Tuesday, February 12, 2013


For over a decade now, I've been investing brainspace in what eventually became known to popular culture as "The Mayan Apocalypse", essentially the end date of the Mayan calendar's largest cycle. I traveled to Mexico and spent some time talking to local shaman of the Yucatan, followed the discussions of prominent voices from all different perspectives via the mighty 2012 group on Tribe.net, and kept close tabs on the sensible, scientifically grounded work of my anthropologist friend Dr. John Hoopes. John, by the way, is one of the very few people in the world who has access to the most important of all Mayan artifacts, "The Dresden Codex". To be honest, despite all the hoopla (apologies, John) I had no worries about "end of the world" scenarios unfolding in 2012. Like most big stories in our sensationalism-driven culture, only a small bit a truth remains after they are warped and twisted by relentlessly over-hyped consumer media. It is ironic however, that while TV, theater and radio played up the possibility of some kind of convenient catastrophic event, twenty thousand kids die every day from hunger, or more accurately, from not being able to purchase readily available food. The greatest sins of the world continue to be unseen in a quiet, ongoing daily apocalypse, and I, for one, am glad to wrap up this "end of the world" rubbish and move on to more salient issues.

All of that said, I could not have prepared myself for the massive personal changes in heart, mind, body and soul that took place during the course of this remarkable year. At some point I would like to write about 2012 from each perspective, if for nothing more than to create an archive of thoughts and feelings while they are still very fresh. It's also worth saying that I don't kid myself about my writing skills. In a way I feel like I'm just beginning to find a voice for the first time ever…which falls quite neatly into the idea that 2012 was not a punctuated mass apocalypse of any sort, but it was a opportunity for personal rebirth. I know many friends and associates who feel the same way, and I'd like to think those of us affected are all part of collective upgrade that humanity needed so desperately.

For now, I'd like to just briefly touch on what lies ahead for 2013. It's going to be a big year. In 2012 I started a small one -person software design studio Xylem and Phloem, and released my first educational game ISOPOD to excellent professional reviews, as well as tremendous love and support from Apple itself. ISOPOD was even nominated for the prestigious CYBILS Children's Literary Award, which is quite an honor considering they usually only deal with books. If you have or know a child (10 and up) with an iPad and an interest in science, this is a great app, and one of many more to come.

But the real purpose of making ISOPOD, as I have come to see, was to open doors and create new possibilities. I created ISOPOD essentially by myself, and even though there were moments were I felt I was being pushed beyond my limits, the end result spoke volumes. Vetting the value of one's ideas that can be accomplished "solo", is an absolute necessity to finding the right kind of support for bigger ideas. Basically, big money needs to have big confidence before it will do big things. 

And this next project is just flippin' huge.

Xylem and Phloem (now a small team) is proposing a massive educational software undertaking that will transform every book, website, curriculum, and most importantly, every educational app out there into a "gamified" cooperative classroom learning experience. As I write this, we are in negotiation with one of Silicon Valley's biggest names, and the future is looking quite good, knock on the proverbial wood. That's about all I'm going to say on that, for now.

But hey 2013, what else you got?

I've also become a mentor for UCSC's flagship IDEASS program (Impact Designs: Engineering and Sustainability through Student Service) and I'm excited to help guide a group of talented student engineers as they create their first cross-platform science app, available by the end of this summer. You can be certain that it will gamify concepts of sustainable building practices, facilitating an understanding of fairly complex environmental issues via the exquisite beauty of game theory. I love this kind of work, and I feel like it is something that I'm well prepared to handle.

Another exciting manifestation of ISOPOD's critical success is that I've been asked to be a part of the creative team designing exhibits for an emerging children's discovery museum, here in Santa Cruz. Some of what I'll be doing is contributing to the conceptual development of these exhibits, but a big part will be actually building-visualizing the ideas in 3D. Again, what an amazing gig. A giant, scale-relative Strawberry plant jungle, and all the creatures you might find there may soon be leaping from my head to a physical space near you. How cool is that?

And there's more. "Your Turn Football", a game I helped create with some old colleagues of mine is due to be released in the next few weeks. I'm anticipating a very good response (despite blowing the release date to coincide with Football season…good reasons, I promise) as it is the first turn-based, multi-platform sports game ever made. Think "Words WIth Friends" meets The Superbowl. While I'm not a huge fan of Football, it is the creation of these "first time" experiences really gets me jazzed.

And of course, then there are the projects I can't talk about, even little bit. All I can say is, right now is the most intense burst of creative energy I've had in years, perhaps ever. My heart has been cracked open, and what flows in and through, is the desire to do the Best Work of my life.

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