Over the last couple of months, we’ve fallen down a zine rabbit hole. Delving into the potential of zines as a hypermedia form. We call ‘em zeens: a spin on the print publications of yore. A new type of web3 relational media.
On the zeen front, we’re exploring UI/UX patterns to innovate on group social tooling for the playful, invitational co-creation of these artifacts. This is where we’re focusing most of our squad’s energy currently - getting a concept site up for what we’re calling Our Zeen. Our Zeen, a cousin to OurLog, Relational’s primordial collective intelligence tool.
Z: So, you’ve been experimenting with a type of group publishing?
Relational crew: Yup! A blockchain-native hypermedia form called a Zeen (like a zine but more fuuuuuture).
Z: A blockchain-native hypermedia sounds cool, what does it mean though?
Crew: Yeah, what we’re pointing to is a hyperobject (the zeen) created by a hyperagent (a friendly working group), that lives on the blockchain (a hypermedia). So yeah, zeens are a blockchain-native hypermedia.
Z: What's with all of the hyper - hypermedia, hyperobject, hyperagent?
Crew: Hyper in this context is a fancy way of saying multiple perspectives, or multiperspectival. Which, actually, is just a fancy way of saying many.
The hyperobject is an object, in this case a piece of media, the zeen, which has multiple, many, viewpoints. These many viewpoints are an extension of the hyperagent, aka a group with many people. Blockchain hypermedia is media composed with many component parts, many blocks.
Z: Alright, makes as much sense as anything - what's so great about many viewpoints?
Crew: Great question - many viewpoints bring out a depth of information. A higher dimensionality of understanding of something. Ask one person what they think of the web3 you'll get one perspective or viewpoint; ask ten people you'll get ten. When we're making sense of complex topics, it's nice to get multiple perspectives so we can understand the topic from multiple angles. Just like stereoscopic vision, the overlaps of these perspectives give the understanding depth.
Z: Okay, yeah, but at some point you reach an upper limit, yeah? Like too many people, too many perspectives?
Crew: Yup, totally. We think Dunbar numbers (5, 15, 35, 150) are a helpful design constraint for groups making sense of complex information. In groups larger than 150 the complexity of the collective sense-making reaches an inflection point, and the exercise outputs more noise than sense.
So, our goal is to build playful sense-making tooling for small working groups. We’re starting with a collaborative zeen making system called Our Zeen.
Z: Maybe I’m just old-school, this sounds sci-fi and kinda intimidating, why would people want to do this? Is it easy? Crew: Yeah, complex work in a group can be really frustrating. Much of our research has been wading into this frustration and playtesting ways to create simplified games of sense-making. We’re packaging our findings into Our Zeen.
With Our Zeen, making sense together is not only easy, it's fun.
So, that's a big part of why people want to do this - groups get together to explore a topic by playing sense-making games to create a zeen, which can be shared with the world.
Z: Rad! Play games to sensemake and work with information - this reminds me of that information scaling threshold that Gordon Brander wrote about. Is that related somehow?
Crew: Totally! We agree with Gordon and the Subconscious crew (and many others) that as a result of the internet, the amount of information available in our global society is... staggering. Overwhelming really. We call this mess of digital information the Latent Sea, but more on that later…
Z: We’ll pick up the Latent Sea some other time then. This is probably a good opportunity to close out this interview, thanks for your time, Relational! 🙏
Crew: Thanks for your questions Z, this has been fun! 💗
Like most of us, our relationship with Twitter and the other global social networks are… complicated. Frankly, it’s starting to feel like wearing an outfit that just doesn’t fit anymore. We’re growing, and we want our social networks to grow with us. Is that too much to ask for?
We don’t think so, and that’s why we’re exploring the Latent Sea possibilities of crafting common ground in smaller groups. Zeens as a bridge from the current web2 social networks, to a more relational, contextual web3 social sphere.
We’re in the Our Zeen prototype phase, when visions of what the product might look like start emerging. It’s an exciting time in the product lifespan - we’re throwing out ideas and seeing what sticks.
Often we imagine as a kind of Mario Party mashup with a blog club - a type of crew-play for knowledge gamers. In this spirit, Jon envisioned the Our Zeen interface and how a crew could design knowledge expeditions.
An integral component to Our Zeen is the event structure. Making zeens is not an always-on experience, so Jordan noodled on zeen creation as a type of event:
job to be done is cohesion and distillation of large amounts of group generated content
(via Prompty or really any communication) agreement to all explore a subject, problem, project
Create logs with tags relating them to the event - generate ingredients
introduce AI co-reflection at undetermined intervals
4a) train model on understanding your rlog’s relationship and narrative as you go 4i) hopefully combine into some kind useful model based on the entire group's generated rlogs?
4b) as ritual to help crystalize own thoughts mid stream
A broader look at what’s relevant for Relational on the Latent Sea.
Credit, where credit is due
@kpaxle @jonbo @gorum for zeen wrangling; Kristen on art and design direction, and copy; Jon on information pipelining, content layout, and editorial; Dave on the last pass for editorial look-and-feel 📰 ✨
all content created by @dood, @computerlitch, @gorum, @jonbo, @kpaxle through playing a Relational game of creation and curation over an extended period of time
thank you to starline for the wavvveessss background image, sometimes you just don’t want to create everything by hand 🌊 🙏