Greg's Newsletter Tries Sensemaking [No. 061]

In which we're starting to work it out...

I've been thinking a lot about my worldview, the frameworks and metaphors that I use to make sense of everything, and how I might better formalize some of that. There's this concept of "sensemaking" (the process by which people give meaning to their collective experiences) that I think I'm undergoing.

Life is a pretty messy place and the world is pretty damn unorganized, but it's helpful to be able to think in certain ways! (Profound af, I know).

I've realized I spend more time trying to identify frameworks and metaphors (that other people use) instead of working on my own. This has implications for the work I do (creative technology, trend forecasting, figuring out what's next) but also just, like, life, man.

So I'm going to spend the next few editions of this newsletter articulating some of that stuff. Disclaimer: this might start veering into #very #serious territory and lack some of the levity of my other writing, but I will do my best not to make this too academic.

In addition to frameworks and metaphors, I've also been grappling with the tension between:

  • Reflecting on the past, living out dreams/hopes, and building on top of the ideas, materials, experiences that I've developed beforehand

  • Letting go of the past—past expectations, dreams of yesteryear—and having a "clean break," so to speak

I think there's room for both, of course. But lately I've found myself rediscovering my old music collection, wanting to buy sneakers that I didn't have but really wanted growing up, and wanting to freshen up on some of the books I read in college, for example. And that has included revisiting some of the thinking and writing I actually did in college which, actually, might be a pretty good jump off point for what I’m trying to make sense of.

As a refresher: I’m in communications. I have a particular interest and specialty in social media. And an utter fascination with how technology impacts how people communicate with each other, and how emergent communication habits intersect, inform, and drive technological change. How the history and future of art and creation is inextricably linked to technology. And the future, writ large. I have always been like this, for better and for worse.

I wrote my final Political Science paper at the University of Chicago on the impact that social media has—or rather, could have—on America's supposedly declining stock of social capital. Basically: can social media (or, expanded further, can digital media) replace or augment the connections, places, and space that exist IRL in a meaningful way?

So that's going to be my jumping off point for the next edition of the newsletter. Social capital. Digital media. And what I want to build on top of that—or perhaps break away towards—is thinking on digital third places and synthetic media.

As far as the metaphors and frameworks I spoke of at the top: earlier in 2019, I started thinking about my worldview—how I process things, do things, think about things, make things happen—as a sort of mixtape. Maybe that will stick. Maybe it won't. But I'm going to find out.


Til next time.