5 Awesome Things This Week: Data, Gamification and the Wind

5 Awesome Things…

Short post tonight, so delight in FIVE awesome things this week from me.

1. Epic Win – Level up your life

I’ve never heard the word gamification more than in the last week. Perhaps it’s like when you are interested in buying a motorcycle and you see them everywhere. I started taking a course on Gamification on coursera and now I see it EVERYWHERE. In case you don’t know, gamification is the addition of little game elements into non-game stuff to increase motivation and engagement. I’m not a gamer, or hard core gamer, but I do like the gamification of stuff. like school… which was always a game, but now we are up front about it. Which leads me to…


CodeCademy is the current game I’m playing

CodeCademy is also in the news because of the fear it strikes in the heart of higher education. Why take a basic coding course in college when you can do it right here for free. We greybeards learned how to write code and build stuff by scouring blogs, forums and tutorial sites looking for tibbits and table scraps. CodeCademy is a buffet of web builder goodness. Coursera, udacity and Lynda.com have alittle birdnest in my soul, but CodeCademy is on top of my bookmarks right now. Why? Because of Game Elements. POINTS< BADGES < and LEADERBOARDS (PBL).

  • Points – I’ve got 731. Which means nothing except that when I’m on the forum, I can gauge my experience with others. And, I can see it growing.
  • Badges – I’ve got 35. I get one for completing a unit and for doing cool stuff like “Max streak count of 10” or “25 points in one day”.
  • Leaderboard… um, there isn’t a leaderboard but there is a cool progress bar. I’m 45% complete in the Javascript fundamentals track.

All this motivates the crap out of me and is -for the moment- helping establish a habit of learning to code. Good on ya CodeCademy! … But could it be better?


So many awards, so much stats

Zilch was the first game where I really looked beyond the score.  There are 120 awards and 24 different stats.  This is my data.  How in the world can you sum up my experience in the final score?  You have to be a serious bore to think like that.  The score matters, but the stats tell the story.

I’m all about the story.  Somewhere around the time I was playing Zilch, I started to look at other games differently as well. Golf isn’t just the number of strokes.  If you want to improve – if you want to use the numbers for more than just wining and losing – then you go looking for those 24 other stats besides strokes.  Like putts, Greens in Regulation (GIR), number of fairways, shots from the rough… And, don’t get me started on…

4. Fantasy Football

This is my data getting crushed by Corner Brothers data. It was the worst defeat in the whole league.  Stings, yes it does.

Talk about a data geek’s game.  Fantasy League Football has invaded my mind with such force that I can’t see straight on Sundays.  I love the picking and analyzing and the research and deciding who to play. And, watching the NFL games is a completely different experience for a Fantasy Owner.  We are rooting for numbers and the situations that bring the numbers we want.  For example, I have Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills suck. (FUGETTAOUTIT, NewYourk you already have two or three NFL teams).  The Bills Stink but Fitzpatrick picks up tons of ‘trash time’ points.  Trash time is when the game is lost by a wide margin.  Bills are airing it out and the defenses are letting them move the ball. More points to my player.  Sucks for the Bills.

um… Yeah – Gamification, Codecademy, Zilch and Fantasy Football.  All of these things are about data.  Getting access to it.  Displaying it in a way that makes us motivated and engaged and changes our behavior.  But …

Why is all this data about ‘games’.  Games are generally thought of as recreation – the stuff you do when you relaxing and not concentrating.   What if you could use these game elements and mechanics … for your own data – like quantified self and PayMo Plus .  … for your own government – like data.gov . For our families and relationships. For our hobbies and habits.  All these data are useful and powerful.  It could help us change, progress and improve.  But most of the data is hidden away and we don’t even realize it’s not there.  I feel THIS is the paradigm shift.  Welcome to the data driven culture.

Does the NFL have an open API?

And, finally, lest you think all this data isn’t beautiful

5. Wind Map

Wind is free, so should data be.

It’s a mesmerizing visualization of the wind data around the United States.  I think it’s awesome.  Enjoy and good night.

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