A cosmos of being together: iteration and improvement on social media platforms through cooperative design

Pre-reading: http://getpocket.com/explore/item/to-understand-facebook-study-capgras-syndrome

The last sentence… “mistaking imposters for friends.” Oof! Powerful.

I’ve made this mistake before. Because I approach everything with authenticity, I am prone to the mistaken assumption that everybody I interact with is similiarly oriented. It’s a cognitive bias, and I’ve been burned by it.

Authenticity in others seeming unattainable (or unsustainable) in my life, I have at times given up on becoming close with anyone. My only saving grace then was a defiant reversal. “Fuck this world; if it really is that hopeless, then nothing is lost to keep trying.”

If I were to let myself, I’d lie awake at night worrying about the million little, medium and big betrayals each of us modern vulnerable insecure human beings experience living in this late-stage-capitalism-constrained culture, that make it ultimately impossible for modern young people to form anything but inauthentic, imbalanced connections. Founded in presentation, in selfish deception. Stalked by the shadow of truth, not defined by it, and rarely facing it, except in grotesque eruption of conflict. It’s emotionally violent out there, as a norm.

There are too many escape routes offered by the house of mirrors of our modern social media environment. Too many lies permitted and consumed, too easily fabricated, too easily accepted.

With Cosmos.coop, I have envisioned a community for whom veracity is a currency, where truth is desired and therefore resources committed to its cultivation, harvesting, refinement, and distribution. 

In Cosmos we would take the time to create meaningful bonds and mutually conducive exchanges, because we recognize that this builds the very fabric of a platform, or cultural “environment,” from which we derive value. Lacking trust and relationship between participants, only thin conversations are attainable; and thin conversations are not what we desire nor what we produce. In terms of attentional resources, they are not what we are buying or selling.

No individual can anticipate exactly how something will “come back around” to affect her, but she deliberately invests “good” into the culture and cultivates her “best.” This behavior is multiplied by others in the common culture; the result is a social “soil,” or milieu, defined by our good, and displaying our best: thoughts, art, ideas, responses, products, etc.

The sense of authentic and durable connection among members is reinforced, at best enhanced, by the social and the economic models embedded in the platform. Meaning, “high resolution” interactions (interactions which contain a high amount of information and resonance) are incentivized for within the system. The holistic and pervading framework of “invitations,” in which each individual original act is conceived of as an “invitation” to community enrichment-by-response, involves creating relational linkages and then thickening those bonds into bridges through the repeating application of attention: layering trust-over-time, and scaling with collaborative ambition—building complex beauteous outcomes from the simplest of building blocks: sponsorship of one another, of ideas, and of initiatives through perhaps our most original and sacred resource to direct: our attention.

Recognizing the online/offline “bleed” that the modern person experiences on the daily basis (wherein information absorbed from the Internet affects local choices/conditions and vice versa): I value Cosmos’ discourse channels because I can connect with astounding minds across the planet, who may feel more like intellectual or cultural “kin” that the people geographically surrounding me (who are a different kind of place-based “kin” to me)… yet, insofar as my Cosmos conversations deepen my ability to be vulnerable, thoughtful and expressive in my life, my local relations are enhanced through my interactions (to say nothing of the affordances for local/custom contexts within Cosmos, that would serve to enhance local life through direct platform services.) Through this offline-online feedback looping, we imagine interactions rooted in Cosmos patterning would iterate, mandala-like, across many contexts. And as holistically minded folk, we’d measure our successes as increase in life/goodness patterning across more scales than strictly the Cosmos platform itself.

I contend that the world gets easier and more complex, simpler and more beautiful, when we simply drop (and “let die”) what doesn’t work: what is structural “clutter,” and most of modern life, frankly, is. We work with what’s there, we embrace Truth and forge our designs in its flames, perpetually refining the outcomes based on the body of inputs.

But we are also willing to start from the freshness, the improvisation, called for in this moment: the best of us is embodied. Cosmos is designed from simple repeating interacting principles that we expect could animate a most vibrant context for post-modern (or metamodern) humans, reflecting a consciousness of whole systems and a requirement for holistic, art-driven culture.

With these designs, we hope to incentivize the building of authentic, sustaining connections among human beings. This is the real value implicit in the concept of social media, which we hope to refine and elicit through praxis.

If you like these ideas check out Cosmos.coop and also the work of my brother Nate Savery: natesavery.com.