During Season 2 of the Cohere podcast, Dr. Lauren Vargas and I examined the role networks play in our lives – from the obvious to the subtle. In Season 3, Lauren and I are exploring the topic dominating the discussion of our collective digital future: the Metaverse.
Our intention is to have a discussion will go beyond the hyperbolic (and eye roll-inducing) to have a forward-looking yet practical discussion of what our connected future looks like in a world of ambiently available digital networks – and what this means for us as individuals, citizens, societies, and as part of globally connected humanity.
Topically, we are opening up the aperture to look at the interconnected components that make up a future Metaverse, including the technology trends, societal impact, and what the Metaverse means for future forms of community, collaboration and community leadership.
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Season 3 So Far
Ep 1. Exploring a Betterverse
The current Metaverse is a mirage. The pursuit of the Metaverse vision could lead us to a better Internet.
On the first episode of Season 3 of the Cohere podcast, we (Bill Johnston and Dr. Lauren Vargas) frame of this season’s topic: the Metaverse.
As they did with “community”, Facebook’s announcement of the company’s move to focus on the Metaverse, and rebranding to “Meta”, set off a frenzy of conversation, speculation, and investment. Made in a move remarkably similar to their 2017 announcement that Facebook was a “community” company, it remains to be seen if Meta follows through with creating their version of the Metaverse. It is interesting to note that Zuck’s “Community” announcement from 2017 appears to have been taken down at some point in the past year (archive.org version here).
But this season of Cohere isn’t about Meta. It’s also not (solely) about VR, AR, XR, or related Web3 technologies – it is about the combinatorial effects all of these technologies and trends interacting to shape the next generation of the Internet, and more importantly, how we create a better Internet that is safe, equitable, accessible and inspires the best of human nature instead of exploiting the worst.
Ep 2. What Role Might NFTs Play In Future Communities?
Moving beyond punks and bored apes, NFTs have the potential to play a transformational role in future communities.
On this episode of the Cohere podcast, we (Bill Johnston and Dr. Lauren Vargas) discuss one of the hottest, potentially most overhyped topics right now: NFTs.
For the uninitiated, NFT’s (Non Fungible Tokens) are unique, digital, verifiable (blockchain-based) digital asset that records an exchange of value. In turn, the NFT itself (which records an exchange) can be exchanged. Said another way, NFTs are a “deed of ownership to a digital item”.
Much of the discussion from the past 2 years has focused on NFTs related to digital art – Crypto Punks, Bored Ape Yacht Club and Beeple are notable examples, but just scratch the surface of the massive volume of activity. The NFT market represented a staggering $23 billion in 2021.
The core of our discussion in this episode focuses on moving beyond financial speculation, what role might NFTs play in future communities and digital networks?
Ep 3. Do DAOs Hold the Secret of Orchestrating Collaboration?
Can DAOs address the current fallibility and idiosyncrasies of human collaboration to create better organizations and communities?
On this episode of the Cohere podcast, we (Bill Johnston and Dr. Lauren Vargas) discuss the early promise (and obvious issues) with DAOs (Distributed Autonomous Organizations). Bill and Lauren have an in-depth discussion to try and separate the value and future utility of the DAO model vs. the current hype.
DAOs have been described as “digital flash mobs with money” by Raihan Anwar, manager of the Friends with Benefits DAO, and a blockchain-based “virtual entity that has a certain set of members or shareholders who have the right to spend the entity’s funds and modify its code” by Vitalik Buterin, Co-founder of Ethereum.
A recent article by Tarun Chitra on A16Z’s Future blog suggests that the key factors for forming a DAO vs a more “traditional” organization are curation, security and risk: “DAOs work best when the governance burden related to curation, security, and risk can be reduced faster than the natural increase in coordination costs that accompanies the need to have members involved in voting on every decision made.”
Metaverse Working Group
During the show, we mentioned convening a small workgroup for discussion, learning and sensemaking. If you would be interested in participating, please fill out the short form here to be considered.
As always, if you have comments, ideas, or want to suggest a guest or topic for the show, please feel free to send me a note.
Too often the deployment of digital strategies and tools begins humans conforming to technology limitations instead of technology being deployed intentionally in the service of human needs and opportunities – a human-centered approach.
Dr. Lauren Vargas joins me on the Cohere podcast to discuss bringing humans back into the center of the “digital transformation” conversation and provides the CALM framework and specific examples for leaders to draw from.
Lauren is particularly well suited to give guidance here, as she is one of the most experienced and widely practiced digital strategists I know. She’s had an impressive range of experiences in both the public and private sectors, including senior roles at Radian6, Aetna, and Fidelity. In private practice now, she’s most recently been focused on helping museums around the globe with digital transformation. We recently reconnected in London where I also got to walk through the AMAZING Clash exhibit at the Museum of London with her to see some of her work first hand.
Key Quotes from the episode:
On Infusing Technology with Humanity
“it’s talking like technology with heart, right. So it’s, it’s when we talk about it being embedded in, in an organization, and we talk about being embedded in an ecosystem, in the DNA, it’s how do we have technology with a pulse? How do, how are we having conversations and using and understanding, managing and creating digital, and technology in a way that is, is human-centered.”
On Culture as Terroir
“I think culture is having a common language. It’s having a shared belief and value system, implicit and explicit practices.
You know, those conditions, those contexts are different for every single organization. Every organization has its own terrior. Each, each organization has its own unique fingerprint, contextual characteristics unique to that certain place that can influence and shape its character.
So when we think about terroir, an agricultural and an ecological term, it’s the soil. It’s the topography. It’s the climate that collectively gives and produces a particular characteristic. For organizations, terroir might be attributed to the type and size of the organization and the industry it is anchored in, it’s visitor or customer demographics. It’s physical locations and all forms of media that terroir, it’s complex and it is comprised of internal and external forces that are unique to the organization. And, those forces ebb and flow. They adapt and adopt over time.”
The CALM Approach to Digital Leadership
“Taking a CALM approach to digital leadership, to digital transformation, is incredibly powerful. And when I say calm, it’s an acronym.
C — Collaborative
A — Anticipatory
L — Letting go of Command and Control Leadership and Embracing Collective Leadership
M — Mindful
How do we, how do we think about a collaborative first environment? How do we embed, an anticipatory rhythm of practice and ritual? How do we let go of command and control leadership and how do we create the space to reflect?”
Resources From This Episode
Find Lauren online:
Articles mentioned in this episode:
- Keep ‘CALM’- not just carry on business as usual
- Take ‘CARE’ to be ‘CALM’: Emotional intelligence is key to achieving digital maturity
Books Lauren mentioned in this episode:
It’s human nature to seek connection, meaning, and knowledge through community. Thanks to the smartphones in our pockets (and the near-global access to broadband – see our previous episode), “community” now is very much a digital construct, and the way we find and participate in such gathering places is radically changing.
As online communities and human networks have evolved, algorithms have played an increasingly prominent role in the experience, from offering rudimentary personalization to shaping and segmenting entire communities. In the future, AI and related technologies will become central to our shared digital and real-world experiences.
In this episode of the Cohere Podcast, Venessa Paech and I discuss the future role of AI in online communities – both the tremendous opportunities and potential threats AI & related technologies pose.
In this episode, Venessa and I discuss:
- AI in the context of the digital community experience – 21:15
- The specific ways AI can enhance community experience – 33:54
- Potential risks of emerging technologies – 39:37
- Machine culture – 43:30
- Advice for organizations as they began to prepare for the changes that out AI will bring to community experiences – 46:59
Venessa is a co-founder of the Australian Community Managers Network, a PhD candidate studying the intersection of AI and community, and a global authority on communities and community management. She has led Community for realestate.com.au, Lonely Planet, Envato and Australia Post among others.
She founded the Australian Community Manager Roundtables (ACM) in 2009, and created Swarm in 2011 with Alison Michalk.
She also runs the annual Australian Community Manager Career Survey and with ACM, authored the first code of ethics for the region.
- Australian Community Managers Network
- SWARM Conference
- A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace and other works by John Perry Barlow
- Agency by William Gibson
- The Age of Surveillance Capitalism – The Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff
- Artificial Unintelligence – How Computers Misunderstand the World by Meredith Broussard
- Algorithms of Oppression – How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble
The Cohere Podcast is part of the Cohere Project. If you know someone that you think would be a great guest, or if you are interested in learning more about the Cohere Project, please send me a message.
Over the past 25 years, the Internet has become a central part of our everyday lives. Even so, there are still over three billion people in the world who don’t have access to broadband internet. Thanks to a combination of new technologies, this will change rapidly over the next 5 years. This change will open a wide range of potential opportunities and vulnerabilities as the Internet experiences its largest, and final, population boom. In this episode, Jim and I discuss key aspects of the Great Connecting, including ways to prepare for, and participate in, this transformative event.
- The technologies that will allow the parts of the world who don’t have internet currently to have it in the next two to three years – 5:59
- What potential benefits and vulnerabilities the internet will bring to areas that previously didn’t have it – 10:33
- Why the benefits of the internet and social platforms outweigh the negatives – 20:53
- How companies can prepare for and participate in this great connection – 25:01
- What roles AI will play in this future state of connectivity – 30:02
Jim Cashel is the co-founder and chairman of Forum One Communications. As Forum One’s Chairman, he works with the senior management team on strategic and leadership issues, helping to support a continuing mission of applying new and promising technologies to address societal problems of importance. He has a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford, a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and a medical degree from Harvard Medical. In 2018-2019 Jim was a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. He also recently published the book The Great Connecting: The Emergence of Global Broadband and How That Changes Everything.
Welcome to the inaugural episode of the Cohere Podcast! I’m very excited to bring you this discussion about the effects of exponential technologies with my good friend Kent Langley, CSO of OpenExO.
Broadband and wireless Internet connectivity are now commonplace in the developed world, but this wasn’t always the case. At the beginning of the 21st century, just over 300 million people (roughly 5% of the globe )had Internet access. The number of participants, and the type of participation has evolved rapidly over the last 20 years.
In today’s episode, OpenExO’s Chief Science Officer Kent Langley and I discuss this evolution in three eras:
1. The Dawn of the Internet & PCs,
2. The Introduction of the Web 2.0 & Mobile,
3. The Rise of Exponential Technologies – the Exponential Now.
We explore what each of previous eras looked like, and what we can expect from the global human network as we move forward.
In this episode, Kent Langley and I discuss:
- When the commercial internet gained mass adoption- 7:00
- Evolution of web technology and community platforms – 14:52
- Understanding exponential technologies and the concept of exponential organizations – 18:53
- The role AI (and related technologies) will play in the global human network – 26:19
Main resource mentioned in this episode:
Books mentioned in this episode:
- Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail
- More Than Human, The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet, and The Nexus Trilogy by Ramez Naam
- AI Superpowers: The Course and My Journey Into AI by Kai Fu Lee
- The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson’s
Software mentioned in this episode:
- Ava Music Group
- Microsoft Azure Free Trial
- Amazon Web Services Free Tier
- IBM Tutorials
- Google Colab
- NVIDIA & VMware Test Drive
Other resources mentioned in this episode:
Kent Langley is a leader and technology visionary with a background in Technology Operations, Cloud Computing, AI, Exponential Organizations, Data Science, and Blockchain. He works on projects that educate, feed, clothe, and empower people as the co-founder of OpenExO Inc., and as a six-year faculty member at Singularity University.