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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 our near-term goal with these podcasts is to enter startups in being part of beta Works upcoming accelerator think Camp betaworks is a New York
city-based incubator and accelerator they've run seven camps before on topics from Bots to synthetic media and voice interfaces you can find more about think camp and this domain by going to
betawworks.com Camp all lower case I'm Jerry mikulski your interlocutor and obsessive mind mapper and our topic today is from second brains to Collective brains I have two guests
sorry azut and Rufus briskum Saudi is most recently the founder of startup B which offers startup advice and resources and Rufus has started many things the most relevant ones here being Helio and the next big idea club and
their taglines are actually really great Helios tagline is elevating ideas and uh the next big Ideas idea Club is learn better live smarter and that seems like really topical to our call here because
we're trying to figure out I mean I I'm assuming you were part of the conversation about Elevate ideas and that just seems like a really nice crisp expression does what does that mean for you
yeah of I I got my start as a book editor in New York you know 25 some years ago and and um you know a book is one is an idea delivery vehicle you know I love books and you know
they're fantastic but there were a lot of ideas go to die um and I love that you said that before I love that I mean it's it's sort of uh you know books are beautiful people love
to brandish them and talk about them uh much more than people like to read them and you see this in the data the average person finishes about 18 to 20 of a non-fiction book um and and so we're we want to to to to
help deliver ideas in more powerful ways and connect people with thinkers and thinkers with thinkers readers with readers and so on so that's that's our broader Mission I love that I love that
sari um your sort of path into this is startup culture startups helping startups Thrive how does that how does that fit for you with what we know yeah it's interesting I think much like you Jerry I've been a mind mapper for a
while I was um my career has been in Tech and startups I was doing a lot of Consulting for startups investing in startups and so I started a personal air table database my version of Jerry his
brain was on air table and it's sort of like over the years became this like gigantic interconnected database initially it was a lot of it was startup knowledge because every time I had a new
client I had to like connect the dots across fields and it sort of dawned on me one day that this would be a lot more powerful in a collaborative setting and that sort of took me down this Rabbit Hole um where
I've been sort of like cooking this idea over the years and I finally like thumb into the courage a couple months ago to basically I just can't stop thinking of anything else I need to figure out how you make something like this multiplayer and so at startupy we say that we're
building software to help humans curate the best knowledge on the internet in multiplayer mode um one of the best sort of like analogies I think um for people who have been in the internet uh for a long time and also today is uh is think of it as uh
delicious meets Rome uh so a place where you can build your digital library in a networked way where your links bump into other people's um and we can get into you know all the challenges around building something like that but
um yeah it keeps me up at night it keeps me excited and I just can't think of anything else that would make me uh happier to work on right now so I'm also excited about how we're all in on this all three of us I think are just have a
lot of energy focused on this I love also that you mentioned delicious do you mind riffing for a moment about what was cool about delicious because I um I had a friend back then a digital historian who was telling me about how
19c was a hashtag on delicious where the historian Community who cared about the 19th century was busy like sharing tags they found and there was a thing there was some kind of collective
intelligence Brewing there right and and then delicious got bought by Yahoo and then got killed off it's sort of uh the the black thumb of Yahoo kind of took care of delicious and I'm a little surprised that pinboard hasn't really I
mean like like it's dead it's like this there's no real delicious right now out there but what's your own experience with it and why is that an inspiration for yeah for this I was too young when delicious was around um but so so I sort
of have only uh spent a lot of time reading about it I've like you know fallen down the rabbit hole in like old forums to try to understand understand it I think in in some ways the information environment has changed
drastically since then and so if you think about a lot of the a lot of what I've read about it uh seems to point to the direction of Google ended up actually being a lot better for search
than this uh but if you fast forward to today when we don't have like top-down media it's not like a publisher-driven model you have like you know the supply of content continues to fragment
denishify I just think that the problem of just have it like navigating information in more associative ways is just a lot more important it feels like um today and so I I sort of feel like it's the right moment to revive
something like this just because of a function of how drastically the information environments change absolutely Rufus did you have any experience on delicious were you were you on there I I really was not no
um but I'm very curious uh you know I'm I I've done less exploring uh in with it with the software around tools for thinking but I'm desperate for it and I'm very excited about it so I'm I'm cheerleading
I love that I used to be a tech industry Trends analyst so one of my little taglines was I waste my time so you won't have to uh which is why I just used to try thing after thing after thing
um I have I have logins on I don't know how many platforms that have long since died uh you know and and they're somewhere in the bit bucket out there but also um Assad you pointed to something that
that sticks in my head a lot which is we seem to have outsourced our memories to Google and that seems to me to have been a mistake not that I don't like Google and I don't think that Google search is pretty darned excellent but but it's a
real mistake to think oh I'm not going to bother curating that thing I saw that's really useful and interesting and important and I'm kind of probably want to remember later on I think it's a mistake to say oh I'll just Google for
it later which feels like the default setting for a lot of us because we don't have the tools yet for sharing what we know really well yeah I think I mean I've spent a lot of time on thinking
about search and I think that Google works really well when you want um an answer to a very objective question but when you want the most interesting perspectives on a subject
Google's not going to show you like the best perspectives are probably written by thinkers who are not optimizing for SEO right exactly I think for SEO are the content marketers and
um you know the the like like not the operators who are just like writing things that are just not going to be optimized for um for for SEO so I think that uh I think that search deteriorating and
quality is a big reason why we need to transition from making these tools single player to making them multiplayer because you need Discovery is a big problem it's becoming a much bigger problem in a world of information
overload knowing what to pay attention to is the hard part and we have these amazing brains like yours happens to be public uh but it's still hard to find if we don't know who Jerry is and I'm sure
there's just a gold mine of wisdom there um it's a really hard problem to solve but um you know it seems like to become more and more pressing absolutely how do you both describe the benefits of multiplayer to anyone else maybe
including yourselves like like we're sitting here we have we have as a shorthand to communicate the frame for this call it's like single player tools versus multiplayer why
you know I I would go back to the history of of singular authorship versus multiple authors right so if we think about I I think of like television to my
knowledge was the first genre where the idea that you'd have a writer's room or a collection of writers and that that collection of writers would produce a meaningfully better television show than
an individual writer just became the kind of dominant thinking right and and movies were still written by single individuals the television shows were written by multiple people now more and
more movies are being written by groups of people and as because we ingest at the next big idea Club you know a thousand books a year um you know we can we we're in a
position to observe that the number of books with co-authors or multiple authors is increasing um and then even when you have a book right written by a single author in fact it
has many authors and the question is is it acknowledged or is it not acknowledged right and and it's and from a storytelling perspective if you think of for instance like sapiens by uh Harare wonderful book it just warms my
heart as a lover of of kind of um you know Big Ideas and trying to better understand ourselves as a species that book sapiens sold you know over 10 million copies that's just a wonderful
thing but one of the things that that Harari did and I say this with great deep respect for him is he didn't you know he didn't footnote really the ideas in that book were 95 ideas that were
developed by a hundred different people massive research um but but he did something that was beautiful from a storytelling perspective which is he didn't stop to say to cite all the other people every step of the way he just told the story
of the history of humanity as it's best understood today um and and and you know so we have I think we have a problem around um authorship and storytelling and we still have a mythology around the
singular writer the singular Storyteller we all want to be original right um but the reality is that all of our best thinking as a species is done collectively like we we do think
together the question is how effect how effectively do we think together and to what degree do we admit it um because I I could one final comment from from ingesting a thousand books a
year is that we also know that like all these brilliant books we love which we love and I interview a different author every week when you read a very large quantity of books you realize how much overlap there is there's a massive
amount of course there is right and there's not and there's nothing wrong with that as it should be right there are all these great scientific studies that are cited in 30 different books in the last you know several years
um and that's not transparent to the readership base and probably many of these authors would prefer that it were if there were an easy way to you know to to sort of expose the links as it were
right and and build on each other's ideas in a way that was transparent um I see that a lot because I when I use the brain the Mind map when I read books I'll see that things Trail back you know
uh there's kind of this culture of citing a lot of psychology and sociology in the post Gladwell era let's call it yeah um and so a lot of books that are coming out right now sort of Trace their
way back to a lot of the same kinds of studies and so Jonathan hate and Carol dweck and whoever else are kind of ringing the same sorts of bells and and we don't have much of a place to notice
that and then to have the conversation about the overlaps and the differences of perspective on the same topic for example and then to deepen that and maybe set up some questions to experiment or explore right we don't we
kind of don't have a place for that we're lucky if some podcast interviewer or some reviewer in an article somewhere asks a couple of good questions and then they're just kind of stuck there in that
in whatever that place is it's a podcast transcript or it's a blog post right but there's sort of no if you ask me where Wikipedia is I can point to it and I can tell you there's this virtual encyclopedia in many languages and it
lives here and this is its funding model this other thing about shared knowledge and shared insights and Collective wisdom doesn't have a place yet or a name yet and I'm really interested in that in that Quest
uh that's right yeah and and there's a really nice angle here about the social creation of knowledge that you're tapping into this was also a I I had the pleasure of
of talking with Walter isakson about his latest book about you know the evolution of of our uh of our you know Gene editing and so on and and he made the comment that
um you know Nobel prizes in science are going to groups more frequently but always inadequately acknowledging the number of scientists involved all those discoveries right so so really where do
you stop you I mean so you know we might go from acknowledging one scientist to three but really the right number might be 25. um and that's a problem for us emotionally because we like I I I've
come to believe that that humans really like the the story of individual genius uh and like the individual through you know sheer inspiration changing the
World by him or herself um and there's something kind of heroic about that um in my mind there's something even more beautiful about the idea that dozens and dozens
and dozens and hundreds of people all collaborating in open ways you know are in fact the the the source of those revolutions you know I think I think the
um slightly sexist name for this is the great man theory of History yeah um it's like there's you know Napoleon and Napoleon did all this stuff and so forth and then there's also some piece
of ego involved and there's some piece of attribution just having sort of clarity or Simplicity may be involved um what do you see yeah I think my mind I've been thinking a lot about
um I guess very informed by the Marshall mcluhan's like the tools shape us um and I think that when I think of multiplayer my mind goes to networks
like Twitter and Reddit and Instagram and they are all tools that are designed for entertainment not for sense making and they are tools where uh on Twitter
uh it's all about my hot take and I am the protagonist I am building my personal brand it's not a space for you know calm Collective thinking uh and so I think that in many ways what we're
seeing in the tools for Thought space it's a lot of it is personal productivity and if you think about the multiplayer network tools that exists today they're largely about audience building and so what happens when you
combine personal productivity with social discovery and I think that's what we haven't seen enough of um and we I think what we do know is we finally have seen the experiments of
these social networks what happens when you design a system where everything is put to a popularity test or you have to condense everything to 280 characters um you know on Instagram I'm less likely
to be honest because it's not going to get too many likes and you know how honest can I be in a visual about you know what my life looks like and so I I just I think so much of this is an interface challenge of how do you like
design for the psychology of people uh feeling the freedom to express versus the pressure to perform um and so I'm very interested in just like what is the interface for this look like because we know what happens when
our interfaces are all about you know performing and building a brand and an audience uh but if you think about you know what you've built with Jerry's brain what I built on airtable I'm very happy to share that and I think most
people would be happy to share that but if everything that I shared was put to a popularity test it would just radically alter the things that I would put in my brain um so I think it's largely
um an interface and design challenge around how do we take these multiplayer networks that we've built to orient them around perhaps like not chronological feeds that are obsessed with the present
um perhaps in ways that um allow us to to make sure that the content appreciates over time because on Twitter the content depreciates but what if you augment that with more context more
relations uh more associations uh and so yeah I I guess like I've been trying to like move from Theory to practice spending a lot of time on on figma and trying to like really figure out what what this stuff
um looks like because I don't think we have too much of a precedent for what this can look like totally agree um one thing about Twitter which is I may be having a different Twitter experience than you are and one thing I
I tell people is if you treat Twitter the way you do Facebook or LinkedIn you're really screwing it up do not follow all your friends and everything else you must tune your Twitter feed so that you're actually following people who work for you whatever that might
mean and for me the showboating means I unfollow people so so so therefore my Twitter feed is full of a bunch of people who are on the other side of the equation you just sort of showed us of
of how like attention you know gets people who are busy trying to grab attention um and I really like my Twitter feed at this point also I'm Twitter user number 509 I'm the 500 900 person on the planet
who signed up for this thing way back when and I don't have a zillion followers I like like and I'm not the best you know Twitter user um but it but it actually is the first place I turn to for what happened today
a the new you know Twitter at this point is beating any news service or news organization or whatever else for me in that particular way and then second completely different thought but Twitter is yet another stream that I have to
check all the time I call this my sweep like like what is your sweep what in what order do you check your socials how often every day and what do you do about it this is like a big Time Eater for a whole bunch of us it's like and part of
the problem is when these things drift by it's a little bit like we're watching Tetris pieces go by except they don't settle in and go away they just vanish right and so the my problem with most
streaming services is that there's no place to put the things that were really worthwhile the really shiny nuggets that went floating by the the things that were great and I feel really fortunate that I have a place to put them this
this sort of persistent memory and so persistence is this really rare weird word in today's social media World landscape because everything is is flow
and almost nothing is stock right Mike caulfield's like the garden and the and the stream and how Facebook and Reddit Twitter they're just poor models
for Learning and research because it's you know Twitter's use case was designed for obsolescence it was what is happening today tomorrow is not matter anymore um but it's not really designed to be
something Timeless something that you know how often do you go back to look at you know an old tweet it's it's it's just the interface is not conducive to that exactly I just I just complained tweeted today about when did Twitter
become a long form publishing medium because my feed is full of threads like everybody's writing a 30 tweet thread and I'm like no no no no no no no no go post an essay somewhere and give us a
couple call outs but don't don't like don't eat my feed sorry Rufus what what do you wish you could do with oh like like nobody reads a thousand books a year except you collectively can filter a thousand books
a year and everybody's stack of things oh my god I've got to read these things keeps growing and we don't make our way through how can we actually collaboratively digest these things to the point where our reading is more
focused on just the piece that really matters what do you envision what do you wish we had that would let us get through that better or maybe what are you building that'll get us there well our view is that one should be able to
you know that that in practice every every thinker every writer earns the um the reader's attention one sentence at a time
you know um and so you know if I if I put forth a sentence that is adequately interesting you might listen to the next one or you might turn off this chat this you know Nolan Bushnell the inventor of pong is very famous for saying you have
one minute to earn the next quarter right there you are yeah there's no instruction set it's like here's the joystick here's a quarter go right right exactly yeah so so so we we
kind of think that I that that writers should that idea should be presented uh with you as they are first you have a you know a title then you have these days you almost always have a subtitle
of a book and then you have sort of the one you know the one sentence elevator pitch then you have the paragraph then you have the the blog post and you have the Ted Talk then you have it's almost an expanding accordion uh of of of of
the engagement um earned you know um and um but there's a very sudden jump today to you know from from the paragraph or the book
review to attend attend the 15 hour reading experience um and so we're empowering authors to deliver um those those first short versions in
both audio and text in ways that are very accessible and then at 10 to 15 minute you know five the five key insights from the book in both audio and text but the other thing that we're
doing in parallel is is um um is is beginning to map the world of ideas um is to say and to invite authors to say what are the six books that most
influence your book and what um and then and then to have our team do that um as well um so that so that it becomes very easy for uh for for a reader or a learner to
and I'd like we like to say a learner because there are 10 learners for every reader really right um uh to you know um to be you know to discover adjacent
ideas that are powerful I'm going to help help them live better lives and learn more about the world what does this map feel like look like sound like work like to your best
ability at this point well like I totally agree mapping the world of ideas sounds completely awesome we're like is it like on a piece of Vellum with some some ink no uh how do
we get there you know I I um uh we're we're not yet at a stage to answer that question but but I think that you know I think it has to be um yeah I mean I mean I think I think we
both need you know uh you know uh an app that learns about your interests and can make suggestions um but but also just offer different different kind of adjacencies you know
uh more practical more expansive more inspirational more uh you know uh and and have more more linking opportunities effectively you know inside of um inside of the text yeah
something I think a lot about is how do we transition from information that demands our attention to information on Demand right so you have this universe of ideas but I'm a human my memory
storage um is limited uh but when I'm thinking about a problem when I'm you know this is when I need the relevant context um and ideas and so as you're mapping Rufus
these ideas how do you think about when do people encounter these is it search is it 100 Discovery based uh because so much of what I think is wrong is you
open Twitter for entertainment um and in my experience writing a substack newsletter the magic is when you put all of these ideas whether it's in a spatial canvas or something else you have them all in front of you and
you're trying to develop a thesis or you know there's some sort of like output or goal and so I'm curious like how much do you think about and are these ideas meant to inspire are they is this
something that could lead to like more goal-oriented outputs yeah I I I think ideally if we do it right we'll be able to offer the learner
what he or she is is looking for you know I mean there are a lot of people who who really are looking for life hacks and and optimization and you know just to be just to be to be better at
living and working and thinking and breathing and and everything else um and and then I think and then there's the inspiration mind expansion I'd like to I'd like to learn that I'm wrong I'd
like to be I I I'd like to um I'd like to I'm open to changing my mind you know I I wouldn't mind at the end of this process believing something different from what I believe now that's
a much smaller subset I think of of Learners who actually have that appetite but um but you know but but I think I think we would love to empower everyone to you know to to find what they're looking for
and very very much we want to provide the tools for authors themselves to to reference uh and point people to all the all the adjacent ideas
um and and um and and also the The Source the sources you know that inspired their thinking I love this idea of of openness to
changing your mind and I agree with you unfortunately that this is a small sliver of humanity that's really actually honestly open to changing their mind a bunch uh although probably more people will present that way than will
actually act that way um have you thought much about like how do you get people to the place where they'll consider the possibility of maybe softening something they believe in strongly my view is that culture is
really more plastic than we more mutable more changeable evolves more quickly than we realize and you can see this over the course of decades uh you know as people have to say you know there's less change over a year more change over
10 years than people think um and and um so I I do think that we can get to a place of people being less kind of greedy about singular authorship
which is I think something which is I think a cultural change that we need along with I totally agree with what Sarah was saying about part of it is that the tools we are made by the tools that we have we're we're a product of our of the tools and we need to provide people with tools and I think that I
think that will be part of the change um and I think as people see the the how gratifying it is to engage in multiplayer thinking connected thinking extended mind thinking
um that that I like to think that will this will this will be part of a cultural shift towards uh more of this kind of openness um and I think with that hopefully also
comes this this willingness this willingness to be wrong you know because when you think about of course this is not an original idea oh yeah there are very few to be had but but the um you
know how can you be confident that you're actually learning if you don't change your mind you know um I I've only real I'm 54 years old I've only realized this in the last in
the last few years that there's nothing to be proud about I mean I think if you'd ask me five five years ago I probably would have would have said well yeah I feel like I figured most things out to some degree uh and now I'm just incredibly eager for
these moments where I'm like oh my gosh I just changed my mind a little bit you know isn't that so it's so beautiful I love that and I I still think it's largely like uh uh you know we shape our tools and then they shape us like the
the stream uh back to to what you were saying Jerry it encourages a hot take that is completely divorced of context whereas a digital Garden is not trying to say like you know this is the answer
it's trying to build a model of the world that can generate new understandings that acknowledges nuance and complexity and so if we could expose some of that Nuance some of that complexity uh it's it's just a very it's
just very different from having to condense to 280 characters this is how the world works because the world is Shades of Gray I even miss 140 characters I'm afraid to say
um because now we take 280 sort of for granted um one of the things I in my amateur theory of how these things work uh one of the things that I think causes people to soften up and consider change is
conversation like other humans and not necessarily tripping across an essay or or even like really well-produced videos like Annie Leonard's the story of stuff which costs like 130 000 to produce I
think affected a lot of people about oh my God we have too much stuff it's destroying us but and that that's one way of changing people's minds um but I think and and I'm wondering how this gets architected into software and
services that either of you might be building but how do you get people over to to useful interesting appropriate conversations uh that they might have and and obvious the obvious first I
think issue that pops up is oh my God scale you can't have a thousand people in a conversation gotcha how do you get maybe fractally distributed little Ripple conversations all over the place that work or is that important and and
for me so so much of changing your mind is social and that one of the strongest weapons or techniques in mind changing is somebody kind of like you who you trust taking you by the hand to try a
new and different thing that you weren't going to try on your own well I would say one one very small way is it would be uh that I think the podcast the the phenomenon that is podcasting
I I think has been you know of course there are lots of reasons to be pessimistic about you know cultural Trends but I think I think the podcast has been has had a profoundly positive
impact on you know uh Global culture and it's been a force of um of longer format conversation uh and
and less polarization more uh of a willingness to you know uh you know to listen to other people and the pace of it you know what's interesting to me is you look on YouTube and on you look at
video in general as a genre and there's always you know more and more you know Tech scrolling along around the bottom and things flashing up and because it's Las Vegas because you know video uh um has incredibly short
retention you're constantly terrified of losing the viewer um and and somehow we've we have developed this this cultural space for people to listen for an hour to a few
people talking and that's just a I think a beautiful thing but but I think how to um how to develop new kind of tools for conversation as part of tools for the thinking I think I think that's a a
super interesting question thanks sorry yeah I mean we've stayed away from comments just because it introduces a whole new content moderation challenge
um and in general I think that when you write a blog post right uh record a podcast typically more thought goes into it right um it's less of a spur of the moment
reaction there's less impulsivity um and so you know we're starting with curating and interconnecting the world's best Tweets and content and you know
have all sorts of connections um I think there's a lot to be said about how you can improve conversation but it's a very complex problem uh with all sorts of moderation yeah it's interesting you're reminding
me that um the V Taiwan platform that they use for civic uh engagement in in Taiwan which is really a world leading way to actually make decisions as a as a body of citizens
um they discovered early on and this goes back to your sometimes the design issues are really subtle that they could they could really clamp down on flame Wars by getting rid of the reply feature so in order to make a comment you had to
start a new thread you had to start a comment you couldn't just reply and say no this is bogus this is terrible you had to go to a new place and attract people to your conversation as well and and
tiny things and I'm not sure I love it but but what you what you can do what anyone can do to design in a way to get people back into considering each other's opinions
um I find to be beneficial in some way and the media are not designed mostly to do that mostly it's like how do we Heat this up you know how do we heat the space up so that there will be controversy so that we attract more users spending more minutes of their
lives in this space yeah yeah there was a podcast um that I heard this was a while ago uh Jack Dorsey talking about Twitter's mistakes and how he wishes they would have hired a game theorist early on to
think about the potential repercussions of what a retweet button and a retweet with comment button would do and you know what happens when you have a like account next to a like button and all of these like small design considerations
have such a massive impact as these platforms scale that um I think it's better to be slow and very thoughtful and very deliberate about how you introduce conversation
just because of how complex humans are yeah we are how do we how do we convince people to contribute what they're thinking or saying to the commons how do we convince them to go from single
player like oh I found a cool tool I took a course I now have a little workflow and I'm I'm building my web of connections and blocks and data and links and interactions and
sharing it out uh and then there's the immediate subsidiary issue that we just sort of came out of which is like oh my gosh and if everybody's sharing it out how do you make that a productive space but but how do you even convince people
to share what they're finding yeah I've spent a lot of time on on this question and my my beliefs on this have evolved um so I mentioned that I have this airtable database and when this was just
a side project my first question was how do we incentivize people to contribute and so I went very deep down the crypto Rabbit Hole thinking you know what if you have a token around aligning
incentives in fact I you know launched a podcast called tokens but how and I talked to all sorts of people um and I think first of all a token is not a substitute for building a great
product uh my sense is that to get people my there's two things that I've learned one is most people have no qualms about making their knowledge and
discoveries public it's not a question of you know I have no problem making my airtable public connecting it to other things what people don't want to lose is the single player utility right so if
they have a notion and it has you know a very sort of unique way of mapping connections it being searchable of being sort as long as they can be a node within a larger collective intelligence engine uh without compromising the
single player utility I think that that uh that people are very willing to do that I just think that our tools are inadequate in fact like startup you today which is just an idea baby our most active users are
reading On Tools like matter or pocket they're highlighting those tools they think to notion and then they copy paste from notion to startupy it's insane that they're going through the trouble of
doing this uh and so I just think that as more and more tools exist you can't replace those tools you have to be interoperable with them uh and that begs just this question of is there's no data
standards and all sorts of like complexities around how these things talk to each other but I guess my short answer is you encourage people to contribute by not compromising on single player utility for the particular
problem that we are trying to solve thank you and I'll add just real quick that when I consider a multi-party brain because I use the brain software and it's the version I use is single user there is a team brain but it doesn't
work the way I think team stuff should work whenever I consider sort of a multi-party thing starting from where I am with the tool I've used I always say and I want there to be a big red button I can hit to take me back to only what I
put in because my comfort zone is the space that I know that I curated and added and I'm perfectly happy then to do my you know mind melds with everybody else and become part of the board but
I've got to be able to retreat to the stuff I'm familiar with that's hugely important as a feature request from me the the appetite that I have personally
would be for a a kind of multiplayer Collective writing thinking application uh that I would probably start with um extending to a group of friends you know
I mean I'd love to have you know uh a dozen friends um sharing and building it together and then I think I think I think this being thoughtful about extending sort of permissions and
exposing sections of it um I I think would would probably need to be part of the process because I think yeah and this gets a little bit back to the cultural question right because I
because I think that I think that we like to you know um there's a reason that we'd like to you know uh we enjoy dinner parties
with you know half dozen to a dozen people who who we find very interesting or or maybe even people that we love and there's a safety there and a willingness to have conversations that were that
being broadcast live with you know with nasty comments and that it would not be the same experience right so so I think you know I think this this kind of um that more transparency and more sharing
of a collective brain becomes more attractive uh as as they're sort of uh as one has positive experiences that indicate that that you're not you know at risk of you know
um uh of of of having negative impacts um but but oddly oddly like we've had you know simple tools like for instance even just Google Docs right and the ability
to you know we work collectively when we're writing the say the introductions in uh to our podcast that uh that all with with sometimes one of a a two of us
or three of us will basically write together so you know this has been around for a while it's not terribly wildly Innovative but just the fact that I can be writing on the Fly and see I can have a team of sometimes as many as
10 people all in a shared in shared documents in different locations thousands of miles away that that not long ago would have been quite extraordinary
um and um and so I think uh that you know um yeah that that with with with some sort of uh opportunities to be incremental with
the opening of the kimono of one's brain right to the world that we might we might get there and and I have to think that what will happen is is that the benefits of of
opening up more broadly right to Greater input from others uh will and and I think they're bloggers who enjoy that this today right um that who who basically there's so many people today
who just put every you know are constantly spilling their ideas out on a daily basis and they get and they benefit enormously from from the collective thinking as a result I remember a really long time ago I was leaving a meeting about the cash Health
Care economy where I learned that uh well where we I've never heard about the cash Healthcare economy it was always like you get health insurance and that's how you pay for health care right and so I tweeted something just you know just left an interesting meeting and then two
days later on Facebook because at that time all my tweets were being posted automatically to Facebook on Facebook I get a eight paragraph message from somebody I don't really know like like a second degree out who says Hey loved
your post took my family off of insurance years ago here's our experience it's been actually really good this is what happened what happened what happened I was like I did not know that in my ripples there was somebody with a lot of deep experience on this
topic and it was invaluable hearing back and and I wasn't even on a quest to search for input when I when I did that little random tweet um so I think that that were the safety matters safety is a really important
design issue here but but there's something going on that's like hive mind or whatever and I kind of wanted to head a little bit toward this extended mind thesis uh Rufus you've spent a bunch of time recently you got to interview a couple people who are key in that in
that sphere and I'm wondering how what you learned there folds itself into the conversation we're having here well I think it was so in in 1998 uh
Andy Clark and David Chalmers wrote a paper called the extended mind thesis I believe right and um and it was a very kind of simple but but but novel idea at the time which was that well what if uh
you know you know this is pre-iphone and pre you know many things uh um that uh that you know when people write things down on a laptop and at the time it was like the use of laptop computers that
inspired this thought that really the if a laptop becomes a partner in thinking and you're and and and you you start exporting your brand uh onto this other device really your your brain is
extended onto onto this laptop device and what a a uh uh I remember who who said since then that that this the extended mind thesis was incorrect in 1998 when they came up with it but it is
since become correct because we now know that if we're separated from our iPhones uh or smartphones uh that we're we feel debilitated right right because because of the persistent proximity of these
devices We have basically all of Google Wikipedia everything else is right here all the time and that's become you know part of uh uh I mean it's changed the way I have conversations with my children at dinner
I was going to say dinner with kids is not not the same time 20 years ago right I mean why is the sky blue boom I mean and it's um and though we have a no phones at dinner you know policy we have
we do have a well if you're looking up something to add information to the conversation you're allowed to do that right because it is you know so um but but they have the additional Insight that well when people lose a
spouse with you know with whom they've cohabitated for decades it can feel like you've lost a portion of yourself and that's actually not an illusion an illusory sense because very often people
Outsource parts of their brains you literally have your wife or your husband remembers for you a certain range of experiences that you've had lives that you've lit you know you know people you
know um and when you lose that person you've literally lost part of your brain and um and so this but but this becomes more compelling when we think about sort of
the power of the extended mind um in in communities of of you know friends colleagues and all the people we potentially connect with through tools
like the one that sorry is building yes so much of it I that I think that we've structured our information environments is we have so much information but we don't live in
healthy ways with this freedom and so if we build interfaces that are associated that if I you know on on Twitter if I leave for five days I'm
wondering what I missed if I don't look at Jerry's brain for months and I come back I'm seeing more and more value more connections um and so I don't know I'm obsessed with this idea of how do we learn to live in
healthy ways with the freedom afforded to us um which I think goes back to uh the the question of of tools and it's it's largely uh a design challenge I think
that we've been sort of like accustomed to the stream but that is not the only way that we can navigate the Internet it's also kind of uh we've got problems with addiction problems with the
business model frankly and so so a lot of what you described is is our reality presently because these companies are trying to sell minutes of our engagement on these platforms to advertisers and
they'll do anything in order to get more of that so we have we have uh you know uh people trying to wean us off the devices because on the other hand people are trying to addict us to the devices and they're doing a really really
phenomenal job of it um I would say an excellent job of it so getting to a healthy relationship with information and with one another is going to take I think not just acts of will and maybe different or better
software but probably some Evolutions in what the models are that are that are underneath everything and I I'm not entirely clear how that happens I you know Wikipedia is consistently one of the top 10 visited websites in the world
and it's the only one that leaves no cookies on your device and doesn't have a business model it has a it has a structure you know they receive money for for doing what they do so I think these things are just really
um there's there's a challenge here in terms of the fundamental space within which we're trying to do these things that that I think are are noble and interesting uh and trying you know trying to get there
something else I find interesting is is this question of I I'm because I have a mediocre memory I'm really looking forward to um and also I'm just sort of fascinated
by technology I'm I'm really looking forward to you know the the um you know um augmented reality glasses that will tell me what the name is of the parent whose name I've forgotten whose children
played with my children and so on and so I um but I I'm also looking forward to um the you know the likelihood that we will have our entire lives recorded in
audio I think audio as an interface is really is really wonderful and probably will be you know dominant for our interactions with AI assistants and just
this notion that if I had all of my life here to four recorded in audio and potentially video also but in audio um you know it would be relatively easy
to um search for laughter search for emotion search for Tears you know for for uh different types of emotion um search for
um and over time over time it'll become easier and easier to search for sort of Revelation and and awe and you know uh and and I wonder to what extent in the future some of these some of these tools
for organizing are previous ideas and thoughts and conversations will be semi-automated or that we could sort of teach and nourish but but we would have we would be able to have these
conversations and ideas self-organized to some degree it seems like given today's technology it's it's not that much of a challenge to detect emotional valence in a conversation and so you could search back and say tell me
the high points of my week and play back the you know five-minute Snippets of what those were and then go deeper and do that that doesn't seem like a technological challenge at this point so it's an interesting world sorry do you see audio the same way
yeah I haven't thought too deeply about audio but I do think a lot about uh you know what are humans uh best equipped to do and where can Ai and advanced as an NLP
um come in and so we're thinking a lot about sort of like automating connections and suggesting connections I do think um it's it's very hard for that to replace uh the ability for humans to
associate different conceptual meanings um but we're thinking really deeply about you know what is it uh because tagging systems can become extremely complex and messy so if you think about
you know maybe there's a tag for Knowledge Management and one for tools for thought and you know there's all of this like you know especially in multiplayer mode it just becomes a lot more complex than the you know duplicate issue and the intent is the same
um and so I think technology can really help us um with those kinds of things I think um your business model Point Jerry is really interesting um because I do think that
the database business models did create this like massive race for attention that resulted in lack of depth and you know anxiety and all sorts of things but I'm not sure that we want to live in a
world where you know the truth is paywalls but the lies are free right so so that's where we are alternative right like you have you know you have this like subscription fatigue and so you're either you either are the product or
you're paying for the product but what does it mean and so I think we're like in this in between and you know Wikipedia is obviously an example uh but it's in but it's not for profit so um you know I I'm thinking very deeply
about the business model question because I think that information has zero marginal cost and so to put a subscription on information seems like seems wrong
um because of the zero marginal cost structure of information but ads has also played out in a way that's not conducive to um the kind of sense making that we want so yeah I don't have an answer to that but
I'm thinking deeply thank you I love those ruminations um there's an old story that may be apocryphal but back in the days of like Audio Research and you know all the Geeks out of at this that there's a
market researcher who asked the little girl what do you what do you like better radio or television and her answer allegedly is um radio because the pictures are better all right wonderful because our
imaginations will will like fill in and and will do a lot of things and once once you've instantiated something as a visual you that your imagination on that virtual is narrowed to whatever it is you're you're watching so so playing
with the variables of the medium in different ways I think is really interesting and clever uh a long time ago I was doing a panel session at PC Forum about muds moves and all that kind of stuff and Amy Brockman from the MIT
media lab was on on the panel and she related how one day she's in a moon she just types in moves or texts only online environments and she types in uh Amy looks at her shoes and bites her lip
as her response to something and that was just beautiful and it just communicates so many sorts of things right now all of us maybe aren't that literary and I'm not sure where that goes but uh but I think we're at this
very interesting cusp where there's so much possibility and yet we've seen so much messiness and Trauma even just the last decade and and I come from the innocent you know silicon alley web days when I was like ah this is awesome
things are going to be good democracy and so forth and hey guess what right uh the medium has not been conducive to those things if anything we've been living through an era of misinformation
and bile uh and many of much of which was intentionally sort of set upon um so I just want to wrap with maybe an optimistic question which is like what
is your wish or hope for this space What do you wish we could pull off in 10 20 years if we sort of keep moving on this yeah I guess the the way I would answer that
I've all I always think of like our job in this world is to acquire knowledge and then share it and so much of my own sort of personal mission for startupy is
about accelerating the reach of interesting ideas I think that I sort of had a career where my job has been to get paid to learn and hang out at the edges of the internet and you know spent
a lot of time on the internet so more people don't have to um and I really do believe that you know the like information is already here it's just not evenly distributed and what does it mean for humans to take
back that power um and you know if Google is like organizing the world's information I think we now need to reorganize the world's information by putting the power back giving the power back back to people
um so that's my wish thank you you know I I I I'd love to see it uh the process of discovering
you know ideas and people who can change our minds and Empower us to live better lives to make that far more fluid um and uh and and also to you know to
make it easier for people to contribute to that flow of ideas to not have not have a sort of one-way Street of uh you know of uh I think of it as sort of like a you know um
that we currently live in a in an idea culture that looks in which there's a lot of junk food um we're trying to build like a a Whole Foods or maybe something better than
Whole Foods or whatever but but the metaphor was going great great Until the Whole Foods started I told Jeff Bezos on the uh yeah but but you know but but basically uh to
have you know to make it easier to have some kind of you know organic high quality nutritious sources of ideas uh that that go in both
directions and and and in a funny way when we think about this question of of of the the polarization of ideas in recent days I've been thinking as we've been talking that I I I I I do come back
to you know Socrates refused to write down any of his ideas because he thought that writing was not a good way to communicate um and it and we only know about autocracy's ideas because Plato his student wrote them down
um and he might not have entirely been I mean that sort of sounds outlandish today but this notion that we're talking earlier about how I just think it's so much easier to uh
for us to um you know to to have this cacophonous polarized environment with text than it is with voice and and I could see I could see here here's here's one crazy
possible idea sorry like some kind of like um I I I'd love to have uh when voice is transcribed into text have some kind of color association with emotion and tone
right so we can uh um so we can understand that context better but I I think they're going to be a lot of ways where we can have the kind of generosity of conversation more fluidly
present in the way that we think together and communicate I want to sort of go back to almost the first thing you said refer switch was that book server ideas go to die and uh sort of add a
little CPR to that in the sense of um for me this isn't just about our media diets and whether we get addicted or we're unhealthy to me the stakes are civilization like like our ability to puzzle our way out from all the crises
that we're surrounded by depends on our ability to sort this out the thing we were just talking about I don't think this is just a light-hearted gosh wouldn't we would we would have better ideas I actually think that we are a
stupider civilization because we're drowning in the infotorrent and you know being buried by spin when we need we will need to make some active measures uh in order to sort our way through this and one of the things that that pops up
for me now and then which I want to throw in there's a there's a pattern language called liberating structures and pattern languages are community-build wisdom deglazing or synthesizing some with the
hard-won wisdom from practitioners in the field and liberating structures was created by a bunch of facilitators and one of the patterns in there is called one two four all and it says if you have a big group and a complicated topic a
nice pattern to follow is give them time by themselves put them in pairs put them in fours and come back to plenary now I want to instrument that pattern and any other patterns that are like that an instrument is the wrong word
here but what I mean is hey wouldn't it be cool if there was a chatbot sitting here with us on Zoom that said oh Jerry you might be able to use one two four all right now because it's detected what we're doing in the context we have would
you like me to run it for you and if I said yes it would set up breakout rooms name them properly assign people to breakout rooms put up a timer put up prompt in the chat basically run the choreography for me which is not
rocket science it's all really really simple stuff to do you can imagine the code as I'm as I'm saying it you're like oh yeah that that's doable and then many more people who are just junior facilitators or complete newbies would
suddenly level up and be able to do more powerful more sophisticated things so for me there's a lot of information like that trapped in pattern languages and books and websites and PDFs I say information goes to die on PDFs as well
how do we bring it into the commons and then make it alive and useful in these different kinds of ways so that we can apply it to our lives and make better lives for everybody that's one of my goals for this space
uh anything either of you would like to say is in as a as a wrap up to the conversation this has been just been just energizing um uh conversation I think that I'm very excited about
the evolution of how we use communal spaces today from sharing pictures of what we're doing or what we're eating or how we look and towards like just building intellectual resonance trails
and applying um these things to our lives because I think one thing that I've that I've learned is that to know something doesn't give you the
capacity to apply it and as somebody that has spent so much time reading you still need surface areas for practice and what you were just describing just now is this like just in time applying
of these ideas and principles which sounds just wonderful Rufus any thoughts just just tremendously exciting I'm so thrilled that you're doing this Jerry and I'm going to be a listener and uh
it's uh it's such an exciting uh space and um just delighted to be a part of it yeah thank you I will release you back to your families in in a moment um but in the meantime 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 a door at betawworks.com camp and uh thank you so much for being a part of this we
really we really appreciate it foreign [Music]
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