You are a mood transmitter
How you're a vector in the pandemic of feelings, visualizing what comes next with the Futures Wheel, and Aristotle's amusing theory on soul mates
Hello, beautiful person. Welcome to the latest weekly dispatch devoted to gonzo futures, strategic frameworks, and helping you make better creative decisions. Delightful ideas up front, case studies and how to hire me in the back.
A long time ago less was happening.
We made maps on bones. We sat around fires inside caves for thousands of years. We painted bison that moved by the flames.
Today’s breaking news was yesterday’s lightning.
And then there were pictograms and cuneiform and ideograms written on stone and clay and papyrus.
Those writings were carried on donkeys and camels from town to town, and on coracles and clinker-built ships close to shore.
Ivory traveled slowly down the Darb al-Arbain, maybe also tales of Gilgamesh. Occasionally we sat cross-legged in mud huts and ziggurats, and that’s where we felt good or we felt badly about the stories we heard.
Fewer stories. Fewer people to tell and hear those stories. And certainly, if you wanted to hear a story, you had to go somewhere.
But then: merchants carried woodblocks from khanate to khanate and sailed the Yellow Sea on turtle ships, while presses in Cologne and Krakow and London printed bibles and incunables and we sat in church pews and celebrated noon bells, read codices at universities, studying tales about the coasts of Madeira and the Azores, Africa and the New World.
Then the typewriter and the Trans-Atlantic cable and TV and radio and suddenly you have every story on a phone in your pocket.
You don’t have to go anywhere to hear a story these days. The stories come to you. You are a story receiver.
And not just today’s stories. Yesterday’s, too. And every story every told. Each of us has become the meeting point for all of history’s tales. And each of us, too, has the terrifying ability to magnify them. To magnify ourselves. To magnify how we feel.
This is not a new observation, but it has consequences.
The most unfortunate of these consequences is the contagion of moods that we spread at every moment.
I hope you’ll join me over at Medium, ever so briefly, for a meditative piece about the history of communication and storytelling called You Are a Mood Transmitter.
*gif by Superphazed
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Last week’s most clicked links:
Don’t Waste the Covid-19 Reboot: advice from indie business and strategy consultants
Covid Concept Generator: “To save everyone some time, here’s a generator for the next five years of conceptual advances in social theory.”
George Pólya’s 1945 book How to Solve It: Frameworks for clear thinking.
The Futures Wheel
How to visualize future consequences
Created by futurist Jerome C. Glenn in 1971, the Futures Wheel visualizes the 2nd and 3rd-order effects (or the direct and indirect consequences) of a change, trend, or event.
To create a futures wheel, begin by depicting the change you want to track in the center of your whiteboard, then position potential consequences of that change directly around it.
Related: Mind mapping
Previous frameworks: George Pólya’s Heuristic Method
See Also: The Essential Guide to Frameworks
Stock and Flow
“There are two kinds of quantities in the world. Stock is a static value: money in the bank or trees in the forest. Flow is a rate of change: fifteen dollars an hour or three thousand toothpicks a day…Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that reminds people you exist. Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time. Flow is ascendant these days, for obvious reasons—but I think we neglect stock at our peril.” A classic.
Old Timey Computer Shows
A delightful Twitch channel of, well, old timey shows about computers from the 70s and 80s. I’ve a certain fondness for the time when computers were furniture, rather than prosthetics.
Why Dutch swear words are so poxy
"In most languages, if someone said you had cancer, it would be a diagnosis. In Dutch, it is more likely to be an insult. Kankerlijer (“cancer-sufferer”) is one of a long list of Dutch profanities and expletives derived from diseases. An undesirable person might be told to “typhus off” (optyfussen) or “get consumption” (krijg de tering). If in (American) English you laugh your ass off, in Dutch you might “laugh yourself the pleurisy” (lachen je de pleuris). No one in England has been called a “poxy bitch” for centuries, but in the Netherlands you can still call someone a pokkenteef. A damned long way is a klereneind (“cholera-end”). And so on.” Pair with: ‘Iso’, ‘boomer remover’ and ‘quarantini’: how coronavirus is changing our language
This Word Does Not Exist
Decrust. Barallia. Squashbit. Great fun.
The Time Enough at Last Book Club
A fraternity of dreamers for the end of the world
Born in the no-time of March 2020, The Time Enough at Last Book Club explores the world’s greatest sci-fi novels, musical journalism, narrative fiction, and beyond. Join us by reading along, enjoying our notes, and replying to this email with your comments and insights—it’s not like you have anything better to do! After all, you have time enough at last.
Reading this week:
Passport to Magonia, Jacque Vallée’s // Chapters 1 and 2 // The classic 1969 treatise exploring the commonalities between UFOs, cults, religious movements, demons, angels, ghosts, cryptid sightings, and psychic phenomena.
Last week’s discussion about The Thing Itself included but wasn’t limited to:
Aristotle’s creation myth about how humans used to have three sexes / A man carrying a Barbie doll hanging from a noose caused a fight on steps of the Michigan state capitol / Winds of Change, the new podcast about how the CIA wrote the song by Winds of Change by The Scorpions / The Mandela Effect / Norman Mailer’s novel The American Dream / Retrocausality / You’re just a sack of meat that gives you the illusion you have a soul / Immanuel Kant’s death seemed wildly painful / How every big idea is getting to the same idea / How TV shows like Charles in Charge and Roseanne used to swap out actors / How Satan was thrown out of heaven for what he knew / Gnostic cosmogony and the hidden god / Nietzsche probably didn’t die from syphilis / To paraphrase Norman Mailer: “Great people come from great fucks"
The part where I show you the work.
How can we help?
This 100% organic, free-range, desktop-to-inbox newsletter is devoted to helping you make better creative decisions in marketing and beyond. Delivery at 6pm ET every Sunday, sharp as a pole axe. Your host is Steve Bryant, who is for hire. He’d love to help you develop and deploy creative and bold ideas. Three reasons to get in touch:
1. You want to develop, manage, or staff your brand’s content marketing (content marketing strategy, content product development, team building, ops modeling)
2. You want to develop or augment your native content studio (branded and sponsored concepting and proposals, event ideation)
3. You want to develop content ideas and proposals for a pitch, or manage content programs for clients.
If you found this dispatch useful, please forward it to friends, lovers, and anybody who holds a budget. Thanks for hanging out. Be seeing you.