The Ideaspace

Interviews, essays, and research exploring the frontiers of what's valuable and in our self-interest

Inner Voices

Now Me

I spent this week working on two exciting bento projects.

The first is a new version of the Bentoism website, whose soothing aesthetic won’t change, but the depth of the information will. That will be launching this week. I’m super excited about it.

The second is the first in a series of posts that will go much deeper into Bentoism for a wider audience. This is in line with my Future Me goal of talking more about our work together that I shared last week.

These projects have been in the works for multiple months (the website) and even years (the blog post). I set a deadline of this week in the calendar to push these things out as a forcing function to make them happen. I spent several late nights on all the last-mile detail work this week. And I loved every second of it.

There’s no better feeling than the internal pressure of believing something is important. If we believe something is important we feel naturally motivated to not just do it, but to do it well. Those are the days where the hours fly by. The ultimate flow state.

I was grateful that my Now Me was there this week. I look forward to sharing what came out of it.

Now Us

I read several good books and pieces this week that caused me to think differently about how we relate to each other:

  • Nadia Eghbal’s Working in Public, which explores open source software and web culture clearly and intelligently.

  • Eugene Wei’s blog post “Status as a Service” offers a great lens that will make you see social media differently.

  • Joanna Macy and Molly Brown’s Coming Back to Life is a recommended guide for exercises to create insightful moments. A particularly powerful exercise we went through in last week’s Group Bento came from this book.

  • adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy on ways to foster social change is an energizing read. Much of our work in Bentoism is in line with its principles.

Future Me

Last week in our Group Bentos we did a fascinating exercise where we each took turns playing the roles of different voices we normally hear in our heads. Except that in our case we were acting out these roles for our fellow Bentoists.

The roles were:

  • The Voice of Commitment — someone states a commitment they’re making

  • The Voice of Doubt — the next person speaks as the doubts and fears that are likely in that person’s head (you’re not worthy, you’re going to fail, etc)

  • The Voice of Ancestors — speaking from ancient wisdom, the larger perspective

  • The Voice of Possibility — representing what could happen, what’s unwritten

When I brought my Future Me goal of better using my voice, the experience was striking. The Voice of Doubt took me to my fears. The Voice of Ancestors took me to my purpose. The Voice of Possibility made me feel empowered. I really went somewhere. It was a true emotional cycle in just a few minutes.

Others had similarly powerful experiences. Both in sharing commitments and taking on the role of one of the Voices. While speaking as the Voice of Possibility, one person said to another: “I am not your master. I am your servant.”

Powerful stuff.

Future Us

I recently came across a fascinating proposal for something called a “Focused Research Organization.” It’s a new organizational structure that’s meant to bring the nimbleness and hunger of startups to the world of R&D. Something quite different from the academic, governmental, and corporate research programs that are predominant today. (You can read the proposal from Sam Rodriques and Adam Marblestone here.)

I’m especially interested in this “FRO” structure as my intention has always been for a significant part of the Bento Society’s work to be research on new values and a new lens for self-interest. My book ends with a sci-fi vision from 2050 where the Bento Society has achieved its goals in part based on the research projects it funded and conducted. Example projects in the book include:

  • Leading the creation of value-added credits (VACs), a government-backed currency that rewards long-standing value-creating businesses and community hubs

  • Reverse engineering advertising algorithms to create peer and mentorship circles that increase social value

  • Experimenting with “affirmative algorithms” that use the logic of reverse Dutch auctions to match price and competency minimums with need maximums for the distribution of public goods

  • The bento as a user-side global setting that all technology would interface through. The bento would act as a universal UI that would put the user in control of their relationship with outside entities (i.e. show messages from my “Now Us,” alert me to things relevant to my “Future Me” goals, keep me on my Now Me tasks, block everything else, etc)

  • Publishing the book Value in the 21st Century, which proposes standards of measurement for more than a dozen critical non-financial values, from loyalty to fairness to gross domestic value (GDV), that must be on our dashboards to survive the 21st century

As I’ve thought about the enormous scope of this work, I haven’t known how to classify it. Is “sci-fi corporation” an option? Not yet, I don’t think. A Focused Research Organization sounds like one interesting inspiration in the meantime.

Peace and love my friends,

The Bento Society