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Happiness Index

Conveners: Michael Bradbury/Mitsue Cook/Cate Montana Recorders: Michael Bradbury, Harold Shinsato (video), Cate Montana, ???

Participants: Deborah Brandt, Leslie Mann, Eric Schurman, Mitsue Cook, Brian Glanz, Cate Montana, Michael Bradbury, Cate Gable, Grace Stahre, Harold Shinsato, Anne Stadler

Sketchy notes by: Michael Bradbury

Full Audio of discussion here: http://shinsato.com/audio/JTMPNW_HappinessIndexAction.mp3

Random Thoughts around the circle: • Index reported almost like the weather—meteorological component • We should use objective measures • Xerox Park company that does text analysis • Random number generator based on atomic decay rate • Proton, Electron, why not a Happitron? • Quantum fields shift around large scale human events—9/11, etc. • Random number generator as happiness tracker • Bringing the idea of happiness into the pubic sphere more comfortably

How do we get the conversation going?

Harold It’s critical to have the subjective and objective elements combined

If we can track objective measures as predictors, the more data the more accurate the prediction will be

Matthew Stadler is doing the subjective already – blog scan, asking people at grassroots level

UN measures happiness with an index and has been for a long time

Mitsue Bhutan example

Eric Web bot project—spits out prophecies

Several people Having a happiness index helps reframe the conversation of what our economy is and where we put emphasis.

Indications of happiness Water quality

Helps to decide where to put our energy.

Challenge the economy.

Harold Get more awareness of what matters to people and then report on it. This is the most critical thing. Write and report happiness.

So many people know where the DOW Jones is why not the level of happiness.

Mitsue Daily vote – ask people to rate their own happiness and submit that somehow to be figured into the overall happiness of a city, region, nation or the world. (subjective)

Can happiness be quantified?

Harold Thinking of projects related to finite state machines, pattern recognition (Kleeny)—based on Open Source

Grace Aggregating all the indices out there already Bhutan threw out the GDP and use happiness as its primary measurement.

International Conference on Happiness in Brazil—John DeGraf is doing a film Culture Education Environment 18 areas—gather data and determine how it affects people. Then it is rated on the happiness scale. If it doesn’t reach a certain level, then it doesn’t pass—policy is driven by happiness

Are we happy with how we are governing, how we are governed?


Mitsue We have a new mayor. We can design something for Seattle and set a trend for other places. Co-create with the city.

Anne There is a diff between assessing how happy you are with your life and with policy. Matthew said he wouldn’t use it for policy.

It’s like measuring demographic data.

Cate People aren’t asked how policy would make or not make them happy. That gets the whole ball rolling.

Mitsue Riane Eisler’s work, The Real Wealth of Nations (book)

Appreciative Inquiry – becomes generative

Grace Happy Planet Index Expected happiness X life expectancy divided by ecological footprint

Harold There are a lot of economic indices already so let’s use those

Mitsue Let’s start with self-reporting

Deb Is there tech that can pick up on key words automatically?

Harold We need a technical subgroup

Cate Ask people why they feel happy. Get them to start thinking about that.

Deb Tell us on a scale of 1 to 100, ask why in a few words and have electronic means to capture it.

Mitsue It would be fun to see why people are happy and to see that appear in newspapers (like the weather report)

Brian A tag cloud

We need a survey—include do you have a pet?

Eric Self-reporting screws up your data.

Grace Study measuring heart attack increase rates based on complaints of traffic on Twitter

Gross National Happiness in Bhutan (measured in the following areas) • Economic wellness • Enivronmental wellness • Physical wellness • Mental Health wellness • Workplace wellness • Social wellness • Political wellness

No exact quantitative number.

UW researchers working on this. Grace will ask John DeGraf Trying to collect tips for living a good life—creating web site to collect it Let’s form an ad hoc group to look at indices out there and determine overall purpose and see what fits and what doesn’t.

Mitsue Let’s look at the models. It could be purely descriptive and see who wants to play

Grace Sightline Institute is doing work on this.

Harold It can’t be partisan

Deb I want to go back to what Eric said. If you just ask people to self-report or not include the right words, you won’t capture what we’re trying to achieve

Harold We’re going to have uncertainty

If by shining a light on it if it would that affect people’s happiness?

Brian Even if it’s scientifically invalid, reading about it will increase people’s happiness.

Norm Rice’s opening question. Reframing the question

Grace Pew Research Center is also doing research PBS This Emotional Life series

Harold Timing is perfect. People need this. A lot of companies are spending money on sentiment measurement.

Mitsue St. Mark’s Cathedral offices—offer meeting space Iona concert—slack-key guitarist—bringing group from Hawaii

Events background—have Happy Fest

I’ll be the happiness host—link to UN and GNH

Deb The Dali Llama was talking about this. Seeds of Compassion Compassionate Action Network

Meeting set for Friday, January 15, 2010, 10:00 a.m. St. Mark’s Cathedral (Seattle)

--End Part I--

Happiness Index (January 15, 2010 meeting at St. Mark’s)

Those present: Michael Bradbury, Mitsue Cook, Deborah Brandt, Brian Glanz, Rob Moitoza Recorders: Michael Bradbury, Mitsue Cook (mind map)

Countries and cities are creating indices for themselves, why not one for Seattle or the region?

There is a Gross National Happiness American Project. www.gnhusa.org. Conf. June 1-4 in VT “Changing What we Measure: From Wealth to Well-being”

An index in 1970s—Misery Index—is now switching to a Happiness Index Ranks diff states using the same set of determinants—economic index

Facebook has its own Gross National Happiness Index, based on its users—more of a mood ring • Counts positive and negative words in each status update—to create value • See article in Atlantic Monthly – January 2010. “The Happiness Index” http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/201001u/national-happiness-chart

Brian will set up “eye-candy” feature for happiness (based on emoticon scans)

What’s our range? Seattle? Washington? Pacific Northwest? Or the nation? Brian: we can call it the Seattle index but it could be used outside Seattle

Breaking it down (Rob) World National Regional City-wide

Mitsue wants mechanism where people vote (daily perhaps) on their own happiness and send it in

Michael From my perspective, I’d like to see if we can build a happiness index and if we can I want to make sure it has scientific validity behind it. I would like to create a clearinghouse for information, including existing scientific indices that might lend themselves to the happiness work, full range of “happiness projects” around the world, any research being done on happiness, a few case studies – like Bhutan and the UN Happiness Index.

Brian There are some sciences already looking at this • Demography—sociology • Cognitive psychology

Deb We have to have one site where people can go, whether it already exists or we build it • Create our own place • Piggyback with Facebook – to capture regional data (and harvest info from FB)

Rob Let’s hook up with polling agencies

Brian Pew Center has looked at that to some degree

Deb Will people skew our numbers by having people outside our area or by not participating often enough?

I’m into the objective. How do we look at this objectively and get the most amount of participation for the least amount of work?

Brian We’re better off looking at what’s already out there rather than asking for more self-reporting. We’ll miss the people in the middle who aren’t extremely positive or negative.

Michael I had an intern last year who also worked at Facebook. I’ll contact her to see who we can talk to at Facebook about their happiness project Contact Nandini re: connecting to Facebook project

Deb Let’s contact Adam at U or O (Social Psycology) and on FB data team—to see if we can access the “fire hose” of data to harvest for happiness (from Atlantic article)

Michael There are several books I thought of that aren’t directly about happiness but lend themselves to this work, including: • Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Brian Geographic element to data—not be too geographic

Rob I’m interested in the why. Why people are happy or unhappy. Why are people in poorer nations often happier? That’s what I’m interested in.

Deb What is the purpose? Fun? Reflect and contribute to overall happiness? Happiness begets happiness Exploration Economic value? Used in business

Brian I want to know how it works at the social level

Me How does that travel? Is happiness infectious and can it travel like a virus?

Deb I’m reading Upton Sinclair’s “Mental Radio” right now.

Mitsue I’m interested in shifting the U.S. toward a more balanced way of life. Our values and our media will also shift. I look at media as a means for gathering information. We are affected by the media so I’d like to sprinkle something in the water to make people happier.

Me Sharing Appendix I from Knight Commission report (P. 73) Scientific measurement of “healthy information communities”—how do we measure that?

Mitsue Posters for Happiness Index—SCCC graphics design students—she already did it for the UN

Brian Explanation of OSF as communication tool

Communication Brian will send out e-mail about profiles for OSF Michael will contact Harold re: video he shot during Sunday JTM session Notes: We need to figure out who took them and get them posted Mitsue will contact Steven Wright to get visual notes Brian will e-mail Grace Stahre re: her notes from Sunday and to get the name of the UW researcher working on “tips for better living”

Next Meeting: January 29. 10 a.m. St. Mark’s Cathedral

Others to invite Sabrina Roach Joaquin Uy (KCBS) Susan Gleason

Second set of notes by: Cate Montana


People attending session: Mitsue Cook Harold Shinsato Grace Stahre Leslie Lannen Michael Bradbury Cate Montana Cate Gable Brian Glanz

Happiness Index online site: People write in “IA ma happy because …” Or check a mark on a happiness index scale The news could add the general Seattle Happiness Index score on a daily basis, like reporting the weather. Seattle should determine its own index Scan in blogs and twitters relating to happiness Check out references to random number generator studies on how public attitudes and emotional conditions impact “the field” Subjective and objective elements need to be used - like tracking the weather is often based on historical patterns Web-bot Project Challenge the economics (as in value) of what we do with our time Knowing about happiness is critical. So many know what the Dow Jones index is on any given day. What about the rhythms and reasons for happiness?

This is self-reporting Check out software – open, finite state machines that an be used as predictors Kleene software

What’s real and what can be measuered? Needs level of tangibility The United Nations is doing this Can we determine the scientific validity> What’s the point of an index? Leverage the project on work that has already been done – The Bhutan project Gross National Happiness Conference in Brazil The Bhutan project measures happiness as it relates to: Culture Education Environmental situation 18-20 reps of each area vote on governmental policy and the vote has to fall within a set range to = happiness. Rian Isler – “The Real Wealth of Nations”

What are we trying to discover? General happiness index Specific issues that seem related to happiness Approach the mayor of Seattle for a grant Approach the United Nations Association of Seattle

Issues of filtering

Issues of activism – why do people act to make changes? Because they’re unhappy with the status quo. Ie. clean water legislation The Subjective: Asking the questions surfaces a lot of resources; it becomes a generative process Psychological studies done can assist in building a master list. The Happy Planet Project – the eco footprint The problem with self-reporting? It screws data six ways form Sunday Ways to give results meaning. Relating heart attacks to the # of traffic complaints gathered every day.

Form an Ad Hoc group to look at indices already in existence - look at models - draft indices - decide what is next

Get Sightline Institute involved here in Seattle Needs to be done in a non-partisan way Any metric we use is going to be flawed; by asking the questions you change the situations

It’s all about AWARENESS Get the happiness index onto the weather pages

Happiness in contagious. Reading about it will trigger happiness. PEW Center Research group is doing this. “This Emotional Life” The Allen Institute The Compassionate Action Network

The Happiness index is important for businesses Happiness is Sustainable NEXT STEPS: Get in touch with other organizations Set up a meeting place: St. Mark Cathedral