What?    CoroCon is a game that gives you a feel for how lockdowns can save lives.

     Why?     To make the mathy bits behind social distancing a bit more intuitive.

     How?     Survive the game without getting infected to see how fast infections can spread.

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About this project...

Since the pandemic has made it hard for me to do some of the more outdoorsy things I’d like and some folks I chatted with recently were confused about how pandemic growth could be so huge, I decided to spend my free time putting together something that could help provide a bit of a feel behind the worrisome spread of pandemics so that folks get an intuition for it.

The Coronavirus Containment Game was inspired by an app I wrote a while ago spoofing the Tamagochi virtual pet, which frustrated me to no end. As a way to figure it out, I made the Tamagotree virtual plant and it turned out to be (surprisingly) both simple and really fun, in a geeky complexity theory dynamical system sort of way. I thought the same principles might apply here so I was excited to give it a go. I was only half right. I think the elegance made it through initially but then was dampened by the fact that the player has to have a global view of things, which took away the emergent properties I had so enjoyed in the Tamagotree simulation. Still, I think it is fun and is educational to boot, and so it did what I set out to do.

When I’m not making silly things on my computer, my pastimes can be a bit all over the place...literally: traveling is one of my passions and I’ve backpacked to over sixty countries. The count was over seventy earlier but I’ve become more strict in my counting. For instance, I’ve visited St. Petersberg for a day but I’m not counting Russia on my list; Russia is way too grand to be included for having just visited one small city--nice as it is--for a day. I plan to go back and give it the time it deserves before adding it to my list. I’m also not counting Panama since I’ve only really sailed through the canal and not really set foot on Panama except for the canal locks tour. By similar reasoning, I am also not counting Bermuda, which I only visited for a day from a cruise. Nor am I counting the Holy See (Vatican) even though it is listed as a country (according to the World Atlas) because...well, geez, that’s just really getting down to technicalities. So, no Monaco, either, despite having spent several nights there. It’s more like a principality with a token set of sovereign rights, right? I mean Disneyworld also has some sovereign rights...like they can print their own postage and all--but I’m not adding it as a country. Seriously though, I may add the Vatican and Monaco back in, out of respect for their country status. But then I feel like I have to give some thought to Scotland and Wales, which are countries but really, part of the UK as a nation even if said World Atlas doesn’t list them that way.

I guess, from this, it’s somewhat obvious I can be a bit academic about things, which is ok, because I've been puttering around in academia. I majored in Physics and Computer Science at Cornell University (with research minors in astrophysics and visual programming, respectively) and then went with Computer Science as a graduate student at Brown University (in visualization). In a decision that I now believe may have been a bit bone-headed, I turned down a scholarship for a PhD at the Media Lab at MIT and went to IBM Research. It didn’t seem so bad at the time. I’ve since tapped on keyboards from within companies that are large (like amazon.com), tiny (like my own startups), and a bunch in between including being a digital nomad and bartering things like Photoshop chops for a hotel room off the coast of Kenya. I'm originally from New York but I’ve recently moved to Finland to be with my partner and just became a first-time father to a daughter who is still nameless (folks in Finland sometimes take their time naming newborns!). Since I am now five years past my PhD (which I eventually did get under the supervision of Mark Billinghurst and investigating how Augmented Reality impacted our cognitive maps under at the University of Canterbury), I won’t be able to continue my postdoc much longer so I’ll be off soon to...I have no idea where. Any suggestions or ideas are welcomed! !