The Ideaspace

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

New values

How our beliefs and values are changing
24 posts

Professor Mariana Mazzucato on how to create value

Interviewee: Mariana Mazzucato
Background: Professor of Economics and Founding Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Author of Mission Economy, The Entrepreneurial State, and The Value of Everything
Topic: How to create value
Listen: On the web, Apple, Spotify

“I think of it like a fight, like guerrilla warfare. You build up your adrenaline to do it. Even though it might be easier to do research and say, ‘Oh, and here's the policy implications of my research’ in the typical academic way, which is what I used to do, you’re on the front line repeating your message.” — Mariana Mazzucato

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Doughnut Economics author Kate Raworth on the century of nature's metrics

Interviewee: Kate Raworth
Background: Author of Doughnut Economics, Oxford economist
Subject: The century of natural data
Listen: On the web, Apple, Spotify, RSS

“This is the century of natural data. We've got data that no generation before has had, so it would be really weird, in my mind, to say let’s take this incredibly rich data and flatten it in something called GDP invented in the 1930s” — Kate Raworth

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Author David Wallace Wells on the new economics of the climate

Interviewee: David Wallace Wells
Background: Author of The Uninhabitable Earth, Editor at New York Magazine
Topic: The new economics of the climate
Listen: Apple, Spotify, on the web, RSS

“The conditions of possibility have really changed. The landscape used to look tilted against decarbonization. Now it's tilted towards decarbonization.” — David Wallace Wells

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Venture capitalist Albert Wenger on fighting climate change

Interviewee: Albert Wenger
Background: Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures
Topic: Fighting the climate crisis
Listen: On the web, on Apple, on Spotify, RSS

“Whenever we've done anything successfully it's taken both entrepreneurial initiative and government getting things right. We shouldn't be denigrating the other side. We should be figuring out the most effective way to work together to save humanity.” — Albert Wenger

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The Bento in 2020

This past week I’ve kept thinking back to a slide I made for a talk back in 2017 to illustrate the shift from “old growth” to “new growth” that our growing challenges were calling for.

As we exit 2020, it strikes me that this has actually started to become true. The column on the left represents where we were entering 2020. The column on the right represents where we’re moving as we leave it. 

To be clear, in no way does this mean hard times are behind us or our challenges are on the verge of being solved. We can all look around and see this is not a thing to be celebrated and that there are almost certainly harder times ahead. But this year we could feel a shift. The winds changed.

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In Praise of Standardization

From BusinessWeek on how Asian companies are becoming leaders in addressing climate change:

After years of pressure from mostly European investors, Asian companies are pulling ahead of their North American counterparts when it comes to climate risk reporting.

In Asia, a key turning point was 2017, when the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures finalized its recommendations for reporting climate risk. The proposal offered companies a standardized framework that helped boost disclosures…

“Climate change went from a topic that might have been one item on an agenda somewhere in a meeting,” Simmonds said. Now, it’s “probably the first question asked by investors on every presentation.”

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WHO runs the world? Mariana Mazzucato runs the world!

During last week’s Town Hall there was a great debate in chat and during the Q&A about the importance of measurement. The Bento Society sees measurement and data as core to its theory of change but there’s reason to be skeptical of always resorting to it. Some things shouldn’t be measured. Measurement can be a way of avoid more difficult conversations.

These are fantastic questions that I’d love to have a deeper discussion about. In the new year, I’m going to host a special bento experimental forum for us to go deep into this question. If there are people in the Bento Society or connected to us who have relevant experience or interest in this question, it would be great to hear from them.

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Data is Fire 🔥🔥🔥

If you’ve ever slept outdoors or even just watched a survival reality show, you know the importance of fire. Fire is warmth, energy, safety. Fire bridges the line between comfort and discomfort. Even life and death.

Early humans’ ability to tame fire — which took hundreds of thousands of years to develop — changed the course of history. Human biology too. Taming fire led to cooked food which increased the calories in human diets, growing the size of our brains.

Fire was and is pivotal. But fire is also dangerous. It kills people. It’s difficult to tame. It’s not easy to get.

We see ourselves as far more advanced than our ancestors, but we face a strikingly similar situation today with a force just as powerful and mysterious. Our fire is called data.

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Old Growth vs New Growth

The column on the left represents where we are now. The column on the right represents where we need to go. Are there plausible paths for how the world moves from the left column to the right?

We explored this question at last Sunday’s Weekly Bento. First with a fifteen minute presentation by me, and then an amazing group discussion that included insights from a First Nations leader, data scientists, arts professionals, and entrepreneurs on their experiences dealing with these issues. The conversation was so remarkable I’ve uploaded the whole thing. Highly recommended:

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Rethinking Self-Interest

In the late 1990s, people around the world began to live in a state of rising fear of two missing numbers.

The computer bug known as Y2K threatened to wreak havoc on the global infrastructure through the tiniest of details: computers being programmed to represent years in two digits (“99”) instead of four (“1999”). Headlines warned that systems would go haywire — crashing planes, freeing prisoners, and potentially leading to “The End of the World as We Know It?” as a 1999 Time Magazine cover posed.

We laugh at Y2K today like it was just another Skidz-like ‘90s fad, but that’s only because computer scientists successfully fixed the bug. (The immovable deadline helped: computer scientists had raised alarm over this exact issue since the 1950s but it took until basically the night before for anyone in charge to do something about it.)

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Don't be scared, you're not the only one

Sup y’all. It’s been a minute. How’s your apocalypse going? Yeah, mine too.

Sending love to everyone right now. The chaos is overwhelming. Even more disturbing, it’s already normal. I write this as my windows are blanketed in smoke from the West Coast fires.

We’re hoping that 2020 is a blip on the radar. But at the same time we’re saying things like “when things go back to normal…” less and less. There’s unmistakable evidence that we may have entered a period of significant decline for the well-being of life on Earth. Everything from our health and safety to our food to our freedom of movement to our social cohesiveness to the future prospects of democratic governance and the existence of all other species on this planet are threatened like never before.

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The Ownership Crisis

Hello from the Bento Society. I’m Yancey Strickler.

In a recent post we explored why “chill” may become a newly important value and how transparency, exercise, and mindfulness emerged after past crises. Today we’re going to talk about another value that’s about to undergo a significant change: the value of ownership.

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The Values Stack IRL

Sup y’all and welcome to the Ideaspace. I’m Yancey Strickler.

Return of the Values Stack

Two weeks ago I shared the Values Stack as an illustration of how values operate.

Values are expressed through three layers. At the deepest layer are a culture’s Morals. Those Morals are expressed as Rules. Those Morals are also positively expressed as Incentives.

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Social Exchanges

Last week a group of academics in the Netherlands announced plans for a radical but pragmatic shift in the country’s priorities. Among their proposals:

  • Provide every citizen economic security while reducing each person’s working week so that jobs and meaning can be plentiful

  • Move the nation’s framework for success away from GDP growth and towards the growth of specific values (clean energy, health, education) and the degrowth of others (fossil fuels, advertising).

It’s basically our STIFF vs BENTO chart from last week in public policy form.

The crisis is opening many people up to new ideas like these.


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Our New Normal

Gas is cheap but nobody’s filling up.

Houses are full but streets are empty.

Businesses are dying while others can hardly keep up.

We’ve gone from juggling millions of things to the experiential austerity of the 19th century only with wifi.

This is our new normal.

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In the Network We Trust: Coronavirus and the Potential of Networked Consciousness

When I was 10 years old growing up on a farm in rural Appalachia, I went for a walk with a group of friends.

As we walked up the overgrown driveway and by the crumbling barn behind my house, I heard a strange sound coming from the grass next to us.

I distinctly remember thinking two things at that moment: 1) that I’d never heard a sound like it before and 2) I still somehow knew it was a rattlesnake.

I turned towards the sound and saw a coiled-up rattlesnake hissing and shaking its tail just as I feared. We scampered away and called for our parents.

Hearing the sound then turning to see the rattlesnake is one of those childhood memories that’s stayed with me. I can easily replay it in my mind, and often do.

To this day I find myself wondering: how did I recognize that sound? What knowledge bank was I drawing from?

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Post-Capitalism for Realists

The other night I was invited to dinner with several wealthy and powerful people. This is not a normal thing for me. During appetizers and drinks I was a wallflower, but opened up over the first course when my dinner companions asked what I did.

“I just wrote a book,” I responded.

“Interesting! What about?” they asked.

“How the world was overtaken by the belief that the right choice in any decision is whichever option makes the most money,” I replied. “My book tells the history of that idea and what we should do instead.”

A mix of expressions gree

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Beyond the Dark Forest Theory of the Internet

Two weeks ago I sent an email about the dark forest theory of the internet. I used the dark forest theory to explain why we’re afraid to be public online, and what we could be losing as a result.

I first connected the dark forest theory and the internet earlier this year when I had a strange realization: that I knew how to be myself in real life, but I didn’t know how to be myself on the internet.

In “real life” I’m a reasonably

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Resist and Thrive

This is a talk about what happens when a culture is driven by the need for money to make more money.

A simple way to think about this is through real estate. Throughout history it has been advantageous to be a land owner, and today is no different. People make a lot of money buying, developing, and selling land. Even after the crash of 2008, commercial real estate has climbed again.

As investors and developers churn through properties, there’s a significant impact on the communities that actually live and work there. For families and neighborhood businesses, they must significantly increase how much money they make or they have to leave. No matter their importance to their community, they can’t stay if they can’t pay. And few can.

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