ushin – univeral shared information – is a way to express ourselves clearly.
Meaning Shapes
Eight symbols, each in their place, help us create clear, compassionate communication. Though people may use the categories creatively, the meaning shapes help convey a shared sense that everyone understands, not unlike an emoticon. : )
Hover over shapes to see what they mean.

The Semantic Screen

How ushin works
Whether online or in our daily lives, when people communicate it’s usually a jumble of feelings, concepts, facts, people, actions, topics and needs adorned with judgements. When understanding is important, we can sort out these eight very different kinds of meaning to determine the main points and what supports them. To clarify our own minds, and understand others efficiently. Ushin communication results in a comprehensive overview of points and questions about anything.

– Individuals gain clarity, e.g. around life challenges such as health, relationships, career …
– Beyond fair fighting, couples unravel arguments before anyone says something to regret later.
– Groups gather around complex challenges to weigh in on points and deliberate strategies.

The Community of USHIN Supporters, a varied group of people who are enthusiastic about the promise of ushin, see the value of bringing this unifying communication method to the internet.

USHIN will use new and emergent technologies to bridge our various platforms, programs and websites, and create a digital public commons where we can meet in the middle around any issue.

USHIN communication tools, online and offline, are built to solve problems comprehensively, logically and efficiently – celebrating the diversity of viewpoints and the commonality of basic needs.

The inspiration for ushin
Universal shared information is the comprehensive outgrowth of Nonviolent Communication, NVC, a powerful method to elicit compassion and solutions to real problems. NVC sorts messages into 4 types: Feelings, Needs, Objective Facts, and Requests, to clarify underlying motivations and elicit compassionate connections among people. While NVC cuts to the basic core of communication, by adding only four more kinds of information, ushin opens to all kinds of meaning. Related Concepts, Merits, Topics and People enhance clarity because all expression may be considered – for comprehensive understanding.


Marshall Rosenberg, who developed NVC, was a psychologist who recognized that “When we understand the needs that motivate our own and others behavior, we have no enemies. Our goal is to create a quality of empathetic connection that allows everyone’s needs to be met.” … “Every moment each human being is doing the best we know at that moment to meet our needs. We never do anything that is not in the service of a need, there is no conflict on our planet at the level of needs. We all have the same needs. The problem is in strategies for meeting the needs.”

“At the root of every tantrum and power struggle are unmet needs.” Following this sage recognition, proven in a variety of interpersonal and international ushin places needs at the base of the communication protocol. By calling attention to raw human motivations, communication gains not just the power of recognition and respect, but efficiency in conflict resolution.

“One memorable encounter occurred when Rosenberg mediated between chieftains of warring Christian and Muslim tribes in Northern Nigeria in the early 1990s. Before commencing, Rosenberg was advised that some of the chieftains in the room knew that others in the room had killed their children. Rosenberg applied his process of NVC to help the chieftains hear and understand each other. Eventually one chieftain jumped up, talking excitedly. Rosenberg’s translator told him the chieftain was saying if we knew how to speak to each other this way we wouldn’t have to kill each other.

More about meaning shapes:


Though definitively necessary for human well-being, needs are the most difficult for most people to recognize and express. For example, “I need you to shut up” would confuse the need for peace with the strategy of another’s not talking. A more effective way to obtain desired results, rather than escalate hard feelings, would be to express the need with a rationale and a clear request, “I need understanding right now, please let me hear your main point or request.”

In the USHIN online system, of all the meaning shapes, needs carries the greatest weight, by default, so that human needs show up more prominently on the computer screen. In this way, individually and collectively, needs for healthcare, food, housing, safety and other basic human requirements of life will be given greater weight by most people. The most vulnerable among us, and the most urgent issues, will take their place as priorities upon which to deliberate actions, in full view of influences placed upon each point or request by an inclusive spectrum of participating vetted sources of information.

An example using the online USHIN system:
Angela may seek relief from a long-standing medical condition. She wants “real life” experiences from people her own age, having the same symptoms. In USHIN she could make her central point express her own experiences, thoughts, feelings, treatments, diagnoses, doctors and how much they did or didn’t help – or she can lead her message with a need. While any shape is optional, a human need such as pain relief would rise to prominence. Though we as users can change this, and anything, including baseline valuations, needs are given greater weight by default in the way that the software calculates merit.



We each input points and subpoints from our own perspectives, and give them the weight we value each. The merit of any message in USHIN will based on the support for that message having met, currently meeting, or will in the future meet human needs.

The USHIN display will combine personal and community input, allowing for as little or as much influence from others as an individual chooses. We the users will weed out or draw in information related to what we consider relevant to a main point. We will be able to explore other perspectives and compare and combine them with our own. When we want to contribute input publicly, we choose a curator to publish the input. Merits of the USHIN curators derive from community ranking of their reputations, their input in USHIN, and their relations with others.

The last six of the ushin meaning shapes also add value to messages, and any shape can become a main point.

To continue our example, when Angela then seeks information about potential remedies, she wants to combine experiences of people with an easy to understand summary of relevant scientific data from the types of sources she respects. The USHIN system would let Angela filter what she sees by relevance, importance and popularity.


While ushering any point, when the shape for “people” shows up, most people think of persons, animals and groups who are relevant to the points at hand. When conversing one might think of each other personality and consider their perspectives. In a group, one might usher points on a topic and then call upon a specific other person to offer a perspective.


Ushin, for inclusive understanding, lets people shine a light on any and all objective details that, if relevant, may also reveal misunderstandings that can expose solutions, and inspire learning, as well as derive compassion. This is where one would refer to physical objects, locations, dates in time, citations to documentation, quotes and calendars. This is also where one would seek definitions, sizes, shapes, quantitative information such as current and historical weather information. Some would call this evidence, proof, “the real world”, or spatial-temporal metrics.


Seeing the actions shape brings to mind a sense of direction: e.g. which way to go, or what to do next to meet the need at hand. Actions are usually considered do-able steps to take as supported by the rest of the considerations. Complex “higher level” considerations, like big plans, may be handled has actions, or be considered concepts or projects, which can then spawn bite-sized actions. When actions are done, they are considered past events.




Here is ushin’s wild card. The topic meaning shape usually conjures up whatever has been left unsaid. It varies depending on the context, or central focus at had. During group meetings one may use the term to bring to mind anything to spur a discussion, and later define the meaning. In a classroom, the shape may be termed a “subject”. Businesses may think of this shape in terms of “projects”.In certain technical situations the shape may be a place to consider a collection of code, e.g. a repository. It could also be a snippet of the code, or a problem with the code.

There are many ways to use ushin meaning shapes. In combination they powerfully support a central focus – the main point. Here are five manifestations of ushin to begin to explore the potential of universal shared information, online and offline:

USHIN, U4U Prototype, and these integrating projects are bringing the ushin vision to life.
Federated Network Platform & Protocols
Personal App
Deliberation Tools