The Weekly Circle #28
Welcome to the twenty-eighth episode of The Weekly Circle! A free Circles in Time newsletter released every Sunday.
I’m actively trying to stretch my thinking down unfamiliar and unconventional paths in search of new, original and hopefully useful ideas.
My sense is that one of the key reasons people (myself included) struggle to come up with original ideas is that we self-reject seemingly weird and unconventional ideas before they have gotten the chance to display themselves properly.
By sharing unconventional ideas on a recurring basis, my hunch is that we loosen the grip of anticipated failure, allowing for the self-critic to quieten and for weird and wonderful ideas to emerge and be nurtured rather than rejected.
In the spirit of this hunch, I’ve decided I am going to write about a topic or idea, that feels slightly weird and uncomfortable every week for the next 8 weeks.
I'll share my first one here to get the ball rolling.
Competition & Continuation
I have been reflecting on the relationship between competition and continuation within the context of evolution.
Both seem to be essential pieces of our natural history. Inextricably intertwined like a spiralling pair of DNA strands.
It is easy to imagine how early hominids competed within a tribe, with the fittest winning the chance to reproduce, strengthening the likelihood of the tribe’s continuation in the process.
The ability to compete and win is inextricably linked to the continuation of the tribe.
This game makes sense when the tribe’s continuation is more important than that of any one individual, and genes play a determining role in the likelihood of the tribes’ continuation.
Fast forward to 2021…
We have a growing number of individuals who are starting to play the game at the level of continuation rather than competition.
I’m not certain, but if I were to speculate, here is what I’d say:
Individuals no longer need to play survivalist-style, zero-sum games driven by the scarcity of key resources.
Perhaps that is why we aren’t so dependent on organising as tribes anymore. Tribes have become so permeable and malleable, that they hardly exist in any real concrete sense.
In addition to this, the determining nature of genes has been overtaken by memes and temes—fiercely competing for space within the individual’s finite attentional landscape.
The memetic competition of ideas in service of the continuation of the ‘individual’ (rather than the group/tribe/community/society) leads to the disruption and breakdown of beliefs, at a faster and more dramatic rate than any time in human history.
Even the most seemingly robust memes like ‘legacy’ and ‘progress’ are looking increasingly fragile in the face of a rapidly evolving cultural environment.
This is a very different type of game to one driven primarily by genes.
Individuals who can attract the ‘fittest memes’, hold a wide funnel and ruthlessly eliminate maladaptive ideas, and repeat that process continuously, are the ones who are likely to ensure their continuation.
In more conventional terms, the individuals with excellent information streams, and remain open to changing their minds are more likely to move themselves into situations where their continuation is ensured.
This line of inquiry raises so many interesting questions for me about the role of neuroplasticity, cultural substrates, media consumption, biological reproduction, education, knowledge transference and skill development.
It also raises important questions about the role of the individual versus the collective, identity, ideology, species-level survival and environmental sustainability.
Share your weird ideas!
I would love to read about your weird, wonderful and slightly unconventional ideas. If you are willing to share them with me, you can respond directly to this email or in the comment section on this post’s webpage.
CIRCLES IN TIME COMMUNITY UPDATE
♾ 56/150 Active Members | ✋ 91 Public Pledges
There were some big announcements in the Circles in Time community this week.
The first draft of the community manifesto was published.
Emulate, a new community tool, was announced.
The first community challenge of 2021 was launched.
Members’ shared their February Pledges.
The virtual sessions and workshops dates for February were released.
Members who missed these announcements can review the details here.
Join the Circles in Time community:
If you would like to join the community, sign up and get one-month free access to the platform and see if the space is a good fit for you.
SAMPLE OF ONE PODCAST
Rob Haisfield and I discuss the intersection of behavioural science and game design, hyper learning, knowledge-practice feedback loops, online community building and much more!
THE IDEAS I CIRCLED AROUND THIS WEEK
FIVE FAMOUS TWITTER THREADS WORTH EXPLORING
15 of the most useful razors and rules I've found - George Mack
5 reasons we fail to make effective decisions - Shane Parrish
How I run my business - James Clear
Here are 50 ideas that shape my worldview - David Perell
How to Get Rich (without getting lucky) - Naval Ravikant
THE QUOTES I CIRCLED AROUND THIS WEEK
“The world is a very malleable place. If you know what you want, and you go for it with maximum energy and drive and passion, the world will often reconfigure itself around you much more quickly and easily than you would think.” ~ Marc Andreessen
“Social media is designed for our brains. It interfaces with the parts of the human brain that regulate our sense of belonging and social approval. It rewards our dopamine system and encourages us to seek more rewards by connecting, engaging, and sharing online.” ~ Sinan Aral
“If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think.” ~ Jeff Bezos
“Only that which can change can continue.” ~ James P. Carse
SOMETHING TO PART WITH
Do you see a man running in the snow?
Until next week,
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