to you before Groundcrew, which enables collective action at the ground level around tasks that need to be accomplished.

http://groundcrew.us/

then there’s platforms like Foursquare, which allow you to earn badges and become “mayor” of a location just for checking in there enough times. now advertisers offer discounts if you check in, and better incentives if you’re mayor. there’s really no functional purpose to this yet, but you can imagine if you combined check-ins with purpose driven missions with financial incentives and a way to update your status and notify your friends about the cool stuff you’re doing…… well……

https://foursquare.com/

– – –

Robert Steele replies to a message of Venessa’s:

On Sat, Apr 16, 2011 at 6:48 PM, Venessa Miemis wrote:

oh, come on. did you know that 3 billion hours A WEEK are spent playing online games?

yes, that’s 3 BILLION hours.

i’d say there’s a hell of an impetus to inject meaningful worldchanging activity with a bit of fun, play, creativity, and adventure.

i happen to see the world as an epic adventure, but many people don’t.

why not make positive change into a game that we want to win?

Correct–what Clay Sharkey calls Cognitive Surplus, Yochai Benckler the Wealth of Networks.

What is NOT happening is the collection of “true cost” information, the loading of shareable databases across 183 languages, and the development of participatory FACT-BASED decision-making at all levels on all issues.

For what the US Intelligence Community spends guarding non-secrets, I could have this going within the year.

– – –

Devin Balkind then chimes in:

A conversation about this topic was created two weeks ago on the contact summit google group under the title ‘gamifying the gift economy': https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/contactsummit/4w3LWqO_B78

Our team is connecting rural and urban communities in the New York area through a game with the following ingredients: (1) farm, (2) coworking space, (3) biodiesel transportation. We’re also beginning to collect information about the products and services used by local businesses and figure out how our network can create these items within the context of play. There are no technical hurdles, just a lot of community outreach, organizing and enthusiasm building that needs to be done.

I think we should all be making workshops that can contribute to the Global Village Construction Set, connecting coworking spaces with farms and building relationships with local businesses so they feel conformable sharing information about the products and services that they use on a regular basis so that we can start replacing them with ‘in-network’ alternatives.

In addition to a health 20% tip, I also give FLOfarm points. People think it’s cute. It’ll become more than cute when local businesses start taking these points because they can spend them on locally produced products and services. As the network builds, I have no doubt we’ll be able to build a mobile/online game using a completely open source software stack that makes interacting with the network fun and easy.

I presented ‘Launch a Regional Trading Network from your Coworking Space’ at the Coworking Unconference and the space owners were digging it. It’s very simple. I’ll have an updated version next week which I’ll share with the group.

– – –

to which Robert Steele replies:

Devin,

I like your content, social, gaming levels.

I believe we need two kind of content as quickly as possible into shared public databases that cannot be attacked and corrupted (which leaves Wikipedia out of the picture):

1) True Cost Information on every product and service

Graphic: True Cost of a Cotton T-Shirt

Data-Hacking the Cotton T-Shirt: True Cost (water,energy,travel,emissions,toxins,import costs,child labor,fertilizer)

2) Needs information at every level from individual to aggregate nation, based on participatory INFORMED dialog.

Here are two charts I created to try to visualize the second. The cart for the first was created by JZ, the ExDir for Earth Intelligence Network, and first used at Hackers on Planet Earth 2010.

Graphic: Global Range of Nano-Needs

Graphic: Participatory Budget Outreach

I believe that placing true cost before the public will move markets (e.g. kill Nestle and Coca-Cola) and that placing the second before the one billion rich will create an infinite number of hybrids from one to one to many to one to one to many that actually address needs rather than overhead, the common corruption of the Red Cross and almost all others (I respect the Without Borders elements).

– – –

Venessa Miemis asks of Robert Steele:

On Apr 16, 7:07 pm, Robert Steele wrote:
What is NOT happening is the collection of “true cost” information, the loading of shareable databases across 183 languages, and the development of participatory FACT-BASED decision-making at all levels on all issues.

how do you propose building a true cost database?

– – –

and comments on his graphic “Global Range of Nano-Needs”:

On Apr 16, 8:53 pm, Robert Steele wrote:
Graphic: Global Range of Nano-Needs

like this? – http://giftflow.org/

– – –

Robert Steele replies:

sort of. needs to be in 183 languages, and organized by need and location. here is a graphic

Graphic: Global Range of Nano-Needs

– – –

om Design has some doubts about games:

Games are really hip. But they are mostly played by people sitting, using idle time. There are many functions of a game and employing fun interactivity is great sounding…

Most of the people I would try to address are in basic need of water, food, shelter and security from harm.

Examining these realities and working toward solutions doesn’t need a game interface IMO but there is a lot to be gained from the simplicity that they present. Sometimes things are serious and require serious effort. We have a lot of levels of need and response, but it has been frustrating to watch a wide population of humanitarian projects become ‘gamefied’ because it is the cool thing to do. This is the ‘top down’ hubris seen with so many Agencies.

WorldGame is different, conceptually, as it was an exercise to brainstorm and shift thought-reality. Play really is excellent for doing that. On the ground however, the marginalized hungry or threatened person needs a rapid response. I reckon ‘bottom-lateral-then-up’ thinking would be easier to build for and do more good.

Groundcrew is unique in that it has a trust mechanism built in that uncovers positive actors based upon participation and feedback. Ushahidi won’t scale but has a lot going for it. Frontline SMS is another example of really effective platform being used to great effect.. mostly in the medical sector.

– – –

to which Sam Rose replies:

On Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 3:22 PM, om Design wrote:
Games are really hip. But they are mostly played by people sitting, using idle time. There are many functions of a game and employing fun interactivity is great sounding…

I tend to agree here. Games are great, but are one tool within a spectrum There’s also datamining, complex systems models, and actually digging in and carefully working with people on the ground.

Most of the people I would try to address are in basic need of water, food, shelter and security from harm.

Where are you doing this work currently?

Examining these realities and working toward solutions doesn’t need a game interface IMO but there is a lot to be gained from the simplicity that they present.

Sometimes complex systems models can be an alternative (coupled with researching existing data from history).

Sometimes things are serious and require serious effort. We have a lot of levels of need and response, but it has been frustrating to watch a wide population of humanitarian projects become ‘gamefied’ because it is the cool thing to do. This is the ‘top down’ hubris seen with so many Agencies. WorldGame is different, conceptually, as it was an exercise to brainstorm and shift thought-reality. Play really is excellent for doing that. On the ground however, the marginalized hungry or threatened person needs a rapid response. I reckon ‘bottom-lateral-then-up’ thinking would be easier to build for and do more good.

Yes, this seems to call for a whole different approach. Basically, looking where there is need, and getting commitment of resources, and coordinating the delivery of those resources. I have worked in the past on projects that were getting cell phone minutes to people in Africa who would otherwise be robbed if cash was wired to them by relatives, for instance.

– – –

Venessa replies to Robert:

On Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 3:20 PM, Robert Steele wrote:
sort of. needs to be in 183 languages, and organized by need and location. here is a graphic
Graphic: Global Range of Nano-Needs

yeah, i’ve seen the graphic. i don’t think it’s very effective in communicating information.

effective visual communication is more than just groups of words with lines between them. it’s a bit of an art.

what is it you’re trying to say in the graphic?

can you walk me through a use case / scenario?

– – –

Poor Richard replies to an earlier post of Venessa’s:

On 4/18/2011 2:17 PM, Venessa Miemis wrote:

like this? – http://giftflow.org/

I’m trying a reply via email so I applogize if this goes to the wrong thread.

Venessa & Robert

Craigs list, Free Cycle, and all micro needs-surpluses matching efforts suffer to some degree from the problem I have with them: the effort and cost of posting/searching listings and then making phone calls and car trips for minor things. In my opinion, better to drop off all ones’ surplus and fill multiple needs in one stop without having to coordinate meetings or conversations with other people — around here we call it a thrift store. The only thing our local thrift stores don’t have (but should) is a free department.

PR

– – –

to which Venessa replies:

yes, we have thrift stores here too – goodwill and salvation army and the like. and i’ve used craigslist and freecycle to get/give things.

some people want value back for their surplus though. those are called consignment shops.

either way, both require a third party for the transaction, and require a physical location, and overhead costs to run the place and pay personnel.

a p2p mobile network would take out that middleman.

– – –

Sam Rose replies:

Seems like the posting of listings of things is at least a requirement in order to create any kind of database. What could make that easier?

– – –

Poor Richard comes back with:

A mobile network may take out the middle man for people who are on the phone and on the go all the time anyway, but it wouldn’t help me at all. My point was that a third party and physical location actually serve my need and can be resource-efficient by aggregating multiple surplus-depositing and need-filling transactions. If a thrift store handled both donations and consignments, and had a free department, by covering all those bases they would be even more likely to help people save time and transportation costs. Where I see the digital element coming in is if the store put a digital snapshot with a few keywords online as items are received. I’m just highly skeptical of recovering my time, communication, and transportation costs in an individual person-to-person physical transaction for a single item unless its worth over $50. Something is not free if I have to spend two hours and drive 25 miles to get it. And I don’t particularly relish “meeting” strangers that way, either.

– – –

So far so good. The discussion is straying a bit from the original thread. Anyway, this is what we have until today. If you are interested in knowing how the discussion proceeds, you can find it here at

Google Groups.

Now (27 April) the discussion of gaming as a possible global solution is continuing on another thread:

Introduction and Collaboration ideas

And if you like … there’s always the comments section for this post.

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