International Day of Peace used to happen on the 11th of September, but got moved in 2001 to the 21st of September. Without digging into details, we may simply say this eventually opened up eleven whole days for the Global Unity Games.

On the first day of Global Unity Games 2016 teams formed of Civic programs, Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, and Interfaith groups to pack over two million meals to feed the hungry in and around New York City and Washington DC. It should also be noted, speaking of DC, that the Presidential Candidates agreed to refrain from any campaigning that day.

As some of the given themes for a given day from Sep. 11 through Sept. 21 were extended from one day to the next, the theme of Patience was extended beyond the eleven day challenge while you waited for overall scores. Thank you for your patience!

Final Results:
**40 Countries **405 Reports **265 Teams
**500 Individual Agents **22,872.50 Volunteers
**71,112.25 Hours Served **2,843,348.15 People Directly Served
**$81,288,809.50 monies raised for local & global causes!!!!!

Game on!! This is an example of what we all can do together in a collaborative “WE” space in 11 days!! Thank you to all who supported and played with us!

Check out the Final Scoreboard where you can see all the teams & individuals scores in detail. HERE: http://compassiongames.org/global-unity-games/#scoreboard
See stories from around the world on the compassion report map here:https://crowdsource.storymaps.esri.com/st…/compassion-report
#CompassionUnites #11DayofGlobalUnity #TomorrowTogether #ServiceAboveSelf #GameOn 

If 6 was 9, and 17 were 11

I only really found out about the Compassion Games in July and I only really became involved six weeks ago. Now it’s six days away to the biggest event of the year. If I had become actively involved nine weeks ago, or had nine more days to prepare, would things be different?

Here’s how close I came to putting some real numbers on the board.

Global Unity Games 11-21 September 2016

Day 1 – Unity
+ NYC receives the Torch of Compassion from Washington DC at Manhattan Pier 36, where a team of teams will pack a million meals.

On the 11th of September Team #CompassionateNYC is going to pack one million meals (in coopetition with #CompassionateDC also packing a million meals). I will be there all day, manning the Compassion Games information table from 7AM on, but had hoped to have some coverage so I could work a meal packing shift. Civil Servants, Captains of Industry, Modern Day Saints and a thousand of their friends among the seven Compassion Warrior classes will be making those meal packages come together. To do my part, I hoped to have ten friends help me man our information table. I have two friends.

Day 2 – Interdependence
+ facebook could be passing the Torch to LinkedIn or Snapchat or both, we don’t know. We were hoping to pass the Torch to Google for handoff to #CompassionateSiliconValley but the only confirmation we have so far is from the good people at facebook. In any case, I thought this could be a good day to kick off a weeklong intercollegiate game jam, since I figured I must have friends at at least a dozen local colleges and universities who make games and like to jam.  I have two friends.

Day 3 – Environment
+ Foursquare has been running a ‘Get Outside’ contest all Summer which will be over and awarded by this time. I was hoping they could do a one-day reboot on 9/13 but I have not gotten through (since they are off hiking).

Wednesday Sept 14 – Economic Justice
I have two friends. We are going to spend the day at Zucotti Park. All are welcome to join.

Day 5 – Health
+ Johnson & Johnson sponsored a game I produced for Area Code at World Expo 2010 about how small acts of kindness lead to a greater good. The game features over a hundred and fifty unique Pokémon-like characters to which J&J owns global rights in perpetuity. If they get back to me with approval to reboot the game in time, it will be beautiful. We’ll see. 

Day 6 – Children And Youth
+ Games For Change winners of the 2016 school challenge were supposed to be presenting their initiatives for Sustainable Cities to the United Nations General Assembly. The students have missed their extended deadline for submission.

Day 7 – Women
+ Code Liberation Foundation is supposed to be getting back to me. I have two friends.

Day 8 – Human Rights
+ We are holding a Peace vigil in Central Park, details to follow.

Day 9 – Freedom
+ There is a network of prisoners who are gamers but getting something coordinated in time for this is particularly challenging.

Day 10 – Disarmament
+ TBD, thinking maybe a Guns for Dollars program but with a playful edge a la artist Tom Sachs.

Day 11 – Peace
+ International Day of Peace was originally chartered by the UN for September 11 2001 but, since it was preempted by major attacks upon the US, it got moved to 9/21, so this gives us an eleven day journey, culminating all of the above with Love.

Okay, I know, everyone wins. No one loses who plays the Compassion Games, so I should not be discouraged by any engagement being too great or too small, but I feel my feelings must be allowed to simmer and expand. Bear with me.

My feelings are woven and tied to my calling. I am a Producer / Project Manager type person. I feel I am most myself when I am helping others to make things happen. 

Naturally, when it came to my attention that quite a number of others were struggling to make a whole lot of things happen within the context of the Compassion Games, I said I would do whatever I could. 

Even when I get tapped to tackle huge undertakings for money instead of ethical redemption I say yes. That is to say, as long as the money has no ethical cost; it’s just plain business; neither Good nor Evil. The only questions in those cases are of feasibility. Can it really be done? Are you hiring me to either perform a miracle or be a fall guy?

In this case I was not asking such basic questions. Again, no one loses here. It is all to the Good.

Now, with six days to go, I have renewed focus on what can be achieved, and why. The eleven themes map to the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN a year ago. 

The goals were set to replace the expiring Millennium Goals and constellate an array of parallel objectives. 

The games were started when the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky called out the mayor of Seattle, Washington in a contest for Most Compassionate City. Louisville won, but it is not as if Seattle lost. As years have passed and New York City has joined in the fun along with Los Angeles, Boston, Austin and San Francisco, we note little Louisville is still in the lead. So be it.

Meanwhile, as other collectives have come on board without prompting from any city officials, a pattern emerges. Seven types of teams tend to form. I list them here according to unofficial assignations of warrior classes not to add to anyone’s confusion but, rather, in hopes of clarifying the field of players.

  1. Civil Servant – one who gives new meaning to political power
  2. Captain of Industry – one who takes seriously his or her corporate social responsibility 
  3. Modern Day Saint – one whose faith feeds a reservoir as a civic resource
  4. Soldier’s Soldier – one whose military training keeps the peace
  5. Radio Operator – one who keeps media channels open and communications flowing
  6. Earth Cadet – a student of global Unity
  7. Wholympian – an athlete who truly sticks the landing

Names may be changed to protect the innocent and the squeamish but these categories give you a sense of the variety of players. While one person may qualify for a number of different clubs within a given team of teams (i.e. athletic student journalist ROTC chaplain’s acolyte) another person need only qualify for one (i.e. company man, or city clerk). 

You may be none of these (i.e. sports-hating college dropout media distrusting antiwar anticorporate antigovernment bartender musician) and of course you are welcome to play anonymously or as yourself. You are more than welcome to rally like-minded individuals into a new class of Compassion Warrior.  

Who you are does not necessarily determine how you play. Once you are registered — as a private agent or with a team — you will be given a new challenge for each of the eleven days. Having seen the themes above, as well as some notions for what to do about it all, you have some idea of what you might be getting into, including very little.

The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals were put in place a year ago and at next week’s General Assembly we will hear about what progress is being made toward those goals. One may wonder why some of them may seem redundant if one is unfamiliar with the United Nations but all may stand assured each has its own relevance. 

All you need to know is that there is no limit to the number of ways you may participate. Just mapping the SDG’s to the eleven themes of the Unity Games can be a game.

On/Off Day

My wife sends me articles of interest from her phone. This morning she sent me this one about a guy who experimented in going without a smartphone for a little while. She may have sent it to me because last year I performed some “unplugging” exercises of my own. It is also possible she liked the way this guy lists the productivity achieved sans <<pomme>> or palmheld device; iPhone if you prefer. Here’s my list.

  • I went over a test on which my son had scored well.
    • They asked a few science questions I wanted to look up on my smartphone but I got explanations from him instead which were more than satisfactory.
  • I had meaningful conversations with two different tailors.
    • They believe they may be able to copy one of my wife’s favorite frocks.
  • I practiced intuitive driving via bicycle, stopped at two bike shops.
    • They didn’t have the right lock.
  • I read a section of the New York Times.
    • They provided it at a local coffee shop.
  • I browsed at a hardware store, picked.
    • They might have the right solution for our plumbing.
  • I shopped at two different local phone stores.
    • They didn’t have any flip phones that felt as good as a Motorola StarTac.
  • I clocked four hours on three little jobs.
    • They still have me at forty for the week if I do six more tomorrow.
  • I did dim sum.
    • They served the real deal to a hundred Chinese people and me.
  • I connected with two other parents of fifth graders.
    • They too seemed to appreciate face-to-face.
  • I visited a coiffure.
    • They made me look like I’m from the ’80’s.
  • I visited another kind of salon.
    • They were having an event at a favorite bookstore.
  • I spoke with two old friends I hadn’t expected to run into.
    • They were still interested in a writers’ circle we had worked on building.
  • I tucked my son in to bed.
    • They say you’re never too old to be read to.
  • I had a long conversation with my wife.
    • They say it’s never too late for love.

That was just one day. A normal day. All of these activities were conducted without a smartphone. I simply had it turned off. I used a different computer for job related tasks. Then I turned that off too. What this Mike Johnson said about life with and without technology is true. I know it. I can really feel it.

If the goal in Virtual Reality content creation is to allow the user to achieve what we call presencethen what we need to do is get better and better at presence in real life. It’s nothing new but I keep saying it anyway. The next new thing is “no thing.”

Compass Rose


It's a computer

Science, in the grand tradition which includes parchment, pigment and hypertext transfer protocol, rides again in service to the world’s great art. The vaunted Google Cultural Institute launched the past few years’ efforts upon the public a couple of days ago with a precious handful of 360° view performances.  

We’ve collectively been talking about 360° views since we first freed our necks from shackles in the mythical clay cave described by Plato. We have in the entertainment media business been working decades on turning all the slivers of business into a whole pie. We have every one of us been forever running in circles.

Now the needle drops on the hit record everybody wants to dance to. Somebody screams, “this is *my* jam!” And she’s right, because the artist’s work belongs to everyone. The DJ paid $20 for one of only a few thousand slabs of vinyl, and the partiers paid $20 each to get into the club and, chances are, a healthy number of them even support a subscription model which allows the musician bright round pennies for every mp3 downloaded. What’s most important is that the song — the material crafted over years in the smithy of the artist’s soul from deeply personal experiences cut into chords — resounds in the respective souls of all the individual listeners dancing because it magically tells the story of each one’s own unique path of discovery.

Did you know they made a movie about the book Hitchcock | Truffaut? Hitchcock, who made his bones in the Silent Era before defining a whole set of talkie techniques in use today, reminds us via young Truffaut’s embedding at Universal, “you need space.” How camera and framing decisions play out when the viewer is free to choose midstream between down right and crane remains to be seen. This is what we are exploring at this moment in media history.


Courtesy of NASA

Right now I am missing out on an all-day event at MINY on the new science of filmmaking because I am committed at The Explorers Club to having my arms around twelve hours’ worth of new films about science. In our 4th annual Polar Film Festival, jaw-dropping beauty is stirred in with jaw-dropping data.

Vous saviez que Truffaut a vu un film chaque jour? Saviez-vous que Hitchcock a dit que c’est important d’enculer avec l’audience? Alors, c’est a propos de ca qu’on trouve la tomble a survivre de Shackleton retrace’ par snowboardeuse Geraldine Fasnacht avec Luc Hardy.

Pardon my French but it is important for me to talk about fucking with the audience in the context of finding new forms of communion.

You have your own personal reference library of being — I am certain — frustrated by someone’s abandonment of established protocol and then somehow elated by same. See also games journalist Chad Betz’s review of the latest musical recording by Grimes for an explicative non-explanation of the game of soulcatching boundary explosion played between culture and performer. Magic is the sick spin-art of assimilation and reinterpretation, because science.

The Hat and the Cat

Troy Patterson @untitledproject has a topper in today’s Times. The Winter Hat Trick it’s called. So, I have to tell you what happened to me.

I put my plain grey watch cap on my head on Wednesday. I put my family on the train; wife, child, cat, self. I put an hour into writing most of a very short but very important email before we arrived at a transfer station. By that I mean we had to switch trains. I recently learned about “transfer station” being the currently preferred terminology in place of “town dump” but here that is not what I mean. I mean that, halfway through our journey, we went from electric rail to diesel locomotive by getting up from our seats and crossing a platform. In getting up and putting away the smartphone on which I had been conducting serious research (serious) for purposes of composing my important email (very serious), I made sure I had the cat.


I noticed my scarf on the floor so grabbed that too. As I got onto the other train, it occurred to me that, just as it was the first time this season I had this scarf, I had also reintroduced another item that morning. My hat! I put the cat down and told the other cat my wife I was going back for my hat. She said, “just leave it.” These words echoed in my head as I stood on the platform again, this time gazing at the closed doors of the electric train we’d been on, wondering if I might find a conducter to reopen those doors. Suddenly the thought of the doors to the diesel train closing took over. I hastily trotted back towards my family.

But wait. I felt something. It was a new nothingness. It was the sensation of my smartphone having vacated the pocket of my cardigan. A quick pat confirmed its absence. Where was it? Scanning scanning scanning the platform, I determined it had to have slipped into the gap between the platform and the train.

I’m shifting. I’m tense. I’m shifting tenses.

No sooner am I peering into the gap than the engineer pops open a window right in front of me and stares into my eyes as if to say, “what the hell?” I politely state my plight but all he says is, “this train is leaving.” I agree it’s good to keep schedules. I blow some air through my lips as if through a silent invisible whistle, pass a thought about the absurdity of man, and get on board.

Now, this train only runs a couple times a day. That alone would have been reason enough to thusly proceed. The main thing, though, is that, without a phone, I would have had no way of notifying my family what had happened to dad.

So now I am on the train thinking about my phone lying abandoned on the tracks. I am confident that, if I have any hope of recovering it, I must go back now. But how? Luckily my wife informs me that, because of Thanksgiving, her parents are taking a later train to pick up their car at that station and, if I can get back in time, I might catch them. I apparently do not have a mobile telephone on me and they do not use theirs anyway, but it’s worth a shot. It’s a matter of getting a taxi in short order although I’m unable to raise a dispatch on my wife’s phone before I have to get out.

I get out at the first stop and start talking right away to one of two other passengers stepping off at the same time. It’s an old man who not only assures me he does not carry a cell phone since “they’re more trouble than their worth,” but also assures me, “it’s on account of those damn things they removed the payphones from the station.” I can see immediately no local businesses will provide an alternative as the few buildings there look boarded up. I run after the other passenger, a young man who’s gotten way ahead of us.

I must look crazed, what with my eyes ablaze and hair all mussed from the missing woolen hat. The college freshman is being met by his mother, the two of them look at me and at each other, and silently agree I mean no harm. They try calling a car for me. A dispatcher informs us it’ll be an hour and fifteen minutes. We all agree that will not do. They drive me into town where someplace must have a payphone or something. They drop me at a limousine service.

I figure the cost of replacing my phone will be somewhere between fifty and a hundred fifty, depending on insurance, so I am willing to gamble that much toward not having to replace it. The two guys at the limo company regretfully inform me, however, that they have not a single driver for the twenty shiny cars in their lot. They like to book days in advance. Indeed, they’re a bit startled to see me. More so than the timid, gentle mother and son who’ve left me here. I’ve straightened my tie and smoothed my curls on the way over, but maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I look too straight.

The really nervous little guy apologizes over the fact there’s no way they can accommodate me and starts calling a taxi service for me right away. He may be calling the same company the nice lady had called but this time it’ll only be fifteen minutes. That’ll do fine, I breathe.

He and the big guy who’s as calm and collected and suspicious and scary as John Cena invite me to sit down. I notice a giant stack of cash and, as swiftly as it is whisked away from view, I dismiss it, as you do. I go right into polite talk of sports and weather.

Somehow the conversation comes around to how I dabble in video game development and I take care to be convincing as they try to poke holes in what could be a bad cover for an undercover cop. I change the subject by asking them about what it would cost me to hire a limo (allowing two days’ notice). It does not escape my imagination that I am in the middle of an elaborate game and, as I escape their fake wood paneled hut because my taxi has arrived, I am conscious of the possibility I may beat both this level and the next.

If nothing really bad has happened since my phone fell out, what could go wrong now? The cabbie asks if I mind his cigarette smoke. It smells more like carpet and sawdust and cat litter than tobacco but I say no, I don’t mind. I say why I am traveling to the next town’s train station. He says rotary phones are better anyway because mobile phones are so easy to listen in on, today’s FBI agents have forgotten how to tap the old tech. We get into fun conversation but I have to cut it short because the next thing I know I am back at the junction.

Chances of finding my phone in one piece are still slim, but my hopes are raised by spying my brother-in-law sitting on a bench. This means I will at least have a ride for the last fifty miles of my odyssey. I let him know I am delighted to see him and that I am just going to talk to the station master.

Running into the station house, I check my excitement and try to regain my calm. I find it difficult to use words clearly. Mumbling something, bowing my head and putting my hands together as if in prayer, I am able to communicate my situation. “Do you believe your phone to be on the railbed?” I nod affirmatively. “Wait outside and someone will be there to assist you. Do not go onto the tracks.”

I see my mother-in-law and let her know I will be a few minutes. She lets me know they’ll be waiting in the car, waiting in the waiting zone.

A station agent with an eight-foot-long instrument finds me and we go to the platform where I think we’ll have some luck. He tells me no one in the station is allowed onto the tracks. Not even he or the station master has that permission. They would have to call a crew out and that would take hours. Instead, he has this thing some genius invented. It is a pair of one-by-three timbers with a couple pieces of rubber facing each other at one end. The only metal is the bolt holding the wooden planks together like a pair of scissors so no danger of electrocution is presented by the third rail.

I see it! Right by the third rail, there is my phone. Maybe it touched the third rail and got fried on the way down. It’s facing away so maybe the screen is utterly shattered. The man lifts it into my hands and it lights up with a new message. It’s my mother. The phone is fine. I hit send on the super important email. The phone tells me the email has been sent. The man tells me this sort of thing happens about once or twice per week but ends as happily far less often.


Remembering Joseph Beuys with a Coney Island chair

What about my hat, though? After the ordeal, after the Thanksgiving meal, I search in storage for another. Appropriate to Thanksgiving, there’s this Pilgrim Stetson, not a pilgrim hat like for the jerks in the 1600s trying to look like they were from the 1500s, and not a cowboy hat, but sensible headwear nonetheless, built for travel in the 1940s.


Maybe it needs a little work

I later settle for a more contemporary example of a fedora. I stopped wearing these as soon as I got my wish. My wild fantasy that they would come back in came true around the same time I got on the ballcap bandwagon instead. Now I am glad to have them because I am much less likely to leave one on a train.


Socks, underwear, trousers, shirt and hat by Brooks Brothers

User Experience

Even the culturally literate find themselves lost in some neighborhoods. It can be a district that’s been popular for decades and yet, because things keep shifting around, it has the disorienting effect of a bazaar. How often has your favorite website changed its arrangement?

Even professional User Experience (UX) designers find themselves in the dark when it comes to the origin story of their mutant-for-hire identity. Did you know Information Architecture (IA) is a term coined by TED founder Richard Saul Wurman? A lot of people in the business of Information Design (ID) have run past the sign offering deeper reading about how their now predominantly digital craft began in physical space; directions to the parking lot; mnemonics for the section where you parked; elevator indicators; exits; etc.

I feel like I could give a grandiloquently unifying and hilarious history of the field right up to the present moment the way Paul Ford did for programing in last Spring’s Bloomberg article What Is Code? but I don’t want this to be a pitch. I want to tell a personal story of transformation but I don’t want to exceed five hundred words.


My first job for a big advertising agency is where I learned Visio, a Microsoft product that is far better than Powerpoint for connecting geometric shapes to each other with lines and arrows. Before that, I had done some systems design for companies making computer games and for computer games themselves, but now I was doing it for a Web site offering small business resources; computer hardware and software-as-a-service. I approached the site just as if I were a customer and put together a report on it. Then I went through other reports showing data compilations of site visitor journeys leading in positive loops and negative spirals. I went through reports showing what search queries visitors were making, what results they were getting, and which results they were picking. Then I reorganized eighty pages of content.


Since that job was successful by all accounts, I figured I knew something about IA. Since that job, however, every time I have taken on a similar task, big or small, I have learned something new.


It goes deeper than the obvious fact that  different kinds of visitors come with different kinds of interests and interpretations. What is sometimes surprising is how dramatically the site they are visiting is evolving, shifting with seasons, growing with the times. Say it’s a fashion site. Of course the content will want to be refreshed constantly, but one doesn’t necessarily consider the framework to be subject to whimsical updates.

It goes deeper than iconography, color and typeface. These are significant signifiers, important tools of ID, as in Information Design. But the biggest conversations are about Primary Navigation and Secondary Navigation.

It goes deeper than making the same material display properly across a variety of platforms. It goes back to the administrators being able to monitor visitor behavior and make adjustments to content without changing everything.


To better illustrate what I am getting at, I might have taken pictures of benches put in to block hikers from decommissioned paths when I was out on a walk yesterday. I get work as a Project Manager / Producer type person because it’s impossible for everyone to be talking directly with everyone else all the time (even in open plan offices). Similarly, I get work as a UX / IA type person because no one quite knows where they are going. The biggest mistakes I have made over the years are when I have fallen into the trap of “expert communicator.” Whenever I have approached with the same sort of curiosity I brought in the first place, I have found the way to the treasure. It still counts as transformation if you find your way back to the beginning, right?


Potato People

Kim Swift reminds us in Portal 2 that potatoes can, with a little ingenuity, serve as thinking machines. Here I am reminded of the Abbott & Costello movies I saw on Channel 11 Saturdays as a child. When they were in the Army, it seemed like Lou was always getting them into potato-peeling duty.


Uncle Nick and Kung-fu Flash Kid peel potatoes

The spuds pictured here will go into a Thanksgiving mash in a matter of moments. Meanwhile, a parade of Potato Moments Past flashes through my brain, from Buck Privates Come Home onward.

Fall 1995, I am working on Sim Panther with Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party. The basic idea is this. Yes, you get to practice field stripping a rifle but you also have to know all the laws about safe distance for observing police activity, when you are allowed to have a round in the chamber and when you are not. Yes, you get to feed hundreds of Oakland kids a simple breakfast before they go to school, but you also have to give away thousands of full grocery bags on a record-breaking voter registration drive. Bobby tells the story of how volunteers suggested they not bother including a chicken in the bag since many of them were vegetarian anyway but he insisted. He continues to recount how, after all those responsible for supplying each component of the package — chicken, milk, cabbage, rice, beans, powdered fruit drink, carrots, potatoes — every team assigned to come up with one of the components was ready to deliver except the guy who chose potatoes because that was supposed to be easiest. Acting Chairman Seale asked what the problem was. The dude said, “I don’t know, man, I couldn’t find any.” Bobby comes back, “man, you ever hear of Idaho?!” The whole room busted up laughing as the dude slunk away but he returned to Oakland proud two days later with two trucks full from, you guessed it, Idaho. No sooner is the tale told but the yams are done. Throughout dinner, Bobby reels off yarn after yarn, and the hearty meal powers our work throughout the night.

We tend to favor Yukon and russet in this house but, for our purposes today, only Idaho will do.


UN and NTG on potato detail

Fall 1996, I am working on an electronic version of Golf In The Kingdom with Esalen co-founder Michael Murphy. I propose we complicate the logistics but simplify the interface with a biofeedback peripheral. He proposes we add milk to the giant pot in our holiday preparations. After the meal, he inscribes my ninth-edition copy of his book, “to my partner in potatoes.”


Mashed Potatoes a la Alldaddy

Neither of those titles were ever published. They never really even reached Beta development. Fast forward to Fall 2015, and I am not working on Home Free with Kevin Cancienne. I am reminded, however, that I always wonder about the origin of his Twitter handle @potatojin, but always forget to ask. Some business or other of greater importance always takes precedence. What is important now is that this plate of seconds is so good I forgot to get seconds on the perfect turkey.


Second helping on almost everything