Rhys' Newsletter #20

Reimagining Capitalism, 2+2=5, and QAnon

This newsletter is supported by my online school, Roote—a community of world-class systems thinkers looking to understand and build the future.

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, and more.

If you like it, share with a friend or support me on Patreon!

Hey hey!

1) Thanks to all of you who have given me feedback thus far! My key learning is that y’all want me to connect Roote ideas to daily life. Some example responses:

I’d love to see more relevance to practical life and less abstraction.

Is there any connection to what you are doing and things going on every day in people’s lives? Especially with covid, racial justice, economic imbalances, etc.

I am personally interested in your take on our current political climate. I would be interested in seeing how you apply some of the ideas you often think about to covid, racial equity, etc. Being able to apply system-level thoughts on restructuring our current world would be helpful to me.

Thank you! I’ll try to connect the news to Roote more often.

Here are some other funny responses that I enjoyed:

You're part of many communities I'm not, so your newsletter is like a hedge on my OCD that I've missed something important on the far reaches of the internet.

I don't understand about 75% of what you're talking about but I love hearing what you are thinking. You're a brilliant young man and I enjoy just seeing what you and your brilliant friends are concerned about. And yeah, I know this is approximately what your mom would say. Sorry.

Here’s a quote for your next book jacket: “Reading Rhys Lindmark is like having a pen pal from a future where altruism reigns.”

(In response to my question: what are you working on?) Oh, just trying catalyze a new society here. Feels like we're playing for the same team.

2) I interviewed Rebecca Henderson on The Rhys Show. Rebecca is a Harvard business professor and the author of Reimagining Capitalism. Listen to the episode if you want to understand her theory of change for aligning business with people and the planet. I came in skeptical of ESG’s but left with renewed optimism for post-capitalist metrics.

Rebecca Henderson (livestream) (5/10) – Town Hall Seattle

3) The Roote Fellowship continues on! It’s been cool to see Roote Fellows start on their projects and begin to integrate (and also critique) the course content. Here are the lectures I recorded last week (20min-60min each):

Week 2: Networkism

Week 3: Coherent Pluralism

Of the Networkism lectures, I most recommend Networkism in the Context of Human History. It gives a good overview of how we can see ourselves as a “Networked Human Organism.” As an organism we: 1) take information as input (sensemaking bits), then 2) process it to make a decision (using energy to move atoms) towards 3) a goal (our ethics, the sustainability of our species). The internet fits into this as a crucial part of our sensemaking.

And for the Coherent Pluralism lectures, I most recommend How to Use Coherent Pluralism. It gives a good overview of how to use language to do multi-perspective thinking. e.g. Using at slashes, being “in relationship to a relationship”, and speaking in gradients.


1) On Coherent Pluralism

1a) Acronyms like LGBTQ+ and BIPOC are manifestations of Coherent Pluralism. Adding more letters strives for Pluralism, but keeping the acronym small strives for Coherence. From the recent Vox article: Linguists explain why the term “BIPOC” is so complicated:

BIPOC presupposes a kind of solidarity and a shared positionality that doesn’t play out in practice for a lot of people, and in fact obscures more than it reveals from some perspectives.

“I think it’s an earnest attempt to be inclusive,” says Adrienne Dixson, a professor of critical race theory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “There is this attempt to be inclusive of the histories of oppression, and there’s a desire to not create a hierarchy or to stratify.” But, she adds, the political solidarity created by a term like “BIPOC” can also come with a loss of nuance. “People want to be named and recognized, not as part of an amalgam,” she says.

There’s no “right answer” here, and as BIPOC becomes appreciated/appropriated by powerful white folks, it’ll lose it’s signaling power and we may move onto something else.

1b) There was a Twitter debate recently about whether 2+2=5.

On one side, you have postmodern folks who say that 2+2=5. They say whether 2+2=5 depends on your definitions of 2, +, =, and 5. They also remind us that science is socially constructed. We should recognize that academia (and math specifically) have been fields dominated by white males, and those biases have impacts.

On the other side, you have folks who are reacting to the postmodernism above. They’re worried that ultrarelativism is bad for society; that we’re losing our notions of shared truth and rigorous science.

So what’s the answer? Eh, there is none. Everyone is just talking about how symbols map to reality.

There’s no perfect mapping, but I personally love the Metamodernist perspective. Metamodernism acknowledges the map is not the territory, understands inherent uncertainty, and still strives for truth. Here’s a great Metamodernism 101 thread.

2) On Networkism

2a) Twitter has re-opened their API (their first major update since 2012). A reminder of what happened in the early 2010s: Facebook, Twitter, etc. opened up APIs for their platform, but then closed them as companies who built on them became successful. The social media platforms want to suck attention to themselves, and an open API allows attention to move elsewhere. Moving toward an open API is good. We’ll see if Twitter sticks to it.

2b) This Alex Danco piece explores the difference in financial vs. social incentives with AngelList’s new "Rolling Funds.” These “rolling” funds decrease the friction around angel investing (by allowing for an angel fund to be raised on a “rolling” basis). With this new structure, Danco highlights the interesting difference between financial returns and social returns:

Remember, the social returns to angel investing (and now, rolling fund investing) don’t respond to dilution the same way that financial returns do: follow-on investments don’t dilute your stake, they augment your cred.

And so we’ll see more folks as micro-LPs in rolling funds, which allows them to claim social signal for a hip startup. But as more folks do that, the power of that signal will decrease. A classic example of zero-sum status signaling and how decreasing friction increases abundance.

2c) QAnon groups have millions of members on Facebook, documents show. This was the most shared article from last week (according to meta-aggregator Winning The Internet). Connecting this to Roote:

First, a reminder that we’re moving from centralized to distributed trust, and commoditizing the trust creation process (through ratings, reviews, etc.). As we do so, there’ll be “good trust” (staying in an AirBnB) and “bad trust” (QAnon folks creating a self-referential, trusted conspiracy community).

We’ll want platforms to add friction back (a form of Libertarian Paternalism and humans-in-the-loop) to stop the spread of such groups.

3) The Onion: Undecided Voter Looking Forward To Learning More About Donald Trump During Campaign 😂

4) This amazing map vocalizes 24 human emotions. Play with it!




I love Bill Wurtz. Bill is famous for his Youtube videos history of the world, I guess and history of japan. But Bill is also an underappreciated musician. Here’s one of my favorite songs. It’s ridiculously catchy and sounds like a funky 90s commercial. There’s nothing quite like it.

Here’s a Spotify playlist of my favorite Bill Wurtz songs.

And if you want to see a jazz musician analyze his music, check out this video.

Hope you have a good week! Warmth, Rhys

❤️ Thanks to my generous patrons ❤️

Jim Rutt, Zoe Harris, Yancey Strickler, Jacob Zax, David Ernst, Jonny Dubowsky, Brian Crain, Matt Lindmark, Colin Wielga, Samuel Jonas, Andy Cochrane, Malcolm Ocean, Ryan Martens, John Lindmark, Collin Brown, Ref Lindmark, James Waugh, Mark Moore, Matt Daley, Coury Ditch, Brayton Williams, Jeff Snyder, Mike Goldin, Chris Edmonds, Peter Rogers, Scott Levi, Harry Lindmark, Simon de la Rouviere, and Katie Powell.