Rhys' Newsletter #15

How Frontier Movements Embody the Roote Paradigm

This newsletter is supported by Roote—an audacious path forward for the internet age.

It goes out to more than 1,000 ambitious frontier people: bentoists, sociotechnical researchers, progress studiers, effective altruists, metamodernists, ~gameB players, crypto-anarchosyndicalists, social justice activists, VCs, doughnut economists, systems thinkers, and more. Share it with a friend!


Hi hi!

1) This week’s article—How 6 Frontier Movements Embody the Roote Paradigm.

Are you familiar with Effective Altruism, GameB, Progress Studies, Doughnut Economics, RadicalXChange, or Long Now? This piece shows how they’re all sub-manifestations of a larger paradigm shift. Check out the piece to fill in the table below!

2) As a reminder, we announced the Roote Fellowship last week. It starts on August 1st, costs $2000, and will have 10 fellows. We already had 5 (pretty awesome) folks apply, so please apply now! (We also updated the website with a curriculum, request for projects, etc.)

LINKS

1) With Harvard and others announcing remote Zoom University in the fall, we’re seeing some interesting alternatives like Haitus. Related: Green Mountain College has closed. Buy their old campus for $20M.

2) Scathing report on the current state of global poverty by Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty. “COVID-19 will increase the number at risk of acute hunger by more than 250 million.” Alston thinks “the International Poverty Line has a scandalous lack of ambition.” For more debate on poverty lines, see this piece from Future Perfect.

3) Teens Flock To New App Where They Just Enter Own Personal Data Into Form :)

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I love music that layers non-melodic audio recordings on top of electronic beats. Two of the most popular bands in this space are Pogo and Public Service Broadcasting (PBS). Pogo chops up Disney soundtracks while PBS uses old radio recordings from the 1900s. The Pogo-y version is often called plunderphonics.

This week I learned about Meaningwave—a genre created by Akira the Don that layers philosophical recordings on lo-fi beats. Although I love these songs, they’re a bit too focused on IDW/white dudes. Please reach out if you know meaningwave/plunderphonic tracks with folks like Angela Davis, bell hooks, Donella Meadows, etc.

I made this playlist of my favorite plunderphonic and meaningwave songs. If you just want to listen to only one, check out this hilarious Meaningwave track feat. Elon Musk:


Thanks as always for reading! Please share this newsletter, support me on Patreon, or reply if you have feedback.

Hope you have a good week. Warmth, Rhys

Rhys' Newsletter #14

Roote, The Rhys Show, and Patreon

This newsletter is supported by Roote—an audacious path forward for the internet age.

It goes out to more than 1,000 ambitious frontier people: bentoists, sociotechnical researchers, progress studiers, effective altruists, metamodernists, ~gameB players, crypto-anarchosyndicalists, social justice activists, VCs, doughnut economists, systems thinkers, and more. Share it with a friend!


Hi you! You’re looking good today.

1) I’m starting a new company, Roote.

Our mission is to clarify root-level systems to help us find the route. Three notes on it:

A. Please let me know if you have any feedback on the site! You’re seeing v1. I’m especially interested—is it clear what we do? And what would make you join the fellowship?

B. We’re starting with the Roote Fellowship—a cohort of ambitious frontier people who want to build the next paradigm. We’re launching our first cohort on August 1st—please apply here or reach out personally if you’re interested! (We’ll have more specific details on the curriculum soon.)

C. Also, please let me know if you’re interested in helping out. We’re looking for mentors, people who have run online cohorts, general operations, and anything else.

2) My podcast is back! In 2017, it was called Creating a Humanist Blockchain Future 😂. Then at MIT, it was called Grey Mirror. Now, it’s simply called The Rhys Show. Hopefully I won’t change the name again :).

In my first episode back (68th total), I interview Yancey Strickler on Bentoism and Paradigm Change. Please give it a listen/subscribe and let me know what you think!

3) I gave a talk at RadicalXChange about my piece: Marriage Counseling with Capitalism. The recording is here. Check it out to understand how our new 4-part paradigm is manifest in humanity’s responses to COVID and George Floyd.

4) I restarted my Patreon. If you’ve been enjoying my writing, podcasting, or vision, I’d be honored by your support. (And of course, all good if not!)

LINKS

1) 20+ Problem Areas from 80,000 Hours. This piece looks at other possible focus areas for the Effective Altruism (EA) movement. Fwiw, my work mostly focuses on “#9: broadly promoting positive values”.

Related: It’s been interesting to see EA get increasingly interested in Progress Studies—see #17: economic growth. The Long-Term Future Fund and OpenPhil both support Roots Of Progress. Also, OpenPhil recently published research on Modeling the Human Trajectory. It’s a good piece. This is my favorite graph from that piece. It shows how “progress-y” the 1800s were, and how “non-progress-y” we’ve been since 1990.

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2) Our collective sensemaking capabilities are still amazingly weak but it’s nice to see new experiments in Coherent Pluralism. Letters.wiki has been around for a bit—it’s a platform for thoughtful conversation in the form of letters. This week I learned about Pairagraph, which seems very similar to Letters.wiki. If you’re interested in learning both sides of a debate, check either of them out. Good to see competition in the “Thoughtful Internet Dialogue” space. Let a Race to the Top begin! (Or, if you’re interested in what debate looks like without a good sensemaking protocol, see this.)

3) I love the simple, ironic humor in r/TheGreyPill. 😂

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4) Good market map for crypto. Try to find Gods Unchained, Optimism, and MetaCartel!

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Art is an amazing mirror of society. My playlist this week shows how musicians have been processing George Floyd: Justice is the Chorus.

This playlist was derived from (and inspired by) Glenn McDonald, a Spotify data guru and the creator of EveryNoiseAtOnce. Here’s how he created his two “Justice is the Chorus” playlists:

I spent a couple days reading every article I could find about new protest songs, collecting them, and then running a lot of iterative data-analysis over the listening and playlist-making patterns of hundreds of millions of Spotify listeners to find what else the people who know those songs know, and then repeating the process until everything else it gave me was old.

Praise patterns from data!

And here are some of my favorite lyrics from the playlist:

Everybody wanna be an athlete, everybody wanna rap on beats, everybody wanna eat watermelon and fried chicken. Everybody wanna be black, but don't nobody wanna be a n****.

This is for the souls who didn’t get captured on an iPhone. So many names that didn’t get a hashtag.

Mr. Officer: what if that was my brother, what if that was my dad, what if that was my uncle, what if that was all I had.

They don’t want me to win, they don’t want to me to eat, they don’t want to see a young black man succeed, they don’t want to see me take my brothers out of the streets.

Look at me I'm melanated. You probably hate it but I celebrate it. I made it here I wasn’t 'posed to make it. It's the sweet taste of melanin baby.

Moral of the story everybody needs a lil mercy.

And of course, the playlist has Beyonce’s new track. Enjoy it!


Thanks as always for reading. Please share this newsletter if you like it or reply if you have feedback!

Hope you have a good week. Warmth, Rhys

Rhys' Newsletter #13

Defining Paradigms

This newsletter covers humanity’s ongoing paradigm change.

It goes out to more than 1,000 ambitious frontier people: bentoists, sociotechnical researchers, progress studiers, effective altruists, metamodernists, ~gameB players, crypto-anarchosyndicalists, social justice activists, VCs, doughnut economists, systems thinkers, and more. Share it with a friend!


Hi you!

1) This week’s article is on Defining Paradigms. Why did I write it? Paradigms are super confusing. I hope it clarifies them and helps you understand our current moment. In summary, paradigms are the combination of:

  • Epistemology: How do we know things?

  • Ontology: What is true?

  • Ethics: What is good?

We can use this to understand our current crisis—what was the Industrial Age paradigm and how is it transitioning into the Information Age? Read the piece to find out!

2) Last week I shared my “art piece” full of illustrations and dialogue: Marriage Counseling with Capitalism Itself. Check it out if you’re looking for something fun!

3) Two pieces from the archives that are relevant to our current moment:

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1) The American Academy of Arts & Sciences put out a great report: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century. It has 6 high-level strategies and 31 specific recommendations. Check it out for a future vision of the US government. My favorite recommendations:

  • Drastically increase the size of US House of Representatives. Right now one person represents 750,000 constituents—too many!

  • Pre-register 16 and 17-year-olds so they can "practice" voting. Like a driving permit!

  • Create a public-interest mandate for social media—to have public-friendly digital spaces. Like zoning!

Also, if you’re not following everything Danielle Allen does, now would be a good time to start :).

2) Changing Minds. Although this site looks old school, it’s actually a great resource for understanding how humans work. There are 7,000 pages on a wide variety of topics, like a mini-Wikipedia. Here, they differentiate values from morals: “A person can be described as immoral, yet there is no word for them not following values.”

3) Your weekly reminder that action precedes motivation.

4) Two fun updates in This___DoesNotExist, which use GANs to generate “fake” examples. ThisWordDoesNotExist has fake dictionary definitions. I got demusology: the interpretation of religious teachings. For the second GAN, here’s a fake satire site: FakeFakeNews. One example: Child Just Got Off Job And Getting Even Younger.

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Moses Sumney: græ Album Review | Pitchfork

Moses Sumney’s new album (græ) features amazing interludes by the writer Taiye Selasi. Here’s a playlist with my favorite three interludes. Quotes from two of them are below.

“boxes”

I believe that people who define you control you
The most significant thing that any person can do
Especially black women and men
Is to think about who gave them their definitions
And rewrite those definitions for themselves

“also also also and and and”

I insist upon my right to be multiple – even more so, I insist upon the recognition of my multiplicity.

What I no longer do is take pains to explain it or defend it.

So I've reached a point where I am aware of my inherent multiplicity. And anyone wishing to meaningfully engage with me or my work must be too.

These strongly align with Coherent Pluralism. The first interlude is on zooming out from childhood socialization and rewriting our definitions of self. The second interlude is gesturing towards intersectionality. As Walt Whitman wrote in 1855, “I contain multitudes.”


Thanks as always for reading. Please share this newsletter if you like it or reply if you have feedback!

Hope you have a good week. Warmth, Rhys

Rhys' Newsletter #12

Marriage Counseling with Capitalism Itself

This newsletter covers humanity’s ongoing paradigm change.

It goes out to more than 1,000 ambitious frontier people: bentoists, sociotechnical researchers, progress studiers, effective altruists, metamodernists, ~gameB players, crypto-anarchosyndicalists, social justice activists, VCs, doughnut economists, systems thinkers, and more. Share it with a friend!


Hello!

1) This week I’m excited (and proud!) to share a piece that I’ve been working on for 3 months: We Need To Talk: Marriage Counseling with Capitalism Itself.

It’s my most creative piece to date. It involves dialogue, VR, and amazing illustrations (from Audra Jacobi).

The premise is a funny one—Humanity, Capitalism, and Post-Capitalism are in relationship therapy. Humanity knows we’re “growing out” of Capitalism, but also has no idea what Post-Capitalism is. We’re in a tough pickle.

Through their dialogue and VR scenes, we discover the four key pillars of post-capitalism.

Here are some of my favorite images. First, how Humanity can use Bentoism to look inside itself to understand its needs (similar to the emotions from Pixar’s Inside Out):

Second, this woman represents the idea of Coherent Pluralism—that we should wear many lenses but still create coherence among them:

And finally, the illustration below comes at the end. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but I think “break the 4th wall” in a fun and meaningful way. You’ll need to read to find out how :).

Some of the reviews thus far:

This piece is SO good. I hope with all my heart that is the direction we are going towards.

It was the first time I saw very abstract concepts (such as capitalism and humanity) being personified. It was absolutely brilliant how you narrated a complex story in a visual way.

You managed to make a complicated and emotive subject easy to understand, follow and digest. You left plenty to think about, created a cogent argument, and did it with loads of fun! What's not to like :-)

So…yeah. Even if you don’t normally click on links, I recommend clicking on this one. I promise it’s worth your time.

👉 We Need To Talk: Marriage Counseling with Capitalism Itself 👈

(Or if you’re more interested in a video interview, here is David Perell interviewing me about it.)

Finally, thanks to everyone who helped make the piece a reality:


2) Folks seemed to like my article last week, Reflecting On Grief: The Death of My Mom, George Floyd, and COVID.

Or at least, it made a lot of folks cry :). Lots of amazing feedback and pointers from folks. Here’s a couple:

You articulated the things it’s taken me 20+ years of grief to figure out.

It’s not just hurt people hurt people. Hurt people hurt themselves. While some hurt is thrown out into the world, a lot of hurt is thrown back at ourselves many more times than the original hurt, internalized as shame, disempowerment, guilt, and self-hatred.

During this time especially, I feel myself wavering due to the depth of grief I feel. However, because I've been battling this for sometime, I go back to my toolkit—that life raft that I hold onto when I see a crest approaching.

I think of these significant life experiences as expanding the bounds of our life experience—and more importantly—feeling them, acknowledging them.

This article was all the things I've seen that you are: loving , heartfelt, well-researched and clear.

My mom would be proud ❤️. Next time you’re experiencing grief, pull up the article. I hope it helps :).


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Just one song this week: Breakfast In Manhattan by Ben Zaidi. I found it because I’m listening to songs on climate change. It’s good for our current moment too. I find it sad. Lyrics:

I don't check my phone in the morning

I don't need to know what's going on

Up in the sky another hurricane is forming, and soon enough we'll all be gone

So I don't check my phone in the morning

I know everything its gonna say

Another wildfire out in California, while they write songs about the rain

And everyday it's repeating I'm getting too numb to feel it. Am I old before my time?


Thanks as always for reading. Please share this newsletter if you like it or reply if you have feedback!

Hope you have a good week. Warmth, Rhys

Rhys' Newsletter #11

Reflecting on Grief: The Death of My Mom, George Floyd, and COVID

This newsletter covers humanity’s ongoing paradigm change.

It goes out to more than 1,000 ambitious frontier people: bentoists, sociotechnical researchers, progress studiers, effective altruists, metamodernists, ~gameB players, crypto-anarchosyndicalists, social justice activists, VCs, doughnut economists, systems thinkers, and more. Share it with a friend!


Hey you,

My mom passed away two weeks ago after a 10-year journey with Alzheimer's.

Sorry for the delay in newsletters—I was out in Denver to grieve (and celebrate!) her life with my family. I’m sad and this email is hard to write.

Moms only die once, so I thought I’d share my memories of her with you.

As I was writing about my mom, George Floyd was killed and the COVID pandemic continued to rage on. I wanted to incorporate that public grief into my personal grief.

So I did. The full piece is here: Reflecting On Grief: The Death of My Mom, George Floyd, and COVID. As you’ll see with all of the weird visuals, we all grieve in our own way 🙂.

First, I share the eulogy I wrote for my mom. My favorite part: Mom, you gave us language. The symbols for communication. A deep sense of how we perceive and help others perceive the world.

Second, I try to understand grief and death through three paradoxes. One of them: The dead stay with you and you should let them go.

Third, I explore the sadness of George Floyd’s death and look at one of society’s worst feedback loops: that hurt people hurt people.

Finally, I look at COVID and explore ways to empathize with the death of 400,000 people.

If you’re interested in exploring the grieving process, check it out!

👉 Reflecting On Grief: The Death of My Mom, George Floyd, and COVID 👈

(And of course, please share your own experiences of death and grieving with me! Receiving amazing poems, advice, and messages has been a meaningful part of my grieving process. ❤️)

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This week’s playlist (here) is about the death of my mom and George Floyd. It starts with some sad jams about death, then transitions to sad jams about race relations. Here’s two great sections from Black by Dave.

Look, black is beautiful, black is excellent
Black is pain, black is joy, black is evident
It's workin' twice as hard as the people you know you're better than
'Cause you need to do double what they do so you can level them

Black is people namin' your countries on what they trade most
Coast of Ivory, Gold Coast, and the Grain Coast
But most importantly to show how deep all this pain goes
West Africa, Benin, they called it slave coast


Thanks as always for reading. Please share this newsletter if you like it or reply if you have feedback!

Hope you have a good week. Warmth, Rhys

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