Following a couple of spaces to discuss NFT, I want to build space for another conversation—this time on the looming changes to the ad industry.

The TL;DR is that apps would track you less, which means fewer ad dollars.

More on Apple’s website, and Facebook for Business.

Similar principles apply:

  • No introductions
  • There are no speakers, which means there is no audience
  • No intellectual fencing; don’t mention a book or a dead philosopher (or a brand, or an agency): instead, state the logic, metaphor, or value
  • Prompt in breakout rooms, followed by a discussion
  • Space will be similar in spirit to CBS, and Thirdness.

The session will take place on April 19th, 2 pm ET, 60 mins. We will need a minimum of 5 people and cap it at 12.

Sign up here:

Edit: we will be meeting for a second conversation on April 5th, 2pm ET.

The best of flowers and vegetables to date” (1896)

I am hosting a conversation, with the principles below. I hope you can join.

3/29 5 pm EST 60 minutes, a Zoom meeting (not webinar)

Space is limited to 10 tickets, at $20. We need a minimum of 5 for this to move forward.

  • No introductions
  • There are no speakers, which means there is no audience
  • No intellectual fencing; don’t mention a book or a dead philosopher: instead, state the logic, metaphor or poetry
  • Prompts in breakout rooms, followed by a discussion
  • Space will be similar in spirit to CBS, and Thirdness.

Sign up here:

Please @byedit with any questions or things I left out.

Over the last couple of months, I spent every Friday in Critical Business School (CBS). A new format operates on similar principles as Thirdness, a co-creation space, where people learn together but different things, where intellectual fencing is not allowed. The focus is on the range of conversation rather than any outcome.


No introductions

When we introduce ourselves, we tell who we are, and we also communicate who we are not. By doing so, we are limiting the range of conversations we let into the space. We become a sculptor of ourselves and converse with our in their sculptured way.

Finish on a Cliffhanger

I ask to commit to being able to attend all four sessions in full. And sessions end sharply. The idea is to make full use of the time together, recursively, and tending to the space, more so than any outcome. Prompts take place in breakout rooms. Once back, we share and discuss what came up in discussion, cross-pollinate and meet in discourse. The purpose is to confuse and then finish. Confusion is the energy that will materialize during the week.

Confusion is Energy

In the space of discourse, misunderstandings are useful. As our natural inclination is to feel oriented and grounded in our inertia, we can understand intuition by disturbing that and asking for reflection. And once our intuition is in language, we can build on it, add to it, make it accessible, and further actualize as thoughtful practitioners.

Keep a Notebook

As I briefly touched in Knowledge, I operate with a deep belief that the knowledge economy is failing to recognize the abundance it is swimming in, and insists on over-indexing, duplicating databases, resulting in waste of human energy, creativity, and co2 emission. The context something is said it is far more critical than the fact itself.

I use Grain to transcribe the conversation to reflect on how we said what we did and with what. We don’t answer prompts in a forum or a shared document; I invite people to bring a notebook and get their thoughts.

CBS FebruaryCBS February
February’s Prompts and Questions

The space is an art class, the question is the focal point, but no one looks at your canvas. We travel through our thoughts, meet in process (intersubjective space), and individually take stock of what emerges. We then choose to hold it to the light or leave it where we found it.

View the graphics below:

To learn more and join

Creativity Circles


Aesthetics is what does not fit in your job description.

Aesthetics is what falls outside your cutout’ in the world; job description, roles, the professional archetypes we occupy. Periodically we peek out behind them. Aesthetic is the pun a barista makes, a neighbor’s quirky fedora, or the apples a professor brings on the first day of fall.

Mono-aesthetic is no aesthetic.

Because aesthetic is where the world meets you, and both you and the world changes, aesthetic always changes. Having the same aesthetic is production, and production has no aesthetics.

Rejecting aesthetics is the worst aesthetic.

The creative must intrinsically exercise aesthetic. Rejecting aesthetic–by articulation–is a collective action. By rejecting aesthetic, one forgoes personal and all aesthetic. Normcore is a group activity.

Always look to be sufficiently misunderstood; constructive miscommunications ask you to understand your values.

When we confuse people, we ask them to restate their values and ways of being in the world. It is a prompt for creativity. The more we can place ourselves in a safe and generous space of misunderstandings, the more we will integrate our creative surplus into our elbows’.

Ambiguity as an aesthetic

When we look at things anew, hold them to the light, we can’t know what we would see. Having trust in exploration can become a habit, a cycle of exploration, articulation, and integration. The act of writing and rewriting is creativity. Total clarity is production, and production is never creative.

Relational creativity is the only type of creativity.

Creativity is language. Aesthetic is meaning embedded in context. A homogenous world has no aesthetics; creativity exists in communication.

Creativity is decisions, and decisions are design.

Creativity is bringing language to unknowingness through a series of decisions that work in harmony with nature, culture, and business laws. The designer might author their meta-engine or use other people’s. The non-designer might do the same. Hence both can be creative or not.

Hence machines can design but can never be creative.

Machines lack the faculty of meta-flexibility. All models, or machine learning and other bayesian means, ask for a definition of correlation and, therefore, meta-fixed.

In abundance, all is philosophy.

When all matter is available, our innate tendency for interestingness and fun will find meaning through new ways of thinking and being. An abundance of utility asks for introspection. An abundance of technology asks for navigation.

All bloggers exercise curiosity, more so if they create value as opposed to just aggregating it. As I shared in Creative Surplus, I sometimes find myself with an overwhelming amount of curiosity that asks me to give it more time and space than an essay.

I did that in 2016 with Everything Will Happen, focusing on design for AI, language, and augmentation, and I am now finishing a similar exercise for Meta Medium: the psychology of creativity and digital habits.

On aside, I ended both efforts accomplished and energized. If you have a topic burning, which you want to integrate to your elbows’ (work/practice), I recommend going through this. The format is dead simple: write a newsletter once a week, with the option of buying a domain and cross-posting favorite pieces as blog posts.

You can view the archive for Everything Will Happen here and Meta Medium here (short of a few emails on account of moving to Buttondown, more on that soon).

As a moment of reflection: I want to share a couple of pieces that stood out for me in 2020 and this research.

Through desire the child discovers his solitude and through solitude his desire. He depends upon a reliable but ultimately elusive object that can appease but never finally satisfy him.

—On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored, Adam Phillips

From Who Can Wait for Nothing?

The difference between signifiers and classifiers, or how to avoid binary thinking:

The simple way of thinking about it is that classifiers allow for an object to only exist in one place, like a book on a shelf. Signifiers are more akin to shining a light, so are more intersectional, and allow for multiplicity. An object might have many signifiers, but only one classification.

Signifiers and Classifiers

Why are Standing Ovations (Page, Miller) all around us? and Digital Role Playing

In the new year, I will be moving to a smaller, different writing model and sending out emails. You can read more here and join here.

In the summer of 2015, I was finishing a wonderful engagement with CO: Collective with the big question of: how could we reframe MoMA’s relevance in a new era of culture and visitor expectations? The project was densely interesting, and I like saying that Co: has the biggest concentration of smart, creative people per square foot (more on the work at

Finishing the engagement, I returned to my desk at NEW INC and had an uneasy feeling. Through the process of months of interviews, ideation, ethnography, and presentations, I was left with unused, relentless energy.

In working with strategists, designers, and business analysts, I was asked to explore and explain my practice’s deeper edges, which could show up in my work but are rarely articulated. In the cycles of articulation, I had to write and rewrite what otherwise would be unstructured creativity. This left with a set of new mental models and axioms to work with—rough connective tissue between systems, complexity, language, AI, and augmentation.

I decided to do something with that energy and write. Initially a set of 1000 words essays for a whole week, but when that didn’t cure’ it, I started a weekly newsletter for the entirety of 2016 to act on this creative surplus.

Creative surplus is the creativity that no one is asking for (yet), which without care and attention will disseminate as the background of one’s work, or worse yet as professional resentment.

In hindsight, this moment of intuition was pivotal. On a local level, it gave me the conviction I needed to read and write, develop academic collaborations, deliver ambitious talks, and write a report with Ken Goldberg at UC Berkeley on the same topic that started as a small kernel of unused creativity a couple of years prior.

On a meta-level, I experimented with the idea of self-authorship. The idea that a creative can explore intellectual property, based on strategic intuition and future thinking, ahead of what the market is asking for, supercharge their relevance through intellectual and creative travel.’

Beyond the work in AI, this has led to a larger narrative. It changed my experience as a design professor, acting as a steward to my students’ learning experience, as opposed to the material itself. And in my consulting work, I realize that I act as a mix of strategist and a coach. The latter is differentiated from the former by asking questions instead of giving answers—an idea that is coincidently inline with my work in AI and views of abundant technology. With the world’s knowledge connected and increasingly indexed, it is the questions that carry merit and innovation potential.

This year I went through a similar exercise focusing on creativity as part of Meta Medium and Circles. Both of these year-long efforts are linked and inform each other. I like to say that Meta Medium is a study of the future-of-self in a post-AI sense (we live in a post-electricity world).

Whether you are a manager, a freelancer, a CEO, or a student, I urge you to ask yourself what your creative surplus is? When the day ends, what is left with you that no one is asking for? Teachers, boardrooms, clients, and the little voice in our heads set out certain obligations and requests to fulfill; once those are done: what is left? I plead with you to reflect on it because that might be the signal and everything else the noise.

Every community we join asks us to introduce ourselves, and when we do, establish our role, identity, and positionality within the space. It is a negotiation between our current context (as we understand it) and the room’s range of contexts. For example, as a designer, joining a community of designers, where people discuss designer-y things, we will likely use that as a median context and identity.

We are, of course, nothing more than binary bits in the digital space. Designers set the nature of our conversation by the fields they (or admins) assign to our profile for no fault of their own. Those create epistemic affordances and boundaries to the scope of our communication, sense of belonging, and range of curiosity in the space.

By filling in a digital profile, we create a role for ourselves, a pseudo self — a mediation away from the person we are. The oxymoron is that while it is indefinitely cheap to establish new roles and ways of being online, they are all increments of moving away from an authentic self. The experience of being the whole you is unknown, most of which to ourselves. It is most certainly not shared in predetermined contexts.

Digital theme parks, of the kind we have been seeing when translating conferences online, or the surge in online asynchronous communities using Discord and Slack, directly impact how we allow ourselves to show up in conversation and the creativity we put into it.

As an experiment, try to hold off with introducing yourself on the next Slack you join and reflect on the nature of conversations in the space. Are they more or less transactional? Is there more range for you to show up, or are you pigeonholed to one role?

Earlier this year, I set out to create an intentional co-creation space, a place where people can show up with their creative surplus and use it. A place to learn together, but different things; a band practice for solo artists. The hope was to set up a space where communication and discourse come before roles and transactions.

I wrote an extensive essay on the process and how circles (meta communities) are different from online communities. The ways the group meets changed on a categorical level, and I wanted to share this in case it is generative to others bringing people together online.

As distanced connectivity continues to compound our creativity and spaces of discourse, I changed to Thirdness’s activities and the places we meet.

Namely, I closed Slack and am focusing exclusively on synchronous meetings (Zoom).

This resulted from a few things I saw happening in the group’s vitality and our digital culture at large. The technologist mindset we carry around trained us to think about amassing knowledge. Capture, index, and document what is being said as a repository, which can be searched at any time, as a promise of value.

Thirdness, as a concept, and the named community looks at not what is said, but the context it is said.

The analytic third, the psychological idea of co-creation, believes that when two individuals meet in a meaningful discourse they create something else (thirdness), independent of both.

In other words, a link shared with one person could have a different meaning than when shared with another person.

Slack (or Discord etc) operates on a broadcast mentality, masked behind a promise of transparency. When a space asks and delivers on co-creation, transparency is no longer an issue, and broadcasting becomes a hindrance to tending to the ecology of communication.

From an information technology perspective, synchronicity is incredibly tricky in the digital space. When we use connected computers, we expect to know what is going to happen next.

Visiting a site, opening an app, or joining a new Slack comes with an implicit idea of what can and should happen. The physical affordances of seeing something in the corner of your eye in a physical space or otherwise adapting to a changing input field do not exist on our laptops.

It is almost impossible to not be transactional in the way we use computers today. And COVID exposed the issues of being transactional.

Online transactionality–defined as digital habits for predetermined outcomes–are the source of Zoom fatigue, solutionism, and loss of creativity.

I want to deposit that Zoom in and of itself carries no fault on the fatigue we’re feeling. The same way that a boardroom table is not at fault of too many meetings.

It is scale and cybernetic thinking we should be examining. What is the purpose of a 400 people grid of faces, using synchronous time, to view a performance? Would not that performance be better viewed as an asynchronous video on YouTube?

A technologist might respond by saying that we all together create a shared experience in the digital space, but digital space is an oxymoron. There is no matrix; there is the desk you’re sitting on reading this, and the respective 399 other sofas, dining table, and phones.

A product mindset asks us to accept the digital simulation and its pseudo-ism. A binary space, of inputs and outputs, is, by definition, transactional.

We type in a Zoom chat instead of moving our foot to convey a message to the room; looking at the screen, when we might look away and ponder in the physical space. The digital space allows for little or no tacit knowledge transfer (a meta-message).

There are categorial issues with the medium, that I am not claiming to solve in this piece.

What I propose is acknowledging the tailwind in this situation and breaking away from a (1) Slack + knowledge and (2) Zoom + scale dynamics.

The current hypothesis for Thirdness is that spontaneous and inter-contextual co-creation happens in small, synchronous setting, where goals are not set. Its prompts, guests, and conversation are based on context and not any direct corrective.

# Main Group Activities

Weekly standing call: Monday 12:30 ET 
Prompts, check-in, and discussion 

Semi-weekly share outs
Share-outs can be (1) a talk (followed by QA), (2) an ask (guest posing a question, relevant to their practice), or (3) a mix of both. 

Weekly 1:1 coffees 

Other Ad Hoc activities 

Our updated activities, from the invitation document

In the current swarm of abundant links and connectivity, we should remind ourselves that connecting is not the same as being connected. In digital spaces, knowledge and scale are inexpensive; context and co-creation are harder to design, and ask for reflection and intentionality.

Creativity Psychology Circles

Creativity is a state of thinking, being, and knowing. It is not a state of production. One of the legacies we carry with us from the days of engineering is measuring creativity based on output. And by doing that we conflate creating with producing.

If I give you a cup in the middle of the desert and ask you to fill it with water, it will be a significant effort. You will need to go and find water — with no taps it is a challenge. You might succeed or fail, and in the process will need to think in new ways on how to produce water.

But what if I ask you to bring water, without giving you a cup?

The water is of course analogous to ideas, and inspiration. Our cup is stationary (in states of knowing, and being). It is a fixed context, a mental model. It is known.

When we are asked to fill the cup, we know we need water, but we don’t know where to look. We can call this known unknown creativity’, or production. Known cup, unknown water.

The latter example is unknown unknown creativity’. We don’t know where the water is, nor what to carry the water in. Both unknown.

Brian Arthur writes a wonderful general articulation of technology as a (1) phenomenon packaged in a (2) frame.

Focusing on one of those is an act of production (‘known unknown creativity’). Asking for both is (‘unknown unknown’) creativity

The Standing Ovation Problem (Page, Miller) analyzes standing ovations, of the kind you give at the end of a show, as complex, spontaneous phenomenon. A Standing ovation can’t be calculated, nor predicted. It is incredibly open-ended to the various contexts individually available to people in the audience, and the intercontextuality between them (the intersubjective space).

Page expands on the paper in his Model Thinking course on Coursera, and adds to the concepts of celebrity’, intellectual’ and knowledge transfer’.

The person in the front of the room is a celebrity’; because everyone sees (and could be influenced by) them and they see no one. The person in the back is an intellectual’ because they see everyone but no one sees them. And within the room, there are little moments of knowledge transfer. Say we are watching a Shakespearian play, or the opera, and the couple to the left looks like they frequent these shows; anytime they stand up will send a signal that we should do the same.

Standing Ovations are all around us; Elon Musk sending a tweet about the stock market, or patterns in social media. What is common to all standing ovations’ is that members of the audience do that intuitively. If you follow a stock tip and realize in a cognitive way that is part of a standing ovation’, you will stop yourself. The same way when following a fashion, or other market trends.

When in the wake of a’ standing ovation’ we follow intuition. Once we realize it we will leave it, and essentially become the intellectual’, being in the very back of the room. When we have the overview effect, we can define for ourselves the standing ovation’ we are in, at that moment, and at that place. Standing ovations’ are intersubjective spaces, which are temporal. They are not categorically positive or negative, but a system dynamic.

In our effort to replicate the affordances of the physical world, we joined Slack’s, and Discords, and Zooms to no end. Can we stop and reflect on the ways in which show up in each of those spaces? Are they positive or negative? Do they create a scripted space, where personas exchange internet snippets, or is it a space of generous co-creation? What standing ovations’ are you part of at the moment?


Last year I had the immense pleasure of meeting Alan Kay for a Skype conversation as part of my Meta Medium work. We talked about a range of topics covering design, HCI, tools, and software. One thing he said stayed with me:

Are ideas made of matter, or are ideas made of light? You can shine as many spots on the wall as you want, and they all superpose; they all sit there. A designer is a person who tends to treat ideas like light. They don’t try to resolve them in the current context.

How could we move from thinking in matter to thinking in light? from classifications to signifiers? Shifting from focusing on objects on pedestals to, the lights that shine on them.

Many aspects of design are the ability to keep incompatible things in your head at the same time without having to fight each other or trying to resolve it.

This liminality feels scarce in an overly connected, gradually automated world. The tendency to modelize–create an all-encompassing metaphor–is a pursuit of absolutist knowledge. It is system thinking made into an artifact. There are wonderful blog posts, pieces worth reading, summarizing whole fields, or universal human behavior into a simple metaphor. And there is a great deal of discourse on ideas of thinking in public, and new waves of blogging. But what I wonder is if we will be able to think publicly in liminality?

I have a sneaking suspicion that the cybernetics, combined with binary communication (Shannon, 1948), has led to a bias towards shipping oneself, which is unnecessary, and that COVID exposed its redundancy. You need not be a product; you need not ship yourself. There is no shelf to fit on, as long as you can own, and explain the positionality of your creativity. There is no point in seeking complete knowledge, through frameworks, or a big idea.”

There is a need to find signifiers, the different lights that make on your ideas, and the lights you shine on others. There is no need to create more things to put on more pedestals. It is wasteful: in natural resources and creativity. Meeting in the process is generative; meeting in product is transactional.

A call for incompleteness.

Creativity Coaching

Does all human technology exist to mediate communication?

Human technology includes organizations, brands, institutions, email, and architecture. In opposition to natural technology: ecosystems, sonar waves, or mushrooms, we created language to facilitate intersubjective spaces, and creativity. All technology exists to promote connections, and all connections facilitate communication.

Our technological work has immensely enhanced the relationship between words and ideas, giving birth to asynchronous communication in writing, long-distance messages with letters and phones, and hyper-connectivity through cybernetics and the internet.

I am postulating that any connection (/transaction) is secondary to communication. These connections and their underlying communication happen within a system, and it must be the same one. In equilibrium, both allow for balance; of natural resources, creativity, well-being, and social ethics.

20th Century

Interestingly the 20th century did nothing to help us in this trajectory. We can think of the 20th century as the age of mediation.

Taylorism, the pursuit of efficiency in early American factories, was one of the earliest technological mediation forms. In creating a clear separation between managers and employees, connection and conversation were both limited, something we’re unlearning to this day.

Claude Shannon’s 1948 invention of digital communication added another level of complicatedness to the ways we communicate. The creation of binary, which translates all poetry into meaningless 0’s and 1’s in transit, has us playing a constant game of broken telephone,’

Technological innovation and mediation go hand in hand. New ways of connecting don’t necessarily mean new ways of communicating and are often proxy, or proprietary versions of the original. More often than not, they put a strain on meaning and make it harder to keep context. We can think about how it is like to hold context across multiple messaging platforms instead of a group discussion in a room.

This process gradually moved us from whole communication to small communication. Whole communication asks for full context; small communication foregoes all of it. The first asks the individuals to show up fully (as a person), while the latter means they would converse as personas (job titles, reading scripts others wrote for them).

Part 1: Communication


In communication, we can create thirdness; meaning that is independent of either side, and generative to both. As we develop personas (a profession, role), pseudo–connection replaces meta-connection.

Once communication became predominantly digital, the cost’ of producing different personas diminished. Social media, email alias’, and chat rooms are where mediation had little to no entry barrier. Digital communication inadvertently created a lot more personas one can choose from (and hide behind). We could say that we started building a stack of personas, the same way we have different suits or outfits. It is as mundane as choosing what email to send a note from to how we speak in various online groups.

When a persona connects with another–on Discord or Twitter–It is likely to end with informational exchange as opposed to a transformational one.

Part 2: Connection


Personas match with mediums. Each new platform brings with it new pseudo connections. By inventing new vocabulary, actions, and verbs, these are likely to hinder context, and context is the precursor of meaning (value). Emojis, abbreviations, and TicToc signals are examples of proxy-identities using proxy signals.

But design new forms of connecting can bring with them new ways of communicating and create thirdness. A good example is Shaun Leonardo’s work at The Guggenheim, who brought together recreational users of firearms, victims of gun violence, police officers, and military veterans; without revealing their identities, they engaged in non-verbal communication.

Shaun Leonardo at the GuggenheimShaun Leonardo at the Guggenheim

I started to wonder how I could use this principle of translation and embodiment to work with more than a single, cohesive community. What happens if I bring two or more communities together? Is there a way in which words can be removed so that more truth might emerge? I really started to challenge myself to think about the ways in which I might use this practice to have what would seem to be very divided communities brought to the same space, and really see one another.

—Shaun Leonardo // The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation

When intentionality allows people to show up, with safety and vulnerability, new modes of connecting can lead to meaning instead of mediation. Spaces become generative and result in thirdness.

Part 3: Mediation

Value and Meaning

As places of connection, each medium operates within an ecosystem, which is fed by forces of scarcity and abundance. Those are closely related, because neither of them is an equilibrium.

Finding equilibrium is as important in the late 19th century, as it will be in the late 21st century. And we are currently, as we were in those early days, out of equilibrium.

The 19th century was abundant with meaningful communication (and natural resources) but scarce with connectivity. Our current scarcity is of communication (thirdness, and natural resources). And an abundance of connectivity.

An equilibrium–of innovation, communication, and connectivity–will balance abundance and scarcity through creativity.

Value exchange is born out of the transfer of meaning (whole communication). There is no value without meaning. There is the illusion of meaning–say through aggressive advertising–but that is meaning In and of itself.

Direct ConnectionDirect Connection

When a person communicates with another, in their exchange, they create thirdness (value). If we use an example of a meeting in the market, let us consider a conversation between two people (persons), each fulfills their role (persona). The seller in this situation might move from the market to a dedicated space. The value is intact, although the communication might suffer slightly, through their employees. But as that happens, there might be a new channel for thirdness with the shopkeeper (as previously was the case with the shop owner).


As the operation continues to grow, the owner might hire more people, and choose to organize their staff. At a certain point, some will be assigned as managers (persona).

At that point, the value starts to suffer because of the bureaucracy, and the communication diminishes as well.


The business, or institution continues scaling, and the firm will be born. The organization can start separating from the physical place, and the person in that location will become a persona. They might have a protocol to follow and pursue uniformity across all sites.

As the firm grows, it needs to get more value to more people. More infrastructure means more overheads.

But communication does not scale. So some reduction of context must happen. That is when we switch to small communication.

A single representative can’t show up fully for each customer, and they start considering compartmentalizing their day and tasks. The organization can choose archetypes to map different protocols. Archetype (in the Jungian, or modern marketing sense) is, in fact, a persona.

Communicative DissonanceCommunicative Dissonance

That creates an apparent dissonance, because no written persona, entirely fits an individual. People are not average buckets, as beautifully illuminated by Todd Rose. By exercising reductive thinking, we create presets of individuals and trim out the rest.

Reductive ThinkingReductive Thinking

That sameness hindered people’s individuality. That is where marketing and advertising can compensate for lost value. Suppose we cannot speak to each person individually (and create value/thirdness), we will fall back on aspirational stories (advertising), so the marketable persona can fill the gaps’ in their domains. A Jungian hero, or sage in a commercial, will allow the self to feel individuality and supplement the diminished value.

Stacks of PersonasStacks of Personas

With the internet, we can collect quantitative data on communication engagement but not in its meaning, or value). Using CRMs and ad tech to personalize communication, but a person can stack different personas, and etiquettes, names, monikers, and tones for each medium.

In pursuit of a model, we can use one as full meaning, and 0 as none.

Connection Mediation CommunicationConnection Mediation Communication

1 = meaningful human exchange, 100% context

0 = complete mediation, all meaning lost

By accepting this view, we appreciate that context is a focal point of meaningful communication, and can never go over 1.

Technological innovation, scale, cybernetic ambitions, and even travel to space will do nothing to increase the meta (original) meaning.

An excellent example of this is the (original) overview effect.

There was a startling recognition that the nature of the universe was not as I had been taught… I not only saw the connectedness, I felt it.… I was overwhelmed with the sensation of physically and mentally extending out into the cosmos. I realized that this was a biological response of my brain attempting to reorganize and give meaning to information about the wonderful and awesome processes that I was privileged to view.”

—Edgar Mitchell, Sixth Man on the Moon, from Overview Institute

The idea that we need to travel to space to receive an unmediated version of earth.

Overview Effect Nasa

No technology would make a meaningful, one to one exchange, any better. It is as true in virtual reality, as it is to watching TV. Those will render pseudo-meaning, the opposite of meta–meaning. By traveling to space, the astronauts have removed any mediation of their earth experience and reportedly expanded their consciousness. Does it follow that over-mediating our knowledge of the world, and our communication within it, narrows our imagination, and possible ways of being?

Present Day

Modern businesses make use of various technologies to connect and communicate. Management science will help organize groups of people to increase productivit. Digital technology will help with personalizing communication across different channels, and keep physical visitors experiential in their connection. Websites will make connections abundant and available.

The necessity of reductiveness costs in value, and impersonal communication. Advertising, and marketing will help widen the channels of connection.


As we are physically distancing, this equilibrium of connection and communication if affected. Abundance of opportunities to connect will present themselves, but will almost certainly disappoint in their communication. The more mediated our connections are, the less we can communicate and create meaning (/value).

Without intentionality, we will stay at the persona level, and will default to small (or no) communication.

Connection between PersonasConnection between Personas

Through reflection, meaningful communication, and intentionality, we will be able to reach an individual (and collective) equilibrium.

To recap, technological innovation and the connectivity it generates is in pursuit of communication.

organization and personasorganization and personas

Organization’s mandate is to create connections and communicate. COVID disrupted both of those in a genuine way. Connectivity is suffering from abundance, and wastefulness; and communication is suffering from over mediation.


As we move from artifact thinking to system thinking, we should focus our attention on our identity (person heuristic), persona, places of connectivity, and conversation. In a modern connected world, the value we put out into the world is the result of what we create, and not only pass around. The more we study the psychology of creativity, our digital habits, and our capacity to be in solitude, the more we will operate with no gravity, and in ambiguity. The pursuit should be one of creativity and not certainty.

Creativity Psychology Circles

There was a startling recognition that the nature of the universe was not as I had been taught… I not only saw the connectedness, I felt it.… I was overwhelmed with the sensation of physically and mentally extending out into the cosmos. I realized that this was a biological response of my brain attempting to reorganize and give meaning to information about the wonderful and awesome processes that I was privileged to view.”

—Edgar Mitchell, Sixth Man on the Moon, from Overview Institute

In the days of COVID and social unrest, many of us look for deeper connections. If before we could mix online relationships with offline communities, enjoying the affordability of the physical environment, and socially dancing with spaces, ideas, and people, the current situation can feel frustrating and limiting. Hours online can yield little in the way of creativity and meaningful connections.

As we move deeper into a new phase, I suspect that more networks, institutions, and conferences will keep building up their online gatherings and communities to satisfy frustrated global networkers.

As I meditated on in How to Build a Meta-Community, the solution might come from the nature of conversation itself rather than from any technological solution or editorial angle.

I am now calling meta-community’ a circle’ and asking: how might we move from the performative/personas/community to the transformative/persons/circles?

Rigidity and Value

A community is a room, with the facilitator at the front, inviting speakers, activating, and funneling value, like the last breakfast lecture you attended. The space for conversion is the dialogue between the group and the facilitator (or their guests), and it is the facilitator that is the one funneling (controlling) the conversation. A circle is a bonfire, the conversation happens in the middle, and the facilitator positions herself around it. The value is generated from within the circle. A circle is band practice for solo artists, where a community is a choir. Similar to The Thirdness Network, or a space of intellectual discourse and transformation, of the kind that happens in retreats.

Pre-defined to Proto-defined

When you start a group on Meetup we help with some of the logistics, but it’s up to the organizer of the group to set the group’s vision. […] What is your group going to focus on? What do you want to accomplish by starting a group? What do you want people to get out of your events? Who do you hope to meet at your events?

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Group on Meetup

Similarly to how members of a circle are expected to show up as a process and not as a product, the group itself is a process and not a product.

A circle is in conversation with the room, and can adjust to its inner workings: the energy, cultural context, and transformation. Communities are crafted for a target audience, based on a need, seeking a deliverable, or in sync with a campaign. They are a product, placed on a shelf, waiting for a customer.

Performative vs. Transformative

Because communities are designed for a persona, there is an implicit agreement on a future benefit (transaction) and the performative nature of that group. Members are expected to be a certain way, follow an etiquette, and fit in. Otherwise, the community might deem it is not a fit,” Hence, the application uses a standard form: standard applications look for standard personas. A community is a fixed space, which expects its members to be slow in their transformation.

Purpose Why does the community exist? Member Identity Who is the community for? Values What is important to us as a community? Success Definition How does the community define success? Brand How does the community express itself?

The Community Canvas, p.4 in the PDF, Google Docs

Oneness, Thirdness

Circles are built for Thirdness, communities for oneness. A community unifies around an idea or identity or a common goal. It is about creating a collective commonality–like altMBA’s coin–to create affiliation and be more robust as a collective.

There is a common starting and finish line.

A circle is a space for small actions and not a big reveal. It is about enabling people without telling them what to do. It is about open, vulnerable dialogue with the person, in all of its diversity. Communities are about converging such identities into a fit, out of the dogmatism of finding common language with the other.

Creativity Psychology Circles

Ultimately this work is about studying the nature of conversation. I have an intuition, which I have not studied, that all communication exists to create cooperation. I like citing Ackoff that even competition is conflict embedded in cooperation”.

I deposit that small communication’, is one done blindly by two personas’, carries no creativity, and results in the passing around of artifacts instead of an act of creation. In effect, it is complicated, and asks for no developmental investment.

A persona’ is a cut-out of a person, a siluet, an externally constructed identity: a job title, an archetype. Small communication’ could be understood as a scripted conversation between personas, where neither is practicing sensemaking or seeks tolerance for ambiguity. Each knows what they’re going to say, before the other person finished speaking.

The smallest and most successful way of tolerating ambiguity is listening to someone without writing a strategy.

Whole communication’ is the act of showing up as a full person and supporting the other side to do the same. To be able to travel’ on the visceral, emotional, and intellectual levels. Know when to switch to each dimension, and when to build new connections between them.

It is through whole communication’ that thirdness gets created, and creativity is fulfilled. Digital tools, social networks, and over-mediation carry the risk of small communication’.

Being fast, shallow, and context–complacent is the antagonist of building value. It is transactional thinking that looks to machines instead of humans to fill in the gaps.

Thirdness: the creation of new material, a creative entity in the process of meeting another person

Persona: the identity heuristic, the way the world sees you

Person: the self heuristic, the way you see yourself, even if abstract and not articulated

Small communication: the result of over-mediation in communication

Whole Communication: generative communication, which adds meaning to each person

Glossary on

I drew a quick model of the relationship between efficiency, effectiveness, burn-out, and creativity.

We start by formulating unknowingness into strategies in the creative process — but better move and innovate before we push busyness too far, spiraling down towards a burnout.

Efficiency to EffectivenessEfficiency to Effectiveness

I welcome comments, and feedback.

I am running a month Long writing/thinking experiment. A write-up every day, 7 topics with 4 rewrites.

On day 1-7 we will write each of the topics and the following week we will write each of those, repeating four times in total.

To opt-in get in touch with 7 titles, on email or Twitter

My topics are:

  1. Connected vs Connecting
  2. Vertical Scaling
  3. Process Before Product
  4. Koestler Models as a Visualization of Innovation
  5. Discords and Lost Creativity
  6. Values and Differentiation, or Expertise and Example
  7. Fog and Gravity

I have been running an experimental meta community for six months now, the experiment is succeeding, and below are my learnings.

Back in February, in what seems like a different universe, I decided to embark on an experiment. After years of running dinners, salons, and a few Slack groups, I wanted to develop an intentional community. A place where people don’t brush off each other, but engage. A metaspace where people can show up with a seed of an idea and know that it will be respected and given a space, not put on a shipping line. A place where value is generated, and not only passed around, where members can show up as a process and not a product.

Having run gatherings, salons, and more recently dinners, I grew to appreciate the transformational value of light facilitation (credit due to Priya Parker for opening my eyes to that space).

Out of all these formats, the smaller dinners were the most semantic. People showed up open and vulnerable, with an idea of how they thought, able to navigate different backgrounds and opinions around the table in a way that resulted in value, new thinking, new tools, and new concepts. Those took place for a year, but I realized they didn’t have accumulative value, and that there was onboarding that needed to happen every time. There was little overlap in guests, but by large people were new to each dinner. It made me think about starting a closer-knit circle, a group that commits to creating a space to act on their creative surplus, and looking for people who do the same. By design, I came up with the idea of setting a core principle. Members pay $50 a month, and need to do 10 hours of work. That work is either on themselves or someone else. The logic was more than creating accountability, as is the case in writing groups. It was to create what Shafir and Mullainathan (Scarcity, The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives) call slack in a system.

The idea that when systems are packed tightly, they become less adaptive. Think of traffic of road leading to traffic jams;

Roadways operate best below 70 percent capacity; traffic jams are caused by lack of slack. In principle, if a road is 85 percent full and everybody goes at the same speed, all cars can easily fit with some room between them. But if one driver speeds up just a bit and then needs to brake, those behind her must brake as well. Now they’ve slowed down too much, and, as it turns out, it’s easier to reduce a car’s speed than to increase it again. This small shock — someone lightly deviating from the right speed and then touching her brakes — has caused the traffic to slow substantially. A few more shocks, and traffic grinds to a halt. At 85 percent there is enough road but not enough slack to absorb the small shocks.”

–Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir. Scarcity.”

Similarly, I was trying to get people to commit to having slack in their calendar and their practice. Open the walls of their practice, and show up as a process and not a product.

I am pleased and honored to say that the experiment has succeeded. Throughout COVID and global unrest, the space has grown and developed. People left, and more people joined. We had international experts, philosophers, marketers, and academics join to discuss topics of law, tech, future of work, and social justice.


The ways we meet evolve. Before COVID, we used to meet for a monthly dinner and a weekly coffee and book exchange. In the early days of COVID, we had two weekly synchronous meetings (one standing and one optional), and a few other regular ones (weekly writing, book writing). As the Zoom fatigue was kicking in, meetings got off the weekends, and we had one weekly standing meeting.

The latest incarnation of our activities is below.

Synchronous Time
           Weekly Standing Meeting
   1:1 coffees
       Weekly / assigned on Mondays
           Time set individually
           Updates, meetings, etc
           The main place where conversation happens (including asks, clinics, etc.)
       Weekly Prompt
           The prompts we will discuss every week
           Philosophy round-table and more
           Psychology, community
           System design, emerging tech, AI etc
           Writing weekly and writing a book
           Topics of interest, discourse around idea

Standing Meeting

The weekly meetings are where new people are introduced, and where we reflect on weekly prompts, examples to follow.

Prompt 3: We all have to negotiate our commitment in the world with the things we actually end up doing. The first might be thought of as maintenance, and the latter as transformation. By a simple reply to this thread, what percentage would you say you spend on maintenance, and what on transformation? (40% - 60% would mean you spend 40% on maintenance for example)

Prompt 4: Creative Surplus Keep a list–a simple bullet point, or more elaborate doc–of all of the ideas, thoughts, and creativity that is left after you have attended to your duties: job, teaching, clients etc. It might be handy to set reminders (you can Slack’s by typing /remind ) If you remember, please note the time of day and what you were doing when this idea came to you. It would be great if everyone can have at least three items.

Prompt 8: Box We all need to fit in a box :package: to explain ourselves and our work to new people we meet. That box has a label, of course — but like any box, it has six planes. What is your primary label for yourself? And what are an additional five labels for your practice? We will discuss during our call on 4/20

Prompt 10: User Manual: Intro What would be the opening paragraph to a user manual for yourself? Are you more of a visual thinker, an analytical collaborator, or a deep contemplative thinker? Are you better suggested to, or challenged? Do you prefer honesty or sugarcoating? We will discuss in–person on May 4th, but feel free to comment on this beforehand.


The community invites a weekly guest to join in the conversation. The share-outs could be a traditional talk-present a topic take q&a–a question–working through an idea and airing it out for feedback–or a mix of the two. During the last six months, we had philosophers, marketing executives, legal scholars, community organizers, authors, scientists, and developmental designers. There is a special kind of magic that happens once the community understands the space is created, and a new person is invited into it. 1:1 Coffees To develop more diagonal connections” (1:1 as opposed to a circular bonfire), I used a bot which assigns people to grab coffee” every week. It has been successful in letting the electrons bounce, sort of speak, without putting any structure on it.

Principles and Learnings

Process before Product

A culture of (false) cybernetic connectivity is more conducive to passing objects around instead of reflecting on them. In my work on meta medium, I explore the difference between the persona we are and the person that we are. This community is a space to practice that tension without studying it. I can say, with the benefit of hindsight, that those who did not feel vulnerable enough to share their process ended up not fitting in.

Vertical Scaling

Is it better to deliver a 25% value to 10,000 people or 99% value to 100 people? It depends on your goals. If you’re thinking in artifacts, then scaling is a good outcome, the transaction of products. But system thinking looks at second and third-order consequences, in this context it means being generative instead of editorial, and pedagogical. Through my work in AI, and systems, it became clear that shallow value is abundant and cheap. But vertical scaling: more context, rather than more people, is incredibly difficult. This community was successful in generating such scale, through thirdness.


In psychoanalysis, the analytic third is the idea when two people have a relationship, they create something new. There is the one person, the other person, and in their exchange, openness, ideas, and feelings, they create a new entity, which is specific to their relationship. They grow and can use that developmental value for the rest of their lives. In many ways, I see the community as a collection of thirdnesses.’ We meet regularly as a group, but a lot of creation of thirdness happens in the diagonal connections.’ Intellectual discourse, mutual support, sharing of work, asking for help between people in the group.


The community is formed by its members. It is not a product looking for a fit, and marketed to its segment. It is ambiguous, and open-ended — and can’t be explained in as a territory. I refer to the community as a bonfire, where people show up with their creative surplus and throw it in the fire. The value and learning that is created can then be taken back into our respective spaces. All members of the community had to sign up to walk into a half-lit room, as part of its design. In other words, if you need full understanding, this might not be for you.

A Space for Small Actions

The community is a place for small actions and not one single project to deliver. It is not about writing your book, or getting a new job: even though members did work on their books, and found employment. The difference is that there is no sense of meeting at the starting line and checking each other’s progress. As part of owning the space of ambiguity, there was little in the way of setting goals, checking on those goals, or helping with to–do’s. Around the main bonfire, there were smaller, themed groups. In the writing group, for example, people could join weekly with nothing written, or with no intention of writing. And use that space to learn, reflect, develop a desire to write or not. The design is that finding space for ambiguity is good for creativity.

Rehearsal Room for Thinking

The goal is to write and rewrite, to practice and rehearse, to move from knowledge to wisdom, to get to know one’s context

This should feel like a rehearsal room for people who speak publicly about their opinions and interests.

(From the invitation document)

The community is not a band, but a rehearsal room for solo artists. It is a place where we all travel from our day to day work into the meta, engage with others, and use those learnings and processes back in our context.

Power and Love

I often find myself citing this phrase, and book, by Adam Kahane.

Many people, consciously or unconsciously, make the mistake of choosing one or the other. Frances Westley, a professor of social innovation at the University of Waterloo, once asked David Culver, the CEO of Alcan, how he had earned his reputation as a great manager. He told her that when he was tempted to be tough, he tried to be compassionate, and when he felt inclined to be compassionate, he tried to be tough. Not many people understand how to keep those drives in such a dynamic balance.

Finding how heavy-handed the facilitation should be is a constant mode of sense-making. It is reading the person, the group, and the time. There is no set of rules I can write about here; those don’t exist. This is why I am passionate about thirdness in communities as a better way to deliver value than formulaic systems.

What happens if you get busy?

You can take a break from synchronous collective meetings, but are expected to respond to the prompt on slack.
A simple message on a Monday opting out of that week

This might be obvious, but please make sure you use the calendar RSVP to communicate if you can come or not.

This is an intentional community, and you only get as much as you put in, use your intention wisely.

(Taken from our monthly meeting)

Intellectual, Emotional, Visceral

This is a less formulated thought, but a taxonomy I want to include. I might be channeling Don Norman, but this model comes close to explaining the majority of the work being done in the community. The work is intellectual in its discourse, emotional in its ambiguity, and visceral in its call for self-leadership. I am tempted to say, based on intuition and no data, that this metacommunity is successful if a member can exist to the outer world on all 3 dimensions.

The community started off under the non–descriptive name 2020 Community, I am now calling it Thirdness Network.

Feel free to register your interest, with your name, and an optional piece of writing.

Read the next piece: Communities to Circles

Communication stops without comprehension. Being understood is the most obvious requirement for sustaining communication. This is true of signals between humans, or being understood by algorithms.

When we use a self-driving car, utilize an HR bot, or get matched by a service like lunch club there is an implicit agreement for the program to fit us into buckets. If we don’t fit, it would find the closest neighbor, a common denominator, hopefully not shoehorning us too much (in technical terms, we hope it would not overfit us). It will look for predetermined archetypes in order to serve us. These might be probabilistic, statistical, neural, or deep — but they are all fixed, steady version of who you are. They are cybernetically deterministic.

Being a creative misfit is going to act against you at that moment.

It is important to linger on this exclusionary tension. These platforms use AI and machine learning to make decisions: who gets surfaced to the top of the applicant pool, who gets matched with whom, and much more. Algorithms are programmed for order, but some of us live in the in-between. That fact alone can determine the value you get from such platforms.

This is bad news for companies, because it means that algorithmic efficiency will cost them cognitive diversity.

Algorithms, being a cybernetic (action to feedback) gesture, within a siloed environment (sensing only what is fed to them) are in fact acting against diversity.

That is fine if it does not involve human beings. Your calculator can’t discriminate against you. But it becomes an issue with decision making, value delivering, human matching type systems. Do you feel like your algorithms understand you?

I am a big fan of manifestos. I find them to be a wonderful way of broadcasting intention and creating alignment and allyship, and loved discovering The BlackSpaces manifesto.

BlackSpace ManifestoBlackSpace Manifesto

  • Create circles, not lines
  • Choose critical connections over critical mass
  • Move at the speed of trust
  • Be humble learners who practice deep listening
  • Celebrate, catalyze, and amplify black joy
  • Plan with, design with
  • Center lived experience
  • Seek people at the margins
  • Reckon with the past to build the future
  • Protect & strengthen culture
  • Cultivate wealth
  • Foster personal & communal evolution
  • Promote excellence
  • Manifest the future

Full manifesto here

Primary Time, 1974 U-matic fim transferred to DVD Edition 2/3


Lovely short from Nora Bateson.

Stretching Edges by Nora Bateson from Nora Bateson on Vimeo.

I recommend checking out her other videos as well.

Collaboration happens when people meet. Meet sounds deceivingly simple. We show up at a meeting.

But showing up’ involved moving from the way the world sees you to the way you see yourself. It involves sensemaking, reflective state, context, and the ability to respond to ambiguity. When we don’t show up to a collaboration, we’re asking our identity heuristic, our persona, to stand in for us. At that point, it does not matter if the other person has showed up, but it takes two to tango, as the saying goes.

When two personas meet, the best that can happen is an exchange, but not a collaboration. Personas trade products, they don’t build anything. It is a zero-sum equation. It is a meeting at sea, of two explorers on the way to nowhere.

Technology can limit or enhance our ability to show up, to the world, ourselves, and in collaboration. But it does not do anything to the inherent risk that comes with it. Boredom is risky, solitude can be degenerative, and opening up in vulnerability is scary. It is a process, with accumulative properties.

Our work should be a space for learning, of acquiring new ways of showing up. If all we do is reinforce existing ways of being, those will plateau and eventually decay.

Seeking collaboration in process, instead of only exchanging products, means we will open up the dialogue between the self and the identity, allow our collaborator to do the same, and put out generative work into the world.

Generative work is one that does not take from someplace else. It is additive, raises all boats’, sort of speak. It teaches people how to fish instead of giving them a fish.


  • Showing up: the ability to collaborate in openness, ambiguity and without a preexisting design

  • Persona: the way others see you, at a given context

Living glossary on

Sitting with nothingness is tough.

In a classic study researches in the university of Virginia asked colleague students them to sit with themselves for 15 minutes. Some preferred to be mildly electrocuted than to think.

In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts.

Those who ask the work to define them measure such definitions by efficiency and busyness. When we look to the person we constructed as our public persona–the identity heuristic–to tell us how we feel, how we think, we loose our ability to self-reflect.

Doing nothing is hyperbolic of course. We could be doing a lot of thinking when we’re doing nothing. Hence the meditative pursuit. When we contemplate we look for unstructured thoughts, we find inspiration in the creeks of our mind, and can take stock of our mental tools.

Sitting alone is what separates us from machines. A couple of years ago, I jotted down thoughts on AI, thankfully still online.

Imagine an intellectual person sitting in a chair, and doing nothing at all, starring into thin air. That person is clearly consciousness, and intelligent. Their lack of action does nothing to rob them of the consciousness and intelligent title. In other words, intelligence is not conditioned by action. It need not be modeled around goals, nor operational switches.

I was focusing on the pragmatic differences between building silicon based minds, as is the case in the world of AI, and conscious human beings.

Does this mean that those colleague students, who preferred to be shocked than to sit along, were not consciousness?

A book has neither object nor subject; it is made of variously formed matters, and very different dates and speeds.”

In A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze and Guattari tell us that books and trees are allegories to each other. And both represent thinking.

A first type of book is the root-book. The tree is already the image of the world, or the root the image of the world-tree. This is the classical book, as noble, signifying, and subjective organic interiority (the strata of the book). The book imitates the world, as art imitates nature: by procedures specific to it that accomplish what nature cannot or can no longer do. The law of the book is the law of reflection, the one that becomes two. How could the law of the book reside in nature, when it is what presides over the very division between world and book, nature and art?

It is a cybernetic network, with special privileges.

There are no points or positions in a rhizome, such as those found in a structure, tree, or root. There are only lines.”

The immediate reflective index of a network thinker would be to consider that a tree has a unique property of convergence and divergence with the trunk being the obvious bottle-beck. Roots and branches only communicate in the speed that the trunk allows. The roots collect, aggregate, and pass on vitality to the trunk. The trunk then processes these nutrients and engages in an act of building, nourishing the environment, and expanding again to a mesh of sensors and communicators.

As a metaphor for learning, this feels unnatural, as the cyclical churning of expansiveness and focus are rarely intentional, and in most cases, we stop looking for new knowledge at a certain point.

We exercise divergent thinking in our formative years and gradually converge in our activities, social circles, and eventually thinking. Like the tree, we dig our roots deeper, but unlike it, we rarely expand our core processing engine, the trunk in nature, expansive thinking.

Citing Pirsig in Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, instead of expanding the branches of what you already know, you have to stop and drift laterally for a while until you come across something that allows you to expand the roots of what you already know”

In her book Mind in Motion, Barbara Tversky approaches questions of spatial knowledge, representations, communication, and cognitive taxonomies.

The tree idea, the tree visualization, the tree name, come from the world: the trunk of a tree, embodying a whole, the large branches splitting into smaller branches, literally embodying parts and parts of parts. The parts and parts of parts emerge from the whole through a biological process. That process isn’t evident to the eyes, but the thick, stable trunk and the thinner and thinner branches are visible in trees large and small, wide and narrow. That abstraction, trunk and branches, has been borrowed to represent origins and branches of thought since ancient times and proliferates today.”

But there is a big difference between the biomimicry we’re seeking, and the actual ways in which we think.

The process that generated the branching is not always clear. Some seem to be partonomies, some taxonomies, many a mix, some neither.”


Networks have no origin. Nevertheless, networks are often referred to as trees”

Cybernetics is a linear, wide mesh of connectionism. Deleuze and Guattari focus on convergence to divergence. And Tversky tells us it is all just a metaphor so we must not seek generalization.

Trees–as part of nature–are resilient and highly adaptive. Yet as a linguistic metaphor, they are rigid and opaque. They are a simple many-to-one, and back to one-to-many architecture. In exchange for this rigidity, they are easily understood.

It is hard to argue with an idea that can be mapped to a tree because nature validates ideas. But tree metaphors are fixed, and our thinking is not. Deleuze and Guattari knew that and sought concessions, in the form of the idea of rhizome, or reiterating the idea that there are only lines”.

A tree metaphor, a rhizome, and even cybernetic structures are fixed in their dimensionality and as such are artifacts, instead of systems. Ideas like Panarchy start to speak about designing in motion or thinking about resilience and unknown unknowns. Books are only useful as the meaning they add to our lives. Looking for complete knowledge might be the wrong brief all along.

Extra links

I always enjoy reading No Mercy / No Malice, but this one is particularly great.

Thanks Emma for highlighting.

The cardinal opportunity in this pandemic is the chance to repair and strengthen relationships. The majority of medals and recognition bestowed on our women and men in uniform is a function of one thing: grace under fire. Your character, and the perception of your character, is a sum of all your actions across your entire life. But the sketch of these actions is traced over with the indelible ink of the grace, or lack thereof, that you demonstrate in times of crisis.



Erik Kessels, Anthony Burrill, and Malcolm Goldie pressed recordings of airplanes and birds on vinyl

Thank you so much Samuel, for offering to translate the 10 principles (part of my practice manifesto) of generous design to Spanish.

During these days of zoom fatigue, sometimes it is good to go through clutter, tidy up. I discovered some gems sifting through records and recorded this short mix of psych/rock and jazz


I will be remiss if I didn’t mention this classic meditation

The future of design is meta. And may not be designed by designers.

In a world of abundant technology, the bottleneck is the ability to read between the lines, to exercise meta creativity. Technology is becoming cheaper by the day. Big tech is not only creating a plethora of digital products, but also setting the stage for everyone else to do the same. This is what an exponential world means. When the barrier to produce a highly complicated algorithm is removed, smart machines abound.

Employees at Facebook now have access to a graphic interface that allows anyone in the company to touch and manipulate highly advanced machine-learning models. The more layers we build on top of these technologies, the more accessible they become, and the faster we will approach this age of abundance, and also scarcity. Because this abundance—like any other—negotiates with scarcity. And this scarcity is one of creativity.

Economies of scale seek exponential growth, making it impossible for the traditional creative to compete with large and increasingly autonomous systems. Code systems will optimize themselves, and deliver endlessly efficient solutions. What consultants in TATA call a context of one” brings with it a world where the sheer act of finishing a thought will make it a done reality.

With endless firepower, however, we need to know where to aim.

In order for AI to truly augment and not replace the human practitioner must too grow. If you follow instructions, those instructions can be passed onto a machine that will do so better. If our creativity is dormant, we will be automated. An organic human robot is inferior to a silicon one, because he is less efficient. When you’re unable to explain why you get out of bed in the morning, go to work, or make the decisions people ask you to make—you are losing to the machine. Efficiency will wash you away if you lack the emotional and social intelligence to open up, and to reflect on questions of agency and the powers of your practice.

Efficiency operates on lines of the known. It delivers endless incremental, structured improvements. Meta thinking , on the other hand, is fundamentally unstructured and unknown, and therefore adaptive. It is the intuitive and spontaneous moment when reading between the lines, it is the articulation of invisible patterns, the meaning-making from the unknown. Machines can’t optimize the unknown.

A meta thinker will not be automated because she can articulate the how and why of her practice. An intentional practitioner spends time in their head. They are able to identify opportunities for conviction, and avoid those that will overfit them in someone else’s plan.

If you ever want to know if someone is intentional in their work, simply ask them what are they interested in. If they respond with what they do for a living (their job) then you can assume that they’re an intention-less cog, and like all cogs will be eaten by the efficiency machine.

The efficiency machine is made out of AI, the status quo, and human cogs. It is not interested in change, but rather more efficient sameness. It averages humans and flattens contexts. It segments the human condition. Before conditioned to be cogs, humans always sought change, growth, and fulfillment. We navigate ambiguous situations, we make sense of unexpectedness, and we operate in liminality.

A meta thinker will be rejected by the efficiency machine, as it has no use to it. The machine only seeks those who are able to stand in line, and fit in. But our practitioner, the one able to articulate his practice, need not fit in, because his agency is internally motivated. And that is what a practice is: an exploration, a journey. An intentional pursuit of interests, gradually moving towards articulating, and always seeking allies. It is not pulled back by the inability to fit in, but driven by it. It negotiates with, but never dictated by, external guidance.

This exploration by the meta thinker is deeply personal but always connected to other deep thinkers. This is the true meaning of an exponential world: an explosion of taxonomies of meaning. Intentional practitioners connecting to those they seek. Liminal ideas in conversation with each other, the remix of intersecting fields, books, and backgrounds. It is our individual and collective ability to generate value from incomplete puzzles.

Knowledge is diminishing in value in this new world we’re building. Do you know who knows everything? The efficiency machine. You could print all of the machine knows: like my friend Paul Soulellis does in his project The Library of The Printed Web (currently part of MoMA’s collection). The websites he prints, the printing process itself, and the paper are all cheap and accessible. Paul actually makes the full files available to download. But the taxonomy Paul built is invincible; it is a generative engine of meaning. This act of human creativity is squarely outside the reach of machines, which are only capable of brute force, number-crunching pursuits.

The meta creative looks at the abundance of facts, images, and pages, to then places them in a new taxonomy, a new context, and by doing so generates new meaning, inviting others to engage with it.

The meta creative is not interested in production, because production is free. The meta creative’s deliverables are finished thoughts. Sound arguments, provocatively put together, generative and generous.

In a future of abundance we should look for what’s scarce, We should seek other creative, generous humans who are able to articulate what they’re interested in.

Now ask yourself: what am I interested in? Who are those that I seek? Articulate and reflect on these questions. These are the cornerstones of your practice, and will return dividends long after the robot takes your job.

Originally published as part of The Book of Beautiful Business

A beautiful thread on Audio Science Review

via Reaktor Player on Twitter

As you might know – I write about AI, creativity, complexity, and even make some music. Years ago, maybe 10, I used to have a blog: a general catch all, Wordpress site which was a log of interestingness. I had all kind of fun playing with sidebar widgets (I even created one), and of course constantly failed at keeping my tags and categories organized.

It was a loosely structured set of content, with no particular end but to be published. This new publication is one such thing; a blog, which hopefully I can nurture and develop for years to come.

You can expect links to talks, ideas, musings, books, music and culture.

As a first such share this is a mix I recorded last week.

Santa Fe Institute released a set of short essays on questions which arise from Covid–19, below are some highlights and links.

I learnt about this through this great conversation between David Krakauer and Michael Garfield on the Complexity podcast.

But there is a flip side to this entanglement of complex systems:  transmission, unlike the complexity of genetics, and social systems, economies, and ecosystems, can be relatively easily understood, and, by extension, controlled.

We use our understanding of the common factor of transmission to our advantage: continue to mobilize the largest information-transmission network the world has ever seen — our technologies of communication — to enable the collective action needed to eliminate the transmission of the virus. Strategic isolation is our anti-viral flash-anti-mob.

000: David Krakauer on Citizen-Based Medicine

Here, scientists face a clear tradeoff. Wide ranges are much more likely to be correct, but can offer limited guidance to policymakers. Narrow ranges facilitate political decision-making, but are more likely to be wrong. Thus, when scientists decide how to report results to policymakers, they have to balance the need for action-guiding advice against the risk of their advice being wrong. These are value-laden decisions that cannot be outsourced to policymakers. Thus, as politicians continue to call on the expertise of scientists in order to respond to the current pandemic, scientists must embrace the fact that they are being asked to make ethical decisions.

001: David Kinney on Why Scientists Must Make Value Judgments in a Complex Crisis

So what’s a complexity scientist to do? In our research group in Leipzig, we believe we can establish general statistical regularities using simplifying assumptions and procedures that can compensate for data fluctuations. 

002: Luu Hoang Duc and Jürgen Jost on Making the Most of Bad Data

So what is the effect of group size on the transmission rates of infectious disease? This question raises many secondary questions. How long does one stay within a group — perhaps two hours at a ball game, but all day in kids’ classrooms — and how does that interact with group size? How thoroughly within a group does transmission occur? Surely somebody in the bleachers cannot directly infect someone in a box seat above home plate. And what about whether the group is indoors or outdoors; what about wind and humidity?

003: John Harte on Reducing Conflicting Advice on Allowable Group Size

Our world mostly works. When you’re leaving the airplane, don’t think, follow: good design nudges you all the way to the taxi. The architect Christopher Alexander built a life’s work on showing how something as simple as the design of a home’s window seat has, over centuries, adjusted to a delicate balance of physical, psychological, and social needs. In equilibrium, good systems get you by on instinct. 

Like the hiker who brought a can of espresso beans, however, many of us are now noticing how much of day-to-day mind-life has been cooked, not left raw. By choice, or by necessity, we’re forced to think about things we’ve usually left to the environment. As I asked a friend who teaches philosophy: have you ever done this much thinking before?

004: Simon DeDeo on Thinking out of Equilibrium

I have had the pleasure of co–teaching Complexity by Design at Parsons SDM last semester, and engage with wonderful thinkers and institutes in this space. 

It is becoming increasingly clear that complexity thinking (definition to come later) is a core part of modern life. This was discussed in different circles before we all got into this state of unknowingness. 

I have been working with a very acute definition of complexity, but given that the field is emerging (no pun intended) I wanted to linger a moment on its positionality.

I have been working with 2.5 versions of complexity: a partial list of links and resources to follow.

V1: Scientific

V2: Management 

V 2.5: Self-Leading

A lot of the leadership advice, individuation, Jungian ideas of synchronicity, and adjacent thinking on signifiers and semiotics are all very much complexity friendly.

Mostly because they accept the behaviorist nature of our world (the noise in your head is different than the noise in mine).

My working list of axioms around complex systems is: 

  • interconnected overrules design: they are not designable

  • in fact: emergence (it just happens…’ as one student informally articulated) is the opposite of design

  • A system is as complex as we need it to be: we can exercise reduction if the situation allows, and seek extra details (context) when the solution slides off the problem

  • Complex systems are open ended

  • hence a machine can never be truly intelligent by the way (I recommend Marcus’ book for those interested in that point)

Complicated systems–like a car, computer program or the highway system–are an elaborate stacking of known constructs. 

We can model the difference between complex and complicated as the difference between designing a highway system or designing less accidents.

p.s. I am sure I left links out, please comment with ideas and suggestions - I would love to add to this list.…

Visual blogging used to be the highest form of blogging. Older internet surfers could reminisce on the blackhole-ness of the now-defunct ffffound!. As an invite only service, being able to post _images–and not only browse–was just about as cool as a job at Apple in the late 00’s.

In 2009 Andreas Philstrom (@suprbstarted Dropular which brought together a small and committed group of designers to build a competing repo of beautiful graphics, letters and _images (I even developed a small Wordpress plugin for it).

This was all very much influenced by the endless hacking potential of RSS feeds, and in the center of this xml rhizome was of course Google Reader.

I will be remiss if I won’t mention the app I built with Dai Hovey (@14lox), which essentially let you read blogs just by looking at pictures, essentially scraping _images: (the irony of the fact that I am now a writer is not lost on me)

We tried to later develop this for Tumblr, but various API changes made this too difficult to maintain:

5 years on, we now have, , Tumblr, various informal uses of Twitter, blog rings, and Cargo.

Instagram is somewhat of an anomaly but an elephant I can’t avoid. In IG _images are soliciting likes, in an effort supported by the platform, which is channeling the flow of ad dollars. To some extent Dropular (as an example) was more of an informal editorial effort, than a social network. 

At the core of it, the visual like’ is a very visceral moment for the designer’s work (and image consumption). It needn’t a classification (like, tagging (like Pinterest) nor social scoring (like IG).

I hope that now that Wordpress owns Tumblr it could be that place.

This was a long winded to say that I am giving my very old Tumblr some attention, maybe you want to follow along

p.s. I suspect that the decline in this form of web use is related to autonomous image making, aggregation and copyright monitoring.

Is boredom a precursor to creativity, is it a state to be avoided, what about when a child comes to their parents and says I am bored”, as if it is a problem. And where does the relentless stimuli that comes from smartphones fits into this?

Through desire the child discovers his solitude and through solitude his desire. He depends upon a reliable but ultimately elusive object that can appease but never finally satisfy him. But from the very beginning, quite unwittingly, he has involved an object. The subject” Jacques Lacan writes, has never done anything other than demand, he could not have survived otherwise; and we just on from there”. We follow on in a curious solitude à deux called the analytic situation. And in that setting we find, again and again, that the patient is faced with the risk of entrusting himself. Indeed, one of the aims of the analysis will be to reveal the full nature of that risk.

On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored, Adam Phillips

What is the risk of solitude? and boredom? Is it induced through the self reflective state, though inward looking? And what is the connection between risk and creativity (/design)?

Winnicott tells us that an infant attended to when crying can imagine realities beyond their field of view.

From this developer a belief that the world can contain what is wanted and needed, with the result that the baby has hope that there is a live relationship between inner reality and external reality, between innate primary creativity and the world at large which is shared by all”

But the parent will also need to show the limits of such relationship between the imagined and the world, through disillusionment.

The nearest that can be offered to the child is the grown-up’s wish to make the demands of reality bearable until the bull blast of disillusionment can be borne, and until creativity can develop through mature skill into a true contribution to society”

The Child, The Family, and The outside World, Winnicott

Limits to such connection between the imagined and the capable, sound very similar to bounded creativity, and constraints.

If the bored child cannot sufficiently hold the mood, or use the adult as an unimpinging auxiliary ego, there is a premature faith from uncertainty [ … ] the ordinary boredom of childhood is the benign version of what gets acted out, or acted out of, in what Winnicott called the antisocial tendency. But as adults boredom return us to the science of inquiry, to the poverty of our curiosity, what the simple question, What does one want to do with one’s time? What is a brief malaise for the could becomes for the adult a kind of a muted risk. After all, who can wait for nothing?

On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored, Adam Phillips

This raises the question of what exactly is creativity, and what is its relationship with knowledge, risk, solitude and boredom.

Is creativity about making the unknown actionable?

I had the pleasure of moderating a panel for AIA NY in December.

You can watch the recording of evening through this link.

In my introduction I spoke of 3 interesting trends I am seeing in AI design and innovation:

1- Abundance and Scarcity

We have more technology than ever before, in a more affordable way, but with every abundance comes scarcity, what is ours?

As we have more technology, we have less of something else. Abundance always negotiates with scarcity. More machine based decisions mean less human involvement, more stats mean less decision on the fly, more standardization mean less thoughtfulness.

Scarcity is generally a great place to look for differentiation, and more so in the groundswell of AI abundance.

2 - Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics Model

Innovation lives in the space between scarcity and harmful abundance

In the inner ring people are unable to exercise agency, outside the other innovation is unchecked and damaged the environment, or ethics.

In between we let electrons bounce. Where do current innovations sit, and who is left moderating and making sure we’re in the safe zone?

3 - The knowledge shift

What is known? What can be known?

What does the past tell us about the future? and where does sense-making fit within this frame?

  • Prediction’

  • Smart’

  • Learning’

I suspect that linguistics and epistemology is going to make its way into design and innovation as AI is going to become more prevalent in the decision economy.

This will be a good place to remind that I am slowly organizing (and looking for more people for) a group to write an open–source report on designing for autonomous systems.

Than you to AIA NY committee for the invitation, and to the panelists for their thoughts and presentation:

  • Daniel Pittman, Partner (Strategy & Innovation), TAD Associates

  • Will Shapiro, Co-Founder and CEO, Topos Inc.

  • Andreas Hoffbauer, Founder and Director, Atelier Kultur

  • Melissa Marsh, Assoc. AIA, Founder & Executive Director, PLASTARC and Senior Managing Director - Occupant Experience, Savills


This week I would like to expand on systems. When we (used to, soon will) walk into an elevator we are part of a system. Attending a congregation, or a school puts in a cybernetic mesh. Being an agent in society gives us certain privileges, obligations and affordances. We could ask for milk, help our neighbor — or mow our lawn on Saturday, but not Sunday. These systems can be of various set ups, and as such will have different dynamics. For example classifications of: formal/informal x open/closed which came up last week.

But on a more categorical level they could be complex or complicated.

A system in which interconnectedness overrules design

Elaborate stacking of known constructs to create a sense of design

The difference between these is paramount in understanding the universal shortcoming of over-technologizing. - - -

My working list of axioms around complex systems is:

  • interconnected over rules design: they are not designable
  • in fact: emergence (‘it just happens…’ as one student informally articulated) is the opposite of design
  • a system is as complex as we need it to be: we can exercise reduction if the situation allows, and seek extra details (context) when the solution slides off the problem
  • complex systems are open ended
  • hence a machine can never be truly intelligent by the way (I recommend Marcus’ book for those interested in that point)
  • complicated systems–like a car, computer program or the highway system–are an elaborate stacking of known constructs.

We can model the difference between complex and complicated as the difference between designing a highway system or designing less accidents.

The long and the short of it is that a close ended system cannot be complex. And all thinking human agents–creativity included–are nothing but open-ended. Moreover, that dissonance can only be managed by the aware (examined/intentional) practitioner.

The absence of such inside/out perspective can lead to a dangerous autopilot, lack of explainability and inability to scale creativity. What is doubly ironic is that complicated thinking asks algorithms out in the world to be all of that–autonomous, explainable, and creative–before asking the self–agent to reflect on those.

The correlation between the (mediums/)systems and their implicit nudges on our heuristics results in a rendered snapshot of how elaborate–or plagiarized–is our way of showing up in the world. As we lack the ability to self navigate–travel within our heads–the more monolithic our ways of showing up in the world. The less we are able to self author, the more we will rely on external (complicated) definitions of us, which will undoubtedly come with inaccuracies and missed nuances.


To further develop this I wanted to share some work in progress definitions of the terms I am using in this work.

Meta Medium:

A Medium which adds meaning through usage



Communication of language, thorough an artifact, within a system


Set of symbols, words and metaphors for communication between humans


Vehicle for communication, a phenomenon packaged in a useful way for humans


Available channels of communication

Sub sets of systems


A system in which interconnectedness overrules design


Elaborate stacking of known constructs to create a sense of design


External (What am I):

Extrinsic Identity, constructed by present context, the way the world sees us

Internal / learning (Who am I):

Intrinsic creativity, the way we see ourselves

Sameness Risk:

The risk that comes from forgoing the learning heuristic


Making the unknown actionable

What is the difference between signifiers and classifiers?

The simple way of thinking about it is that classifiers allow for an object to only exist in one place, like a book on a shelf. Signifiers are more akin to shining a light, so are more intersectional, and allow for multiplicity. An object might have many signifiers, but only one classification.

Moreover signifiers are relative, classifications are absolute.

Are all classification systems are signifiers when examined close enough?

Say in the case of identity: are you just what you do, or a collection of different modalities you encountered — places you grew up, mood you woke up, and current coloring of thoughts? This is of course a function of the observer.

Back in our model – classifications only exist in the bottom–‘what am I’–section, where the top is made of signifiers, simply because it mostly happens in our head.


When we conjure up ideas we don’t care where they belong. They simply float from one rational axiom to another, until they accumulate enough weight to stand on their own feet, and then communicated through absolute terms and classifications, say in an email like the one you’re reading.

I should credit Alan Kay, who during a Skype interview last year, generously gave me this metaphor to articulate this idea (as well as my move from artifacts to systems by the way).

One of the things I talk about in talks is to ask people are ideas made out of matter or are ideas made out of light?

You can shine as many spots on the wall as you want and they all superpose, they all just sit there.

A designer is a person who tends to treat ideas as being like light.

—Alan Kay, October 2019, Skype Interview

Connecting Heuristics To The Jungian idea of individuation.

There is a sense in which individuation is the top of the graph, the who. The question stands: are there mediums which allow you to be more like yourself? More individuated?

If we all share very minimal (mediated) ways of showing up (say by a swipe on a screen) then the medium foregoes individuation, but if instead we are allowing for an open ended system–say Improv as one example–then a person would get a chance to connect the (1) subconsciousness with the conscious and the (2) individual with the individuated.

In general, it [individuation] is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology.

— Psychological Types (1921), CW 6, § 757.

Everything that has life is individual—a dog, a plant, everything living—but of course it is far from being conscious of its individuality. A dog has probably an exceedingly limited idea of himself as compared with the sum total of his individuality. As most people, no matter how much they think of themselves, are egos, yet at the same time they are individuals, almost as if they were individuated. For they are in a way individuated from the very beginning of their lives, yet they are not conscious of it. Individuation only takes place when you are conscious of it, but individuation is always there from the beginning of your existence.

—The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1932 (12 October, 1932), p. 5.

Individuation appears, on the one hand, as the synthesis of a new unity which previously consisted of scattered particles, and on the other hand, as the revelation of something which existed before the ego and is in fact its father or creator and also its totality.

—“Transformation Symbolism in the Mass” (1942/1954), CW 11, § 400.

Individuation has two principal aspects: in the first place it is an internal and subjective process of integration, and in the second it is an equally indispensable process of objective relationship. Neither can exist without the other, although sometimes the one and sometimes the other predominates.

—The Psychology of the Transference (1946), CW 16, § 448.

Individuation, and the play between the individual and the individuated feels relevant to creativity, and could be expanded by system thinking.

There is a negotiation between the lived and the examined experience. The nature of both is rendered based on our capacity for (1) expansiveness and (2) incorporation.

My intuition is that mediums could have a big role to play in a positive change in both.

Building on this the idea of entropy, and the classic system thinking concept of stock and flow (Meadow and Wright, 2015): does the individuation process give way for more ways of showing up (stock of creativity) which we then incorporate (flow) into our lived experience?

The Individuation Process.” In The Quotable Jung, edited by HARRIS JUDITH R., by WOOLFSON TONY, 283-99. PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY: Princeton University Press, 2016. Accessed February 16, 2020. doi:10.2307/j.ctt1wf4dd9.24.

Tyng, Anne Griswold. Individuation and Entropy as a Creative Cycle in Architecture.” In C.G. Jung and the Humanities: Toward a Hermeneutics of Culture, edited by BARNABY KARIN and D’ACIERNO PELLEGRINO, 104-12. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1990. Accessed February 16, 2020. doi:10.2307/j.ctv3hh569.15.

Meadows, Donella H., and Diana Wright. Thinking in Systems: a Primer. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2015.

We all have to negotiate the way the world sees us with the way we see ourselves. The more articulate our view of ourselves is, the more we’re able to do that in a frictionless, constructive and emotionally intelligent manner.

My hypothesis is that mediums have the capacity to tilt us in either direction – and allowing for new points of balance to be written and re-written. Some mediums keep you the same you always are, and some let you change, and be a generative change agent.

The way we see ourselves is often abstract, and the ability to structure, visualize and articulate requires creativity. It is epistemologically opaque. The knowledge from the outside world offers little help in this maze of self. Hence therapists, coaches, leadership camps, retreats, and solitude trips who force us to power through discomfort and articulate how we feel.

A work in progress model of how we might plot mediums with this line of thinking.

Mediums in the top of the modes are open ended, unstructured and allow–or ask for us to invent–new ways of showing up. That is a complexity-prone space, where mediums seek emergence. A reminder that in complex systems interconnected overrules design. Over here there is no wrong answer, these are prompts and not graded assignments.

The bottom is the rule based, close-ended environment, where ways of showing up are limited. After we remove all of the mediation, silicon based mediums–computers–only allow us to show up as 1’ or 0’. This cybernetic determinism is the reason we lose meaning when we use these mediums and repeatedly step into the mud of unintended consequences of well intended technologies.


Arthur Koestler, The Logic of Laughter,” in The Act of Creation

Language allows us to stay on a single world of reference, as fish in the water. It allows us to communicate and collaborate, to learn and develop as we invent new artifacts and processes. But language is also a complex adaptive system, built on shared knowledge and nested self replicating unit of puns, metaphors and words. Metaphors are written in response to new technological capabilities, taught by those who design such tools, and communicated to the intended user. As part of our lived experience we need to unpack such ideas, come up with new words for them, and embed them in our everyday interactions.

Arthur Koestler studied the novel use of language using the idea of bisociation. Illustrated above it is the metaphysical travel of ideas through different matrices, symboled as M1 and M2.

The distinction between the routine skills of thinking on a single plane […] and the creative act, which […] always operates on more than one plane.[…] The former may be called single-minded, the latter a double-minded, transitory state of unstable equilibrium where the balance of both emotion and thought is disturbed.”

In his analysis of the jester, the sage and the artist Koestler focuses on the inner activities and their mechanics of creativity. We will define the mechanics of creativity as the leaps in rational thinking which are novel, unique and interesting. They are generative, transferable and valuable to those who encounter them, on either the receiving, or submitting of a piece of communication.

These leaps in logic happen between otherwise fixed positions of thinking, what Koestler calls matrix. any ability, habit, or skill, any pattern of ordered behaviour governed by a code’ of fixed rules.” We can discuss Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in terms of (a) historic significance, (b) military strategy, (c) the condition of his liver, (d) the constellation of the planets.”

An object might be accessed through multiple subjective codes’. In other words code’ is a linguistic operator. All of these frames in the Napoleon example above are externalities of the world, none of them are innate. They are situated within history, military strategy, the condition of livers, and the constellation of the planets, and are needed if we want to approach the verbal reasoning of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.

Once we learn such leaps of thinking–the idea of militaries, and their need for strategy for example–they need to negotiate with other pre-existing knowledge and thinking modalities.

This is perhaps the place to explain why I have chosen the ambiguous word code’ for a key-concept in the present theory. The reason is precisely its nice ambiguity. It signifies on the one hand a set of rules which must be obeyed—like the Highway Code or Penal Code; and it indicates at the same time that it operates in the nervous system through coded signals’—like the Morse alphabet—which transmit orders in a kind of compressed secret language’.”

Not all codes’ are shared, some might be private, and manifest themselves differently based on different lived experiences. For example when inspired, one might receive and use such inspiration in an internal way. It is useful without the need for articulation. But when we make a novel artifact, say as the artist does, she would need to render this modality into the written form, so to create a contact between the implicit individual model and code’ of the users who encounter it.

The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler, full PDF on Archive

I was pointed to this book by Alan Kay himself during an interview a couple of months ago

With enough data we all get averaged. Walk into a hipster coffee shop in Brooklyn or a pop up doggy store in Soho and you can almost see the optimizing algorithms working around you. A quest for an efficiency singularity which will not stop until we’re all smooth, rounded individuals dancing in a perfect harmony of sameness.

Each of these places is architecturally sound. It has everything it needs to have. Everyone smiles, it is usable, you can plug your laptop, and you will be offered a miniature bottle of water when you walk in. No cash is required, and it is all very tidy and bright. Every unnecessary step is removed, every corner is lit, and everything is scripted. The entire operation is running on a checklist, and every item is monitored. The efficiency machine is there to deal with any anomaly. The system is designed to remove any trace of friction.

Frictionless shopping is defined as:

the method of using data, technology and devices to integrate buying opportunities as seamlessly as possible into the everyday activities of shoppers. The goal is to reduce the amount of time and hassle involved in the steps between desire for a product and receiving it.”

4As, Frictionless shopping in retail

The original intent of removing friction is anchored in design of usable experiences. When we didn’t know how to design software (or had constant feedback loops) we had to listen to what people said, and often they said that our design was not friendly enough — for example completing a certain task took too many steps. So we set as a goal the removal of those extra screens, as not to tax our users with extra clicks on the way to their desired outcome. But what algorithmic retail does is reduce friction on the path to desire. And what is a desire if not the quest to be unique, and interesting. As Sianne Ngai articulates in Our Aesthetic Categories’ interesting is always in relation to something else. And as such it is a social system. If we create one average aesthetic–one form of interesting-for the entire segment, we are just a smoke and mirror distraction until the next moment. Because the objects or persons we find interesting are never stable or permanent’. It is a social interaction because at any moment, we feel, they may become too interesting for us, or we too interesting for them’.

Our interconnectedness generates data, which is then used to serve advertising. This creates a dissonance which we seldom think about. A machine has a view of yourself which is different than the view you have of yourself.

Data about our recreational life is sometimes referred to as the new oil, but I want to take a deeper stance, and side with Shoshana Zuboff on the claim that human experience’ is the raw material (and not the data itself). It is not what the data says, but the fact that the data exists (The Age of Surveillance Capitalism).

If before you could go out and choose between door 1, door 2 or door 3, you are now in a situation where someone could build a house to hold door number 1, just based on the possibility that you choose it. The problem with it is that you didn’t commit to that door, or you might have not even known about the existence of such an option, and that you might show up in the next moment not at all interested.

We are not some average segment of people around our age group, circle of friends or favorite band. There is more to us than our segmented preferences, but that makes little sense to this neurotic algorithm.

Generations of behavioral economists tell us that we are not rational when we make decisions, we don’t follow discrete rules. We follow our biases, and respond to our implicit views of the world. What we want is conviction, the intent and the interesting. The aesthetic that stands in contrast to the average. No one wants to look like everyone in their segment group. We get upset when we see someone wearing the same shirt as do, not realizing that it is average thinking, fed into an algorithm that is reducing our optionality to choose a shirt, and funnel our diversity of choice.

Even if we don’t know it — and we often don’t — we all want change, newness and the next articulation on last year’s version of me. That is why when we look at old pictures we lament on how dorky we looked wearing those jeans. But change is tough, it requires grit, the ability to go against the grain and feel the friction. Algorithms only speak the language of efficiency, and will never understand this desire for grit — because machine thrive on rules, and seeks the average.

Our desires are antithetical to the machine. The faster we will correct the dissonance between the segmented online self and our own desires, the more interesting and diverse we all become. We are more nuanced than the segment we’re placed in, we should use algorithms and not be used by them.

Times Square does not belong to New York. The city welcomed over 65 million tourists in 2018. You can be certain that a vast majority of these millions descended on Times Square. When they arrive in droves, armed with dreams of selfies and visions of endless Disney stores, they take a bite of Times Sq and the American brand home with them.

Like Luxembourg, Times Square is its own international municipality. All New Yorkers know that that the laws of time and space are suspended in this mysterious cluster. We avoid it any cost and, instead, send all of our guests there — making up an excuse for why we can’t join them. The place itself, despite having an incredibly rich history, and being very much anchored in New York life, is its own island. It is made out of everyone and no one. It is endlessly busy, but yet there is no one there.

The site is a beacon of international attention, a mark of a visit. People travel to Times Square for the lights and the memories, oblivious to the grotesqueness, or the architectural details, unaware of the web of narratives that kept this commercial hub in its full colorful glory, as opposed to the corporate dullness that was envisioned by Venturi and Johnson plains in their 1984 plan.

There is no visiting New York without visiting Times Square, they say. And hence completing the promise they themselves help to write. They visit the version of New York they imagined, which is in a way what all New Yorkers do on every block of every neighborhood, but never on Times Sq — because all New Yorkers know that Times Sq does not belong to New York.

And so New York has conceded some of its turf to tourists, and that’s okay.. There is no use in crying over days long gone. There is no old, authentic New York for all of us to reminisce over, because authentic is relative. At any point, in any time — someone is missing some old days. Like anyone good therapist will tell you, there is nothing special about you, or this situation. Crying about commercialization or over-intellectualizing these questions boils down to who took my toy.

When walking in any part of the city, there is an unspoken contract, an undeclared hierarchy that locals get special privileges. We know best how to navigate this jungle, so please get out of our way. Tourists are shy of locals getting their tomatoes at Union Sq, or power–walking through SoHo. The reverse is true at Times Square. That appalling cluster of M&M stores, and neon signs is in a perfect equilibrium of foot traffic, quick lingering and overseas FaceTiming. There is no one conducting this multilingual orchestra, no designer can really control it. And there is no sense in intervening, in trying to establish a local authority; his place belongs to the world.

It is an oversight by UNESCO to have not yet recognize it as a world heritage site. No trip to United States will be complete without visiting Times Sq. It is as if each person visiting it takes a part of it with them, not dissimilar from brand equity. Unlike Nike or Levi’s there is no product to buy which is specifically Times Sq , but every alien visiting Times Square takes a snapshot of it with them, and thus propagates the legend..

Times Square might exist in physical form at New York’s 42nd Street, but it exists all over the world. From Jakarta to Rio, and Tokyo. Like a folk tale, the story of a distant place, which inspires people to travel across the big sea. Waiting for visas and enduring immigration bureaucracy, standing in endless taxi lines on their way to a mediocre midtown hotel. To eat the best pizza, to have a steak dinner, to walk the streets of Jay Z, to visit the MoMA — but first, a visit Times Sq. To send a picture, to tell people — I made it here, this place the fables talk about. Times Sq is a liminal space, it is the in–between. Everyone arrives here from somewhere, before they can truly visit New York.

Mechanical Contracting & Plumbing January-December 1909

Our relationship with the internet is a turbulent one. We rely on systems of information to connect us with each other, and to know what we want before we do. This intimacy requires the machine to know us, our habits, interests and friends. But when faced with the inner making of such tools we feel uncomfortable, and even moral repugnance. When companies like Facebook and Google ask for more than we expect we often get upset and uncomfortable, but not enough to change our tech habits.

Like a pressure cooker big tech is efficient in brute force cooking, it is dangerous to look in, and there is an inherit risk in running it. We must not disturb it, and we rarely want to look inside, unless we realize there is a problem. When morally questionable things went into our stew (privacy concerns, experience manipulation, attention economy violations) we are left in a moral dissonance: should we look for our meal elsewhere, or level our moral distaste?

What is doubly interesting is the tyranny of this model. We accept it as a necessary evil, and keep on using it while holding our nose, blocking out everything we know to be true. We often complain about the system in question, within the eco system itself. Posting criticism within the belly of the beast.

On Attention Made Efficient

Attention is not a commodity machines are made to serve, it is a byproduct of a chain of events, starting off in the early days of Silicon Valley – more specially in Xerox Parc when Alan Kay was working on the Dynabook, a hybrid of an iPad and a laptop. It was meant to be user friendly, and interact with the user using graphic user interface (GUI), but there was no software architecture that could support his vision (visual interfaces were a radically novel idea in the 70s).

To build his vision he invited Adele Goldberg and Trygve Reenskaug, and together they architected Model View Controller (MVC). The core brilliance of the model was the idea of linking mental model to computational behavior, mediated by a tool. The data is called a model, the user interacts with view, and the controllers run back and forth – parsing information and propagating changes. MVC is very efficient in delivering tabular data to users, and capturing their interest and preferences.

The trio developed MVC long before the internet was open, and before any social network was ideated, yet their invention was a natural fit for the promise the internet was meant to fulfill.

The different components of this architecture are a perfect fit for attention economy, and platform design. Once setup such platform is self sustaining in doing what it is designed to to, and as these components make our system, they are a perfect fit the online business.

There was no way for design pioneers in Xerox Parc to imagine the future we live in today, nor that this architecture will drive experience commerce.

MVC was the obvious choice for businesses looking to get on the internet in 1993, in particular the remote stationary data (akin to a warehouse), and the proprietary interface (website, similar to a store).

To this day, MVC is de-facto the only server architecture we use.

We should model this behavior because this is where the pressure cooker starts. A system running on MVC (i.e. all software) is like a building. There are data servers in the basement, a security guard asking for a password in the front desk.

An authenticated user walks in, her movement gets tracked and optimized – and later be sold to advertisers. Experience captured and monetized, with excess data stored for future use.

Whenever our user needs something from that system she needs to metaphysically travel to that location (opening a site, or an app constituters travel in the experience economy).

This reinforces a lot of the problems we all know so well. How much data are we leaving behind? What aspects of our experience are mediated and which ones are real? Was my experience designed by me, or have I been nudged?

It also blurs definitions of agency, identity and value extraction. Are the (FANG) companies creating value, or simply distributing value created by others? If I am the one traveling the halls of this building, are the decisions I make in my movement generate income?

What if we could shift this paradigm to correlate to the moment of value exchange? There is a world of opportunity waiting for those able to offer an alternative to an incredibly dissatisfied public.

The surprising hero in our technological conundrum is a plumber.

A plumber comes to your house, fixes your pipes, gets paid and leaves. The pipes might be different on every job - that is ok, and the plumber is able to adapt to each constellation. As opposed to the movements in the building, which are limited and deterministic by design.

The plumber must be paid, the value exchange is implicit and direct – there is no free lunch’, which immediately eliminates issues of privacy (plumber would never take your pipes with him), or the pressure cooker’ opaqueness.

~ Realestate Plumbers
utility fixed adaptive
creativity machine bound human bound
privacy necessary evil non issue
value exchange hidden, non implicit direct and immediate
data ownership building’ / business operator user
biz paradigm efficiency seeking scale effective service

The backdrop to this argument is that efficiency is becoming cheaper, and as a result differentiation is harder to achieve, and articulate.

The experience manipulation model is bound to plato in the long run. The public discussion is becoming more intelligible and actionable – and is such in the face of what is essentially the one trick pony of data driven advertising.

There is an exponentially large market segment waiting for new definitions of digital experiences, scaling laws, and product–experience dichotomies.

The future is thoughtful, slow, deep and effective — the fast, and shallow is already automated, and the market is not having any of it.

I am a big fan of Conversations with Tyler, this chapter with Ed Bowden was particularly interesting

COWEN: There’s an old saying that we think with our gut.” Do you attach any credence to this? Is there some broader process of computation going on when we think that’s not just in our brain?

BOYDEN: Well, we’ve now realized as a community — my group doesn’t work on this yet, but it’s a very exciting area — that the brain is almost like part of an ecosystem that you could call the body, and the whole body is computing together.

Maybe over the time course of several seconds, when you have an individual thought or feeling, maybe a lot of that is contained within the brain. But if you go beyond that time scale, there might be microbes in the gut that secrete molecules that can actually get into the brain and modulate complex functions, like maybe even social behavior, some people think.

COWEN: Does that mean whole-brain emulation is impossible, then? You basically have to reproduce the body?

BOYDEN: It’s a good question. One possibility is that, if you are emulating the brain, maybe you can run the simulation for a short period of time. But if you want to integrate all the changes that are due to the rest of the body to encompass more complex things, like long-term emotions or moods, you might call them, or memory or personality, you might have to think about the body as an ecosystem.

Then there’s also the concept of extended intelligence, where I’m not just me. If I’m getting out of bed in the morning and getting dressed and having my cup of coffee, that’s one version of me. But then when I get up on a stage to lecture for my class, or if I go and hang out with friends, maybe certain parts of my personality are expressed and other parts are not. I think we all experience this all the time, where we’re part of an ecosystem of people as well.

To learn more of Boyden’s work I recommend watching his talk on

I am not interested in mastering any single profession but challenging the boundaries of the discipline itself.

We don’t know everything there is to know about the future, but one thing we do know for certain is that in a world of abundance making is diminishing in cost.

This effectively translates to accessibility of knowledge. What was before reserved for expert is now opening up to the intellectual, and later the lay person.

The tower is now a market.

Mastery is hard to reconcile under this scenario. Rather than anchoring a practice in one discipline we’re better off hovering over a few and constantly drawing lines of practice (for us and our clients).

This process is what I have calling liminality – intellectual exploration, with intent, conviction, and less than perfect understanding.

Decentralization has ridden a wave of hype, particularly among those hoping to revolutionize marketplaces with blockchain technology and societies with more dispersed governments. Some of this stems from political ideology having to do with a preference for bottom-up governing styles and systems with natural checks on the emergence of inequality,” Jessica Flack, an evolutionary biologist and complexity scientist at the Santa Fe Institute, wrote in an email. And some of it stems from engineering biases … that are based on the assumption these types of structures are more robust, less exploitable.”

But most of this discussion,” she added, is naive.” The line between centralization and decentralization is often blurry, and deep questions about the flow and aggregation of information in these networks persist. Even the most basic and intuitive assumptions about them need more scrutiny, because emerging evidence suggests that making networks bigger and making their parts more sophisticated doesn’t always translate to better overall performance.


Then in a system of collective decision making:

The researchers observed that when the agents could remember only one or two outcomes, fewer strategies were possible, so more agents responded in the same way.

But because the agents’ actions were then too correlated, the collective movement in the model took it along a zigzagging route that involved many more steps than necessary to reach the target. Conversely, when the agents remembered seven or more past outcomes, they became too uncorrelated: They tended to stick with the same strategy for more rounds, treating a short string of recent negative outcomes as an exception rather than a trend. The model became less agile and more stubborn,” according to Johnson.

The trajectories were most efficient when the length of the agents’ memory was somewhere in the middle: for about five past events. This number grew slightly as the number of agents increased, but no matter how many agents the model used, there was always a sweet spot — an upper limit on how good their memory could get before the system started to perform poorly.

It’s counterintuitive,” said Pedro Manrique, a postdoctoral associate at the University of Miami and a co-author of the Science Advances paper. You would think that improving the sophistication level of the parts, in this case the memory, would improve and improve and improve the performance of the organism as a whole.”–20190226/

Great piece, I do wish there were more details on cognitive diversity.

AI in its current manifestations is parasitic on human intelligence. It quite indiscriminately gorges on whatever has been produced by human creators and extracts the patterns to be found there—including some of our most pernicious habits. These machines do not (yet) have the goals or strategies or capacities for self-criticism and innovation to permit them to transcend their databases by reflectively thinking about their own thinking and their own goals.

They are, as Wiener says, helpless, not in the sense of being shackled agents or disabled agents but in the sense of not being agents at all—not having the capacity to be moved by reasons” (as Kant put it) presented to them. It is important that we keep it that way, which will take some doing.

One can imagine a sort of inverted Turing test in which the judge is on trial; until he or she can spot the weaknesses, the overstepped boundaries, the gaps in a system, no license to operate will be issued. The mental training required to achieve certification as a judge will be demanding. The urge to attribute humanlike powers of thought to an object, our normal tactic whenever we encounter what seems to be an intelligent agent, is almost overpoweringly strong.

I absolutely love this sentiment. I once tried to engage a very prolific AI scientist working in San Francisco in the question of fallacy and bias, in determining machine attributes (it didn’t go very far)

We need intelligent tools. Tools do not have rights and should not have feelings that could be hurt or be able to respond with resentment to abuses” rained on them by inept users

From What Can We Do?” by Daniel C. Dennett. Adapted from Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI, edited by John Brockman, published by Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2019 by John Brockman

Wonderful collaboration between Santa Fe Institute and the Santa Fe Symphony. More via <>

In the cathedral-builder view of programming, bugs and development problems are tricky, insidious, deep phenomena. It takes months of scrutiny by a dedicated few to develop confidence that you’ve winkled them all out. Thus the long release intervals, and the inevitable disappointment when long-awaited releases are not perfect. In the bazaar view, on the other hand, you assume that bugs are generally shallow phenomena — or, at least, that they turn shallow pretty quickly when exposed to a thousand eager co-developers pounding on every single new release. Accordingly you release often in order to get more corrections, and as a beneficial side effect you have less to lose if an occasional botch gets out the door. And that’s it. That’s enough.

Sociologists years ago discovered that the averaged opinion of a mass of equally expert (or equally ignorant) observers is quite a bit more reliable a predictor than the opinion of a single randomly-chosen one of the observers. They called this the Delphi effect. It appears that what Linus has shown is that this applies even to debugging an operating system — that the Delphi effect can tame development complexity even at the complexity level of an OS kernel.

Eric S. Raymond, The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary

More on the Delphi Method: evRowe and Wright, Expert opinions in Forecasting: the Role of the Delphi Technique [PDF]

I learnt about this case study from the author during an HBR breakfast event yesterday and found it incredibly inspiring, as well as on–point for innovation with AI (with its technological and organizational contingencies).

As more structured tasks are delegated to machine, organizations need to encourage agency, flexibility, and creativity with their staff.

Over the past decade, T-Mobile’s leadership team recognized that although the company’s investments in self-service had paid off well, they’d also created a challenge.

The basic transactional calls that once dominated call queues—balance inquiries, address changes, new-service activation, and the like—had all but disappeared as customers turned to self-service options for addressing those matters.

Now the queue was dominated by the complex and varied issues that customers couldn’t solve on their own—a shift that started to put real stress on the company’s reps.

Given its goals, Field’s team reasoned that a version of the account management model common in B2B settings—in which a dedicated sales and service team manages a pool of customers—could work well in B2C customer service.

To tackle this, T-Mobile devised the Team of Experts model, or TEX. This involves cross-functional groups of 47 people who serve a named set of customer accounts in a specific market.

Each rep is a generalist who can handle everything from billing, sales, and line activation to standard technical-support inquiries.

To ensure that all team members work well together, T-Mobile built collaboration into the model

To encourage collaboration and innovation, the TEX model uses a balanced scorecard that weights both individual and team performance. This is a dramatic departure from typical schemes for evaluating customer service agents, which measure only individual performance, encouraging reps to hoard knowledge and look out for themselves.

While some organizations are leveraging new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to bring greater analytic power and predictability to service interactions, others are using them to reinforce legacy operating models, potentially discouraging innovation.

Unfortunately, the research also shows that a high percentage of customer service organizations actively discourage reps from exercising their judgment. When managers tell reps to stick to the script,” audit their performance using rigid quality-assurance checklists, and implement screen alerts telling them what to say and do, it squelches any impulse to use judgment.


when our classification systems become excessively rigid, and silos dangerously entrenched, this can leave us blind to risks and exciting opportunities

It pays if people can periodically try to reimagine the taxonomies they use to reorganize the world, or even experiment with alternatives. Most of the time, most of us simply accept the classification systems we have inherited

Being an insider-outsider enables us to see our classification systems in context.
Being an insider-outsider helps us see the risks of sclerotic boundaries. And it can also give us the imagination to mix up our borders, imagine a different world, and seek innovation on the edge” of our classification systems and organizations, as John Seely Brown, the scientist, has observed.

If we make space in our lives to collide with the unexpected, we often end up changing our cultural lens.

— Gillian Tett. The Silo Effect.”

There is more than one way to be good, more than one way to be fulfilled, more than one way to navigate your career, educate your children, become proficient or pursue your goals.

Yet, with all of that, we all give to the urge to grade, to place on a linear scale. We lean on Cannons, industry standards, status quo, legacy and other old world mantras.

If we truly reject monolithic thinking, then we must too resist shortcuts in evaluating other humans. This voids Cannons, as a notion of top down authority in creative pursuits (beyond a node of creativity which might have been successful), and any kind of artificial hierarchy on ideas (junior, midnight, senior thinker).

Instead, it bring us to a mesh of humans with NP dimensions and possible permutations of ideas. We’re leaving so much on the table when we’re listening to other people’s metrics, and not setting our owns.

Consider the fate of Ioannis (John) and Georgios (George), two identical twin brothers, born in Cyprus (both of them), currently both living in the Greater London area. John has been employed for twenty-five years as a clerk in the personnel department of a large bank, dealing with the relocation of employees around the globe. George is a taxi driver.

John has a perfectly predictable income (or so he thinks), with benefits, four weeks’ annual vacation, and a gold watch every twenty-five years of employment.

He used to wake up on Saturday morning, the day when people stretch and linger in bed, anxiety free, telling himself life is good”—until the banking crisis, when he realized that his job could be made redundant.”
George, who lives on the same street as his brother, drives a black taxi—meaning he has a license for which he spent three years expanding his frontal lobes by memorizing streets and itineraries in Greater London, which gives him the right to pick up clients in the streets. His income is extremely variable.

Because of the variability of his income, he keeps moaning that he does not have the job security of his brother—but in fact this is an illusion, for he has a bit more.

This is the central illusion in life: that randomness is risky, that it is a bad thing—and that eliminating randomness is done by eliminating randomness.”

Artisans […] have some volatility in their income but they are rather robust to a minor professional Black Swan […]. Their risks are visible. Not so with employees, who have no volatility, but can be surprised to see their income going to zero after a phone call from the personnel department. Employees’ risks are hidden.

Thanks to variability, these artisanal careers harbor a bit of antifragility: small variations make them adapt and change continuously by learning from the environment and being, sort of, continuously under pressure to be fit.
Remember that stressors are information; these careers face a continuous supply of these stressors that make them adjust opportunistically.

—Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Antifragile.”

A very compelling conversation on FT Alphachat with Leah Platt Boustan and Margaret Peters on immigration, and economics, with the benefit of a historical context.

Including observations on ways to asses assimilation (like naming of kids, which costs nothing but tells a lot), the context of automation (in certain clusters of agricultural states), and the surprising effect of a sudden influx or halt of immigration on local economies.

To create good workers, education systems put a premium on compliancy and rote memorization of basic knowledge—excellent qualities in an industrial worker.


To the extent a school is like a factory, students who inquire about the way things are” could be seen as insubordinate


Logically, as we move from an industrial society to more of an entrepreneurial one, it makes sense that we would want to trade in the factory/obedience model of schooling for more of a questioning model. But as the world changed and the workplace changed with it, the old educational model hasn’t evolved much—and for the most part hasn’t adapted to the modern economy’s need for more creative, independent-thinking workers’

Warren Berger, A More Beautiful Question

This is consistent with the views on averagarianism, and the separateness of thinkers and managers (Taylorism) nicely narrated by Todd Rose, and others (most recently by Dingen, in a book I am about to start).

If you can’t articulate your ethics then someone else would. Design for agency, emotional articulation and liminal leadership don’t only apply to the collective (company, team) level, but also to the self.

Driving your own bus might have been enough in the 90’s, but today’s complexion of intricate highways filled with self driving trucks needs voices of conviction. Being able to navigate, pursue and explain decisions is a key to sanity, self fulfillment and effective work.

When utilitarian efficient systems are free, the value comes from everything else: ethics, human connection, branding, context, altruism.

Again and again, this is a question of not what you do, but who you are. Coaching (as a mean to understand the decisions you make) might very well have exponential return for your company, employees and market offering (much more so than the incrementalism of another sprint).