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foreign [Music] ERS linkers and mappers we are really happy to host a series of conversations around the topic of tools for thinking our longer term goal is to spark a
diverse connected shared memory that will help us make important decisions together as humans our near-term goal with these podcasts is to interest startups in being part of beta Works upcoming accelerator think Camp
betaworks is a New York city-based incubator and accelerator they've run several camps before on topics from Bots to synthetic media and voice interfaces you can find out more about think camp
and this domain by going to betaworks.com Camp all lower case I'm Jerry mikulski your interlocutor and obsessive mind mapper our topic today is
are we totally blowing the creative potential of computers and my guests are Molly milky and Sam arborsman Molly is the founder of moth mines Sam is with Lux Capital neither of those terms are
self-explanatory or self-evident in fact in Ambrose beers's Devil's dictionary I love his definition of self-evident uh he says evident only to oneself like
makes way too much sense so Molly like what is moth and and what what sort of lens are you bringing uh into our conversation today yeah well lovely to be here
um my name is Molly and I am working on many things moth being one of them um moth is a fund actually that has a portion of it allocated to Grants and it
has a thesis of investing in young people really early in believing in them pre-idea um and I'm really interested in just creating more kind of systems and fellowships and structures that take
bets on people and their ideas even if they take a very long time to come to fruition and this is kind of my first experiment in that realm um and more broadly I am a writer editor
investor clearly and I work for strike press and I'm very interested in like stories of technology and both past and present as well as kind of the culture of Technology at large and like the kind
of agency and Innovation spirit that it has and um yeah I've in the past done research on creativity in human beings and I'm excited to kind of like broaden that to
more like Innovation and agency more broadly and everything you just said makes me really excited for our conversation right now um thank you um Sam Lux when I went off on my own in
98 I almost called myself Lux Informatica and then I thought what an obscure I shouldn't go there but Lux Capital makes sense yes I mean I guess we went obscure and it works out pretty
well for us um yeah so Lux capital is a venture capital firm uh devoted to investing in kind of emerging technology or probably the more fun way to describe it is anything that feels a little bit like science fiction that's the kind of
thing that we're thinking about so we're thinking about everything at the frontier of biology things in outer space um things in AI kind of all over the place and especially at the intersection of lots of different areas that's actually one of the things I like to
think about is kind of how to intersect often unexpected ideas and Concepts and Fields together and so my role at Lux is uh I guess a delightfully vague title of scientists in Residence
and and uh so I'm trained as a computational biologist and kind of complexity scientist and my role really is to survey the landscape of Science and Technology and find areas that we should be involved with and based on
that uh find people to invest in uh and companies to invest in uh connect those areas that I'm exploring to our portfolio of companies that we've already invested in and also just kind of engage with the public around these
ideas around kind of ideas at the um the frontier of Science and Technology and so one area that I've been thinking a lot about is kind of at the is how to better um allow for the intersection of ideas kind of this this unexpected uh
creativity and kind of cross-pollination of information and obviously and computers are really really good at this kind of thing and whether or not it's um helping uh to like democratize information flow
connect various different ideas together um or even just uh and allow people to kind of build things that they otherwise could not build um and kind of I guess reduce the gap between some weird idea
they have in their head and something out in the real world computers are great at that and so I'm very interested in I guess this topic from many many different angles and I'm excited for the conversation
and what I said about Molly it doubles up for you this is uh this is a great combo thank you thank you both for for being here um it feels like we're at this interesting kind of liminal threshold
the limboi moment where lots of things are going to change I think this is just my own my own sentiment about this this little piece of couple years that we're living through but things are going to change pretty dramatically and 20 years from now when we look back on this this
moment uh we'll be like wow we we didn't see that that thing and that thing and that thing we're going to grow so large in the landscape and kind of eat our whirls or whatever it is just like 2007 is the the debut of the iPhone and it's
hard now to imagine a world without a smartphone um but but it did exist and it's hard to imagine a world pre-internet but that did exist and the cross-pollination you're describing is like hugely
important but also I have this feeling that from the 1968 mother of all demos that Doug engelbart famously showed that it motivated a whole bunch of people to get into this space very little of even
what was in there about collaboration and shared ideas has made it into useful tools and products instead we were delivered personal productivity and personal Computing and both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had to be dragged Kicking
and Screaming to do networking and and the internet and all those kinds of things it's very interesting Molly when you say that like like are we not getting the the creative potential of these tools what what sparks that for
you and where are we in that moment yeah I think about this a lot um I think that for the most part A lot of the incentives of Technology are not exactly
aligned for like kind of realizing these longer term Ambitions of basically new Computing paradigms of like how we collaborate together um and that is often just a matter of
time scale of like how fast um Venture is expecting returns but there's also just like other problems of just I think that it is really hard to realize some of these um Concepts that
were kind of originally theorized when people don't have the expectation that computers can even do that I think that those Visions are kind of relegated to Niche areas in Computing where people are still kind of like harboring and
trying to realize little bits of like oh what if we were completely like collaborative and you know everything was shared and there was much more democratization of of information flow and even software itself
um but that is something that has to be supported by more people than it actually is and so it's unfortunate that I think that the consumer preferences air more on the side of like the individual things that are fast and
cheap and that just kind of pigeonholes us in a direction that doesn't have a lot of room to innovate um but I don't know I think that there's more horses at play as well of just kind of like putting more ideas in
conversation with each other and I think Sam has actually thought about this more than I have um I'd be curious what he thinks yeah and so this is a really interesting question and I wonder if um and part of
it is that um especially when we kind of think about how to build like highly collaborative tools and kind of allow things to kind of like actually create a Commons of information and that we can all kind of draw upon
um in some ways I feel like even though a lot of these ideas have been around for decades um we're still sort of in the realm of like prophets um where it's like there's these people who kind of advocate things that are
almost like perfect idea like platonic ideals and we haven't quite gotten it today okay let's actually figure out something that's pretty good not quite there but make it real um and uh and and so it's
um I I guess what I'm trying to say is uh I wonder if there needs to be almost like a certain sense of compromise of saying okay it's okay if we don't create the perfect kind of thing um but we need to actually make greater
efforts in actually creating kind of collaborative actually a kind of collaborative creative tools um that being said I think I mean there has been a lot of um progress here first of all I I would
say like we should not discount what has already come and we have a lot of interesting things um and I think it's also related to that the fact that like some of these things were her like a slow burn like it kind of it takes a while
um to allow some of these things to to advance and there's actually there's some concept I forget who is responsible for it but I think it's called the um like the long nose of technology or the long nose of progress or something like that where the idea behind it is that uh
it takes at least like 15 years from the Advent of an idea to its actual instantiation and technology and obviously this has been a lot longer than kind of the mother of all demos to our current time um but some of these things just take
time and so um maybe there's yeah there's this kind of just um this tension between exactly what Molly was saying of like okay the desire to have like move fast and break things versus recognizing it's okay to be
patient and recognize that some of these things kind of take time to to get right um and it's okay to also just um yeah bring things down from the profits in the mountains and kind of make them
okay versions of of what we actually need it's really interesting there is a thing I just Googled there's the long nose of innovation uh yes okay yeah that is a thing out there and I I was kind of going to offer that in my perception I
used to be a technology Trends analyst back in the 90s and it seems like this stuff moves ahead in a step function and and before all of that I actually worked at Mobile Oil before it was Exxon Mobil
and uh was in their Freight rate Transportation sort of division you know telling the field how much it cost to move package lubricating oils from one place to another and I went to a conference about EDI electronic data
interchange and I was not a technician or a com or a programmer but I was like oh that's interesting and then I watched many years later as e-commerce showed up then XML shows up then a bunch of other things show up and every time like the
whole field kind of bumps up a ways but then goes goes on and kind of gets exhausted and does the same thing for a really long time until there's a break and some some breakthrough um and then a lot of these breakthroughs are
constrained by either what designers of software think people are capable of or maybe just reality and I don't know where which this is but I've watched the the desktop metaphor and Microsoft Office kill off a bunch of really
interesting products in the world so there was a there was a product called Pearl trees which was a really nice ideation thing it was a little French company and it made little circles that had you know assertions and data and so forth and the thing they got
really right was that I could connect my Pearl trees to one of yours by reference so that in my tree about Innovation it would link to your long nose of innovation thoughts and whatever you curated there would show up slightly visually differently for me that was
really good and then one day after Tumblr got really popular they redesigned the whole thing and it suddenly it looked like rectangles going down the screen and they basically lobotomized their cool little little
French thing similar I was a big fan of using Prezi as a as a storytelling tool Prezi lobotomized itself more recently and the endless zoomable whiteboard that I could tell stories and like like
fluidly is gone so so I had this fear that that very often like like Microsoft Office is this huge tractor beam that stops things from being interesting and different either because
that's the preconception we have so we're all going to write toward that and that's where the audience is so that's where startups are going to get funding or something else I don't know and then across the fence uh there's augmented
reality gesture interfaces we've recorded one of these podcasts with John Undercover the guy who designed the g-space uh UI that Tom Cruise uses in Minority Report like well that's interesting
right so so where are the where are the interesting sort of edges in this space where where do you look for inspiration or or happiness to get away from these tractor beams and some of the the weird
Dynamics in our in our business yeah so one thing I would just add to the to the Tractor beams is also just um I think uh Jerry you and I have discussed this a little bit before um that there's all there's a great deal
of like historical ignorance in the world of technology and I think that also contributes to this which is um like and sometimes it's even like proud ignorance like you kind of say okay like new is always better and the old is irrelevant and so we're we're
constantly well sometimes just Reinventing things that we've already seen or we're ignoring things that could be great ideas that were abandoned for Market reasons or technology reasons or a whole bunch of different things and
and I think it's and so in terms of like how to find some of these kinds of things it actually I mean I think we really should be digging in the archives and actually finding old things whether it's looking through old Computing magazines from the 70s and 80s and 90s
um or looking at technical papers and seeing why do these things fail where was there a good reason okay and so explain the analogy I would use like with bicycles like we don't have the bicycle with the really big wheel more and probably for good reason because it
probably was incredibly dangerous but there are many other things that people tried that are now actually not such bad ideas so I mean or in the early days of um of cars and there were a lot of
different okay mechanisms for cars and there was the internal combustion engine but there was also there were steam cars there were steam power like Stanley Steemer the steam-powered cars and there were also electric cars and one of the
reasons why they didn't take off is partly due to battery power like Battery Technology and of course we've now had advances in Battery Technology and so I think being able to expand like our sense of what is actually the possible
as opposed to saying okay let's take everything we currently have and just kind of iterate a little bit more um is really important and so um in terms like what are the edges I'm not always certain but I think we just need to expand our like kind of expand our focal
lens much more um and like yeah just find the old stuff that um this is really interesting to look at I totally agree with all of that I think for me I tend to look towards um and find myself very fascinated by
The Innovation that like Indie tools do just like ones that are kind of experimenting and they don't have a lot of pressure to make something that is making a ton of money I think that'll oftentimes they're the ones who are digging into the archives and pulling
out something really interesting and being like wait why did this fail oh it was more of like an actual funding problem and not an actual like problem of the technology which I actually think is the a pretty common story not just
funding but there's so many other forces at play for why things have failed in the past and actually for the most part in the case of Technology oftentimes it's it's not actually that the technology was never like brought to a point where it worked and was like
interesting technically and like pushing the bounds it was more than the people didn't kind of work together well or like they ran out of money or something like that or they couldn't actually popularize it it seems like that is oftentimes the the biggest Gap is
actually just communicating why the thing matters why it's worth investing in learning a new tool and that seems to be something that is we're getting better at but it is
still like a treatment that kind of needs to be applied to the Indie tools for those ideas to kind of become the profits that they could be to kind of keep us from just consolidating down to like the the Microsoft Office Baseline
that we continue to be like trotting along exactly yeah I I think oftentimes when there is this kind of Cambrian explosion of any tools is often at the at the early stages of some sort of platform so whether it's like in the
early days of the Macintosh or the early days of the internet like when people are just kind of playing around trying things they're not necessarily thinking in terms of okay how can I capture all the market because it's probably still very small it's more just kind of people playing around and having a sense of
sense of curiosity in play and that's and we kind of have this like like evolutionary Divergence but then oftentimes a Microsoft comes in or some other kind of certain thing comes in and then we have this mass extinction
um and the mass extinction is exactly it's not necessarily for technical reasons or other good reasons it's for yeah like other little things it could just be yeah like the co-founders didn't get along or whatever and so um how can we and the the nice thing
with um with technology yeah unlike biology and we can see the fossils but we might not be able to actually recreate the organisms but we can recreate the actual technologies that were there like that have since gone extinct and so it might
be worthwhile actually going back and yeah looking at like the the Cambrian explosions at the early days of certain platforms would you like to take a side Excursion into hypercard for a moment always
since since it sounds like like that that's a story that that you love that fits right into what you just said so I could you tell us a little bit about your Explorations there sure um I I guess should I explain a little bit about hyper card in case yeah
because like despite how revolutionary it was and it was my address book and calendar and note-taking software for I don't know four or five years back in the day and then just like vanished so yeah so hyper card
um was a uh it was it was a computer program that came with the uh I guess the it was built into the Macintosh beginning probably in the late 80s so Bill Atkinson forced blackmailed Apple
to ship it with the Mac that's not that is an even better story so right and I think and one of the reasons it became so widespread is because of the fact that it was built into the mac and um
and basically hypercard was um I guess the way the best way to describe it is a very easy tool for building um essentially like web pages for yourself on your own machine and so you
you built a stack and so a stack was a collection of cards and so each card would be the equivalent of a single web page or uh and then together they would be a site uh and it uh it it mimicked sort of the uh the Seymour password idea
of like the low floors High ceilings kind of thing where it was very easy for people who were not programmers to go in and play with that um and so you could add buttons and you could add text and you could um you could have like little data links and things like that um but then
underneath you could then make the buttons do things you could you can actually program them there was a language called hypertalk and so it was almost trivial to you know make a button that you could press it and it would make a little boing sound or whatever it was but then you could also do a whole
bunch of more sophisticated things so for example the um the computer game missed like the early version of that was actually built in hypercard um I think and and people and built a huge host of things and the idea was and
hypercard it was a program to allow people to make their own programs and because it was so easy to get involved and kind of play with it and there were lots of kind of examples already
um of what was possible it's Suddenly at least in my mind kind of open people's minds to what was truly like what was the space of potential things that could be done with a computer uh and so for me like when I think about
um one of the like one of the issues around kind of like coding tools um even ones that are kind of designed to democratize tools or democratized coding is that if you if you don't know how to how to program a computer
then you don't even realize the space of potential things you could be doing uh and and so but hypercard by making it so much easier to actually build things it then made it that much more possible to say okay I could build a flashcard tool
I can build a calendar I can build um I think I made when I was little I made like a password generator like a random password generator um and actually for me I mean hypercard was the on-ramp for me to actually learn how to
program and I have since going on to like more are you beyond hyper talk now I'm beyond hyper talk I would not I am still very much a a I miss hyperton an amateur
um in terms of my programming um although I've been doing it now I guess for decades um but hyper talk was that really nice on-ramp that allowed me to kind of it gave me the um the comfort in building
but it also just showed me that computers were not just for consumption um they were also for creation and so and for me in many ways it actually I guess take computer history even like
one step earlier so before we got a Macintosh our my family's first computer was the Commodore vic-20 um and so then this was before I knew how to program and so I was a little kid I was probably three or I was a small child
um I think that was when we first got it and um and the one interesting thing with the Commodore Vic 20 is I it you have like cassette tapes that would go on the Commodore data set um and that would be how you would you get programs but you could also just
program them yourself using kind of a I think a version of basic um and so during that time period there were these and type in programs you get a computer magazine and would have just code in the back or throughout the magazine and you could just enter it in and so for me
when I was a little kid I didn't know how to program but I saw my father typing in these programs and I could see a clear relationship between the text that was being written and what was actually happening on the screen and so I saw not only kind of the
relationship between code and it's a fact but I also saw the ability like I I recognize that computers were not just things that you can like you consume the programs or you kind of use them there was
um there was this kind of like very open relationship and hypercard I think wasn't wasn't even um more powerful instantiation of that kind of thing and uh yeah and so for me and and I think many people who either
used hypercard or learned about hypercard um in the Years afterward it's it's viewed as this kind of um forgotten golden age of like oh my God like there was this thing and now we've forgotten it and like how can we
kind of get back to that um right and it died and like and there are still things that you know there are kind of ported versions of it you can actually I think you can use hypercard on the internet archive and um there's lots of ways of doing that but it doesn't quite capture
that kind of open-ended like wonderful ability like you can just like build anything you want as like as easily as you like um now I have to also admit that like in some of my own memories of this might be being warped
by the kind of like the the Golden Age kind of fuzzy glow and so maybe it was a lot messier than I remember but um yeah so anyway that's and that's a little bit about hyper card and kind of how um yeah and I think and so in terms of
yeah technological history I think like we can do far worse than revisiting hypercard and and the reasons why it was so successful but my memories of hypercard are suffused with a warm glow as well so I don't know that you're
exaggerating very much here uh Molly is there a hyper card incident in your life is there something you hit or got to use that was sort of open and creative in that way that that fuels your your critique and your
desire for better stuff I wish I think I so I I was a little too young to have with hypercard except for in the internet archive version um but I think that my equivalent the
closest I have is actually Photoshop I was turned onto Photoshop at a very very young age and it got me very interested in just like how computers can manipulate and create really wonderful things that were like Visions in my head
that I could realize and I think what really struck me about Photoshop was that I tackled it at a young age because I had help from my dad who was very into photography at the time and I got super
into it and it became like my playground essentially but I think that is a very very very uncommon experience um and it is incredibly intimidating to most people and that's actually a huge part of why I became so interested in
like how computers can facilitate creativity for human beings because I realized that the packaging of the programs that I had used as like sandboxes were not feeling the same at
all to everyone else around me in fact they were incredibly intimidating and everyone was avoiding them and that was kind of formative in like how I was thinking about what I wanted to do because I really liked to
um help people learn how to express themselves and I was so enamored by just like Digital Image making and that's how I got much more interested in just like tools like figma and things like that that are kind of like dumb or down more
approachable versions and realizing how much even just like The Branding and the colors and like how many tools you're offered really impacts what you think you can do and whether you think the tool is made for someone like you um but yeah Photoshop that was
definitely my my hypercon absolutely that's that's super interesting and you're reminding me of another Mass die off sort of story or small die-off story which is um the the Mac also shipped with mcpaint
and mcdraw and mcwright and I used mcdraw mcpaint whatever but I'm a vector graphics guy and I used mcdraw to draw my own illustrations for research that I was that we were sending out to our
clients like I didn't need to send something to some graphics person and say you know do this for me I did this over and over and over and it worked out just fine thank you very much and then a couple things happened somehow mcdraw
and its look-alikes just disappeared from the marketplace and the Auntie was well do you want to learn illustrator or photoshop or what and I looked over the fence at Photoshop and illustrator had nobody to coach me through them and realized how sophisticated and
complicated they were and I just stopped and I just stopped and only recently am I playing with some tools that I kind of like in in the drawing tool space of something called excaled Draw which is a plug-in for obsidian which lets me draw
Graphics where the text in the graphics actually is connected to the text in the wiki and blah blah blah and I'm like excited about that finally again because I might be able to draw an interactive Vector drawing that isn't just art but
is in fact a representation of something that leads to conversations so anyway this is kind of the way I want the tools for thinking space to evolve a little bit I was going to say so the designer and researcher Heim gingold he has this
term and maybe I'm kind of misusing it entirely um from the way he kind of imagines it but it's called magic crayons and the idea is like anything by analogy with like the like the children's book Herald and the Purple Crayon like where he I love that book he
colors the world and like becomes a real world and he now can inhabit it and he was and his argument is that like we need more of these kind of computational magic crayons that are and simple enough that it eliminates that kind of barrier
between like what you have in your mind and what you actually can do and like and right and when Molly was saying like unless you're coached like for Photoshop like there is this very high high barrier between kind of what is in your mind and what you actually want to make
um and some of these newer tools are kind of becoming more magic clam like and I think we just need more and more of these kind of Magic Crayons to really kind of yeah just allow people to have that magical sense of creating and
lowering the barrier between the idea and and what they want and one of the barriers Molly you brought this into the conversation earlier is the the weird tension between commercial startupy profitable things Sammy mentioned it as
well and what I'll just call the commons uh and the idea of putting software in the Commons and of developing objects the digital objects that we put in the Commons in some shared way so
Wikipedia is fully in the Commons it's built using open source software all the conversations around Wikipedia are openly available you can join them you can read them like Wikipedia is my favorite example of something that's open kind of almost every which way you
look at it um and this this battle between proprietary or or private and and open is is ongoing I'm thrilled with how much open source software has really sort of
eaten the world in a lot of ways but yet there's all sorts of funny things happening so I think that's that's another one of the both mental and business Dynamic barriers that need to be broken through for us to get into
more of a golden age again of of creative tools do you hit that a lot do you see that does that frustrate you in finding people or initiatives to fund what role does that play
for me personally I notice that all the time I think it's there's very few incentives for interoperability at the more kind of like consumer level they're it's much more exchange kind of like at the base infrastructure and that is
wonderful and great um but I think even that it's like the incentives are still needing some tinkering to like actually incentivize and reward people for sticking to things instead of just putting them on the backs of people and forgetting about those people
um but I do think that there is like in some ways we really do need the commercial packaging to bring things into a form that is like actually catering to people um like the average customer and I think
it really introduces more of like the Common Man perspective of like how do we actually make this a tool that my third grader cousin can use or something like that instead of thinking more of it from like a
um open source perspective how can we push the future of computing I think that both need to happen but I think that they're not talking to each other very well or working together and I I think it is hard too because
from the perspective of like the funding models that we have currently it's really hard to um kind of justify investing in anything but the ones that are catering to a broader market and aren't kind of nichefying themselves but that's a shame
because the niche if I ones are the ones that are kind of like those profits that push us forward so I think both need to exist but it almost to me points to just the need for more kind of um investing in Innovation for the sake
of innovation and not for the sake of profit for like the long-term health of the ecosystem of just like creative tools and Computing more broadly which is a really hard not to crack to be fair it's really hard absolutely I remember
back in the early days of the intertubes there was a website called net Noir which was for the black community and it was considered a niche site and I'm like seriously how is an audience that large
considered just a niche and and they were running into troubles because of that because they weren't seen as this you know broadly popular site it's kind of crazy one of the things that gives me a little heart here a little hope is that people are like using Instagram and
Snapchat and Tumblr and a whole bunch of other tools and they're adding hashtags which is metadata and they're gaming the hashtags and they're doing all sorts of clever and funny things with metadata uh
without speaking the words metadata or anything like that and the tools are remarkably sophisticated within this sort of the small domain of what they're trying to do whether it's adding filters or effects or or riffing what's it
called doubling or twinning Duo uh Duets or Duos on tick tock I think it's Duets where you can basically embed somebody else's uh Tick Tock and then somebody else embeds the combination and then somebody else
embeds it and you get this recursive little you know snail shell of of people riffing on some theme that's pretty interesting and sophisticated right how do we get ourselves more of that
and and I'll put something else on the table which might lead to that which is uh and Molly you were writing about the sum then the need for modularity and and the word I like here is composability how do we create software that is
composable so that you can make new things with it because it because the software plays nicely with other bits of code from other places that had other intentions but suddenly these pieces can mesh and create something in between
um all right Molly can you sort of talk about how com how this modular design or interoperability comes into your into your world yeah totally I
I um in a perhaps a little bit pessimistic way I think it's really really hard to actualize I think it's usually the
um instances I see today are kind of more within like the universe of a certain large software company it will start to make kind of like their modular little ecosystem like Snapchat has like Snap
kits or something like that like they'll create something for people to play with because there is kind of this this desire to kind of like make something new and like play with these tools especially when they're fun and all of your friends are there
um and expressing ourselves it's like a innate human thing and pushing the bounds of the tools is incredibly fun but I do think it is quite sad that this is almost entirely always relegated to within one company
um and they usually don't play that well together um and they really don't have any incentive to either and so I find that a little bit disheartening but not at all like I think that there is an increasing
Desire with the amount of time that we spend online and especially in these tools that people increasingly love like I think that there's becoming more of and more like affinity and kind of like identity appeal to tools I think figma's
probably like a good example of just like people really find themselves there and I think that that kind of like um feeling of kinship with the tool means that they're willing to like invest more I've seen through just like the communities that spring up around
these things and the people that want to contribute and like make it better and make this Vision that they have in their head to augment it in some way and that is motivating to me I just hope that they kind of start to think broader of
like how the different tools that because like something like obsidian could definitely work with a tool like Muse or something like that it would be wonderful if these things are kind of thinking more about the broader ecosystem of people are not just coming
to them for everything which is unfortunately kind of the incentive in the current model of funding is that every company should be kind of like a monopoly that does everything exactly and I kind of wanted to head
right back where you're you're heading right now which is that um the world of business has nicely co-opted the term ecosystem although mostly the way it's used they have no understanding of what an actual ecosystem does or is
um and they kind of want to have their own thriving private ecosystem like hey there we have a terrarium where all these people have jumped in and are doing cool things you know with our tool and with our environment but but wait
you mean there's other terrariums out there that's that's mean they shouldn't do that um and so the commons is kind of the connective glue I think that would help us bridge and and connect and and make
all these things work together um it's very interesting we were talking earlier about profits of the future and one of them is Ted Nelson who uh had a vision he called Xanadu and small fun
Side Story one of the earliest articles I think I think one of the first trips I ever made to Silicon Valley I met with the president of Xanadu company uh Roger Gregory who to this day was the geekiest
human I've ever met geekus looking he had a relatively large girth and he had a t-shirt on two sizes too small so there were like three inches of belly button showing like at all times and and like that
um and then I wrote an article about Xanadu for our research publication which said in two years they're going to have something in the marketplace and this is probably back in the mid 90s imagine my surprise uh in
2012 15 somewhere in there to read an article about Xanadu that says they're going to have something in the market and two years and and so so I've sort of seen this
show before it's like wow some some some deep big Visions like Ted Nelson certainly had a deep big Vision didn't make it through but then terms from what he cared about like transclusion
are very popular in the tools for thinking space like like things that you brought into the world uh are actually in play and in conversation and we're trying to figure out okay how's linking different from Deep linking different
from translucent different from some other method of connecting things to each other and and I think that the tools for thinking space it's sort of in Kuwait part of what we're trying to do with this podcast
series and the think Camp is paint the edges of the of the of the field a little bit not to bound it and limit it but rather to say hey it also includes the stuff over here and it also includes
the stuff over here and if you build your tool in a composable plays well with others kind of way you don't have to write that code you can actually play with the power tools that other people are busy building in the field next door
and that's kind of a I think a piece of what we'd like to see sorry for the long Preamble here but but are you seeing this ethos or this way of looking at things grow or is this just wishful
thinking on my part and maybe your part like like do you see us heading into a space where this might actually start to happen properly I think I personally do but I think it's
very small bits and Bots that can kind of be justified either as a play to attract the type of people that would be interested in something like transplusion which is like a growing
number of people I think are interested in just like better tools for thinking but I also think it's hard because oftentimes they are more tailored towards like personal use cases and
things that are a little bit harder to justify in a road map that is like thinking more about owning an ecosystem or a terrarium which I quite like that metaphor but I do think that we will see
them they'll just like come in getting kind of like slotted into the new indie tools that are like pushing at the frontier of innovation and then they'll slowly like trickle down into like the Microsoft
Suite of things but I think it does take a long time and I think that most of them are um they are oftentimes very idealistic and they only kind of work in visions of computing that are very far from where
we are now so it is hard because sometimes it feels like they are getting pushed forth and tested and evaluated in a world that is not really ready or understands how to use them properly nor are we even thinking about interacting
with computers in the way that they were like intended and like fringed to be used in but I I'm optimistic I think it's been cool to see just the kind of proliferation of all kinds of
interesting tools popping up that are really pushing especially in like the note-taking space I feel like that one has been really kind of doubled down on in terms of these visions that we had in the past of like how it could be better I think everyone's a bit fed up with
just the plain Google doc it's true um Sam yeah and I guess I would add I mean when you're thinking especially in terms of um like expanding the space of like what are these things kind of in the space of
tools for thinking um I guess use an analogy and like one when you think about like the internet like people say oh like now that everything's online it'll just be easy to find all the information you want but the truth is it's not because of like
jargon barriers so if you don't even know what to look for you can't find those things and I think with a lot of these kind of like what is the broad space of tools for thinking people either get kind of slotted into in certain things maybe like paper card
like things or certain things around note-taking tools and and unfort it's like but like and never the twain shall meet kind of thing but like the truth is they're all working together and I think
the more we can say Okay um like highlighting like what are like the key ideas of um composability or modularity or whatever and and recognizing that all these things are relevant for all the different areas
that are playing that they're playing with together um and it's the kind of thing where it also needs to be said that unlike creating terrarium like not everyone needs to solve all these different problems you can hopefully create
something that will then like the best of note-taking will be combined with the best of some hyper card like thing or whatever it is um then those things will all kind of work together um it but still kind of be the best versions of themselves
um so uh I am I guess cautiously optimistic for where this is all going um I think there's I I think it's one of the nice things where um these communities and I I still feel
like it's still plural um here uh they're slowly but surely recognizing that they all need to kind of come together not necessarily are they because I'm not so sure I think that there's like I I refer to them as bonfires as a horizon maybe it's wishful
thinking oh that bonfire way over there that's the Tuttle custom community and over there is the cult of Rome and way over there are you know other people doing whatever and you know the Tiddly
Wiki or or uh fediverse people or here's uh Ward Cunningham the smallest Federated Wiki kind of thing um and some of them have people who were bumblebees or Bridge Builders and know a lot about these different movements but
I don't see them um cross-pollinating sort of enough from my own perspective it's like they're each trying to invent the world from the perspective of what they see I
may be blind here yeah I mean it could be that and maybe I'm kind of like looking at this from the perspective of the Bumblebee or the bridge yeah yeah so it feels like he's talking to a bumblebee like they all have lots of kind of connections or at least a point
like various people who actually kind of know the different players in different areas um and so maybe and maybe it's a matter of like these communities can kind of continue doing their things but we need to just make like a thicker Bridge um or I I was actually just reading
about um the old version of like London Bridge um where it was not just a bridge across the Thames it and people lived on it and there was there were houses and and their houses and stores and all these
different things and I think and maybe that's what needs to happen is where there are all these communities that are kind of becoming the best versions of themselves but the bridges also become communities themselves and like and those bridges kind of can actually
fosterable communities too and maybe that's going to be the the most uh um most exciting things will be happening there I like that a lot thank you hopefully the analogy does not break down too much no not at all I'm about to
like drop a different analogy in the conversation that will maybe confuse things more but in my efforts to try to figure out how to how to invoke sort of the mycelial links between these sorts of things I put up the bigfungus.org
and part of the reason I call it the big fungus I explain on the site briefly but um leaf cutter ants can't actually digest Leaf matter so why on Earth are they up in the trees snipping off little bits of leaves and carrying them into the hive well they're handing them off
to a sub genus of that kind of ant which mulches up the leaf matter and feeds it to a fungus inoculates a fungus with it that metabolizes the leaf matter and oozes little tasty fungus parts and some
nectar which so happy fungus happy Hive they have a symbiotic relationship then I've been feeding a mind map for 25 years in one particular quirky proprietary tool called the brain but I
felt like a lone ant at the fungus face for 25 years going where is everybody like this this is really joyful I like I had a lot of fun part of the problem in my life is that I
get a little dopamine hit when I put something in the right place in my brain and it sort of snaps in like like that puzzle piece you couldn't find for a couple hours and then you found it and you click it in like ah there's a sense of pleasure and and completion because
also for many years I have this idea that there's two audiences for my brain thing there's me but I publish my brain openly on the web so there's everybody else and I'm trying to figure out how to use my brain to inoculate the big fungus
for all of us and so for me the big fungus is just a metaphoric way of expressing that space between us where we can share what we believe what we saw what we hope will happen what we
think will happen what we're up to all those kinds of things in some way that lets us connect it to evidence motivation reasoning what have you right there's a little sub-genre called
argumentation Theory where there's debate sites and a couple other sites I've got a whole list of them but but it's it's a it's a narrow thing where you have assertion Pro con evidence arguments Etc et cetera that's kind of
one way to think about it but that narrows it down really quickly to just a little piece and and I I I'm afraid that this big fungus is either really far away or we're already doing it we just don't know it
and haven't labeled it properly do either of you want to work in the big fungus sounds like a great place to try to live like to dwell yeah yeah I want to live in the big fungus in terms of like yeah
like within all these information me too and I would say and there's the whole Space of like digital Gardens where people are kind of like doing this for themselves but I but the question becomes how do you kind of create path like create paths between people's
digital Gardens and I think that's that's the key to kind of create that that big fungus and so um now I'm really mixing a lot I love this this is the land of mixed metaphors well yeah but but I think I think that's the key is
like how how do you kind of feel comfortable making your own kind of mental map of information um cultivate your own digital Garden but still also make sure that it's open enough
um and welcoming enough to interact with other people's Gardens uh and I don't know if I have the answer to that but yeah and but yeah and what if we did that yeah then this would happen and just to complicate things other
people's Gardens or visions of this whole thing will look different and you know I I've been using this quirky brain thing some small percentage of the human population on the little bell chart sees my brain and goes oh I get that and then
starts using it and jumps right in another small portion needs my guidance and when I'm tour guiding in the brain they're like oh I get it now there's a whole bunch of other people from whom it's like oh just a tangle of words and links and I don't really get it but for
them some other representational scheme works really really well and Clicks in place so how do we create a space where we can honor different people's preferences for the tools and still create a shared and useful memory
that lets us sort of bootstrap our way forward I'm really interested in this question I have no answers whatsoever but I think it's like one of the most kind of uh High leverage activities in terms of
instigating or inspiring creativity or and curiosity and just like getting more people to be to feel like they are um welcome and understood and just they are inspired by the things they see I think
that there's just like a lot of different ways that we could play with both the internet and computers to make it so that you're really customizing your experience to be maximally interesting to you and make the most sense and I
think that we don't do that we just kind of prescribe a one-size-fits all for most things and that works for the most part I mean we need standards that like people learn and how to interact with computers but I do think that there is a
huge gap oftentimes and the best example it's even just like very simple uh kind of medium such as like writing like some people just like don't read anymore books and they're but they will read
short form things and I think that there is something to be said for I wish that computers gave more of an experience of letting you really like kind of consume content and software and just like
interact with things at the level of abstraction that you want to um and that's something that I'm very interested in just like how tools can do that all in one place instead of making you go to like multiple different tools
for different levels of like abstraction and an example of that is is more just like yeah Photoshop is like a very complex piece of software but if you go to something like Miro or something like that it's like you can very quickly have a canvas and make something that is a
vision of what you had in your head and it feels easy and approachable and like what is the difference there what is the gap that keeps people from going from Miro to making something that is like exactly what they were looking for
um and I think that that is a big a big drop off point um that is a real shame I totally agree one of the other forces for me is um um my last 30 years were informed by by
realizing back a long time ago that I didn't like the word consumer and I think that we were turned into mere consumers instead of being treated as Citizens anymore and there's a whole bunch of logic and interesting stuff I can point to there but one of the things
that happens when you're being treated as a consumer is you get learned helplessness you wind up being dumber than you would be if you're being treated as a citizen with mutual responsibilities and interdependencies and there's a word
here that we haven't I don't think said yet which I think is really important which is agency the felt sense of agency an agency is some combination of responsibility permission and intention
to go do something to go and in this case I think in the context of our conversation just to fix improve uh sort of the shared asset of what we know in this sense or to do something better for for Humanity and we've kind of managed
to very effectively kill off agency to the point where we're in the Society of the spectacle and people are busy like doing tick tocks and whatever else as entertainment and it's you know it's Netflix and Nintendo or whatever else
has replaced um a lot of things that we used to do with and for each other and so I think the optimism we're voicing in this call is in the face of a a thunderstorm that
is just about hey I'm just a consumer anymore and nobody treats me as like a citizen so what I'm gonna do doesn't matter the problems are too big this is just this deep sense of apathy but also
a lack of agency and and a piece of why I think designs head back toward there's a regression to the mean and toward the desktop metaphor or Microsoft Office or whatever is that is that is that there's not a a
large number of people out there clamoring for the new creative thing there's a bunch of people saying okay what's the minimum I need to learn or do to get on this platform which I now have to use oh God zoom and Miro it's it's
pandemic time give me zoom and Miro and some Google docs and okay what what's the minimum I can do to survive in that world and I would love to be in the big fungus of people who are like Hey how do we
explore an experiment and and build some new stuff together here that's easy and accessible that's just a little bit more complicated than Instagram with hashtags right that's one of my design questions
is is it can't be as complicated as Photoshop that's a lot you can't have you can't ask everybody to invest like that right for anybody who learned word processing in the days of word star like they had to embed in the back parts of
their brain a whole bunch of Arcane key combos that once embedded in the brain were like really quick and powerful and very hard to get out like like they they like hooked in
pretty you know pretty deep so how do we make this easy and who's then and part of what I want to ask you both is well let me get back to that but but I just wanted to put agency into the conversation and see what you think about that
I wonder if and is this partly due to um I'm sure there's many reasons why we kind of like have like a lack of agency but like when I think about Tech news the way in which it's often like the way in which we consume news
around technology it's often around um it's not like what is like the future hold or kind of what can we do together and what can we build it's much more okay what is the newest Gadget and what are the different things that I can like consume if you're going back to kind of
this consumer mode um and so I and I wonder and I'm not it's not to blame Tech news but I just go ahead okay but it's it's more just about
that and there might be a feedback there that as people kind of get more into the kind of the consumption mode then people then think about okay what is technology it's just like a series of new iPhones
or it's a series of new versions of software X or whatever it is um versus saying okay what are the things that I want to do and how can I kind of make that a reality and this kind of goes back to what what we were
discussing earlier around when um when you can kind of see the relationship between like okay like like when you know it's possible to build some things or to kind of create certain things or whether it's end user
programming or something kind of much much lower and easier then there's a sense of okay here's a sense of possibility of like here are the different things that I want technology to be able to do versus um here are the things that I'm just
given and that now takes this High dimensional space of creative possibilities and has reduced it to I don't know two-dimensional surface absolutely I think flatland yeah there's
something really interesting too about um I think one of the things that really enthralled me about the technology industry coming from like an entertainment background and working in film is that there is so much agency
imbued into the very people that are working on these products usually because I think the the fast feedback loops of coding and just like realizing something really quickly is like very unique actually and there's very little
uh barrier to entry to make something that does something incredible for you personally like you can solve your own problems and I think that that is actually someone of a drug that people get a bit hooked on and actually are in a very good way like it is something
that they can kind of build dreams on and kind of expand their scope and scale of imagination and think bigger I think we currently as an industry are a bit in
like a weird awkward teenage phase of like not really having a vision and just kind of doing the incremental stuff of this puttering along and kind of being in high school and figuring it all out
but I do hope that we kind of take the reins more in terms of like what we're really aiming for instead of the incremental improvements and I think it's a shame that there is such a big gap between oftentimes the products that are made by
the technology industry are so kind of like taking away agency versus the people that are working on them are like gaining agents in it there's like a weird kind of relationship there that I've never really understood and I think
it's it's mostly just in terms of like feedback loops and like what gets the fastest response in terms of money like if you solve people's problems and you do it quickly um and you take that away that is inherently usually um taking away some
agency maybe they're gaining it back in a different capacity but oftentimes not oftentimes it's just like a very small problem to solve uh but then like after we've solved all those small problems like then what do we do I think that's
the question that I'm more interested in and what has always made me the most excited about technology is that we can think about those questions it's like kind of reaching a new Baseline um but I do think that I'm not currently
at least personally seeing many people really uh taking the reins and I think it requires narratives it requires storytelling cars more profits that are compelling to people Beyond just the
tech industry too and Tech really like being more in conversation with the broader culture too and kind of like taking it seriously and not speaking such a different language that it's almost like they're not and they're kind
of talking over each other exactly how do you how do you feed your vision that's a good question I don't really
know I mean I think for me personally I um am very inspired by like classic Sci-fi like most people as well as just personally people that I know that I find very inspiring and seem to really
have somewhat of like the old Spirit of Technology like they remind me of like the Bell Labs people and they're just like tinkering and kind of pushing the bounds and not thinking as much about like will this make me a lot of money
and more thinking about like will this change the way that people relate to these machines that they use every day that's a much more interesting prompt and I think the more time that I spend around those people the more I am just um
convinced that there's something really special here and like what made them that way it's like an interesting question I think in some ways it's characteristics of like some people are just naturally innately more Curious and like that but I think it is also like
those short feedback loops and like being able to make something entirely on your own and not really needing a team or anyone's approval that is a really special thing that I I wish that technology itself was actually spreading the the magic that was used to create it
in some ways and I think I think like the key word here is a intrinsic vision is like magic is what you said like we've been talking about prophecy but there's also like the Wizardry of coding which is I mean it's
the ability to write texts that then will actually do something um on the screen and like and that I was like that was a magical feeling like the first time I could program something and like kind of make some like weird little
animation or something on the screen that was kind of like a screensaver or whatever it was um and uh and I think the question becomes okay how do we democratize that sense of magic and sorcery
um and and unfortunately the problem is is that when we think about the World of Magic and like in many ways it's like oh it's this esoteric lore and we can't democratize it and it's kind of like a part of this priesthood and the answer is no we should be sharing it with
everyone and everyone should have this feeling of like crackling power through text um or whatever it is I I kind of actually yeah having that small feedback loop and um and uh and actually there is
um uh so a designer Casey climbs he actually wrote this thing about like when mollywood you were saying like how do you kind of make sure there's agency both for the users as well as for the creators and so he has a space he calls it design for emergence and the idea is
like to create software that allows for kind of a certain amount of open-endedness even for the users and I think that's the thing that we haven't quite not optimized for but um but not even
like thought about as deliberately as we could I think that's something really important though love that um design for emergence also and Pendleton Julian and John C Lee Brown have been doing a bunch in that space as well
um it's really interesting and just the whole idea of emergence and letting go of control and offering people power letting people be aware of their power uh you know all of those kinds of things are
I think scary to to people who'd rather just like have a lot of eyeballs come through and like cash that in somehow yeah the craters need to be okay with being surprised by their Creations it's so so back in the day Prodigy
um back in the early days of Prodigy uh they added like a chat sort of a community conversation feature or an email feature on just as a last minute add-on just thinking that they would use it to communicate with people on what's
for sale and then Prodigy users started to self-organize against Prodigy by using the internal chat feature and the executives of Prodigy were aghast and us and like scared and everything else is
really pretty funny I mean when you look back at sort of the more innocent days of all this stuff it's uh it's it's really I'm happy to have a lifespan that that's long enough that I I learned to run a key punch machine for a Fortran
class that I dropped out of but you know I've punched cards and put submitted the deck and taken the readouts back and done some of that all the way way to like this little slab of unobtanium that's in my pocket all the time that
has like endless battery life and who knows what else craziness it's complete craziness and yet so many people are using that either just to take pictures and post in the Snapchat or or whatever else that the creativity
that we're talking about here which is now enormously facilitated by power tools at our disposal and free storage I remember the day when I was starting to make some videos and I was like how am I going to
serve up those videos do I have to like rent a server space somewhere and then like YouTube shows up then for free eats that space and I have been posting I have multiple hundreds of
videos I posted to YouTube I was like thank you so much for fixing that um so so in this world how do we what's what's missing what's dead what's alive how do we feed it uh what's the Creative
Cycle here or are there places communities groups uh circles companies whatever organizations that you've that you've bumped into where this energy is alive and well and and just like on fire
I think for me what comes up is like um that we would greatly benefit from doing more thinking into kind of what
what makes people feel fulfilled by their work and what they do and I think that one of the gaping holes that we have neglected to poorly kind of build into computers and in many forms is
actually friction like I think that we've made everything so smooth and seamless that we don't really derive the same satisfaction and we kind of are optimizing for the more kind of mammalian instincts that we have which
is just like getting things done quickly like getting dopamine heads all of these things and this is very like a very trait argument but I do think that technology needs to kind of like rethink what we really want from these tools and
how we want to feel when we use them and I think I'm very inspired by like I said like the Indie tools ones like Muse and obsidian that are just a little bit more kind of like you're making your own environment that is uniquely your own
and just how you're thinking about it and it's also the right level of friction like I think that there is something about that that um that gives you the same experience and satisfaction that you would get from
something that is like creating in the real world and I think that that is ideally good to parallel those more um but I do think that there is also kind of work to be done to reinvent what
is A New Path too not just like Reinventing or like replicating the you know paper paradigms or things like that it's like what is the actual Vision that we have for what computers can be that isn't just making them either as flat
and and frictionless as possible or replicating what we already have like I think that there is other things to explore and that's um why I'm always excited too by people who are kind of pushing the balance in terms of like uh new programming
languages or new ways of like visualizing and grouping things that really kind of uh question you make us kind of go back to the Baseline and think about how we want to frame these things as well as like coding tools that are actually just like
dramatically simplifying learning to code um so that you are kind of rethinking and seeing all the possibilities that kind of the ground level I find that very inspiring as well yeah I guess I would add I mean related
to what you're saying with like like introducing a little bit of friction I feel like there's um like looking looking for the most interesting things is often found like when it's people or organizations or
tools that um try to avoid the paths of least resistance so there's kind of like the things that were shunted into whether it's the paper Paradigm or whether it's certain organizational structures um whether it's like so like doing
something entirely academic or doing something only in kind of a large uh um like high like Fast scaling startup um the people who are kind of pushing against those structures um but kind of or either intellectual
structures um organizational structures or whatever or whatever it is um those are the people who often are so um enamored by some sort of idea they want to make that they're willing to
like try a little bit harder and kind of do something that doesn't fit um and so those are the kind of people and the organizations and the ideas that I think are most exciting to look at and oftentimes like the Indie tools like they fit in there
um and so yeah that that I would say those are the areas that I'm often inspired by and it's funny because I've I've had a a lot of years now as a tech industry Trends analyst which I no longer do but I remember meeting a guy
named Sandy klausner who had invented a thing that was sort of a new stack that had security had a bunch of other things and it went all the way down from like chips from Hardware all the way up to Reinventing the web and networks and all that
um except he had drawn the whole thing in director and at one point the Macintosh changed their screen resolution from rectangles to squares or vice versa but the whole screen resolution of the Mac changed and
that screwed up all of the drawings that he had done for his whole system called cubicon and so for years afterward he had to buy old Macs and he was trying to keep alive with a little CPR Old Mac
because he wasn't a coder and he couldn't find resources or funding to program the thing and then at one point I brought in half uh three or four of my geek friends in Silicon Valley and they spent some time with him and and one of
them a genius said okay so he seems to have reinvented a very simple garbage collection routine and and then this other very sophisticated version of it and I can see it drawn in these icons in
this new language right but that language is likely never ever to make it to the Sea so to speak like he's he's landlocked and and I'm not even sure you know he would need a bunch
of precogs bathed in a solution with Jax in the back of their heads to retrain people to use everything he had invented from Soup To Nuts so I've had the the sort of pleasure and and rueful
ruthful pleasure let's call it of meeting a few people like that who invented something big and cool but you can sort of see it's not going to make it out um and so how do we create a more
experimental pit where people aren't drawn back into the tractor beam and have some space to experiment um and then um I'm also noting that we we now have like the the metaverse is uh big and
since uh Zuckerberg decided to rename Facebook into meta the metaverse got even bigger and I wrote a post complaining about it and shortly after that I bought the domain thebetteriverse.org because I was like
you know there's there seemed to be two major visions of the metaverse being pitched right now one is Zuckerberg who just renamed this you know Behemoth company uh as meta but then if you watch the video it's like would have made
Second Life users like giggle uh 10 years ago like how primitive the demo was I'm like really there's nothing new here and it's not a world I want to inhabit and then the other one is coming out of crypto Dao's nfts our our
metaverse is going to be that and I'm like I'm not sure I like like that one either you know Velvet Rope Discord servers where you buy where you're flipping nfts and putting up bids on
Smart contracts on the Dow I'm I don't know so part of what I'm hoping is that together we can develop a better verse and and I feel with this quirky
proprietary tool called the brain like I'm trying to build a better verse because I'm trying to puzzle together what do people believe why what might we do what would be a good policy platform all those kinds of things that feel to
me more useful than hey look I've got a gorilla Avatar that's purple and can fly and and so how do we how do we create hard fun how do we make environments where what we do has purpose and meaning I mean Molly we're talking earlier about
you know people looking for purpose there is purpose right at hand it's just that none of the commercial entities are highly motivated to let us dwell on purpose because then we might actually fix things in the world and being a
little cynical here sorry not at all no I I agree I think I think about this prompt a lot I think that I'm the most kind of drawn to solving this problem at the base level
of just like I think that some of this will be solved if more people are just taught Dakota younger age like if they if it's made simple and interesting and easy for them then so many doors are
unlocked to finding things that they never thought would be interesting or possible to either appreciate or make themselves and I think that that really just comes down to uh you know teaching
people at the right age in the right context and yeah just like making it much more kind of immediately addictive in the same way that we've learned how to make so many other things addictive like let's make something that actually gives people basically superpowers
addictives um and then I think that that just unlocks an appreciation for having tipped your toes even a little bit into like coating then you can kind of like see like the people that are making
their own kind of little universes and and better verses and things of that sort it's like that is an incredible thing and that is something that we should all be kind of like thinking about what our version is if we're interested or at least kind of seeing
and experimenting and challenging our own conceptions of like what the worlds that we're dwelling in are like how it's kind of impacting us yeah and I would say I mean kind of to go back to like evolutionary biology
metaphors I think the more uh the large the population and the larger amount of variation in the population that we have so like the different kinds of visions of better versus and metaverses and things like that that we have the better
the better options we have as a society to actually choose because without that um we're yeah we're going to be shunted into like one of two possibilities or one of three possibilities and we need more and so um I agree with Molly like
the more we can allow people uh to have the ability and the power and the tools to actually build these different kinds of things and allow people to experiment um then I think people will hopefully um have the opportunity to choose to
figure out what what makes sense um anything in terms of like figuring out meaning and purpose time that I I I'm not sure that can be solved entirely by technology uh or even at all um but I and I think that's the kind of thing
like as a society we might need to think about that kind of more more broadly um but the the more we have that conversation as a society and the more tools that we have that can fit different versions of that then um then
hopefully we can find ways where those things actually Accord nicely and there's a nice matchmaking function my favorite example of ways that people start to get a sense of
agency is when they learn how Wikipedia gets edited and so I'll I'll ask an audience does everybody remember the first time they saw Wikipedia or or first I'll say who uses Wikipedia in like 99 of the hands
go up uh who remembers when they first saw it a few fewer hands go up who remembers the first time they realized how it works right did any idiot any Fool on the planet can go edit the encyclopedia for
Humanity it's like what idiot invented this system but but for me I love telling the story because for me when people when when it Dawns on them that that's happening in the background but still the thing is
pretty good and reliable and then they go into something that they really care about like episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and they figure out that there's there's even a Wikipedia page for Buffy studies which is like an academic field
now believe it or not um that they that that they then go oh this is working an interesting way how do I get more because I think they start to have a sense that they that that
ordinary citizens are busy changing the world I might want to jump in and help or do something in some area that I care about so so I love Wikipedia as this sort of little taste of agency and I
think learning to code being immersed in Photoshop really really early uh using hyper card and starting to program in hyper talk all these stories that we've got and I've got you know my own version of those of those things gave us a sense
that we could build make do play in this world and it's at least a piece of why we're so optimistic I'll say at the end even of this conversation that this is doable and that we might actually be getting
someplace um so we're getting close to the end of our call and I'm just wondering like what if you had a magic button or a magic lantern or whatever or what what would you wish would happen or we could
do or people would start to think or do that would make bring these uh wishful thinking ideas a little closer to reality I know it reminds me of my favorite Peanuts cartoon which has Peppermint
Patty sinning in her desk at school and she picks up her test paper and it says explain World War II and then it says use both sides of the page if necessary it's great [Music]
yeah I mean well and certainly one this is I think a non-answer but something that hopefully we maybe Point towards more of an answer but I mean when you're talking about Wikipedia the fact that Wikipedia works and like like that's
kind of one of the things that I just feels like it should make everyone feel very hopeful about Humanity um and so I think if we can create uh
like other tools for creativity like that that make us equally hopeful for um like to create a potential for Humanity then we're in good shape what that is I don't know um and I I think um I'm actually quite okay not knowing
the answer I kind of just want there to be more possibilities I I often view this as like as um when we um like we're yeah when we're trying to figure out like examine some high dimensional space I just want I'm
agnostic as to what version is going to win out I just want there to be more out there um and so I want that they're going to be a diversity of of options and possibilities that everyone everyone who wants to play with these different tools
will feel comfortable with something I love that and then we have to figure out our way to talk to each other through through the big fungus or whatever this thing winds up getting called I think for me
um if I had to pick some kind of Silver Bullet I would go back to my I just think mandatory coding education would be a really net wonderful thing for um so many of these problems because it would give everyone a taste that they
actually can impact them um and they have both agency and inspiring examples of how they can do so but I think beyond that I'm really interested also in the
just storytelling and kind of philosophy aspect of technology and how we both just need more narratives that are inspiring to get into it and to make something ourselves and also just kind
of a rebranding of where technology fits into our lives um less is something that is kind of like an addition that just speeds things up and more of something that can be a massive expander of all of our
conceptions of what is possible conceptions of what the world can be um and also just like can solve really really big problems and is is a tool it that at the end of the day that's all technology is but it's a really
incredible one and so I think what that actually boils down to practically is just like better movies that made interesting visions of technology that aren't just sci-fi but are also I think like I
often cite the social network was like a very very huge Catalyst for so many people going into the industry and I think we need more narratives like that that are um kind of expanding and inspiring in other directions that was an interesting good one that filtered
for kind of more people like that but I think we also need narratives that are more kind of the long-term Visionary that had this prophetic vision for some kind of software language or something like that and it's just very interesting
and inspiring and also respected and I think that technology in its um kind of teenage phase just needs to kind of grow up and I think that that really comes in the form of taking control of its narratives in many different
Realms and vicinities and people too people embodying that yeah and I would I I would add and as Molly was saying this or made me realize one of the things I would also want kind of related to the storytelling is better knowledge of
technological history I think like understanding where we came from and what paths we took and what paths we didn't can give us a better sense of where we might want to go for the future couldn't agree more yeah I think that it should be like definitely a subject that
is taught in like even high school like it's just it's so interesting too and I'm not even saying that from a nerdy perspective but also just like people like these things that we've played with all the time and it didn't see like how
they've evolved I think that oftentimes so many people are surprised by how much uh kind of solder for thought there is along the path and the people that kind of instigated these things the stories are interesting just like inherently
we were I was just trying to book a a an episode of this podcast around some history and I contacted two people who know me personally who I haven't talked to in a long time I said hey would you like to be on a podcast about this and they both turned me down
and I was like you know hey I don't do a lot of podcasts whatever one of them was like I'm super busy with a startup and I was just really dismayed because I think these stories need to be told and retold and in some cases they just need to be
recorded and posted someplace so that people can bump into them one of one of my lifelong regrets is that when I was an adult and was with my grandparents why didn't I sit them down and say could you tell me the difficult stories that you never wanted to tell me because you
were afraid I'd have a terrible life if I knew how hard your life was back in the day because I'm now playing detective trying to piece together those stories right and and they don't exist because I didn't realize hey they're
still coherent and alive I should sit down and record these things with them um so trying to figure that out and Molly I'm so happy you mentioned storytelling because there's a thought in my brain uh I just posted it in our chat here but it
says we are in a Titanic battle over the narratives in our heads by the way we always have been this is my one of my amateur theories of history is that history is a fight in the cockpit over the joystick of who gets control over
Society over the current laws or regimes or whatever we're witnessing it right now in this election cycle and the following election cycle in the U.S and worldwide and storytelling is so crucial because
people don't respond all that much all that well the facts and a lot of the tools for thinking space I think comes back to how do I organize facts how do I you know uh it's pretty logical and and
the tools tend to be more analytic and I think we're missing the mark on something really important here which is the stories we tell matter vitally and you know inform a whole lot of people or or misdirect a whole lot of people the
Adrian Hahn wrote a really great piece saying is Q Anon and ARG is Q Anon an alternate reality game and it's a really interesting thesis because there is a key master or you know secret game
Runner who's busy dropping Clues real things happen in the real world as a consequence it's like really astonishing and then and then you look into the stories that are part of the you know Q Anon conspiracy theories you're like wow
that's elaborate and actually pretty genius this is a way to manipulate people and then I had the idea so how do you corrupt invade or hijack an ARG and is there a way to enter the Q Anon
world with some other characters that that take it in a better way because because Donald Trump is now wearing cute pins and playing Q music at his rallies and it's very frightening where this
could go if we don't straighten out the narratives that people are buying into right and I think people do buy they buy trust they buy connection and they buy story
and if you happen to have evidence along the way oh great but in this little era that we're in evidence and facts and Truth are being deprecated anyway so I'm not really necessarily going to believe those things so it's a bit of a downer note to to end
our our conversation on but but we're at a I I believe we're at a moment in our history where figuring out some of these tools is actually essential to thriving as a species on the planet
because we have a lot of problems to sort out together we have a lot of people who are apparently not convinced that we have a lot of problems to sort out together and there's all sorts of opportunities to do better in that space but it seems
like a huge mission I very much agree and it's also it's like who gets to use these tools is kind of the question it's like if they're always going to be relegated for the more analytical mind I think that that is massively
um just under utilizing the human brain as a whole I think we can do there's so many people in other areas in other industries that are thinking about really important things and we need to give them the superpowers if they need to do that thinking the best that they
possibly can not just the ones that we kind of more readily understand because we are the makers of those tools absolutely absolutely thank you this has been really like a delightful conversation I would I would
love to do this like all day every day um but this has been a magical magical moment with magic crayons and uh Magic tools and everything else and thank you all for listening to tools for thinking a new podcast that might just help you
with your thinking if you're part of a startup in this sector please knock on our door at betaworks.com camp and uh please build something genius and share it back with us we'd love to hear from you
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