Toward a Vision for Infinite Conversations


(Marco V Morelli) #1

[username] Jeffrey, Imagine Abstract, via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Imagine Infinite Conversations as a social network with many and diverse people on it. The purpose of the network, explicitly, is to foster deep, intelligent, creative thinking and collaboration. Conversations are multiplexed: allowing for text, audio, video, and VR, with experiments in subtle and ‘magical’ modalities underway, transmitting a wide spectrum of ideas. On this network, you are not neurologically bombarded, but are given time and space to explore the topics you are most interested in, and if you wish, to initiate your own creative projects (or join in others) or get involved in shaping the network itself.

The whole platform—and most importantly, the culture that sustains it—is designed to help you manifest. The Mindful AI helps curate the topics you most want to follow or participate in, and finds and suggests relevant threads you may not have been aware of. It does this, and is programmed, purely to help you meet your intellectual and spiritual goals—not to buy and sell you or exploit your data. It also helps manage the pace and flow of information, allowing for different levels of intensity, which you can dial up or down as desired.

Need time to think and meditate, chill or go on retreat? Just turn down the volume…

Feeling inspired to really engage and stir shit up? Turn it to eleven! The system adapts around you and conveys your state to others automatically.

Wherever you are on the web, whatever object you’re engaging, you can start a conversation about, or inspired by, it, or discover a connected instance of discourse that’s already active. A personal dashboard maps the constellation of your curiosities and conscious commitments, and a Warp Drive system helps you stay focused, know your context, and navigate where you need to go (or where you’re needed).

All content and data are studied, not to target individuals for maximum profit, but for organismic relevance, prophetic potential, and aesthetic style—seeking to catalyze novelty through serendipities and synchronicities that can only be gleaned from a meta-perspective. This serves a function of curation, as well as synthesis.

But the heart of Infinite Conversations is the people who animate it. From the inside out, the network seeks to attract and filter for intelligences dedicated to realization—in one way or another, in one language or another, through one metaphor or another. People who are—or can be—their own metaphors, in loving relationship (or antagonistic cooperation) with others, in the play of and toward ultimate complexity & utter simplicity.

In other words, this is a post-post-formal space, whose premise mocks the negation of the nondual at the heart of modern spiritual nihilism. The joy of nihilism is not lost on this one, either. But I see Infinite Conversations functioning as an antidote to the suicidal asymptote of our civilization. I envision a future of ecstatic dialogue with practical results. May it be so!

I am grateful to everyone who’s been part of this adventure so far—and as far as it goes. What do you see as the visionary possibilities of this space? What can we realize together? Then, how can it be so?


Conversation with Marco at The Wisdom Factory
Conversation with Marco at The Wisdom Factory
Infinite Conversations is now on Open Collective
(Sue Stevenson) #2

I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I thought it was a person called “Mindful Al” (as in Alfred) that I was talking to at first. Ha.

As for the visionary possibilities of this space … I don’t really know! My first idea is simply that on a supportive level it will be nice to have a space where people are seeing the little pieces starting to come together of this new … whatever - paradigm, world - that we can all sense but can’t yet see.

But I think too it could be a space for synchronicity … and who knows what will come of that until it happens?

I’m sorry, I’m feeling extremely world-fucked at the moment and don’t have much more than this erghh


(Sue Stevenson) #3

Actually, maybe that’s the first thing it should be. A way to re-engage and to un-world-fuck ourselves.

I saw a quote by Jung this morning that has stuck with me. It was about the process of individuation, and how you cannot do it without a village. You can’t individuate alone on the top of a mountain.

I like that. It’s what I feel is most keenly missing, and has always been - the community paying witness, providing the space …


(Marco V Morelli) #4

Hi Sue, sorry for not replying sooner. I think after I posted it, I felt a little embarrassed about the above post, I don’t know why exactly. I had not set out or expected to write it. I didn’t know what I was going to do when I sat down at my computer, but when I started trying to feel out what might inspire me in the moment, I suddenly got to thinking about the forum and the various people here and my grander ambitions, and so wrote the above and clicked ‘Create topic’, then ran out the door to get to the Farmers Market (it was a Saturday late morning) without much further thought.

I felt superficially carefree, riding my bicycle along the greenway. But something was off. Again, hard to say exactly what. Maybe it was somehow related to your feeling world-fucked. Maybe it was the deep gurgle of intuition that all one’s efforts are for naught and the fundamental dilemma remains. Maybe my thoughts just needed to stew a little longer, become incorporated into a more poignant communique.

The feeling was that I had to say something—yet that I hadn’t really said what needed to be said, or what I really could say if I put my mind to it more seriously. It only felt good in the moment, while in reality, I felt ungrounded. Your comments, I think, reflected this back to me and so I avoided returning to the topic.

I had to return, though, not only to not leave you hanging :upside_down_face:…but, if possible, to trace my thoughts back to where I might have gone off the path. To un-world-fuck myself, as it were. So let me try that again. THANK YOU for your thoughts. I think what you’re saying about “seeing the little pieces coming together” and individuating, and the community witnessing and providing space, are really important!

One of the things I would like to accomplish, not only through Infinite Conversations but throughout the Cosmosphere, is for people to become more visible to each other, and in some corresponding other-side-of-the-coin way, more transparent to themselves—which is odd, that you have to create a special space where people can “come out” into a more open existence, as writers, artists, thinkers, dreamers, etc.—but c’est la vie.

I will admit (if it isn’t obvious) I’m very concerned about it working, because at bottom I think it’s also a matter of survival. I want to make a living and feel economically secure—and I want others to make a living and feel secure—but I got sick long ago of the capitalist game, which forces us to run endless loops only to keep slipping behind as the planet is pillaged, and I believe it’s worth the struggle to survive on our own terms.

Obviously, this forum is not going to destroy capitalism or create a more beautiful world all on its own, but I hope it becomes a space where we can do the thinking and dreaming, and seeing and being seen, that helps us out of our respective predicaments, while restoring a certain…I don’t know…visionary quality and sense of style to our platforms for interacting.


(Durwin Foster) #5

I thought it was terrific, Marco! Although the Warp Drive system might be a little hard to create :wink:


(Marco V Morelli) #6

That idea is actually based on a concept (/very early stage prototype) for an application that @natesavery told me he’s developing. I just called it “Warp Drive” to fit the Cosmos/sci-fi narrative. But I didn’t pull it out of thin air!

This is liminal zone stuff, fluttering on the edge of manifestation. :butterfly:

Thanks for your encouragement!


(john davis) #7

“I envision a future of ecstatic dialogue with practical results. May it be so!”

A clearly stated desired outcome, Marco. How do I know that? Because there is no problem or proposed solution in the statement.

When you have an outcome you have a system that can monitor itself in relationship to other flow states of other intelligences, human and non-human.

Without a desired outcome we oscillate between problem solving ( at the level of the problem) or seeking for proposed solutions to problems we don’t really understand.

When a system has a desired outcome ( not the same as a goal) then we can discuss the conditions for making that happen. This is feedback. And it might take years or months or a few days, depending on the desired outcome and the living arrangements we find ourselves embedded within.

Especially important at this stage would be action plans. When you have a eureka or synchronicity you must find an action to ground and amplify that synchronicity

This is an art and a new kind of science, a science of qualities, the kind of science that Goethe was a master of. We need ( I believe) to go back in our history and brush up our Goethe. That is my expressed desire for our group, to develop the skills to recognize the flow of percepts and concepts in really real time. This is what concretization, a word I prefer to materialization, does.

It is important to know your outcome and the group’s outcomes and seek a balance to make for a satisfying collective performance. We are in my humble estimation very far from such a balance. The Trickster and the shadow will hide in that dim area of the group that has not put it’s metaphors on the table.

Time, that subtle thief, can become an ally…I can use the CL methodology to work with this particular desire outcome…when envision is there anything else about that? …and ecstatic dialogue and then what happens?..and practical …how will you know practical?..

And you can use other ways of concretizing/materializing/manifesting as well. Let’s use all of our knowledge and use all of it well!


(john davis) #8

(post withdrawn by author, will be automatically deleted in 24 hours unless flagged)


(Marco V Morelli) #9

@johnnydavis54: I do think there is a problem to solve…or many problems. But part of every problem involves how we experience, frame, interpret, and communicate its form and implications. Problems are not necessarily problematic…but there can be troublesome ways of trying to make a problem go away, and ‘solutions’ that create more problems than they solve!

I think ‘conversations’ are how we clarify shared realities and explore divergent potentials. They don’t solve problems directly, but create a milieu in which issues can dissolve and solutions arise.

But I do have a sense of a meta-problem we’re perhaps homing in on. If I had to put simply, I’d say “we” are the problem. We are the “hard problem,” of the wicked variety. Wicked but sweet as well, as I believe Sloterdijk is intimating. I feel that it’s good to work on such a problem, and if not exactly try solve it, orient my efforts toward some desired outcomes, as you suggest: e.g., I want people to be happy, creative, alive; I want them to have their needs met; I want them to grow into creatures of cosmic beauty and strength…

I would love to read Goethe with anyone here interested some day. You’re the second person recently to mention his name to me.

I am curious what an ‘action plan’ looks like to you, Johnny. @care_save and I have been discussing the ‘agile’ practice of writing “user stories,” which are a lot like “desired outcomes,” with action plans (incl. to-do lists, questions, clarifications…) that coalescence around the narrative statement.

We’re also discussing how to have these in a public space that facilitates feedback loops, and articulates the ‘epic stories’ these user stories are a part of.

You ask:

I think by “ecstatic dialogue” I mean a quality of free-flowing engagement, back and forth, multiplicity, convergence. By practical, I mean contributing to meeting concrete needs, with smooth operations.


(john davis) #10

Faust would be a good place to start. I have yet to read his novel Elective Affinities. I did a course with Bonnie Roy a few years back and we read a collection of essays about his scientific research methods. He would go out into a field and trace out the intricate patterns in a clump of shrubs and leaves, find the pattern that connects, search for the archetypal pattern, the pattern of all patterns. He is a deeply anti reductionist thinker, brought left and right brains in harmony.

Matt Segal has done some interesting work with Goethe and the German Romantics. There is a lot of literature to delve into. I am especially interested in the connection between the German Romantics and the New England Transcendental Movement, which is the tradition from which our American radical utopianism- racial equality, feminism, gay rights, environmentalism, all these creative artistic and social movements were gestated in these small liberal minded enclaves in New England and they all read Goethe! What interests me is the resurgence of these ideals in our on line communities, and our infinite conversations. Goethe was a great scientist and a great poet. An astonishing achievement.

Also talking about fiction and the Romantics I have yet to read Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, an amazing gap in my knowledge base. So many gaps! That would be a fun book to read with Faust!


(john davis) #11

I also want to appreciate your desired outcome, Marco, and perhaps in our next meeting on Clear Space we can delve into the differences between outcomes, solutions and problems. There are many ways of working but I find outcome oriented approaches are hugely generative in contrast to the others mentioned. An outcome is often difficult to come up with as we are addicted to problem solving and fixing things and many in our culture were never asked what they actually wanted and so have no idea what they want. I also suspect that an anti-teleological stance runs deep in our culture. Although we are masters at efficient and material causes, final causes are taboo, a serious problem as we live in a world of surfaces that do not deal with long term effects of our actions. More on actions plans coming up, I feel a much needed reflection upon action plans might be developed in our discussion.


(Marco V Morelli) #12

Excellent, Johnny. I look forward to all those discussions. Yes, the final cause, the “why,” this contains the desired outcome. There are many whys, and it helps to sound out how these resonate (or create dissonance) with respect to the overall music.

Goethe’s color theory I think would be really interesting to study as well. Here’s a movie I would like to watch:

Regarding the conversations, as as technology and media project, I think what we’re calling “desired outcomes” is what’s studied, in the design world, under the rubric of “user experience.” How do our interfaces, in every aesthetic and functional detail, structure our interactions for better or worse? I can imagine much better interfaces for everything we are doing here, but it’s very intensive and subtle work to develop, test, and re-iterate new interfacial systems.

Sometimes this is also called “user-centric” design. But this is a reductionistic approach insofar as the “user” is bracketed from the “person.” Yet are we talking about human or post-human persons, or both? There are many open questions!


(Ed Mahood) #13

In education, the term is “learner-centric”. It seems as if there are a lot of centrics these days. But, as I see it, you have to start somewhere. The trick is not to get stuck there.

Humans have not gone away, regardless of how hard post-humanists try to convince us otherwise. We will remain persons regardless of how many tools we develop to assist us in getting through life. And while we are finding our way through that maze, it can be very helpful to bracket out (not exclude, but merely focus specific attention for awhile and for particular reasons, on, say) roles that a given person may play. It only becomes reductionistic if you forget that you are bracketing for a particular purpose, or if you start with the assumption that, say, the technology/toolmaking is primary and who or whatever is interfacing with it is secondary (which is most often the case when especially digital technology is involved). I spent four years arguing with my professors in my last degree program whether we studying EDUCATIONAL Technology or Educational TECHNOLOGY. When we discussed it intensely enough, they conceded it should have been the former, but the syllabus, materials, and assessments in the course as well as their own actions made it clear it was the latter. They didn’t seem to get it; I still think it’s an important distinction.

In other words, it is always worthwhile to make clear, to oneself and to others, what one assumes going in. This is rarely done unfortunately, just as it wasn’t in my degree course just described. And, just to link to another discussion we had recently, it’s what makes for “wobbly ontologies” … and if the ontology is wobbly, the argumentation/design/ will be wobbly and the outcomes/goals/objectives (which all have teleologcial overtones) will be wobbly too. In the Bible this is described as building one’s house on sand.

And so, I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence: “There are many open questions!”


(john davis) #14

It could also be called the Semantic Turn. Signal and noise and emergent meanings that are shared. We are expected somehow to use all of these gadgets in an intuitive way. The design should lead to an ease in the use of the technology but I have found techno-fatigue set in. I am the only person in America without a smart phone. I would rather sit under a tree with a good book and turn the page. It is so pleasant, the turning of the page… Alas I have to use ear plugs to muffle the idiotic noise of the others and it is increasingly difficult to find a quiet corner anywhere that isn’t filled with mindless chatter of our species.


(Ed Mahood) #15

Well, John, no one in America has a smart phone. In fact, no one in the world does.


(Marco V Morelli) #16

I would like to talk about all [or some, bracketed, parts] of this tomorrow during the live show at 11 am MDT.

I hesitate to speak of us as “users” of this platform because I’m not clear what it means to be a “user”—it seems to be a bad or a limited thing, actually, to merely use without contributing or participating. It reduces the platform/interface to tool (purely instrumental) which I don’t think it is; at least not in the way that a hammer or even a “smartphone” is a manipulable object.

I would see the platform (please don’t cringe!) as something more like a…placenta. The unspoken “with.”

(For those not reading Sloterdijk, here is what I’m referring to…not the blob part, but the philosophical text:)

The placental platform should facilitate the exchanges of meaning we wish to have, refining as much signal from noise as possible, so we can focus on significance.

I would rather model ourselves as participants than as users. The platform should facilitate our participation in every way that’s most fulfilling and operationally smooth. We mostly shouldn’t notice it, just like the fetus doesn’t notice the placenta, and yet it’s there…with…facilitating, filtering, exchanging, refining.

I have some concrete ideas about how this could be done at a “participant interface” level, and I think we can begin (and have already begun) to model how “participant interactions” can be amplified, clarified, and enhanced.

I would encourage us to think across media as well. What are the flows between text, visual, audio? And what are the temporal (including synchronous and asynchronous) dimensions? How do we move between the intensity and heat of “live in real time” to the spaciousness and coolness of reflection and review, and vice versa?

To use Albert Murray’s formulation, how do these conversations “extend, elaborate, and refine” our intuitions? And what forms do these extensions, elaborations, and refinements take?

I see these Infinite Conversations ultimately serving as milieu for other types of productions. As a writer, poet, and media artist, in the end I want to create pieces that transcend my immediate (mediated) context to speak on wider and/or more intimate scales. These productions can then generate further conversations (enriching the milieu) which spur greater artistic creations, and so on…

If anyone would like discuss live, I’ll be on the Zoom line on Tuesday 7/11 at 11 am MDT!
(time zone conversion)


(Sue Stevenson) #17

Argh! I’m sorry that I have taken even longer to reply to you, and it wasn’t out of any embarrassment or anything but just that stupid capitalistic bullshit thing of having to make money. As you know I’ve had health problems for a long time, and things have improved a bit recently, which means working more to help take the pressure off my partner, who is paying for everything and very anxious. And to fund my trip to the periodontist. Joy.

I loved that you came back here and mentioned how it made you uncomfortable. Talk about transparency! And it’s a small thing to do that, on the one hand, but a massive thing to do on the other. It really is countercultural, isn’t it.

I really think it’s all about the whole feeding the parts who feed the other parts who enrich the whole, which feeds back into the people. Which is how more indigenous cultures have functioned and exactly how this insane one does not. In fact, it doesn’t even think there is a whole that’s more than the sum of the parts. Maybe because capitalism is a parasite and that is its own biofilm that blinds it to the host’s immune system.

Well, not any more. And I think if we don’t (a) head to oblivion then (b) we have a lot of work to do, and this place will be an important sanctuary to regain your sanity. I have missed being here. I am certainly here for the long haul, even if I disappear for a month at a time xo


(Sue Stevenson) #18

Bring on the Goethe. His writing, the small parts of it that I have read, makes my heart soar. I’d like to go for a swim.


(Sue Stevenson) #19

So would the difference between outcomes and solutions mean that the ways to get to outcomes are many and varied, fluid, not nailed down, not subject to clause 3.II(b)(f)?

I get so frustrated at the way we rush to concretise EVERYTHING in our quest to nail down anything that hints of feeling authentic and real. It’s extremely frustrating way of living. Heartbreaking, really.


(Marco V Morelli) #21

Hi Sue, thanks for coming back. I don’t mind letting conversations grow more slowly and organically over time. Maybe we need a new movement, like the ‘Slow Food’ movement, except it’s called ‘Slow Discourse’ or something like that.

Personally, I need time to read and think in order say (what I feel and perceive to be) meaningful things. I don’t always have something great to say, all day every day, in immediate response to what others have said (which is often quite substantial and worth contemplating). But over the last decade or so, we (our online culture) has gotten used to quick and disposable discussion cycles, which is exhausting.

As with everything, there needs to be some balance…and maybe a new sense of timing, rooted in the time-free and transparent, attuned to some dynamic presence mutually intuited among participants. The gold standard for me would be some form of telepathic communion, like real mind jazz…but we are obviously still at an elementary stage when it comes to such potentials!