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Hacking Happiness: Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it Can Change the World

4.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0399165313
ISBN-10: 0399165312
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Editorial Reviews


"The book certainly opens up an important conversation about how individuals can, and should, manage their data in an age of rapid advancements in personal technology. Mashable and Guardian contributing writer Havens provides a detailed defense of how developing technologies in augmented reality and wearable devices can increase happiness...An optimistic vision of how new technologies can be reimagined to increase productivity and personal growth."
 —Kirkus Reviews

“More than any time in human history, we have access to mountains of data about ourselves. Hacking H(app)iness is the first book to show us how to leverage this information as a path to happiness, rather than a source of misery.” —Adam Grant, New York Times-bestselling author of Give and Take and Wharton professor

"Hacking H(app)iness is a mind boggling and optimistic vision of how new technologies can be reimagined to increase productivity and personal growth—and you don't have to be a geek to like it."
Michael Port, New York Times-bestselling author of The Think Big Manifesto

“Havens’ excitable prose is peppered with examples…His enthusiasm is engaging…” —Financial Times

"In Hacking H(app)iness, I was excited to find a discussion of psychology and technology that extends far beyond a self-improvement guide. Havens weaves together trends related to personal data with futurist scenarios and poignant details from his own life to illustrate how data can help us hold ourselves accountable to others. I recommend this to anyone trying to boost the wellbeing of individuals and communities."
 —Margie Morris, senior researcher at Intel

"Havens believes we as digital citizens have become complacent about our data and privacy. Our personal data is already being sold to third-party advertising companies that are paying heaps of money to access and profit from it. Because of this, our data has real economic value—yet we don’t seem to care."
Sustainable Brands review

“We all know how much money Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and other gigantic consumer, search, and social media enterprises make from the personal data we give them for free. Havens argues that not only do we have the right to make money from our personal data but that our data can and should be used to do much more for us than just sell us things. It can make us healthier, both physically and mentally; it can enable and encourage our altruism; it can make our communities more nurturing; and it can promote our happiness. It can help turn us into better, more caring people.”
RewireMe.com review

"If the extent of your knowledge of the quantified self starts and stops at Fitbit, the book is a great source of information about apps that measure physical and mental wellbeing. This is along with services that allow users to combine multiple streams of data from such apps to create insights that suggest beneficial behavior change."
TheInformationDaily.com review

“In Hacking H(app)iness, John C. Havens makes the persuasive case that a key to happiness in the digital age is being able to control and leverage your personal data for your own benefit. It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand the interplay of economics, innovation, and the rising personal data sector, and how you can make better, smarter decisions when you’re in charge of your own data.”
Shane Green, Co-Founder and CEO of Personal
“I’ve met and spoken with literally hundreds of people about aging and the consequences of isolation. Most of them knew the space; many of them understood the emotional impacts, but only John felt it. He intuitively understood how our societal focus on physical health was obscuring our view on emotional health.”
Iggy Fanlo, Co-Founder and CEO of Live!y
“The unexamined digital life is walking along an unstable ledge of happiness, in an era of digital exuberance. John C. Havens’s Hacking H(app)iness is the balancing stick that allows us to synthesize and leverage technology by understanding the evolutionary value of one’s digital blueprint, so that well-being and happiness can emerge.”
Judy Martin, founder of WorkLifeNation.com and contributor for Forbes and NPR

“John C. Havens gives us an illuminating examination of how emerging technology can be harnessed to promote individual, community, corporate, and global happiness. As one who studies intrinsic motivation, achievement and happiness, I enjoyed John's rare emphasis on altruistically serving others as a path toward greater happiness and health.”
John Mark Froiland, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, University of Northern Colorado
“In the 20th century, we made great progress in terms of our material wealth, but we’re not really any happier. In this insightful book, John Havens shows us how the new century will bring us opportunities to improve our general well being. Rather than keeping up with the Joneses, he explains how we can use technology to actually improve our lives. It is a truly remarkable work.”
Greg Satell, contributing writer for Forbes
“John Havens has written a comprehensive guide through our complicated digital lives, carefully examining the benefits of the data-driven pursuit of happiness through the lens of an enlightened idealist. A must-read for anyone interested in a humane future of connectivity.”
Tim Leberecht, chief marketing officer of NBBJ
“John Havens is leading the charge to change the way we talk and think about digital consumer technology. Rather than simply asking whether the latest gadget is faster or has more features, John encourages us to ask such questions as ‘Will this make me happier?’  And it’s not just a rhetorical ploy; he wants us to think through the question sincerely.   John avoids the kneejerk conclusions of both the techno-fanboy and neo-Luddite camps—to the occasional irritation of both—which makes his work all the more important.”
Brian Wassom, Augmented Reality Law Expert, Partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP
“This book shows us that happiness can be an active pursuit—a journey filled with data and optimization, with satisfaction as the ultimate goal. Just reading this book made me happier.”
Ari Meisel, author of Less Doing, More Living, founder of The Art of Less Doing, and Ironman Triathlete
Hacking Happiness covers a whole range of technologies that are all emerging and looks at them from a positive perspective to see how can they help people, our communities, and the world. John’s approach is refreshing and adds new perspectives to consider how we as a society make considerations about what technologies to adopt and how they might fit together for the benefit of the whole.”
Kaliya, aka “Identity Woman”
“In Hacking H(app)iness, John C. Havens proves the importance of measuring our lives to identify our purpose versus just increasing profits or productivity.  By showing how altruistic actions can increase happiness, Havens also provides a roadmap to scaling (or hacking) how the world perceives value, where currency will be based on compassion versus capitalism.”
Aaron Hurst, author of The Purpose Economy and CEO of Imperative

About the Author

John C. Havens is a contributing writer for Mashable, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. He is the Founder of The H(app)athon Project, a non-profit organization, “Connecting Happiness to Action one phone, one heart, and one city at a time” through the use of interactive, sensor-based smartphone surveys. A former EVP for a top-ten global PR firm, he has counseled clients like Gillette, HP, and Merck on emerging and social media issues, and has been quoted on issues relating to technology, business, and well being by USA Today, Fast Company, BBC News, Mashable, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Forbes, INC, PR Week, and Advertising Age.  Havens was also a professional actor in New York City for over 15 years, appearing in principal roles on Broadway, television, and film.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: TarcherPerigee (March 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399165312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399165313
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,573,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book focuses on how people can gain and get a grasp on their technological lives. The author indicates that much of our personal data is being spread from our smart phones and computers without our knowledge to corporations and government. He advises us about how to control and even profit from selling our personal data instead of just giving it away. He also shows how we might use technology to enjoy fuller lives and even for altruistic purposes. One interesting sidelight is a study he cites that people are spending so much time texting and communicating over the internet that we are losing the expressiveness of our facial muscles by not talking to people in person. Atrophy of the face! This is a very good book for the technological junkie..
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Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to like this book. I love this topic! Don't get me wrong, there's lots of good info here regarding how technology can affect happiness. There are just a few things I would have liked to be done more carefully.

First, the way the information is organized is a bit haphazard. There are many websites I want to look up again, but it is difficult to do this because they aren't referenced in a retrievable way.

Second, it sometimes felt like chapters were just snipits of a bunch of unrelated stuff (the author's old articles?) and the same topics re-emerged in new chapters. I had a hard time summarizing what I learned after each chapter or finding a coherent message.

Third, although it happens all the time, some important psychological concepts are described inaccurately. These slight issues may have snuck in from citing consumer books (e.g., seligman and lyubomirsky) rather than directly referencing the original sources. For example, the descriptions of hedonia and the hedonic treadmill were a little off. Hedonia is more than a "rush" and experiencing positive emotions is generally good (e.g., Barb Fredrickson's work). I'm kind of splitting hairs, but these things are not trivial when it comes to how people go about achieving happiness.

Still, I'm glad I bought the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Havens' evenly presents a process for redefining wealth with a new plan for Happiness economics. His 'creative re-imagining for insightful living for greater happiness' approach is offered with an easy read flow, drawing from crafted theory, research and case studies, interviews, and whimsical anecdotes.

Happiness indicators are raised and explored throughout, potentially triggering more refined choice for measured personal action and values in a new hyper-connected world. Covering quantified self, tracking, lifelogging, wearables, IOT, augmented reality, data privacy, platforms, apps and other technological advances in the context of reputation economics, it is readily apparent that cultural shifts are imminent. It is interesting to see this grand opportunity unfold beyond personal growth and well-being potential to community relationships, and even overall national and collective progress and achievement.

In a romantic notion of not truly living without loosing, his comments on experiential extremes especially resonate. Beyond actionable standardized measures, h(app)iness is conveyed as empowering oneself and paving it forward with and for society. Seemingly key is a notion of comparable value by balancing real-time improvement while altruistically adding to lives of others. Havens reminds that with committing to seek grounded truth with technology it is our personal and joint life path that matters, with richer happiness ensuing after dynamically redefining priorities. The work sets a good initial framework to pioneer and tackle what identity, success, happiness, purpose, and achievement will soon mean and offer within a more accountability-based economics architecture. Don't pursue Happiness, create it. Hopefully it is contagious personally and collectively.
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Format: Hardcover
John Havens asks some really important questions about our ever-evolving relationship with the internet, and presents innovative suggestions for managing the personal information we share. I strongly recommend this book to anyone with any sort of social media presence.
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Format: Hardcover
Happiness research is very much in vogue these days. Psychologists, economists, sociologists, poltiical scientists, historians, and neuroscientists, among others, have created a vast multi-discplinary research program focusing on human happiness. John Havens' "Hacking Happiness" is one of the most interesting--and compelling--recent books on the subject. Informed by a careful reading of the academic literature, but not itself a dry academic exercise, Havens successfully bridges two areas: the dangers (and potential) of personal data collection and the general implications of a digital world in which everyone who can afford to do so carries a mobile device that both monitors them and can contribute to their well-being on the one hand, and the policy implications for building
a better world informed by those facts. Thought provoking and original.
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Format: Hardcover
In this book John Havens guides us through what seems to many of us as chaotic world of personal data. From explaining how we are represented by algorithms and numbers to the ways how we can take the advantage of this to achieve hapiness. This will be an eye-opening book for many people who use social networks and online services everyday. Very good read, full of compeling stories.
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