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Welcome to another episode of The Brand  Called You. A podcast and video show which brings you leadership lessons, knowledge, experience  and wisdom from hundreds of successful individuals from around the world. If you're new to the  channel please subscribe and hit the bell icon. I'm your host Fritz Bussemaker and today I'm  delighted and privileged to have a conversation with Jerry Michalski. Jerry, welcome to the  program. It is delightful to be here with you, thank
you for the invitation. Now, Jerry you have a  background as a tech industry analyst during the dot com era, you founded a couple of organizations  like Sociates and a think tank called REX. But your unique claim to fame is that you have  the world's largest published brain called Jerry's Brain and let's start with that. What is Jerry's Brain? It's a good place to start and it also lets me
weave in some of my background. So I spent a dozen  years as a tech industry trends analyst, not a wall street analyst. I don't care or know what  next quarter's earnings are going to be or how many boxes some company shipped but I'm really  interested is AI going to kill us or save us, what is a dow and bitcoin? All that kind  of stuff is interesting to me and I haven't done that job for a long time but one of the 4,000  little companies that came and pitched me there,
they're mostly software had this mind mapping  tool called the Brain and you can go to the Brain.com and you can find them they're still  somehow miraculously, they're still alive today. I started using the brain, I wrote about them  in our newsletter, I invited them to our conference and I started using the software not realizing  that 23 years later I would still be using the same software and I don't think there's much of  anything that I use on my computer that is the
same from 23 years ago. So that's remarkable  by itself but also and this was unexpected that the file that I fed moments before we started  this call I was sort of looking around and I add things to it. I curate bookmarks that go by  interesting things worth remembering, I put them in my brain that the file that I just fed  is the same file that I started 23 years ago. So the reason that you just said I've got the  world's largest brain is that I've been feeding
one mind map for 23 and a half years which  now has 470,000 things in it. So, it is basically a mind map but a very big one. Yes, it's not that big when you see it a screen at a time, it can get a little bit complicated but there's never a hairball view like I don't ever zoom out to see all 470,000 thoughts in my brain  that would be a curiosity but
it wouldn't actually be useful and so for me, it's  just a screen at a time, what's interesting, who did I meet, where did I meet them,  what are they good at, what have they built, who do they work for? All of that and then  keep doing that for movies, for political issues, for words and lexicons for indigenous wisdom  for everything that I care about and I'm
compulsively curious about everything which  is terrific and oh my god! what a time sock. So this sounds to me like on one hand you  describe it as it's also a CRM system. You just keep register who you've  had a meeting with and what you talked about? Sort of, not really. So I do events  so for example, I gave a virtual speech in the
beginning of lockdown. I gave a virtual speech for  a little Romanian conference called Unfinished and in my brain I have a thought each  note is called a thought. I have a thought for that conference and for my speech and then under it  I have a bunch of new people that I met through that, people who I friended up with or we had  breakout sessions. So they asked a good question in the chat all of that I add to my brain but I  don't use it as my CRM, I have separately a contact list and other sorts of things and also  if somebody recommends an article I don't connect
them to the article I just put the article on the  brain. I will do like mentorship relationships. If somebody would had a PhD advisor that was  really instrumental in their life I'll make that connection but it's not really CRM for me  but it serves a bunch of other kind of functions together. I got it. Now, how tedious,  how much time a day do you spend on putting the
data? So if it were tedious I would  not have just used it and there's some mixture of like easy quick and useful that this  software had for me personally and other people see it they're like too confusing, I don't  know. For me, I was like a little duck in water perfectly happy and after a while I start talking  with somebody realizing oh! what they just said is not in my brain and then in my mind like when you  played too much tetris and you start seeing tetris
bricks in your eyelids, in my mind I start  thinking about where I'm going to curate that in my brain. So it's not tedious and it's open  all the time. So I'm feeding it and it takes maybe a minute to put it. So this morning I saw probably  six good articles that I added to my brain already and open the morning's email, there's a  bunch of good stuff that floats by and putting one in is maybe a minute. But I relate  to this in the sense that when I surf on the
web and I see something interesting but I don't  have time for it. I just mark it as to do read this. Where do you put that, where do you put the  to-do list? I just keep a very long list. I use safari and safari has the option to  just that's your reading list and that's it. Like the bookmark list? Yes. But then once I read it I throw it away.
So you have no systematic way of finding  great articles you read you have to remember them and hope that google finds them again later.  If I have the idea that I will make use of that information again, I might want to keep  it. So I don't throw everything away but I also want to avoid clutter, I also want to avoid just  having that big inbox which you haven't
read yet. So, how do you do that though?  So when you say keep it, you mean, you keep it in the bookmarks in safari which  means that you must have a bunch of stuff that just sticks there because there's a lot of  interesting things going by in the world. For me what I'm doing is all those bookmarks  are going in context in my brain and so they're separate from each other because an  article about income inequality is different from
an article about pets, for example. So those  wouldn't be visible at the same time but they're findable again in different ways which  is like genius. I feel like I did a video a couple years ago that's titled something like I have  a hunch, I'm having a very unusual experience here because I'm busy curating what I see that goes by that disappears then in the information flood and that information  river keeps getting deeper and deeper.
We just get this year it's Tik-Tok and last  year it was Snapchat and the year before it was something Instagram and every year somebody adds  a new flow of more information pouring at you and we don't have good tools for remembering what's worth remembering and I do. So it's not a CRM system so I'm going to the next one to  what extent is just a knowledge management system? You could call it personal knowledge management, knowledge management graph. There's a bunch of
different kind of subcategory names for this  and you'll find people, there's a cult of Rome research has a text-oriented thing  that has backlinks and it's pretty elegant but it's just text-oriented and I find when I  go back to linear outlining text I find the lack of dimensionality is like I've lost a limb so had  the brain not existed I probably would be in the
cult of Rome but there's a bunch of other people  working with other sorts of tools all in separate little communities and part of what I'm trying  to figure out is how do we actually make it so that we can each use the tool that suits us best  but we can share our knowledge into what we're calling a generative commons, an information  commons that helps us understand what we know and share it actively with each other. So we might  make better decisions, so it'll be easier to learn.
So scientists can share what they've figured  out, so politicians don't spin us so easily. That's a great segue to a question,  I just want to ask you in a sense what has it taught you to date and what has it brought you  today? So one of the big lessons that the brain taught me and I have a thought in my brain  called lessons from using my brain and the biggest lesson for me is that we are an amnesic society  because we don't have a good shared memory
that works. The best we have right now, we've offloaded our memory to Google and Wikipedia  maybe and it's like Wikipedia will have a page on it if it's important and then I'll  just Google for stuff and it turns out that this is a bad bargain that Google only has  links back to articles that got linked to a lot. So that obscure article that was brilliant but  nobody knew about it or pointed to it that's just
going to vanish off the google search.  For me, it won't vanish because I've got it connected and collected in context, so it's taught  me that that building a context is important but what I really want is to build shared context. I've been doing this for by myself for 23 years in the brain so all of the 470,000 little  thoughts in my brain were put in by me and if you do the math it's about 50 a day. So clearly  it's a personal obsession but I would love to be
doing that next to other people, they don't have to  be using the brain. They could use any other tool feeding a collective sort of like a mycelial  rhizome network of meaning so that we can use that in real-world situations whether it's  emergencies or policy discussions or whatever. You are already alluding what  the benefit would be of having a brain
and making other people may benefit from  that. So it is about access to knowledge? Well yes and so my passion project around  this is called open global mind. So if you go to openglobalmind.com you'll find  a simple website and I've got about 200 people in a community that meets regularly every  week. A couple an hour ago I finished a call
which is a standing call we have for the  community to figure out what we're doing and in this community, we're trying to figure out  not just knowledge sharing, knowledge management, personal knowledge graphs, whatever you want to  call it. The geeky visualization side but above that there's like this soft and squishy human  side because if I could show you the most brilliant argument with irrefutable evidence in  a visualization so beautiful that you'd like to
be mesmerized but if agreeing with my argument  meant you would be ostracized by your community, you would very happily say, no thank you, gaslight  me and move on and that's what's happening in the world right now. We're having tremendous trouble  making decisions as a society, as a civilization, as a nation, as a party, as a district even because  we're so divided against each other and we've lost trust. So the squishy part on top is all about  trust, vulnerability, presenting, connecting
with the other without which all this other  stuff is kind of worthless and meaningless. So this technology as far as you're concerned is  going to help with the squishy stuff. So I can show you in my brain things I believe  and why I believe them and then we can slowly go through that and pick them apart and you can say,  oh! I totally agree with you on this or I really just no, you're wrong and then we can  put the thing that we're wrong about in the middle
of our conversation somehow and then say, let's ask  a couple other people's opinions. Let's set up an experiment, let's figure out what question would  satisfy both of us about this issue and maybe one of us changes our mind a bit and moves toward the  other process. But wouldn't that also mean that if for instance, we would have an argument and you say,  okay let's go to the brain, your brain and look at
all the data which is in there. My argument   but that's a very biased part of the brain because you put it in there so it's already biased to your  thoughts. So how do you avoid? I mean, you're alluding to helping to take away  echo chambers which are very much online an issue at the moment because you said, okay we don't trust  each other more, we are only in our own little echo chamber talking about what we feel is right or not.  So how would that help in that situation? So
part of this is just I would be able to see your  logic like, why do you believe, what you believe? Which is useful like if you have to articulate why  you believe something then one of the things I do is I try to articulate the other side's argument, I think this is called steel manning or something like that. It's like not  a straw man, I think it's steel manning. It basically figure out the best argument  against your own logic and then model that
and so in my brain, I've had several  conversations over the last year or so during pandemic times and Trump times and  I've had several really interesting conversations that were written where I took apart the writing  and put it in my brain as each sentence was its own separate thought connected back into  that particular claim and then evidence to the
contrary what else is it and I think, if we can  slow things down in that way, we can begin to hear each other a little better because even the effort  to articulate the other person's point of view is a way of bridging the divide. When the  other person starts feeling like they've been heard even if there's a disagreement but if they  feel like they've been heard that helps a lot. I agree with you if you have made that connection  on that level that helps but you're still
assuming that people will listen to reason  that the logic is going to be accepted. So not necessarily I'm saying that. I'm  saying that without a heart connection or some degree of trust or vulnerability or  identifying with the other, the logic stuff really doesn't matter so much and in fact, there's a thought in my brain. There's a note in my brain called Emotion and Membership Trump reason  most of the time. So you can
be as logical as you want and one of the things  that people are saying is in trying to convince people to take the coronavirus vaccine, for  example, logical arguments don't really help. You've got to go to some other place. In fact, in many cases logical arguments just reinforce  the other person's stubbornness and their beliefs. So does that mean you also store a lot of  illogical data in there just to provide people
with an opportunity? So, if crazy-ass arguments like Venezuela hijacked an Italian satellite to hack the voting systems in America during the like if crazy-ass theories are illogical, then yes. Because I'm putting stuff like that in my brain  so I can catalog it, so I can respectfully say yep, I notice that you said  that and here's the five reasons why it's like
impossible or bogus or whatever but let's keep  talking. Makes me wonder the following we're not when we talk about Jerry  spring we actually talk about the stuff you put down online and we have your own brain in  your head. To what extent does your I'll say brain
number one, the brain in your head suffer from  the fact that you have delegated everything to a system. Have you become lazy, have you stopped  thinking? That's a great question. I actually have a video that says my brains are open. I have a  video that I did five years ago that basically I'm borrowing from Erdös, the mathematician who  for the last like five or ten years of his life
he would visit other mathematicians. He would just  show up on the doorstep and say my brain is open and then he would live with them for three months  or something like that and the two mathematicians would then write a series of papers  and now there's a thing called the Erdös number which is how close are you to Paul Erdös and  it's like the Kevin, like the six degrees of Kevin. So anyway long side story but I have  kind of two brains and they're very complementary
which is really interesting. So the brain I did  not create is somebody else's software, a little company in Los Angeles. I happen to have filled  it with more data than any other individual. My brain data is publicly available. You can go to  jerrysbrain.com, you can browse my brain for free we've exported it into a pile of JSON objects on a  server that we're trying to figure out what to do with and move it into some other tool but I have  discovered that having an outboard memory that is
complementary to my own brain is really fantastic.  One tiny example, when I decide to add something to my brain first decision is, is it worth remembering?  Yes, okay, good. Where does it go, what do I call it, what are connected, what should I connect it to,  what else does this mean? So for me an article cataloging and curating it into my brain throws  me into system two thinking and here I'm going
into Daniel Kahneman's book thinking fast and slow.  System one is our instinctive knee-jerk response. System two is when you actually have to engage the  gears. So the brain constantly asks me it doesn't ask me feeding the brain well and curating well  constantly puts me in system to thinking which I love because I feel like I'm always being bounced  into why is this here? Look
these two categories are similar but they're not  connected, let's connect them, let's rationalize this. So imagine your best note-taking  method were available to you for the last 20 years and you were busy then synthesizing  your notes over those 20 years instead of there's a notebook on my shelf that's  from 1998 but I've never opened it in 20 years. Instead of that the information you put in 1998  is as available as the information you put in
yesterday and is building and growing imagine that.  So it's a little obsessive but it's incredibly fruitful and productive. We've talked  about how you personally now use it and what it could do for society. What's your experience and  ideas how organizations could benefit from this? So the brain has been trying to sell  itself to organizations for enterprise knowledge
management for years it's kind of hard partly  because my wife for example, has a calendric memory. She can remember what we were doing on this  day for the last seven years. I have no idea what I was doing seven days ago without looking at my  actual electronic calendar. So different people fall into different subsets of how we like to  represent and process and handle information. There's a subset of us for whom something like the  brain, a map is like perfect and I'm in that
little cluster. How can we share information  through so that other people who like outlines and backlinks like Rome research or Obsidian and other  people who like other kinds of formats so that we can all talk together and nurture and nourish  a common base of knowledge and a common base of knowledge by which I don't mean what Wikipedia  sort of does which is we all have to agree what shows up on a single page. No, we're allowed  to have different opinions about this knowledge
and then the interesting fun thing is in comparing  our opinions and then if you were to say something brilliant about North American abstract art and  I really loved it. I might then sort of proxy my knowledge base over to you for that domain. I might  say in this topic go see Fritz's mind map whatever it is. Built-in whatever tool you love but shared  out in a way that it interacts and intersects
nicely with what I'm busy curating and that little  middle space of the intersecting knowledge bases that's missing right now and that's a piece of  what open global mind is trying to sponsor. What are your objectives with that? So open global mind  started with lockdown from some conversations I had where a new friend at the time said, hey this  sounds really interesting. We started talking and then we opened the doors and invited both of  our communities in to a larger conversation. At
this point some 220 people have signed up for our  mailing list. So it's not a big group, we have three or four or five standing calls every week one of  which is very geeky. One of which is about how do we turn this into an entity and  a business and other sorts of things. One of which is about that generative commons and how does  that emerge. One of them that was this morning on Thursdays is just a check-in call like who's  doing what? That's interesting just so that we can
rub ourselves against each other. Our objectives  are to help humans make better decisions together that's it like how we're noticing  that society is failing to make good decisions just ask Greta thunder. We're failing  to make really important decisions together and it's not that we don't have good enough  science, we've got some good science. It's that we're in a complete trust lock up, we're in a  standoff, we're unable to trust each other so that
we might even look at what to do together. That  is the thing, I think that is the linchpin for me of trying to break through so that once  we breakthrough that we can start to see oh here's a great path for terraforming  or whatever as a climate change alternative, oh that's a terrible idea because here are the  unintended side effects of that kind of chair. Awesome, let's go have those conversations  but let's have them sensibly. Let's set
up experiments, let's figure out how to  govern ourselves together and the world is really broken in so  many ways and so many people are dismayed and unhappy and alienated and I completely  agree, they are right and a piece of how to get over that is to come back into trust  relationships and to start trying to solve problems together in a meaningful way and most  of our institutions don't permit us to do that.
The educational system, the compulsory educational  system is like a petri dish that we put our children into that has no connection to the  outside world. They're busy learning something for a degree, for a job, for a future promise, like seriously? Almost nothing they do is actually relevant day-to-day, could be. And if they were  feeding the same substrate of what we know and if they were feeding off it and then adding to  it, they would be part of this large conversation
in life much earlier than waiting until they  graduate and start doing something in the world. This reminds me of something, I regularly talk  about myself is this shift in society from a commander control to connect and collaborate  society from working and living in silos towards working in a network society and what I take away from this is that you're developing a solution with the open global  mind to provide that network with a common
knowledge system a common narrative or shared  or collective that we can actually start to make the right decisions where everybody benefits from.  Yes and we are also trying to pioneer what life might be like in the next economy? Meaning,  if we think information ought to be shared mostly there's some private information  that's either personally private or or whatever, corporate private that needs to be  protected but most everything ought to be shared
if we can so then if you're not selling access  to information, what is your business model? And so part of what we're pioneering is, hey  there's a whole bunch of new roles of people who are busy curating information, facilitating  meetings, doing a bunch of other things. What do those things look like as a way of making  a living while feeding this common substrate of what we know. And then in the middle  of all this, a friend of mine a month ago asked, so
is OGM a dao, are we a distributed in autonomous  corporation? Like I don't know but that's a really interesting question and the whole D web,  decentralized web movement fits nicely under what we're thinking about. So we're making all these  interesting kind of decisions and conversations about which of these parts fit well, how might they  work together in this new environment that turns
things very much upside down from command control  to collaborate and connect very very much and I think we're trying to be an example of how that  might actually work and by the way, there's a whole bunch of other communities out there doing exactly  that we would like to be a bit of a unifying force across those communities so that we don't all  have to repeat all the experiments individually. When one group has tested a platform and  figured out what its flaws are like, let's all
figure that out and let's make the platform  better or let's jump to the next better platform together and see how this works. I think, we're in this transition period that we've grown up in a world where we look at what sets us  apart how can you be king of the empire to shift what do we have in common, how can we complement  each other but that's not seen success yet. I'm in a room that has a motion  sensor and then this time down, sorry. So that
room doesn't have a brain of itself to  realize you're there and it needs to keep the light on it. My body is apparently not warm enough  for moving enough to make it realize I'm here. We're almost at the end of the talk  Jerry and I found it fascinating what you're doing and what your objectives are with the open  global mind. In this case, what does success for you mean, when are you going to be happy? So personally just me, I'm happiest when I'm
sitting at a table with six or eight people who  have some interesting dilemma in front of them and I'm helping them think it through using  the resources that I've saved up over time curated in this brain thing as just an  ancillary asset in the conversation and using that information to feed this generative  commons between us. Like, I would love to figure out to make this new environment exist, I'd  like to help spark it into existence.
Not by building one new app to rule them all  but by helping connect all the apps that exist into one another, so that we can do that and I'd  love to make a good living in the middle of that whole thing doing my little information jitsu like Austin powers judo chop and my sport is aikido which is all about  blending and using energy and aikido is a lovely-lovely metaphor for how this works in fact, I own the domain aikido.com because I have
a question what would a practice look  like where you improved everything you touch? I call that aikido, uplift or upward  spiral with this notion of blending and using harnessing the forces. So I'd like  to be practicing up aikido in the middle of doing this thing and collaborating with whoever is  interested and figuring out how the world works, what things are working and where that goes  and spinning out companies and consultancies and
open source bodies of code and other sorts  of things along the way. Now you've been at this for the last 20 years you  could say continuously building on Jerry's brain. I cannot believe it has not been a bumpy  road to the success it is today. So what were the biggest failures and  obstacles along the way you had to conquer?
So I wouldn't describe as a success  right now. I would describe our community as happy and thriving we're like kicking around big  ideas. We have the voluntary participation of a whole bunch of really brilliant and  beautiful people, that's going well. We don't have a business model, we don't have the next  platform designed and drafted and scoped and built. Mone of that is happening and I've been doing  this so sort of in lieu of income for way too
long and I'm trying actually to find funding to  fund projects inside of this thing so that we can all make a look, so that I and a bunch of others  can make a living doing this and I'm echoing here a conversation that I just had an hour and a half  ago in my Thursday morning call with one of those participants whose life is a lot like mine, his  name is Eric and so I think it's been very bumpy. I think your description of this has been a  bumpy ride is completely accurate. Personally I
think, I've kind of sacrificed a lot of things to  be on this quest because I'm obsessive about it and I have a track record. I was  a tech industry trends analyst for a dozen years. I have a very nice track record for sniffing  what's next and describing it but I don't have a good track record for naming it. So for example,  I wrote an issue of the newsletter I used to write for Esther Dyson, I wrote an issue called  what's a zine and I was borrowing zines from small
circulation personally printed magazine,  local magazines, it turns out that it's called a Weblog. It existed a couple of years later and  my friend Peter Merholz coined Weblog, not me. But everything in that issue of what's a zine  describes this thing that showed up a couple years later and I've done that a bunch of times. So you have worked with the great Esther Dyson who is an awesome person, had the opportunity  to meet her once years ago but that's not a
story. So she's a brand in itself but how would  you describe your own brand? Let's end with that. Is that your brain or is it more? Well,  it's really funny because I'm playing with different ways like what is the  brand, how does this all fit? And a conversation we had recently was is open global mind is OGM, an organization or is it a movement or a hashtag
and actually we ended up thinking it's  more of a movement than an organization and maybe what gets funded are different  projects that have their own sub-brands inside of the larger movement which is a brand  also like open Global Mind. I love the phrase Open Global Mind because it's about open-mindedness,  it's global, it's about connected memory, it sort of evokes all those kinds of things.  I also own the domain openglobalheart.com
because it isn't just about the mind, it  shouldn't all be about logic and ideas we need the other part but I'm playing with all  these brands and sub-brands to figure out which of these actually work because 200 years from now  historians will be saying, oh look at that messy time, the transition time that  you and I are in right now and everybody listening. Isn't it great that these couples  ideas bubble out and that's what we call this
era now. Now in 200 years time when  people look back at this period and they are able to find in their brain that you were  here, you were doing something. How do you want people to remember you? So Brewster Kahle is the founder of the Internet Archive and I think of Brewster as the Benjamin Franklin of  my lifetime. He will be looked back by those historians as having done really important  work to collect up human wisdom and store it and
make it available again. I would love to be the  person who offered like sourdough bread is made with starter, it's a bacterium, it's a culture  and you put that in some new food and then the the bacteria eat and make the bread frothy. I would like my brain to be the sourdough starter of this shared web of knowledge that was loose  enough to encompass very different points of view but tight enough to help us come to agreement on  things and make progress for the world. I would
love to be remembered as a little piece of  sourdough starter that helps spark that. Jerry, that's a great way to end this conversation. I do  hope that's the way you'll be remembered as a piece of sour though. Well you said it. I did, I liked it. I liked the metaphor. So I really want to thank you very much for sharing
what you've done so far, the world's biggest  published brain Jerry's mind, why you've done it and what it could do for us. Thank you so much.  Thank you very much this is a fun conversation Fritz, appreciate it. Thank you for listening  to The Brand Called You, videocast and podcast. A platform that brings you  knowledge, experience and wisdom of hundreds of successful individuals  from around the world. Do visit our website
to watch and www.tbcy.com to the stories  of many more individuals. You can also follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and  Twitter, just search for the brand called you.
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