(2020-03-20) Rao The New Breaking Smart

Venkatesh Rao: The New Breaking Smart. The seasonal binge-able essay collection model though, didn’t work out. Partly because I could not find the time to work on ambitious essays in the interstices of consulting work, and partly because the global events shaping what I wanted to write about were simply moving too fast. The weirding, I freely admit, has been inside my OODA loop for the last 5 years.

The gif below, which my artist Grace Witherell made to go along with the introductory essay of Season 2 in 2016, has been updated 4 times in 4 years! My draft of that introduction has gone through just as many iterations.

The Great Weirding is the chapter that fits into the liminal passage of history we might call After Harambe to Before Coronavirus (covid-19). AH to BC

Also in the last year, I was fortunate enough to be on a fellowship at the Berggruen Institute (due to wrap in May), which has allowed me to make significant progress on my other big project aimed at understanding our current condition, a book about the changing nature of time in a software-eaten world. I originally conceived this as a sequel to my first book, Tempo (2011), but it quickly became clear that the scope was much broader and called for a whole new set of mental models. Over the last 7 months, my ideas on that front have finally come together clearly enough that I can begin the writing.

I originally planned to execute this pivot in May, after wrapping up my ongoing Berggruen fellowship, but the pandemic has accelerated my plans.

Morbid though it might seem, both of the projects I’m unveiling today, The Great Weirding and The Clockless Clock, have very strong salience to what is going on. In fact, the pandemic has provided a grim sort of validation to the models and theoretical assumptions underlying both projects. So I want to start getting my ideas out there into the conversation as soon as possible.

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