Layman Pascal


2023, AI, Social Networks, Online Education & Emerging Interfaces

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The term "metamodern" can refer to things that are related to or characteristic of metamodernism, a philosophical and cultural movement that emerged in the early 21st century. It is characterized by a mix of modern and postmodern ideas, as well as a focus on bridging the gaps between seemingly opposing viewpoints. Some of the key themes of metamodernism include irony, sincerity, and hope. It has been applied to fields such as art, literature, politics, and social theory.

Limited.  But not terrible.  I hear Google's LAMBDA is even better.  The year 2022 was remarkable for seeing the first widespread public use of quasi-intelligent apps to make new creative visual art, write poems, essays, even compose new computer programs.  My prediction for 2023 is that we are going see an exponential increase in the distribution, use & variety of a whole new dimension of software.  Not just AI but a wild Cambrian explosion of new interfaces, apps and digital tools being embraced by people who are not leading-edge technophiles. 

And that includes most of us.

Personally, I am not an early adopter.  Or maybe I am a curmudgeonly early adopter?  When a trendy Ethiopian molecular gastronomy restaurant or a Virtual Reality expresso bar opens in my town, I grumble, shake my head, inwardly scorn the vain patrons -- and then I'm mildly confused to find myself, a few weeks later, sitting among them.

Like a lot of you, I am much more comfortable with those parts of our communities that meditate in the forest, sketch diagrams of metatheory, do yoga on the beach and lament the lack of a planetary wisdom-civilization.  Systemic, technological & infrastructural thinking requires effort.  It doesn't feel natural.  I am the last guy at the Web 3.0 talk and I find my brain gets a little fuzzy when people start discussing cryptocurrencies.

However, I am keenly aware of the fact that information systems, interfaces and platforms are essential tools for the metamodern response to the age of the metacrisis.  These systems hold enormous leverage but we do not know which promising ideas will lead to which expected or unexpected results.  We are all experimenting right now.

For example, the Integral Stage podcast which I host just sold out.  We partnered, at least temporarily with FATHOM.FM (listen to my interview with Paul).  Although they're only on the Apple Store so far, they use a series of partial AIs to make the conceptual contents of podcasts instantly searchable.  Would you like to know exactly where, within which podcasts, people are discussing ecological destabilization, integrative development, collective consciousness, new systems design, emergent cultural movements?  That could be handy.

Yesterday I joined weco -- which is trying to provide an online community hub for Metamoderna while using a Wilber-style holonic theory as the basis for laying out a social network.  I just spoke with Gregg Henriques who is in the middle of migrating UTOK to a platform called Circle.  And who doesn't remember when Facebook shut down Game B and Jim Rutt established a separate social network on Mighty Networks?

You get my point.  Right now many of us are building new digital platforms & many more of us are trying out various promising possibilities.  And this is occurring at exactly the same historical moment when we are seeing a massive leap forward in the capacities of digital intelligence.  This is an area where we should be paying much more attention and sharing more intelligence. 

Collective sensemaking around new platforms is essential. None of us can afford the time, energy and cognitive work necessary to explore and test all of our options.  These systems may be the privileged leverage sites for mobilizing resources in the near term.  And we all have to get better at protecting any promising new shoots from being recaptured by the existing social control structures.

Platforms aren't neutral.  Some of them enable emergent intelligence and others constrain, capture and exploit that intelligence.  One of my favorite words is counter-anti-disintermediation.  It describes the blindspot among the far-sighted, progressive, brilliant, libertarian networks who built and programmed our first software in the mid-20th century.  They assumed that they were creating a set of liberating tools that would free individuals and collectives from the economic, moralistic and ideological intermediaries who had been gatekeeping human communication.  But what happened? 

The internet became the new place to get rich, control people and spy on them.  The people generating the dis-intermediating tools were not prepared for the active, highly-incentivized onslaught of economic and political predators working to anti-dis-intermediate.  So we need a plan, an attitude, a preparedness to prevent the recapture of our attempts to produce and utilize new plaforms.  We need counterantidisintermediation.  

So what are you actually using?  Notion?  Slack?  Discord?  Clubhouse?  How's it going?  Where is the conversation among people in our communities about what they've tried, what actually paid off behaviorally and what they are about to experiment with?  Is it easy and accessible?  Is it staying open or tending toward closure?  Can it survive against economic predators?  

Let's double down on sensemaking in this area.  Let's put more time into these kinds of essential conversations.  

And maybe let's think of 2023 as THE YEAR OF THE PLATFORM!

Words by Layman Pascal
Layman Pascal was incarnated on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest. He used to be a meditation teacher, yoga instructor & public speaker — but he's feeling much better now.