You know that feeling when you’re riding a bike up a particularly steep hill? You’re peddling for your life, the body under strain, the mind playing tricks with the stress of the ordeal. It’s exhilarating, exhausting, frustrating and, ultimately, as you crest the peak, exalting.
We’re feeling a bit like we’ve summited a hill on Relational—we presented the latest OurLog prototype and vision at a recent DEF Demo Day where we received a wave of positive and helpful responses. The OurLog Gitcoin grant closed out with over 275 contributors (!!). And we discovered a number of aligned projects in our neighborhood of networked comms, including Common Sense[makers].
As we coast down the backside of our recently summited hill, we’re looking out onto the horizon and seeing a sea of other hills (and mountains) to climb, crest, and coast down. Such is life, and Relational is flowing with the ups and downs.
In this issue of Relational Highlights, we’ve captured some snapshots of our meandering journey, including:
our continued exploration of Vision and Principles
the importance of ownership experience (OX) in community comms and media production
emergent design thinking for OurLog
investigations into collective intelligence and hyperobjects
We hope you enjoy issue #3 of Relational Highlights!
In Relational Highlights Issue #2, Kristen wrote:
encountering challenges, issues, as they arise and figuring out the best way to address at that point in time (not prior) is an emergent strategy tool
In this Issue, Jon rediscovers a related emergent strategy tool: priming for future play. This is made evident as the team boots up design and development for Exquisite Land’s Canvas 2, a year wiser, and with Tony and Jordan now in the fray.
now that we're spinning up exquisite land it really does feel like our past selves primed our present selves to pick up and continue the game. leaving enough open to allow in new ideas, perspectives, and people but giving us a solid foundation to pick up on and the existing social context of people that know and are excited about the project
we are now in chapter 2 and i’m reminded to be comfortable to leaving things for chapter 3, for our future selves to figure out, which is forwards-facing trust -Jon
Meanwhile, the Relational Discord continues to hum along. As an OurLog prototype, our Discord personal channels offer an asynchronous view into everyone’s thinking and research, and a space for conversation. Additionally, Kristen and Jon are experimenting with several new channels and integrations for easier publishing to Twitter and piping to Notion. Discord is also where we coordinate the variety of different social, technical, and design sessions throughout the week.
relational discord is feeling like a place. multiple projects running in parallel, no clear central point of communication, everything takes the space it needs
information routing through the place - like at a train station. some goes into notion, some turns into emails to be sent, some turns into a mirror publication -Jon
Kristen’s response: placeness, and info running through a place: communications tooling is this - it's piping things from one place to another, as appropriate. giving people the tools, the agency, to decide what goes where - patterns of engagement emerge, social norms
What do all of these media activities have in common?
- all involve media associated by URL
- they can all spawn each other- we are comfortable altering the communication form and cadence as necessary
- all involve different people; are embedded in a social graph
What media artifacts do these activities produce?
- recorded and live video -Jon
During the course of Relational’s day-to-day work and research, we consume and produce a variety of different media formats - both synchronously and asynchronously. Being able to create new pipes (integrations) and re-arrange them is proving increasingly valuable as our constraints, projects, and goals continue to evolve.
After reading Jesse Walden’s Tokens are Products, Kristen notes:
The main problem we solve for our users of OurLog/rLog (users being communities as a unit) is ownership of their media production process/pipeline. This is interesting - ownership of a process. As opposed to ownership of a media output (like Mirror: own your blog post). And as opposed to an external platform owning the process (like Discord and Notion where we produce and edit this newsletter)
Ownership of a media production process in web3 means providing composable tools to afford customization of the process to meet your unique needs, as a community, the ability to design the experience of media production for your community.
OurLog/rlog is a tool to create your community culture around media production - this is very powerful, very empowering. -Kristen
In addition to the principle of movement, CJ points to the importance of decomposition and recomposition as well:
Relational is a decomposition engine in some sense. Decomposing information into its primitive bits. Decomposition is essential in the ecosystem for life to emerge. To provide the nutrients for the rest of the system. We are fungus.
From decomposition you can recompose. -CJ
Kristen’s response: yes - mycelium networks transport resources through the network; we are creating comms network infra in the likeness of mycelium networks, our resources = information; information composed into media formats for publication and distribution
Internet media is produced and tightly packaged in embedded contexts. For example, a podcast might contain a transcript derived from the audio track, the audio joined to the video, and a text description on the platform it’s uploaded to with still more context.
Decomposition means being able to digest and process this media as a community by extracting and referencing specific snippets and portions from a podcast, combining them with snippets and ideas from other sources and producing altogether new outputs. To tie it back to the Ownership Experience frame, this evolutionary process and the tooling that enables it is precisely what the community gets to retain control and ownership of in the Relational model.
Although Discord, Notion, and this newsletter are particularly text-centric, we aren’t forgetting the importance of representing other formats. Capturing and sharing the full breadth of a group’s thinking will involve audio, video, and many more formats.
using "thoughts" to temporarily describe the objects being generated with/for OurLog, since "notes" feels too text focused...i don't think it's necessarily the best term but its what I’ve come up with for now -Jordan
Once captured, these thoughts will support a variety of different interactions and workflows, personal and collaborative. Here is some of Jordan’s emerging design thinking on OurLog:
If individual thoughts are the material, what are we making with it? Tony and Kristen explore the role of abstraction and emergence in the creation of hyperobjects and how OurLog might afford groups the power to create, manipulate, and share these multi-dimensional structures.
Hyperobjects are relational stacks of abstractions -Tony and Kristen
Tony: abstractions are levels in a stack of information. each higher level has increased leverage over the level below it. you take a concept and use it as a building block with other concepts to form a higher level abstraction.
Kristen: there are similarities between abstraction and emergence… abstraction being the technical to emergence’s poiesis (the process of evolution, of transcend and include).
Which explains why, if humans are entering into a time when/where we have the ability to understand hyperobjects, we need collective intelligence tools with abstractions to encompass, to understand hyperobjects
“seeing” hyper object is the most human quality, yet many digital tools shard hyperobjects and package these shards into products for an end user. Practically every social coordination app: basecamp (company org & projects), slack (groups), discord (informal groups), jira (projects), tiktok (memes)
These packaged shards are great in their simplicity to grok for the end user. “We are talking about work here,” “we are creating memes for a product here,” etc. However they are an incomplete picture of what the end user is doing, an arbitrary level of abstraction for a given hyperobject. There is no shared understanding of what is actually being coordinated around.
groups have the ability to consciously coordinate around hyperobjects. OurLog is the first tool that is focused on hyperobject coordination, creation, and exploration.
And since OurLog would be capturing high-fidelity interactions of an entire community instead of narrow individual perspectives, it opens up interesting possibilities for machine learning:
i'm still thinking a LOT about Tony’s ideas on ML being trained on collaborative team behavior instead of just individual jobs...feels like its somehow relevant to group-based composable games, providing translation or interconnection of diverse ideas. -Jordan
A few more highlights where Dave explores the relational aspects of money and Tony covers the past evolution and possible future directions of gaming as enabled by web3 primitives.
Just finished David Graeber’s “Debt” book. He’s writing the history and mechanics of money from an anthropological perspective; which affords a view across time and culture into the various ways people have oriented to the subject of exchange. He mentions that the typical purely Economic perspective on the how and what of money tends toward understanding human behavior in terms of mathematics and describes these understandings with equations
The anthropological perspective takes into account the relational aspect of money. How cash and credit are different representations of human relationship and how when the money begins to stand in for those relationships the society can begin to go quite wonky. -Dave
A very abridged, and out of order, history on composable gaming:
1. Users have tools to create low-fi worlds. Little flexibility on personas, interaction, and reusability (e.g. Minecraft)
2. A hi-fi game world that lets users embody a persona they identify with. Interaction set is predefined by game. Personas are widely varied and focus on strong IP, but not customizable. World is fully defined by game creator. (e.g. Fortnite)
3. Users have tools to create low-fi worlds. Interaction set is open and composable. Personas are fully customizable. Sub-worlds are disconnected. (e.g. Roblox)
Where’s gaming go to next?
- Highly customizable worlds with variable fidelity- Flexible personas. Create your own. Be your favorite IP. or both- High variance on things you can do across the gaming worlds. Puzzle-solve, fight, technical problems, and a combination of all these things- Shared narratives and ideas across the game worlds. (insert HyperXP here) -Tony
Thanks for reading this issue of Relational Highlights, we love you! 💗✨