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The “collapse of time” was an important meme in the Techonomy 2019 session on Super-Evolution, the idea that startups can now harness rapid prototyping and vast pools of data to develop radically new business models quickly and at scale (video here)

Techonomy

Super-Evolution is about creating more – dramatically more – options. Invented by AI, aka non-human logic. (see also Haydn Shaughnessy on the importance of maximizing options and radical adjacencies vs. core competency in innovation)

“Leave behind the myth of the grand plan and create the conditions for optionality and just-in-time strategy.”(Haydn Shaughnessy)

The first time I felt that sensation of collapsing time was when viewing Elon Musk’s Tesla 2019 update. I felt beaten by algorithms. The Tesla is now/then learning from (data) from human behavior and driving like a human, but ultimately will EXCEED their behavior” (at 01:48:15)

There you have it: gradually, but suddenly we have a singularity. Gradually but suddenly, all jobs are doomed. We are not going to stop this with an ethics council or with regulation. The train has left the station, the genie is out of the bottle.

“The fleet wakes up with an over the air update”

PR or product? The same question was asked some months later by Jean-Louis Gassée regarding the Cybertruck launch:

“Elon Musk forces us to be of two minds. On one side, we have Musk the Mountebank; on the other, a Captain of Industry.

I had the same feeling of time-space collapse and irrelevance when watching this awesome interview with Rahul Sonnad, CEO/Co-Founder of Tesloop, explaining how “Robo-Mobility is a hospitality service” and “Once cars are appliances”

Are we toast? And/or do we need to reboot, reskill, etc if we don’t want to become irrelevant? Venkatesh Rao gives his perspective when reflecting on Inventing Time, and playing on Alan Kay’s “It is easier to invent the future than to predict it” and William Gibson’s “The future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed.”

“Riding in a Tesla made the electric vehicle future seem utterly inevitable in a way that kinda killed the present for me. Suddenly I could no longer look at gasoline cars the same way. Driving in my own car felt different like I was stuck in the past, waiting for the price of the future to come down to the point where I could afford to live in it. So a Tesla creates the future in the sense of both the Alan Kay and William Gibson quotes. It makes the future real in a deep way that is like making time itself real. And you know this because the feel of the present feels different like you’re heading down a dead-end, a lame-duck future. You’ll have to either abandon it as soon as you can or end up dying with it.

Maps book

Around the same time, I was lurking in Simon Ferdinand’s Mapping Beyond Measure: Art, Cartography, and the Space of Global Modernity. He could have added the Time of Global Modernity, as he writes about spatial (spheres) and temporal (time collapse) ruptures.

“Often map artworks recapitulate the narratives of rupture (spatial as well as temporal) through which global modernity differentiates itself from inherited pasts and surroundings.

And;

“Maps have proven integral… to the experience of “time-space compression”

Greenaway

It made me think of Peter Greenaway’s film ‘A walk through H: The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist’ (1978) and “A Walk through a Thousand Plateaus”, an homage to that film.

It is probably a sign of the times that in the preparation of his new book “Agency” also the great William Gibson lost a sense of how weird the world has become, up to the point of the present bypassing his future sci-fi scripts – “His future had to catch up with the present”and “stubs”: alternative timeline in which technologists (and, more tellingly, hobbyists) of the future are able to meddle.

Agency

Hobbyists and meddling, the right words probably for not getting alienated. I would call it “tinkering” by maximizing options that human logic not necessary can spot or generate in time.

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This post is a semi-transcript of a fantastic talk “Space in the mind of a machine” by media artist Refik Anadol. My post is not intended as a literal transcript, but rather as a collection of – often poetic – idea clusters of Refik’s talk. None of the ideas are mine, I just tried to condense it and brush some highlights.

The talk was given on 4 December 2019 at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-ARC). The website of SCI-ARC itself is nirvana for all beauty and art lovers out there, and worth spending a virtual visit of a couple of hours.

The talk was transformative for me, in the sense that it made me realize we truly have entered a new reality and a witnessing the dawn of a new area, full of beauty, poetry, and artistic interventions that create alertness and aliveness similar to the 16th-century renaissance.

After a long intro, his talk starts at 2:46

 

 

Criticizing the idea of canvas

Dimensional explorations

Augmented structures

“Design is a solution to a problem; art is a question to a problem” – John Maeda

Humans, Machines, and Environments in a symbiotic relationship

Can a building dream?

“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward” – Kierkegaard

The data that we leave behind us

Data “dramatization” vs. Data Visualisation

The invisible space of Wi-Fi, 4G, radio signals, etc.

A poetic exploration of invisible datasets

Data Paintings

At a certain moment, Refik Anadol quotes Philip K. Dick, author of the 1968 science fiction book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, later retitled Blade Runner, and basis for the 1982 initial version of the film.

Electric Sheep

Quote Philip Dick

This inspires Refik Anadol to seed the following insight:

A simulation is that which does not stop when the stories go away

Stories are responsible for our human desire for resolution

But the simulation is only responsible for its own laws and initializing conditions

A simulation has no moral, prejudice of meaning

Like nature it just is

There is some poetry hidden in this abstraction of data

Exploring data sets that have this quality of meditation

The architect as an operating systems designer, a beautiful “speculation”

Quote Blaise

Finding the moment of remembering

Finding the moment of entering a dream state

“Machine Hallucinations”

Collective memories of spaces

To make the invisible visible

Hallucination narrators

Dream narrators

The Selfies of the Earth

Machine Hallucinations

Refik is asking questions that are not just a fancy-fications of a bunch of algorithms

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Another rabbit hole bringing together some reflections on creativity, demolition, patrimony, and poetic ruination, as so often in this blog inspired by architectural insights and metaphors.

bouwmeester

My attention was triggered by an article in the Jan 11, 2020 weekend edition of De Standaard, a Flemish newspaper. The article was about landscaping, and more specifically “ontharding” (I would literally translate it as “softening”). In this case, softening that what was hardened in the first place. Abandoned and neglected residential and industrial sites, where the soil is still covered by the concrete and rubbish of empty buildings.

It was part of a study supported by the “Vlaamse Bouwmeester”. “Bouwmeester” means “master of building”, “bau-meister”. The term is ill-translated into “Flemish Government Architect” on the official website. The full study can be found here (PDF in Dutch).

The core mission of the Flemish Government Architect is to promote the architectural quality of the built environment. The Flemish Government Architect and his team advise public patrons in the design and realization of buildings, public space, landscape and infrastructure. In addition, the Flemish Government Architect stimulates the development of visions and reflection, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral initiatives. The Flemish Government Architect acts as an advisor to the entire Flemish Government.

In short, the article and the study plea for restoring public space by the demolition of 1/5th of hardened space/surface in the Flemish landscape by 2050.

I had a flashback to “Cradle to Cradle”, the 2002 book that alerted me for the first time to a possible vision of sustainable production and architecture. The idea at that time was that reducing waste was just not good enough, and to be sustainable we needed to add value back into the system. As an evolution, the article about the softening of landscape goes one step further: from reducing waste to creating open space by the demolition of vacancy.

“Sloop geeft blijk van falen” – “Demolition evidences failure”

It was happenstance that I was reading around the same time Dan Hill’s 2015 book “Dark matter and trojan horses. A strategic design vocabulary”. I will come back to this book in subsequent posts.

Dan Hill was/is looking for (open) spaces as well, quoting ex-FC Barcelona football player and current Al-Sadd (Quatar) football team coach Xavi Hernández:

 “Think quickly, look for spaces. That’s what I do: look for spaces. All day. I’m always looking. All day, all day. Here? No. There? No. People who haven’t played don’t always realise how hard that is. Space, space, space. It’s like being on the PlayStation. I think ‘shit, the defender’s here, play it there’. I see the space and pass. That’s what I do.”

Already more than 20 years ago, architect Cedric Price was arguing for demolish-able buildings with open re-usable spaces.

fun palace

Cedric Price’s Fun Palace – inspiration for Centre Pompidou in Paris

OK – I confess – as from that moment I went down the rabbit hole and saw demolition and abandoned architecture everywhere. Like in this recent Guardian article, arguing the case for fully demountable buildings.

“We have to think of buildings as material depots,” says Thomas Rau , a Dutch architect who has been working to develop a public database of materials in existing buildings and their potential for reuse… He has developed the concept of “material passports”, a digital record of the specific characteristics and value of every material in a construction project, thereby enabling the different parts to be recovered, recycled and reused.

But there is also something poetic about abandonment, up to the point where we could consider keeping these ruins and equipping them with sensors to listen to patrimony.

In his beautifully reflective post “Instrumental Revelation and the Architecture of Abandoned Physics Experiments”, Geoff Manough introduces the concept of “poetic ruination.

Like menhirs, these abandoned seismic sensors could now just stand there, silent in the landscape, awaiting a future photographer such as Grigoryants to capture their poetic ruination.

Lebbeus Woods was inspiration to Geoff Manough and London-based architects Smout Allen for the project L.A. Recalculated:

Woods depicts an entire city designed and built as an inhabitable scientific tool. Everywhere there are “oscilloscopes, refractors, seismometers, interferometers, and other, as yet unknown instruments, measuring light, movement, force, change.” Woods describes how “tools for extending perceptivity to all scales of nature are built spontaneously, playfully, experimentally, continuously modified in home laboratories, in laboratories that are homes.”

Instead of wasting their lives tweeting about celebrity deaths, residents construct and model their own bespoke experiments, exploring seismology, astronomy, electricity, even light itself.

seismic sensors

Seismic Counterweights
From L.A. Recalculated by Smout Allen and BLDGBLOG

Like architects think about (industrial) sites listening through sensors to seismic undercurrents, I started wondering whether we could not use this metaphor to reflect about our organizational structures; structures not only as hierarchical structures but the more encompassing set of system rules and patterns of an organization – I referred to it before as organizational patrimony.

How can we listen to and signal about the pulse of this organizational patrimony? How can we be aware of it, appreciate it, respect it, and build upon it in our rebellious acts of creative destruction?

I imagine a cohort of humans – like a colony of ants – having 24/7 sensors and laboratories everywhere in organizations; in every office, cubicle, meeting room, coffee corner, etc. And I don’t mean robotic sterile sensors feeding AI models. I mean real humans, measuring, documenting and signaling patrimonial changes in the structure of corporate structure, so they can send early warnings of experiments that have become useless and therefore have to be ruinated, or – in the worst-case – signal cases of patrimonial breakdown and demolition. In search of the material depot and passport of our organizations.

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Byrne

Byrne, left, and fellow members of the 12-person, gray-suited cast.
Photo Credit: Bryan Derballa for The New York Times

It was Robert Fritz who pointed me at the meaninglessness of glorifying terms like “deep”, “meaningful”, “sustainable”, etc. especially in combination with corporate common blahs like “innovation”, “disruption”, “ecosystem”, and “change”

Simon

Simon Wardley's Common Blahs

Just try it: meaningful change, deep change, sustainable learning organization, etc. Utterly nonsense. But what if we would embrace another form of nonsense, another form of meaninglessness? Another form of plainness, elegance, pure joy from form?

It was this article about David Byrne’s Utopia Tour in the NYT, that lead me into the wormhole of Dada poetry, and later into the other art movement Cobra and its related Cobra Manifesto (Cobra is for a subsequent post).

“I thought plain but elegant suits would unify us and help reveal us as a tribe, a community,” 

 What was that song with the nonsense lyrics?The lyrics for “I Zimbra” were derived from “Gadji beri bimba,” a 1916 phonetic poem by Hugo Ball, the German author-poet and co-founder of Dada. More than a half-century after Ball strove to stop making sense, he got a writing credit for the opening track on the Talking Heads album “Fear of Music.”

 

Gadji beri bimba clandridi
Lauli lonni cadori gadjam
A bim beri glassala glandride
E glassala tuffm I zimbra

Bim blassa galassasa zimbrabim
Blassa glallassasa zimbrabim

A bim beri glassala grandrid
E glassala tuffm I zimbra

Gadji…

And then I found this in Peter Sloterdijk’s book “The Aesthetic Imperative”:

sloter aesthetics

I éja

Alo

Myu

Ssírio

Ssa

Schuá

Ará

Niíja

Stuáz

Brorr

Schjatt

Ui ai laéla – oía ssísialu

To trésa trésa trésa mischnumi

Ia lon schtazúmato

Ango laína la

Lu liálo lu léiula

Lu léja léja hioleíolu

A túalo mýo

Myo túalo

My ángo Ina

Ango gádse la

Schia séngu ína

Séngu ína la

My ángo séngu

Séngu ángola

Mengádse

Séngu

Iná

Leíola

Kbaó

Sagór

Kadó

Kadó? Cadeau? Maybe it’s a matter of learning to be better at the art of accepting presents or pure gifts. The text above is the last ‘movement’ of the Ango laïna by Rudolf Blümner, a kind of phonetic cantata for two voices from the year 1921. Blümner described it as an ‘absolute poem’. The Ango laïna demonstrates what poetry can be after it is emancipated from the vocabulary, grammar, rhetoric, and phonetics of the German language.

It made me think about what makes me happy and unhappy. Unhappiness caused by dullness, not making the most of it, chatter, irrelevance, not being in the moment, Being distracted from what you are supposed to be, to do,…

This is not about boredom. I can be perfectly happy in full boredom. I can be perfectly happy in full silence. I can be perfectly happy in full nothingness

Happiness is about being in the perfect “bubble” or “sphere” of belonging and relevance. This is beyond Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is getting closer to Nitin Nohria’s four drivers of motivation (see also my 2011 post on Lipstick on Pigs):

  • The drive to acquire,
  • The drive to defend,
  • The drive to bond, and
  • The drive to learn

Without stress, fatigue, and unhappiness. These happen when:

  • You cannot decide the pace of viewing (credit to my art teacher Fiorella Stinders)
  • You cannot decide the pace of creating (credit to Geert Lovink)

Happiness, in essence, is about not being withheld. Withheld by tempo. Withheld by form. Withheld by meaning.

This form of meaningless joy is what attracts me to the Dada movement.

In my next post, we’ll get into the Cobra movement, and why their ideas of playfulness are relevant in today’s thinking about society.

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larry and sergey

Larry and Sergey in hot tub bubbles in 2005 – picture by William Mercer McLeod

In my previous post, I played with words on Descartes’ “Je pense, donc je suis” – “I think, therefore I am”. In the background, you will notice my always-restless search for who I am. It is an everlasting search for (digital) identity. But maybe “Who” I am is a less critical investigation than “Where” I am?

I always have been intrigued by spheres. From my exposure as an youngster architecture student, through the discovery of Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Domes, from my thinking about digital identity being a sphere of fragments of influence that one could share with others, till my recent discoveries in exploring 3D drawing and sculpting software, where meshes of polygon meshes and NURBS primitives can be found and molded-in in abundance.

It should therefore not come as a surprise that – as mentioned in my Dec 2019 update –  I became absolutely fascinated by Sloterdijk’s “Foams”, part-3 of his trilogy on Bubbles, Spheres and Foam.

Foams book

I probably – with a probability of 100% – only understand a very small fraction of what is written and meant by Sloterdijk, or by some of the authors of essays introducing and contextualizing his work. I did some homework for this post by reading and reading again the excellent introduction by Jean Pierre Couture on the work of Sloterdijk in general, and Charlie Huenemann’s “Sloterdijk’s Spheres: Bubbles, Globes, and Foams”. And then starting the real thing by the master himself. It is not a page-turner: 900 pages of solid philosophical writing. I can do a maximum of 5 pages/day and need time to let it all sink in. That should do as far as the disclaimers are concerned.

Indeed, this is just a personal thought experiment – and maybe an art experiment or performance as well in the near future – re my evolution on thinking about (digital) identity, and daring to propose a different, radical and spherical perspective.

It’s a baby-idea, just out of the womb, waiting for parents and caregivers to be nurtured, and made alive. There is no practical application for this as far as I can think of, but it just feels I am onto something.

My latest contribution was The Cambrian Explosion of Identity from February 2019, already intended then as the start of a series on the subject, but other priorities distracted me from further development. Let’s add some “spherology” to the mix now.

„Peter Sloterdijk’s celebrated „Spheres“ trilogy is a 2,500-page „grand narrative“ retelling of the history of humanity, as related through the anthropological concept of the „Sphere”,… a lengthy meditation of Being and Space — a shifting of the question of „who we are„ to a more fundamental question of „where we are.“

Foams are masses of little bubbles, of course. As a metaphor, foams represent smaller zones of inclusion filled with the air of hope.” Huenemann, Charlie.

“And this, in essence, is what Sloterdijk sees as the project of the modernity: the business of constructing bigger and bigger shells, with more Lebensraum for the soul.Huenemann, Charlie.

I used to think of a robot as an entity that has a body, a mind, and sensors for input/output computation. A computational machine. But to me, it seems just a bit too easy to separate the mind and body, and to replace the mind with some form of artificial intelligence.

It feels like Sloterdijk describes “being” – being in the world, coming into the world, creating your own world and make it become alive, worlding – as acting as-a-foam, not as a “body”, a body with a brain on top that thinks. He is after the wholeness of foam and its integration and relationships with upper and lower levels of spheres and bubbles.

blue foam

The metaphor of foam is a very solid one: what was before foam, what happens after the foam disintegrates? Where does foam go, what caveats is it trying to fill? All interesting avenues for research and investigation.

It also made me think of this strange creature – the blob with 720 sexes – that foams over old wood trees as a monster we can all learn from?

Because of this sudden focus on foamy shapes, I see bubble-structures everywhere. I see foam in this discovery of Christian Mio Loclair’s art installations, interventions, and interpretations. His studio “Waltz Binaire” works for the biggest brands in the world.

He explores the harmonic friction of human bodies, movement, and nature colliding with digital aesthetics. Using cutting edge technology in interactive installations, audio-visual experiences, visual narratives, and dance performances, he continuously illuminates the beauty and drama of human identity.

waltz binaire foam

Enhanced Motion Design - Waltz Binaire Studio

I see foams in Spheres Journal:

“Yet the vision algorithms have of our future is built on our past. What we teach these algorithms ultimately reflects back on us and it is, therefore, no surprise when artificial intelligence starts to classify on the basis of race, class, and gender. This odd ‘hauntology’1 is at the core of what is currently discussed under the labels of algorithmic bias or pattern discrimination.”

Current identity thinking is based on past data. On graphs. On connections and relationships between “nodes”, “end-points” of a relatively fixed and static structure. With the extraction of value built on top of that past, amplified by AI. The past amplified.

But we did not notice that the nodes have become overlapping cells of belonging. The attractiveness of a “foamy” group- or individual-identity is that it is not fixed and static. It is “expansive”, not “extractive”. It adds value. It grows unpredictably into the future. Not like extrapolations of last year’s revenue growth. More like fruit maturing into a juicy ripeness.

Foam is dynamic. Made of bubbles, it lives within and across spheres of influence (both in the sense of actively influencing and passive being influenced).

Foam is not static. It is alive. In search of higher levels of aliveness. Until it dies. And only blobs of dust and air are left.

I see foam in Paul Baran’s network models:

paul baran

Centralized, decentralized and distributed network models
Paul Baran (1964)

What’s the impact of foamy logic on organizational models? How does a foamy organization look like? What’s the shape of D?

Are we moving from Graphs to Foams? From Nodes to Bubbles? What would nodes and endpoints be called in the foam-world anyway? Are we foam? It feels like I am going down a rabbit hole of foam. From fuzzy to foamy logic?

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The theme for Techonomy 2019 in Half Moon Bay, California was “Reset and Restore: Governing Tech, Retrieving Ethics, and Acting on Climate.”

Keen and David

In the opening session, Founder and Host David Kirkpatrick prompted: “These are serious times” and the following interview by Andrew Keen of David was really interesting. Keen rightfully asked the question of what needs to be reset, and – if we have to restore something – is this a nostalgic going back to good old times, or what is meant here?

To make a long story short, it seemed the answer could be distilled to a resetting and restoring back to/towards more humanity.

Konstantinos Karachalios, Managing Director of IEEE’s Digital Ethics department referred to the German Jewish Viennese philosopher Gunther Anders, who wrote in 1956 “The outdatedness of the Human Species”.

Konstantinos also shared some strong opinions about the Power (in)equation – the asymmetry in power of the big tech vs. us – and summarized his thinking as “The Time of (Engineering) Innocence is Over”

Colin Parris @colin_j_paris did a session titled “Why AI has to be humble” about GE’s use of self-learning AI in the building of GE Jet Engines. Super-slick and professional presentation, almost too clinical. The last slide was about “Intimidation by Immortal Machines”.

Immortal machines

My head got spinning and got me thinking of John Markoff’s 2015 book “Machines of Loving Grace – The Quest for Common Ground between Humans and Machines

Markoff

In itself, the book’s title is a spin on Richard Brautigan’s “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” from 1967, and of course, Adam Curtis fantastic 2011 documentary “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

 

I like to think (it has to be!) of a cybernetic ecology

where we are free of our labors

and joined back to nature,

returned to our mammal brothers and sisters,

and all watched over by machines of loving grace. 

Richard Brautigan, “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” © 1967

Let me put all this behind the backdrop of what I saw and experienced a couple of days earlier in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).

Moss screen

Richard Moss "INCOMING" - Picture by Petervan

On the 7th floor, there is an amazing video installation by Richard Mosse, called “INCOMING”, and it is about the horrible conditions in another Western export product: refugee camps, and related issues of sovereignty, warfare, and surveillance.  The installation forces us to confront our own complicity. Strongly recommended. Still running in SFMOMA till 17 Feb 2020. Warning: you won’t come out smiling from this installation!

See also interview with the artist in Forensic Architecture

The entrance of the installation also includes a picture of Berlin’s Tempelhof, a symbolically loaded site to house asylum seekers.

Temperhof

Tempelhof context

“…, and the airfield has been transformed into a popular public park. Some of its adjacent buildings and territory were designated as an emergency refugee shelter in 2015”

What misery! What a shame for a “modern” society! This installation made me rethink my opinion about refugees. For me, it questions the whole semantic discussion about “asylum seekers” vs. “economic” refugees. There is no difference. When people become so desperate to flee their home and take these incredible risks and withstand these inhumane circumstances, those semantics become irrelevant.

This injustice is going to explode in our face, sooner or later. A toxic mix with climate change, inequality and the 1% owning 99% of the wealth. I can only hope I will not be treated this way when I or my children have to find refuge for climate change or other disasters in the future.

All the big problems of today are crying for more compassion, more morality, less greed. The root cause is a lack of morals combined with an abundance of greed.

Putting it all together, “Immortal Machines of Loving Grace” may be better replaced by “Immoral Machines of Loving Greed”.  Just replacing two words is probably better and more adequately describing our Zeitgeist.

In that sense, some of the discussions of Techonomy 2019 should have included the refugee crisis vs. having safe conversations about the attention economy, tech supremacy or immortal machines of loving grace in a five-star luxury hotel.

See also my separate post on the key memes of Techonomy 2019.

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As mentioned in my August 2019 update, I am helping a client with an immersive leadership offsite. I am starting to label this sort of work “Artistic interventions, interruptions, and provocations that lead to higher states of alertness and aliveness.”

15-properties-leitner-1024x768

Coincidently, Sarah Perry just posted her swan song essay on “Meaning as Ambiguity”, referring to the work of Christopher Alexander (one of my all-time heroes) and coiner of “The Quality Without a Name” and “The Fifteen Geometric Properties of Wholeness” from Chapter-22 of his fantastic book “The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth

beauty

Back to meaning and ambiguity. In the design of this off-site, we confront the participants with increasing levels of ambiguity in the BANI worldIn their responses, we expect the participants to progress from learning into problem-solving into “Worlding”. See also my post on “The Tyranny of the Problem Solver”.

I first came across the term “Worlding” in the book “Emissary’s Guide to Worlding” by Artist Ian Cheng http://iancheng.com/

EGTW_1-0_cover_webres

It is one of those books where one makes annotations on every page, a big eye-opener and page-turner. Highly recommended.

Worlding is about imagining a future world you can believe in.

Some inspirational quotes from Ian Cheng’s book:

A World is a future you can believe in: One that promises to survive its creator, and continue generating drama.  

A World is a future you can believe in by promising to become an infinite game

A World evokes a place. 

A World has borders.

A World has laws. 

A World has values. 

A World has a language. 

A World can grow. 

A World can collapse. 

A World has mythic figures. 

A World has visitors. 

A World has members who live in it. 

A World looks arbitrary to a person outside of it. 

A World satisfies both the selfish and collective interests of its members. 

A World grants magic powers, especially the power to filter what matters to it. 

A World gives permission to live differently than the wild outside. 

A World creates an agreement about what is relevant. 

A World counts certain actions inside it as meaningful. 

A World undergoes reformations and disruptions. 

A World incentivizes its members to keep it alive. 

A World is a container for stories of itself. 

A World expresses itself in many forms, but is always something more.

For us humans, life is filled with the familiar contests of finite games: Deadlines. Deals. Rankings. Dating. Elections. Sports. College. War. Poker. Lotteries. 

When our finite games are won and done, what is strange is that we don’t exit back into base Reality. We wake up in a field of infinite games that perpetually mediate our contact with base Reality. 

We choose to live in these infinite games because they give us leverage, structure, and meaning over a base Reality that is indifferent to our physical or psychological health. 

We have many names for these infinite games: Families, Institutions, Religions, Nations, Subcultures, Cultures, Social Realities 

Let’s call them WORLDS

When a World can “survive its creator,” that means it has achieved sufficient stability to regulate and safeguard its potentiality without authorial intervention. 

This is a World’s requirement for Autonomy. 

When a World can “continue generating drama,” a World is sufficiently interesting for people to care about and want to explore. 

This is a World’s requirement for Aliveness. 

When a World is keeping its promise, it continues to be a future you can believe in

All the credits for the quotes above go of course to Ian Cheng. Great book.

Hope you enjoy it too!

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