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The H(app)athon Project

Happiness and well-being have entered the business mainstream as new indicators of economic progress. Bhutan pioneered the Gross National Happiness Index, the UN issued a Happiness Resolution, and the Harvard Business Review recently devoted a special report to the topic. A growing number of companies are looking into creating Big Data-enabled products/services that measure and enhance happiness/well-being, and a growing number of companies are beginning to leverage the potential of Quantified-Self-apps to improve workplace wellness (and productivity).

Obviously, this is an area that is increasingly relevant across frog’s client industries (healthcare, telco, media, software/computing, etc.), and aligns with our belief in the power of design to drive behavior change, our contribution to the “Re-Thinking Personal Data” initiative of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the WEF Workplace Wellness Alliance, our involvement in the WEF Global Agenda Council for Values, as well as the “Reinvent Business” hackathon we hosted with several partners this summer.

On behalf of frog, I was invited to serve on a committee for the “H(app)athon Project” launched and spearheaded by author John C. Havens, who wrote a seminal piece on “The Value of a Happiness Economy” earlier this year, as well as a recent piece on Mashable, “How Big Data Can Make Us Happier and Healthier.” John is also working on a book, H(app)y - The Value of Well Being in the Digital Economy.

Here’s an excerpt from his writing that captures his position on the topic and illustrates the charter of the initiative:

“How do you quantify yourself? We’re in the midst of an era where sensor technology and the maturation of smart phones means data is being collected about your actions in ways that have never existed before. There are no universal privacy and identity standards, which means your unwilling contributions to Big Data are being shaped by forces you can’t control.”

"The good news – getting familiar with Quantified Self applications will provide the benefits of self-awareness along with communities who are focused on your similar interests. You’ll understand how to better shape your identity in this new virtual economy and learn the quantitative metrics that will derive their fullest context when seen through a qualitative lens.”

The H(app)athon Project's ultimate goal is to create a common taxonomy for happiness/well-being that can be measured by mobile/digital means, as well as an Open Source Happiness Platform (OHSP), a global, comprehensive, and evolving tool that assimilates and aggregates existing metrics of well-being. The project will comprise of three elements: a hackathon-style event at the Hub Culture space in London in the spring of 2013, a conference in the fall of 2013 in New York, and an experiment to be launched at the conference.

The H(app)athon Committee will help guide the project. Committee members include J.P. Rangaswami, chief scientist at Salesforce.com; John Clippinger of MIT’s Media Lab; William Hoffman, director of the World Economic Forum Telecommunications Industry Group; Laura Musikanski, co-founder of The Happiness Initiative, Ernesto Ramirez, community organizer, Quantified Self, and others.

 The initiative will formally kick off in January, and I look forward to sharing more details soon.

[image credit: Big Think]



Tim Leberecht is the CMO of frog and the publisher of design mind.