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The H(app)athon Project: Crowdsourcing Well-Being Around the World on March 20

Leaders from The United Nations, World Economic Forum, MIT, and Microsoft unite to kick-off the multi-faceted 12-month project to globally crowdsource a vision for the Happiness Economy

The H(app)athon Project: Crowdsourcing Well-Being Around the World on March 20

Leaders from The United Nations, World Economic Forum, MIT, and Microsoft unite to kick-off the multi-faceted 12-month project to globally crowdsource a vision for the Happiness Economy

Published 03-06-13

Submitted by Happathon

Joining organizations around the world taking action on the first ever Day of Happiness, the H(app)athon Project (, is a year-long initiative comprised of awareness-building events, surveys and hackathons with the goal of “Crowdsourcing a Vision for the Happiness Economy.” It will begin ‘hacking happiness’ on March 20, 2013, The United Nations’ officially proclaimed International Day of Happiness.

The Name

H(app)athon = A Hackathon for Happiness.

The Challenge

The H(app)athon Project wants to “hack happiness” by shifting how the world’s view of value can move beyond the lens of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). By utilizing emerging technology and scientific happiness indicators around the world, the Project seeks to empower individuals, businesses, and governmental organizations to imagine, define and build a more holistic view of well-being.

“We think you’re worth more than money,” says Havens, Project Founder. “Our goal is to take the technology and metrics people are already using and point to these amazing new frameworks of value being created around the world. If we can teach people Happiness Indicators exist and show them how to empower their lives via emerging technology to focus on happiness or well-being over wealth, the H(app)athon Project will be a massive success.”

The Goal

Crowdsourcing a Vision for the Happiness Economy:

  • Crowdsourcing – The three Pillars for the Project’s work (Imagine, Define and Build), guided by the H(app)athon Advisory Committee, depend on feedback from participants for success. Whether a person attends a Workshop Event, takes a Survey, or participates at a hackathon, they are collaborators in The H(app)athon Project.
  • A Vision – The H(app)athon Project has the goal of helping people foster a world where holistic value can be based on well-being or happiness instead of wealth. A person’s data and how it is controlled in the digital environment is also of pivotal importance to this vision.
  • The Happiness Economy – The H(app)athon Project Committee believes the Happiness Economy already exists. Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness, the OECD’s Better Life Index, and UK’s Happy Planet Index are just a few of the Happiness Indicators already helping define well-being beyond wealth. Thought leaders in economics, public policy, development, well-being, positive psychology, the physiological study of happiness, and more are already building the Happiness Economy. The Committee’s efforts are intended to be additive and complementary to the work of the individuals and organizations already comprising this amazing community.

The Committee

The H(app)athon Advisory Committee guiding the overall Project includes over thirty representatives from organizations including The United Nations, World Economic Forum, MIT,, Microsoft, the University of Cambridge, The World Well-Being Project, The Happiness Initiative, HAPPY the Movie, The Happy Post Project, Hub Culture, ilumivu, and over a dozen emerging media experts in the fields of quantified self, data science, and mobile technology.

The H(app)athon Workshop Events

The H(app)athon Project will feature a number of global Workshops/Events (The H(app)athon Workshop) to be held on 3/20 in New York City, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Oslo, Tokyo, London and Bogota to coincide with the range of global celebrations calling on people to take action on the first Day of Happiness. Other events are currently being planned in Bhutan and Cincinnati.

The H(app)athon Workshop events will feature presentations by members of the H(app)athon committee and other guests, including J.P. Rangaswami, Chief Scientist for, Dr. Mark Williamson of Action for Happiness and, Jon Hall from the United Nations Development Programme, Ari Meisel, founder of The Art of Less Doing who cured himself of Crohn's Disease via Quantified Self Tools/methodologies, and Robert Gordon, Chief Strategy Officer of APX Labs, and Former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense under President Obama.

Speakers will focus on the synergies between existing well-being research, emerging technology and Happiness Indicators to prepare attendees for an interactive Workshop that will follow the speaker’s presentations. Attendees will separate into breakout groups where they will brainstorm a vision for how to improve happiness and well-being in the fictional country of Eudaimonia. Each group will then present their ideas to the whole audience, and these will be videotaped and placed on the H(app)athon website. These Workshop Videos will provide ideas and inspiration to help move the world from a focus on monetary value to a focus on well-being.

Below is a list of H(app)athon events around the world that will take place on the International Day of Happiness, March 20, 2013 from approximately 7p.m. to 11 p.m. (local time).

To attend an event, either click on the Eventbrite Links where available, or email Please note events are on a first come, first-served basis, but if any events become sold out we will work to hold future events after 3/20 or feel free to host your own by contacting and downloading the H(app)athon Project Workshop Toolkit here. You can also sign up for the H(app)athon Newsletter to stay up to date on future news/events.

Additional H(app)athon Workshops will continue to happen throughout the twelve-month duration of the Project. The workshops are designed so that anyone can download materials from the H(app)athon site and run their own event, whether in a large venue or as parties in people’s homes. In this way, The H(app)athon Project is relying on the crowdsourced wisdom of the global community to jointly imagine and define a future world where nations, states and organizations measure success by the well-being and happiness of their citizens, communities, customers and employees, rather than by traditional economic indicators such as GDP.

The Survey

The H(app)athon Project is also announcing they will be launching the first version of their Mobile Happiness Indicator Survey App (mHIS) at these events. The mobile phone and web-based App allows survey participants to answer questions over the course of two weeks or longer to examine how various metrics relating to happiness and well-being affect their lives. And to examine, or “hack” happiness in a way that hasn’t been done before, all survey participants will be asked to answer open-ended questions like “How do you know when you’re happy?” and “What makes life meaningful?”

A unique aspect of the data collected from these surveys is the focus on building trust with participants. The H(app)athon Project is working with John Clippinger and ID3/MIT to help pilot their Open Mustard Seed (OMS) framework, an open data platform that will enable people to share all their personal data within a trust framework that will allow people to have their own personal data service that can securely store and process static and dynamic data about themselves. OMS will be tested throughout the twelve months of the H(app)athon Project, beginning in summer of 2013.

The second version of the Project’s Happiness Indicator Survey will also be released in the summer of 2013, and will incorporate emerging media sensors and technology to help greater reveal participants’ well-being and happiness. By tracking things like biometric, GPS, social media and voice analysis data, the Survey will provide greater insights into the meaning and purpose of people’s actions as well as their words. It will also help demonstrate how integral their virtual identity is to their happiness in the personal data economy.

The responses from all surveys will be brought to H(app)athon Hackathons where the Project will build an open-source App to be released on March 20, 2014.

“A primary focus of all of our work is the idea of crowdsourcing a holistic view of well-being or happiness from around the world,” notes John C. Havens, Founder of the H(app)athon Project. “While our Committee’s Survey team is comprised of experts from MIT, Microsoft, and multiple experts in the fields of well-being and positive psychology, the biggest goal with our surveys is to ask participants what matters to them. People providing insights for the survey are collaborators versus subjects of a research study.”

The Hackathons

The H(app)athon Project will be hosting its first 48-hour hackathons in mid-May of 2013 in London, organized by Data Science London, and in Cambridge, MA at MIT organized by ID3. Exact dates and locations are TBD and additional hackathon locations will be announced soon. The goal of the hackathons is to explore how data science can unlock the full potential of H(app)athon Project survey data by challenging participants to apply their data science skills to problems that demonstrate how big data can address the future of measuring, understanding, and predicting happiness. In this way, the Project is crowdsourcing a vision for the Happiness Economy that is informed by experts on Big Data and other technology so crucial to helping define a portrait of value for the digital future.

The H(app)athon App

The App released on March 20, 2014 will be informed by survey results and multiple Hackathons around the world over the course of the Project’s work. The App has three components:

  1. Helps users gauge their well-being via the Mobile Happiness Indicator Survey(s).
  2. Provides resources to help users optimize their well-being by connecting them to people or organizations where they can leverage their optimized, H(app)y selves. It’s a matchmaking service for ‘paying it forward’ to help spread individuals’ happiness and change the world, for good.
  3. Provides a “global mood ring” that portrays real-time happiness data from around the world to help policy makers see why the holistic measure of well-being will help guide their decisions with greater context than the GDP.

The H(app)athon Conference

The H(app)athon Project’s overall work will culminate in a large-scale conference in New York City on March 20, 2014, with the release of the H(app)athon App. The Conference will also feature videos from H(app)athon Workshops around the world and expert speakers focused on Quantified Self, the Internet of Things, positive psychology, and Happiness Indicators. This H(app)athon Project Conference will be annual in nature, and seeks to be the premiere global event focused on the intersection of emerging media and well-being.

Media Partners/Sponsors

The H(app)athon Project is currently an LLC but is seeking Fiscal Sponsorship to achieve non-Profit status. The Project is also seeking fiscal and in-kind sponsors. For more information, please email

H(app)athon Committee Members

For more information:

Happathon logo



The H(app)athon Project helps people identify and track their values as a way to measure what makes life count. Based on data collected from mobile surveys and passive data, users are provided with a volunteer recommendation based on their results. The science of positive psychology shows that living to your values and being altruistic increases intrinsic wellbeing, which is why the H(app)athon Project is 'connecting happiness to action' via their surveys and “Happy City Workshops” that inspire citizens to create positive campaigns for their communities focused on increasing worth versus wealth. For more information, visit

The H(app)athon Project Introduction Video

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