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 had the biggest concentration of smart, creative people per square foot (more on the work at cocollective.com/work/moma)
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. …
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.
In this current moment we’re in it is tempting to perpetually look for solutions. When reflecting on our fatigue, and lack of creativity in online discourse we might identity problems; say for example, the fact that the Zoom grid we find ourselves in, is symmetrical, where our identities are not.
At this point there are two avenues to explore: the technological or the humanistic.
The technological one might look for new digital means to break that–for example Microsoft’s shared background in video calls–as a mean to create a shared sense of space. But that is, a pseudo-space: and in fact a pseudo-reality. …
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. …
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. …
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 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. …
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.
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. …
Our recent attempts to compute AI, or rather AGI (artificial general Intelligence) are not new. They can be traced back quite some time.
How far back depends on whom you ask, for the purpose of this write–up I will focus on Minsky, McCarthy and MIT’s AI Lab as the starting point (but we could easily go back to Turing and beyond).
When Minsky and McCarthy started the lab in 1959 they were very much set on computing general intelligence. Machines that think, armed with consciousness and able at learning.
They sought to achieve that by a number of means. Of varying techniques, but a shared point of view. In an interview to Jeffery Mishlove (of Thinking Allowed), John McCarthy confessed…