Here’s a potentially all-inclusive metaphor for Cosmos: like a co-created
Only it’s not just for your amusement, it’s more substantive than that. We want our play to have real effects, transformative outcomes. So:
Intercreative, Iterative, Interconnected
Systems & Space.
(* scroll to bottom to see these terms’ definitions & unpacking)
Praxis Park (a metaphor for the Cosmos platform/world of sub-platforms) is a dedicated, highly aestheticized space containing some structures and initiatives–often basic/bare in form, yet constructed of radically refreshing and potentiating premises. Entrance to the park is accessed by members and Cosmos making a mutual investment in one another’s positive growth. Interactions, catalyzed by the token currency Litcoin, set the rides, games and vendor/food booths into existence. It’s a mutually co-constructed adventure as to what happens within the walls of Praxis Park–what happens next is whatever is at the intersection of people’s imaginations and gumption.
Participation makes the park–and makes the play!
The rides are the utilities embedded in the platform ecosystem, structured platform spaces where certain types of activities are supported. The main platform functional spaces (e.g., Metapsychosis, Infinite Conversations, etc.) could be viewed as rides. All members receive access to all such rides for their membership, but of course, some may choose to ride only their one favorite ride, while others may choose to experience several spaces.
The games are the interactive experiences undertaken with peers (conversations, collaborations). If rides are the structural forms, games are what you can do in/on them . This is everything from conversations, collaborative and solo processes, gamified interactions (that cost or generate tokens), etc. See: Platform Gamification for more on the primary and secondary gameplay pathways in Cosmos, as well as about the peer-to-peer “games” of interaction patterns and process templates possible to engage with as a user on Cosmos.
At the door, you pay dues for entry (membership access pass) and also acquire some Litcoin, a token currency that only has value in Praxis Park. You also agree to the terms and rules of using the park–for the safety and enjoyment of all. Membership itself is not necessarily unlimited and open to all. Access to the park, at the gates may be limited by overall system constraints [see “Lines” below; also, this notion is explored in more depth in Membership documentation]. Based on system capacities and/or system-wide objectives, membership may be limited to certain kinds of members or for factors of curation and qualification, to ensure that they will be valuable contributors to the co-created platform/park. This is not uncommon in actual amusement parks (e.g. “You must be yay tall to ride this ride!” or “Capacity: 1,200 people”)
Litcoin (the tokens) can be spent anywhere in the park, and can even speed up or augment access to a ride. You can use Litcoin to ride rides and play games–yet one of the greatest meta-games in the Park is that the token currency itself has differing value to each ride and game based on the people who are there in that moment , negotiating the exchange of their needs and yields. When the overall system is healthy, Litcoin tends to increase in value when exchanged, for an extra vibrant experience: like the more you play, the more vivid and expansive the carnival waxes.
Food is everywhere , but not of the overpriced sugary carnival variety: intellectual and cultural nourishment surrounds you abundantly, like a luscious seasonal fresh foods market. It’s almost overwhelmingly radiant and abundant.
Orientation and movement through the park’s amenities occurs through the platform’s interfaces. Members are free to glide between numerous spaces and activities, with the freedom to customize how their attention is guided and applied within the platform (i.e. what rides, games and food they “encounter” in their user experience). The webpage interfaces and their intuitive designs will be crucial. Like in reality (or virtual reality), when navigating a space you need environmental and proprioception cues to know where the doors are–you need to be oriented and to trust that when you take an action, something results, etc. The interfaces will be constructed to guide users through the park, through friendly AI, using signs to indicate the location of proximal possible rides, games and food–offered responsively on the basis of a user’s self-reported objectives. Even providing a bird’s eye view map of the expanding universe of the park, so people can autonomously navigate if they wish to, as well.
Additionally, we are considering a social role called Community Guide, whereby new members are greeted at the gates by a fellow member and more-seasoned player, who can help new members define the kind of experience they are looking to have in the park, and guide them to rides, games and food likely to fill those new members’ cups–even mapping out a “route” of things to try out through the park.
"Lines" leading up to rides or games may represent capacity constraints within the system (and not just to accessing/using a utility [ride]). This is where user demand is noted but is effectively constrained by capacity, with members put into a queue to access scarcer features.
In this metaphor “lines” can mean any barriers to access like supply-demand imbalances, scarcity of worker-member positions attached to a specific badge (thus, scarcity of the badge itself), factors of trust, resource investment levels, etc. These include accidental barriers arising out of ignorance (e.g. accessibility issues to the rides themselves that emerge when a user is not adequately educated on how to use the rides OR cannot use the rides due to structural inadequacy in the platform)–though Cosmos may not have anticipated this issue, it is the concern and responsibilities of Cosmos to address. There can also be conscious barriers put in place in good conscience of the organization (such as strictly limiting access to certain utilities, benefits, pay levels, etc. within the system on the basis of known, measurable factors). Such “badges” or access passes can be creatively and thoughtfully linked with constraints or “lines” on the “rides” or “games” in the system of Cosmos/the park, and related to platform-wide defined phases for “leveling up” across the board (see: Platform Gamification).
Any severe imbalances–where smooth and accessible use of the park’s rides or games is blocked–which can be in the form of too-high demand or of too-big barriers (pain points of users trying to utilize a key functionality) are crucial forms of feedback to the platform. The demand measured in the form of such “bottlenecks” can–like a body becoming aware, via white blood cells, of a physical crisis such as an invading virus–indicate to the system to “send more resources” there, to support the building out of high-demand capacities in the system through resourcing workers and other investments.
Staffing occurs by creatively soliciting and leveraging innate human resources capacities in the “captive audience” of members/park participants. Like a workshare, we all take turns animating the machines so everyone can ride on them in turn! One another taking turns operating the rides, so we can all access and enjoy them.
Some members will become worker-members through the earning of badges certifying them to handle key needs of the platform at key times. Though some staffers may opt into a full or more-than-full time relationship with Cosmos (viewing the work itself as their greatest joy within the park’s vast possibilities), many/most worker-members will be part-time, contract/gig or piece workers. Such working “shifts” operate on the premise of rotating and balancing work and play: ideally, any/all members have an opportunity to contribute to building critical platform/park maintenance and expansion, but also have the opportunity to ride the rides and play the games, as well!
Leveling Up is like the meta-game, accomplished by the successful, cooperative and generative playing of members in the park. Leveling up across the entire system (see Platform Gamification: Leveling Up) unlocks new capacities and added value to all members (like a “What did they win, Bob?” celebratory moment, broadcast on the park’s A/V announcement system). System-wide leveling up is accomplished through the cooperative efforts of worker-members, effective processing of various forms of feedback like “lines,” and various interactions/exchanges by which the platform has attained new levels of various types of capital within itself. Benefits can include: reduced costs to play, increased benefits (financial and otherwise) accruing to members in the park, new and improved rides, games and food/vendor booths, and more!
*Definition of praxis: the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, embodied, or realized. -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praxis_(process)
*(Loose) definitions of each underpinning term & how it relates to Cosmos’ design ethics:
- Participatory - members engage, and the application of their attention and creative capital transforms results.
- Reflexive/recursive - iterating from members’ self-generated desires. See also: autopoeitic.
- Radical - to “the roots,” delving deep, attempting to embody our values and ethics, prefiguratively and continuously improving.
- Actualization - the “making real” of one’s goals or intentions. The manifestation of a previously unmanifest potential.
- Autopoeitic - means “self creation” or “self making.” “Refers to a system capable of producing and maintaining itself.” As defined by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, autopoeisis refers to the process of “cognition” by which an organism’s body-mind are progressively informed by its interactions with the environment, thus the form of the organism is an outcome of “making sense of” and metabolizing available energy in the environment. Intelligence about the environment and available niches becomes encoded into DNA (and, in sentient organisms, into our brains) over time. Thus does an organism “make itself” without any preconditioned design required.
- Exhilarating - defined as “making one feel very happy, animated, or elated; thrilled.”
- Exhale/Inhale - The premise of push-and-pull forces, animate in the breath, is an ancient concept of dynamic tensions between fundamental forces. Like Yin and Yang, each phase of breathing has a function that is a counterpoint to its opposite, yet both are required to function in tandem for life to grow and evolve. This becomes useful as a metaphor. In a creative’s life, there is often a period of “inhale” (where one is taking in information, stimulating ideas and inspiration from one’s environment–in a “receptive” mode) and an “exhale” (where one is producing new works processed from the previous inhale period–in a “productive” mode). This can be applied to many forces that are defined by, and indispensible to, their opposite: masculine-feminine, giving-taking, speaking and listening, growth-rest phases, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, etc. As an ethic, Cosmos embraces (without seeking to “resolve”) dynamic tensions as the source of life, the source of evolution of ideas and forms, as essential for growing and diversifying the possibilities for vibrant futures by the interactions of dynamic tensions–as embodied in our commitment to generative conversation.
- Intercreative - like intersubjective, the idea is that we are co-creative through our interconnections. “Intercreate” is defined by dictionary.com as “to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or is not created by ordinary processes.” Like the production of a film, Cosmos is proposing to be a collaborative co-construction, whose ultimate outcome cannot be known until the process of making it occurs.
- Systems - Some definitions include: “a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole, in particular.” “A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network.” “A regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole.” A systems-thinking lens is paramount to understanding and attaining the potential of Cosmos described in these docs.
- Space - The principle of “space” or “spaciousness” in our social endeavors is a deceptively profound one. If scarcity and enclosure prevail in the status quo global capitalist systems, abundance and spaciousness may be the antidotes–spiritually and actually. To me, “spaciousness” means the allowing for numerous possibilities–even multiple seemingly-contradicting truths–to exist simultaneously. It means offering one another witness in and for our paradoxes, without “enclosing” judgment or righteous certainty. Tibetan Buddhism has a fifth element, beyond earth, water, fire and air, called “space” which is the (inherently sacred) area in which the other four elements are permitted to exist and can evolve through their interactions. The very existence of the “space” in which life can and does arise is interpreted as being a principle of generosity or basic goodness embedded in reality itself. Radical facilitator, author and futurist adrienne maree brown calls for more “space” in our movements; “I envision a future for our movements in which there is more room for all of us to be who we are and to grow through our mistakes.” What if we cultivated a future with less canceling, rejection and condemnation and more healing, more learning and more transformative justice? There are human practices associated with “creating space” for one another, by practicing non-reactivity and compassionate, interested listening. Cosmos as a platform is interested in being just that–a platform, or a “space”–built from some key assumptions but which assume ample, loving and generative space for all the constructive possibilities we contain as human beings.
Let this not be prescriptive… and that’s the point! How would you fill in the blanks of this metaphor, this image? What other words might fit into the PRAXIS Park framework? What other purposes or activities might unfold in a “praxis park” of your dreams?