Uncharted Insider - November 2021
On curatorial intelligence, healing in the age of the metaverse, and trusting your own voice.
Welcome to the November edition of the Uncharted Insider. Do you know someone who would enjoy the Uncharted Insider? Forward this email to them and they can subscribe here.
Please note that starting next month, I will be sending out the Uncharted Insider from my Ghost writing site (which is similar to Substack and has become the platform where I do most of my writing). The Insider will look a bit different when it hits your inbox, but the content will be the same.
- 2022 Conviction: Early-stage ventures that take the long view are an underfunded asset class in the philanthropic sector. That sector believes ventures and initiatives that take 10 years to reach scale are too slow, but in the world of social change, 10 years is no time at all, which is why Uncharted focuses here.
- 2022 Planning: Uncharted is in the midst of 2022 strategic planning, staffing, and budgeting. Big announcements coming soon.
- 2022 Campaign: We’ve launched a donation campaign on this #GivingTuesday to raise $25,000 for our 2022 cohort of early-stage ventures tackling economic inequality. (We will be starting to accept crypto in 2022 as a donation. Message me if you’re interested in learning more.)
On 21st-century intelligence
The intelligence we most need to cultivate in the next 10 years is that of curation. Developing “curatorial intelligence” is paramount for three reasons:
- When everyone has a platform to speak, we have to make decisions about where we direct our attention. We simply can’t digest all the content and stay apprised of all the information. So people who curate their sources strategically will have an edge.
- Curatorial intelligence is a new type of intelligence, and we’re not that good at it yet. One old model of intelligence was “memory intelligence” where your success depended on how much you had memorized and retained, not on your ability to weed through ubiquitous information and separate signal from noise. We need to grow this new muscle.
- If we don’t take more ownership over the curation of our sources, then we are unwittingly letting AI algorithms do it for us. Curation is happening whether we’re aware of it or not. A sophisticated curatorial intelligence draws from a wide range of sources, seeks content that destabilizes our worldviews, metabolizes ideas that we disagree with, and has the potential to expand our intellectual and spiritual horizons.There is no bigger decision we make than whom we let shape our worldview and our selfview.
On healing in the age of technology
Much of the current conversation about the future of technology is about the metaverse, a digitally-native space where we will transact more of our lives and work. I’m fascinated by the trend where our digital identities slowly overtake our physical, in-person ones as the primary self, and our physical economies are subsumed into digital ones where we’ll care more about the digitally-scarce art on our screens than the art on our walls. All of this is thrilling and deeply concerning; this is both uncharted territory and simply the next evolution of social media.
It’s no secret that despite its promise to connect us, technology has the power to estrange. We’re already noticing this in our workplaces where remote colleagues are using Slack, Zoom, and other digital-first mediums to grapple with systems of oppression, racial trauma, and histories of harm. It’s no surprise, then, that so many of these conversations are not going well: 1) we’re grappling with hundreds of years of pain, 2) at the workplace, 3) within hierarchical org-charts, 4) over digital mediums that collapse nuance and cajole us to speak more than listen. As Tressie Cottom says, “we’re having the thickest conversations in the thinnest spaces.” Will the metaverse be a similarly thin space where people can just “leave the chat” when they find it unsavory? Will our online spaces be designed to skillfully facilitate hard conversations that really should be taken offline?
At the root of this is the simple truth that no matter what space we are in, we are unskilled at the crucial responsibility to heal - both collectively and personally. Maybe we’ve always struggled with it. Maybe it’s harder now than it has been. In the novel Shantaram, Gregory Roberts explores the idea that the human race would have died off long ago had it not been for our capacity to forgive. Without it, endless cycles of revenge would have rendered us extinct. In this way, forgiveness is the fundamental “technology” of our species. Without forgiveness, the species doesn’t last. With it, everything is still possible.
Can you help?
- Do you have a senior-level contact at the Ford Foundation we can connect with?
- Do you know anyone at Y-Combinator we could connect with around a partnership?
- Non-Uncharted ask: I’m working on a side project that involves a collaboration with 5-6 poets of color. But I don’t know how to find and connect with the community of poets to identify the humans I ultimately want to work with. Any ideas? Is there a platform or some other way to tap into this poetry community?
What I am reading
- The more specific we get in naming our emotions, the better we are at caring for ourselves and navigating the world. The argument for emotional granularity. Here. Pair with: “Self Portrait” - a poem by David Whyte
- Everyone is a commodity and everything is becoming financialized. Our economic selves. Pair with: The full-length keynote from Meta (Facebook) on the metaverse. This is a must-watch.
- The insecurity, fear, and lack of imagination driving the culture of the top 9.9%. This economic class is buying into the myth of meritocracy and driving inequality throughout the system. Here. Pair with: The economy is booming, but no one thinks so. The psychology of inflation.
- In 2017, Fidelity Charitable received $69M in crypto donations on its platform. In 2020, they received $274M (a 4x increase). How new technologies, trends, and currencies will revolutionize philanthropy. Here. Pair with: How Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) are the future of the labor movement for economic justice. Here.
What I am writing
I am expanding my writing beyond this monthly Uncharted Insider by writing additional posts and reflections here on my Ghost site. Here is a post from this past month.
The poet David Whyte has a few lines in one of his poems that I can’t stop thinking about: “The part of you / you thought was foolish / the wisest voice of all.” These lines have stuck with me because I’m realizing I’m more focused on building trust between people than within myself. I spend so much of my time trying to build a high-trust team and culture at Uncharted, and I spend nearly no time at all intentionally investing in a high-trust inner relationship with myself. When I am weary or busy or thinking that I must be in constant service to those around me, that inner whisper is seen as foolishness. But when I give myself just a few extra minutes to clutch my coffee in the morning, when I fold my laundry without a podcast humming along at 1.2x speed, when I drive below the speed limit with the radio off, foolishness can become wisdom. I’ve been wondering if I’ve lost some of my confidence recently...if somehow I see that inner voice as more foolish than wise, but I actually think what’s happening is I’m not giving myself enough time. Maybe when we think we’ve lost our confidence, what we’ve actually lost is the time to listen to ourselves.
As always I welcome your feedback and ideas.
In the Sequoias this week,