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🧩 community/market fit; oral cultures & contextual thinking; algorithms of thought; revising the economic system

Hey! 👋
Here are my picks from last week.
🍒 Products built on top of communities scale fast. A passionate community that shares a problem will pull the product out of the startup. Greg Isenberg shares his lessons for achieving community/market fit before product/market fit.
I’ve help build internet communities that have generated hundreds of millions of members

The most often question I get asked is:

But Greg - how do I build a community from scratch?!

Here's what I usually say:
👄 Ben Ford argues that one explanation for why we find it hard to deal with complexity in today’s world is that “all of our cognitive tools for dealing with complexity have been trained out of us”.
Oral cultures are known as high-context or field-dependent reasoning cultures. They have no isolated variables: all thinking is dependent on the field or context. Print-based cultures, by contrast, are low-context or field-independent reasoning cultures. This is because they remain independent of the field of context, focusing on ideas and objects in isolation. — Tyson Yunkaporta, Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World
This argument is supported by James Gleick in his wonderful book The Information: A History, A Theory, and A Flood: The invention of the alphabet was the invention of abstract thought, forcibly divorced from reality.
A passage I found illuminating:
For evidence [we turn] to fieldwork of the Russian psychologist Aleksandr Romanovich Luria among illiterate peoples in remote Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia in the 1930s. Luria found striking differences between illiterate and even slightly literate subjects, not in what they knew, but in how they thought. Logic implicates symbolism directly: things are members of classes; they possess qualities, which are abstracted and generalized. Oral people lacked the categories that become second nature even to illiterate individuals in literate cultures: for example, for geometrical shapes. Shown drawings of circles and squares, they named them as “plate, sieve, bucket, watch, or moon” and “mirror, door, house, apricot drying board.” They could not, or would not, accept logical syllogisms. A typical question: In the Far North, where there is snow, all bears are white. Novaya Zembla is in the Far North and there is always snow there. What color are the bears? Typical response: “I don’t know. I’ve seen a black bear. I’ve never seen any others… . Each locality has its own animals.” By contrast, a man who has just learned to read and write responds, “To go by your words, they should all be white.” To go by your words—in that phrase, a level is crossed. The information has been detached from any person, detached from the speaker’s experience. Now it lives in the words, little life-support modules.
💭 Abstract thinking is of course not all bad. Those who know me know that I’m a huge fan of Roam Research. Roam is a note-taking app, a tool for better thinking, and a perfect example of how novel human-computer interaction patterns can extend the mind.
Lately, I’ve been playing in Roam with different algorithms of thought - procedures for thinking through a problem or situation to solve it. Here’s a simple one for developing better product roadmaps.
🌎 Finally, a reminder of the need to revise the rules of the prevailing socio-economic system.
Dr. Elizabeth Sawin
There's nothing sophisticated about an economy that takes systems of high complexity and degrades them in order to live temporarily off of the energy released when systems move from states of high order to states of low order.
Humanity can do better. And we will.
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olli @olliten

on social tech & decentralized protocols

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