“The liberation of human attention may be the defining moral and political struggle of our time. Its success is prerequisite for the success of virtually all other struggles. We therefore have an obligation to rewire this system of intelligent, adversarial persuasion before it rewires us.” James Williams
We’re living now in a Controligarchy, a culture that manipulates our minds and emotions by controlling our attention. We’re in a battle for our sovereignty. Our freedom to think what we want to think and feel what we want to feel.
Voices from many a wilderness are crying for a leap beyond social media, a more nourishing architecture of the heart — an innerNet. A safe space where we can amplify a new type of hero — the sovereigns of the world inside.
“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.”
innerNet 1.0 is for a courageous group of visionaries and early adaptors who seek to co-create a more evolved social architecture. The terrain is anything but romantic; it’s full of obstacles, dead ends, and long stretches in the wilderness.
You need a deep curiosity about how your mind works, how language and metaphor shape consciousness, and how you respond to the creative tension between novelty and familiarity.
One of the more insidious ways in which Facebook has hijacked consciousness is the “news feed.” Facebook is not just a platform; it’s an architecture of consciousness, conditioning us to value recency over purpose and information over wisdom.
Feeds are entropic — their interest and relevance decays quickly. Nests are nurturing and evolutionary — they become more meaningful over time. The innerNet is a nest architecture. We nourish ourselves not with individual bits of algorithmically manipulated content, but with people-created-journeys called “Wellgorithms.”
With Wellgorithms, each moment is a chance to collect a gem and put it into one of your nests, for later nourishment and cross-pollination.
Social media is outside in. The innerNet is inside out.
With outside-in architectures, you are first bombarded by the content of other people — before you’ve had a chance to orient yourself by your own inner compass. With single-post feeds, you bounce from direction to direction. The feeds are designed to exploit your vulnerabilities and bounce you in directions not of your choosing.
With inside-out architectures, we shift from content to practice. Your sovereignty comes first. You choose where you want to focus your attention — Howard Thurman calls it “holy focus” — and then, through the Wellgorithms, you amplify, and are amplified by, those who are moving in a direction synergistic with your ideals.
“Science is affirming what contemplative practices have known for a long time—it has to be an inside out approach.” Dan Siegel
Wellgorithms are a new category of interpersonal practice.
In clinical language, Wellgorithms are BEPs — Best Emotional Practices, blending the emotional wisdom of people we admire with evidence-based research.
In mythopoetic language, Wellgorithms are “soul codes,” as James Hillman called them; “hero’s journeys,” as Joseph Campbell called them.
In Jungian language, Wellgorithms are mini-processes of individuation … the creative alchemy of giving birth to a new self, through practice in community.
Wellgorithms give you a new power — to “presence the future,” as Otto Scharmer puts it. You can micro-presence specific emotional futures, in a community of futures.
Social media conditions us to think in single time-frames, in single boxes, in a single scroll. Wellgorithms, by contrast, explore a sequence of personalized time-frames. Now you can put together any number of frames to form a journey.
There are a near-infinite number of possibilities, making this an astonishing new game of “innerChess“. Someone pushes anger in your direction — what’s your next move? Someone is egotistical, envious, or destructive — what are your next inner moves? Someone forgives you — what’s your next inner move?
Wellgorithms give you a new power — to share and evolve your next inner moves. And to become someone new — an inner Grandmaster.
Rumi said, “Create a new language, create a new world.”
Wittgenstein said, “To imagine a new language is to imagine a new form of life.”
A growing, inter-disciplinary field is exploring how metaphor shapes consciousness and naming your emotions gives you a new power. “Name it to tame it,” says Dan Siegel. “People are paralyzed by unnameable emotions.”
Language opens new doors of perception — not just for the present, but also for the future. And so we went on a treasure hunt — to discover the language of the future. We explored over 10,000,000 possibilities to create a short list of 25,000 names for further testing. So far, we’ve named over 5,000 Wellgorithms.
We stand at threshold of an astonishing new era — the naming of thousands of new inner spaces. This was one of our most surprising discoveries — a new architecture of attention calls for a new language of attention. To presence the future, presence its language.
Every new medium — film, poetry, art, music, multimedia — gives birth to a new talent. Wellgorithms are likewise a new medium, a new art form. You might not be a great poet, philosopher, musician, or film maker. But you might have a talent for moving souls — for creating Wellgorithms that guide others through the wilderness.
The innerNet is not like other social networks, where you sign up for an account and instantly understand how it works. It’s more like Photoshop for your soul, in a community of souls creating and evolving new images of themselves.
We have machine learning, but now we’re witnessing an astonishing new flowering of innerLearning — peace learning, love learning, presence learning.
With innerNet 1.0, you get your own portal. But you get a taste of something more — your own innerNet. Your own perch. Your own nest of heroes and role models, with whom you can share and evolve the wisdom that is uniquely yours, with self-authoring and consciousness-transforming tools that never existed until now.
Some of the tools under development for innerNet 2.0 include:
– innerCalendar, a tool for scheduling your future emotions.
– innerMovie, a video-making tool for envisioning your best future self.
– innerGPS, a tool for orienting yourself toward your life’s North Star.
– innerVitamins, daily gems for the soul that we share in community.
For innerNet 2.0, we’re developing a new “layer of intelligence” on top of Zoom or Microsoft Teams, in which we can do Wellgorithms with live video. You’ll be able to sit in HOT SEATS and move, step by step, through any emotional or psychological challenge you might have — in a deliberate and developmental way.
Wellgorithms build on evidence-based research in multiple interdisciplinary fields:
• Michael Bratman, shared intentional activities
• Haslam, Reicher, and Platow, shared social identity
• Brandon Burchard and Anders Ericsson, deliberate practice
• B.J. Fogg, tiny habits; James Clear, atomic habits
• Alvaro Pascual-Leone, sequential learning
• James W. Pennebaker, journaling and healing
• Ellie Drago Severson, transformational learning
• Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson, affective forecasting
• Brad Bowins, addiction, mental health and continuums
• Michael Merzenich, neuroplasticity
• Lisa Feldman Barrett, emotions
• Tiffany Watt Smith, language
• Jeannette Littlemore, embodied metaphor
And hundreds of others.
There are thousands of startups working in the mental health space, with similar-sounding elevator pitches. They commonly claim “less stress, more success”; “a better you, a better world”; “evidence-based wellbeing”; “mindfulness for a happier, healthier you”; “make everyday a masterpiece,” etc.
We honor the great people working in this space. But humanity is at a bifurcation point — we can no longer decouple mental health from social media. Without a new Consilience, we’re throwing band-aides on wounds that can never heal.
It’s no secret — the engine of our economy is addiction. The moment people come out of rehab or the emergency room, they face a thousand temptations. And now, artificial intelligence targets their vulnerabilities with astonishing precision.
To shift from an addiction economy to a wellbeing economy requires a deeper shift in our social architectures — from content architectures to practice architectures … from information architectures to wisdom architectures.
Our “Great Emergency” at the intersection of AI and capitalism is how we can become aware of our triggers … manage our hormones and amygdalas … and live as sovereigns of ourselves in a culture that exploits our lack of inner control.
Companies now recognize the value of integrating work with wellbeing, and becoming Deliberately Developmental Organizations, as Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey call them. These DDOs need a DDSN — a Deliberately Developmental Social Network in which developmental practices are built into the everyday fabric of work life.
Ray Dalio’s software innovations are extraordinary first leaps. But they don’t yet have the step-by-step practices, the Wellgorithms.
Wellgorithms are a new category of ECPs — Emotional Civility Practices. They help us nurture common emotional nests, independent of politics. A democrat and a republican might have more in common with each other than with members of their own tribe who are in states of anger and divisiveness.
We’re at the dawn of a new frontier — bonding with each other not just by common interests and connections, but also by common inner states and a common inner identity. The inner workers of the world are now uniting.
Social media impacts everything else — mental health, climate change, inequality. We are unable to make sense of the system, let alone transform it — because social media is the architecture of [non]sense-making for the system.
Gandhi, Mandela and King were so effective because they worked tirelessly on themselves. Inner transformation precedes outer transformation. A more evolved architecture of attention integrates outer sustainability with inner sustainability.
Facebook and Twitter call you a “user.” They’re in the business of amplifying “user” consciousness. The dictionary defines “user” as “someone who takes unfair advantage of”; an addict, dopehead, druggie, fiend, freak, junkie, stoner.
On the innerNet, you’re not a user. In Martin Buber’s words, you’re not an It. You’re a Thou. You’re a Citizen of the Heart — co-creator of the new citizen consciousness.
This is the hardest thing about taking a principled stand: watching so many good, smart people you admire nevertheless cave in to cultural norms. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s highly-esteemed peers caved in to Hitler and couldn’t understand his objections. It’s a phenomenon that repeats itself in every generation.
“We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. This is what we’re doing with social media — passively cooperating with an unjust system, through patterns of organizing that “feed the demons.”
In 1904, the Wright brothers got into a plane and buzzed around the heavens. As historian David McCullough explains, “With few exceptions there seemed to be no public interest at all, no local excitement or curiosity or sense of wonder over the miraculous thing happening right in Dayton’s own backyard.”
“When the city editor of the Daily News, Dan Kumler, was asked later why for so long nothing was reported of the momentous accomplishments taking place so nearby, he said, after a moment’s reflection, ‘I guest the truth is that we were just plain dumb.'”
It’s 1904 again … we’re in another Wright Brothers moment … but we have not yet awakened to our new powers, not yet found our Kitty Hawk. We have not yet learned how to steer the cockpits of our minds — how to soar inside.
To enter this next phase, we need a platform — a DDSN — optimized for this mastery.
Otherwise, those with access to powerful AI will not just hijack our minds; they will completely own our insides — China in its particular way, Facebook and other Western companies in their particular ways.
The “fierce urgency of now,” as MLK put it, calls us to evolve beyond algorithms, beyond technologies that are robbing us of our capacity to be free inside. We’re hungry for a new Collective Imaginary — a new way to presence our future together.
“One of the challenges of building new technologies is that we often want them to solve things that have been very socially difficult to solve.”
innerNet 1.0 was built by some guy in a garage, without funding. It is “a spirit yet in the making,” as Howard Thurman said; a “fragment of the common task,” as Paul Gaugin said.
We are the first generation to build an innerNet. We have not yet begun to imagine the world we can create together. Our children are calling us now, challenging us to reach for the stars. It is they who will emerge from our light.
“We are learning to tap into the creative workshops of the mind to solve these problems, to bring forth a new order of art and poetry and invention.”
“People like the idea of innovation in the abstract, but when you present them with any specific innovation, they tend to reject it because it doesn’t fit with what they already know.” Jessica Livingston
“Most of the big breakthrough technologies seem crazy at first. When people look at it, at first they say, ‘I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. I think it’s too weird; I think it’s too unusual.’” Marc Andreessen
“If people don’t think your idea is crazy, then that’s a clue that you’re not operating in the moonshot arena.” Naveen Jain
There’s the innerNet of 2021 and the innerNet of 2030. People often confuse the two. innerNet 1.0 is the finger that points to the moon; it’s not the moon.