In 1925, the futurist Buckminster Fuller predicted that knowledge would double every 25 years. Everyone thought he was crazy, but in reality he wasn’t crazy enough. The store of global knowledge now doubles every 12 months.
With this explosion of information overload, our filters haven’t been able to adapt accordingly. This opens up an opportunity for networks to manipulate our fast, instinctive thinking by hooking us on shallow pieces of content that provide quick dopamine hits. The more of this we consume, the more content creators and algorithmic feeds are incentivized to prioritize this type of content. This feedback loop leads us to today: networks with an endless flood of shallow clickbait sliced into the algorithm-gaming medium of the day, cooked over abusive flame wars, peppered with dank memes, and wrapped up in a tribalist bubble focused on everything that’s happening now, but nothing important that’s happened in the past.
As we run more and more laps around this loop, our consumptive mindset increasingly crowds out our creative mindset. We’re increasingly spending more time foraging for information and less time extracting meaning from what we’ve already consumed. As a result, the information we’ve already consumed quickly gets forgotten, turning us into leaky buckets clamoring for more water.
So what’s the solution? Louis Rossetto hinted at it in the inaugural 1993 issue of Wired when he declared that “in the age of information overload, the ultimate luxury is meaning and context.” 25 years later, information overload has gotten exponentially worse, but we still have no good space on the internet to find meaning and context. Creating this space is the central challenge of our generation, and this is where Sundae comes in.
The only way for knowledge to compound is if the pieces of information we consume are woven together into underlying webs of meaning. Over time, these webs of meaning mature into mental models, principles, frameworks and theses, the blood that powers our mental operating systems. Sundae is trying to strengthen this superpower with a sandbox for you to remix the world’s knowledge and build them up into patterns with friends.
At the core of human progress is this intuitive ability to connect disparate units of information. Albert Einstein credited some of his greatest physics breakthroughs to his violin breaks. Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace both independently came up with the theory of evolution by natural selection only after reading Malthus. Steve Jobs once pointed out that “creativity is just connecting things.” The source of Henry Ford’s inspiration for the assembly line was the meat packing industry. Gutenberg’s printing press was built off of his knowledge of wine presses. The Wright brothers succeeded at building the first airplane due in large part to their experience as bicycle manufacturers. Too often, we place outsized value on the vertices, but it’s the edges that are the most valuable part.
If there is a reason for humans to exist, it is to discover these connections and employ them in the real world, creating tools, buildings, organizations, and societies. We are gifted with this extraordinary ability to envision and create complex islands of order in a sea of disorder at a scale unparalleled in our world. Our primary tool for doing so is knowledge, and it is our ability to combine and remix it that allows us to carve out niches of order we can imbue meaning in.
It’s time for technology to empower creativity, instead of empowering consumption at the expense of creativity. Every unit of information you consume is a Lego brick. Start building your mental world at sundae.space.
Say hi at:
- George Liu / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jing Lin / email@example.com