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Society is fragmenting; we need integration more than ever.
And to mark the occasion, I’m launching a new project 🚀
I do not want to write about this but I have to: Never did I ever think I’d live to witness the rights and protections of vulnerable people erode like they have this past week in the States. I saw its undoing in slow scroll, through the collective eyes of Twitter.
For this reason, I'd like to take the opportunity to try to make sense of this non-sense with you.
In last week’s newsletter I explored an essay called Natural Justice, by Joseph Milne. It covered how the Ancient Greeks saw Justice, Politics and Law as societal regulatory systems that would continually recalibrate themselves to optimally deliver results for the common good, which in turn was defined through active enquiry into human nature.
Today these systems are mere shadows of their former selves, and the disconnect is obvious to anyone who has been paying attention this past week, or even years. This deterioration, the essay argues, is due to the separation of knowledge from ethical responsibility towards one another, a divergence which started in the 1600s/1700s. Essentially, rather than use our rapidly advancing body of knowledge to take greater care of each other and our environment, some turned around and started using this knowledge to exploit one another for power and wealth. The material-focus of the new paradigm was so successfully distracting (and successfully marketed) that slowly, the connection our societal systems had to humanness, nature, and to the finite world eroded.
Today, we see a Justice that is unmerciful; Politics: unrepresentative; Law: unreasonable. None seem to resonate deeply, as they once did, with what it meant to be human. We’ve become a society reduced to haves, and have-nots.
When will we properly acknowledge these seemingly disparate events (eroding rights, brittle supply chains, degraded environments, exhausted people) as the symptoms of the same thing: late-stage capitalism, metastasizing problems in different parts of society?
On top of this, I am (and maybe you are too) painfully witnessing gaps growing every day between people; groups; communities; societies. Structural systems of oppression, rooted in the disconnect between knowledge and ethics, continue to drive more polarity in the demographics of our society: In wealth, in opinion, and in opportunity. In a time where we need unprecedented amounts of collaboration and unity to fight the good fight, it is all too easy to disrupt any effort to organize. The overload of information causes a ton of noise, making the signal hard to hear, and act on. There is simply too much fragmentation, isolation and complexity to deal with.
So, where to go from here?
In my mind, we need to equip people with the means to improve their Attention and Integration skills.
Attention is the single most exploited resource an individual has. If they capture your attention, they have you imprisoned.
Integration is the antidote to a situation full of fragmented efforts and resulting meaninglessness.
The one thing that has helped me harness both Attention and Integration, which in turn has helped increase the signal-to-noise ratio, has been my decision to take Writing seriously.
Writing takes Attention. Writing demands Integration.
And specifically, the implementation of the Zettelkasten Method has been key for unlocking my ability to harness my Attention, and supercharge my Integration.
Which is why I'm deciding to launch a thing: a digital book called the Minimum Viable Zettelkasten, or MVZK.
This is some of what the book will contain:
The benefits of the Zettelkasten Method, and also what it’s not for.
The philosophy of my approach to the Zettelkasten Method, which is summarized in the title. It is minimal. It is effective. I have boiled things down to the bare essentials; reducing my work load while dialing up the cognitive benefits.
Where I hit roadblocks during implementation and how I got myself unstuck from things like confusing conditions and unhelpful framing along the way
Memorable “mind algorithms” for every step of the way (such as the "Idea Compass"), to guide your thinking and ensure you never feel confused about the point of the exercise.
Very possibly a series of comics to illustrate some more evocative points.
More to come, but this is the gist of it!
The book is not written yet. It is still in embryonic stage. I consciously chose to build it in public: I want to show people the early stages of my vision and create opportunities to receive feedback from supporters. Despite its promises and my darnedest efforts, I know I had many issues implementing systems similar to the Zettelkasten Method, and I am sure others are too. My hope is that this open process will make the this book better and stronger through collaboration, perhaps even helping people before it’s even finished!
The goal is to deliver the first version of this book before the end of 2022. Early-bird pricing is on.
I'm beyond excited to start this project because it is a cause that is near and dear to my heart.
Oh how I wish I had known about how to write notes like this when I was in university and beyond. As a student, I was so lost in the whole academic world. Knowing how voracious I was (and still am) for knowledge, it was truly disappointing how terrible the system was at nurturing this in me.
Imagine what a future might be if we were able to unlock every curious human's ability to connect the dots and become a beacon for better, more integrated knowledge.
I truly believe that society will benefit in unknown ways the more curious people we can help introduce the Zettelkasten Method to.
Thank you for reading; now I’ve got some work to do.