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MULTIPLAYER FUTURES: Toward An Emergence Economy
A theory of change, and our collective role in it
The future belongs to those who think about it. RADAR member Caitlin Keeley said that, in one of our early conversations with her. And that’s what we do quite a bit of at RADAR – think about the future.
Over the past year, we’ve sought to chart a path for RADAR as we aimed to take futures research beyond thought, and into action. It centers around a single question: How might better futures emerge?
Multiplayer Futures: Toward an Emergence Economy is our response. In it, we put forth a new theory of change in an increasingly fractured world, and, crucially, our proprietary approach for encouraging that change.
Today, we’re bringing you installment 1 of 7, delivered each day for the next 7 days. If you’d like to read the paper in full now, you can do so here (and collect it on Zora, here). But it’s long, we know, and we’d like to keep you with us as we lay out this vision. It’s worth it, we promise.
We’re also extending availability of our Patron NFTs for those 7 days. If the vision laid out in these pages resonates, we invite you to take part in the inaugural cycle that will bring to life our theory of Multiplayer Futures: Play. It’s the first of many more to come.
MULTIPLAYER FUTURES: Toward an Emergence Economy
INTRODUCTION: A Tipping Point
There’s something in the air. Ideas that have been bouncing around for months are finally coalescing into a potent vision of what’s possible.
It’s happening in our server, in our inboxes, on our feeds. It’s not just us. Beyond RADAR, some of the deepest thinkers across web3, community, and the future of the internet are posting more and more from what feels like some sort of hive mind — offering thoughts that support the thesis RADAR’s been incubating for a while now.
It’s kind of our thing, knowing when things are reaching their tipping point.
And now feels like that moment for us.
In the chapters that follow, we’re placing our stake in the ground and putting forth a new theory of change. One that relies on interconnected emergence rather than individual innovation; one that believes mass adoption can occur much more rapidly under these circumstances; one that’s supercharged by new behaviors & new technology. But we’re not stopping at theory; we’re also laying out our proprietary approach to inducing them through emergent research, novel incentive design, and collective imagination.
Ready? We are.
A FOREWORD: by Incubate Instigator, Matt Weatherall
If you’ll excuse me, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.
After checking out of my job in advertising in my mid-20s, I checked myself into Schumacher College — a kind of rehab for the soul. It’s a special place that offers short courses like: ‘flourishing in uncertain times’ and ‘co-creating the emerging future.’ I didn’t know much of what that meant at the time, but it seemed like a good place to weather a quarter-life crisis.
It was there, in deepest, darkest Devon, that I first discovered the work of Meg Wheatley:
“What you’ll learn: Relationships are what matters — even at the subatomic level; Life is a vast web of interconnections where cooperation and participation are required; Chaos and change are the only route to transformation.” — Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World
When I left Schumacher, I found myself looking for a place to explore these ideas more deeply and joined a collective called Swarm. Their vision echoed what resonated so deeply about Meg’s work: “We are living in a time of massive change, where uncertainty and adaptability is the new normal. Swarm exists to help accelerate those responding and adapting to these challenges and opportunities.”
Fast forward a few years and I’ve found another home in RADAR, alongside 250+ co-conspirators who look at the world just as sideways as I’ve learnt to. As we’ve worked together to define RADAR’s role in the world and the path we want to carve, it’s become clear that there’s something special here. A confluence of circumstances has enabled us to develop an approach that’s fit for purpose in our networked, rapidly decentralizing, and increasingly wiggly world. We call it ‘accelerating emerging futures.’
It’s an approach to multiplayer futures and a new way of organizing, made possible by the coming together of three special ingredients: an ancient truth, a new technology, and a purple orb.
An Ancient Truth: Organizations are living systems; more verb than noun. We are, by nature, complex, self-organizing beings, living in complex, self-organizing networks, in a complex, self-organizing world, flying through a similarly complex universe. It’s fractals all the way down (and up).
And yet, humans, particularly those influenced by Western schools of thought, have a tendency to see ourselves outside it all: as “separate individuals among other separate individuals in a universe that is separate from us as well”.
RADAR’s inaugural focus, ‘A Future In Sync,’ brought to light the many ways this ancient truth is finally, once again, breaking the surface and bubbling up through the cracks in the Story of Separation.
A New Technology: New, decentralizing technologies (and newish concepts) provide the infrastructure for us to tap into that ancient truth — enabling an increasingly networked society to organize as living systems themselves.
WTF am I talking about? Web3.
Distributed ownership, orchestrated by tokens, aligns the interests of the individual with the collective — and, importantly, vice versa. It’s a positive-sum environment, where cooperation is in all of our best interests; where scale beyond the confines of a typical company is healthy and invigorating, not bloated and problematic. In these environments, co-ownership is the means, not the end; as Chase Chapman writes, it “isn’t just a technical or financial shift, it’s how we connect with one another.” And it unlocks the magic of a more collaborative, co-creative, connected, and resource-rich way of organizing — one that transcends the bankrupt economics of ‘more for you is less for me’.
A Purple Orb: RADAR’s founding instigator is a purple orb called ‘Fancy.’ That’s how it goes in web3; many people use pseudonyms. But that’s beside the point. To understand RADAR is to understand Fancy and the style of leadership that keeps this new way of organizing in constant motion.
It’s a style that was introduced to me at Swarm as ‘Host Leadership,’ and it comes naturally to Fancy. He calls it ‘instigating.’ Of course, it helps that he’s an anti-fragile human ball of energy; but it’s not simply who Fancy is, it’s what he knows about — and how he operates in and around — this new organizing technology in web3.
To ‘instigate’ is to enable and empower the dispersal of leadership throughout an organization. It’s to create a network of trust between members, with safe spaces for people to show up as their whole selves and step into positions of leadership. It’s to know how to create momentum for a cause (or simply, a vibe). It’s to build an environment that acts like a magnet — one where, we’re told, people show up and show out like nowhere else.
And so it’s from this combination — an ancient truth, a new technology, and a purple orb — that our new way of organizing emerges; a truly multiplayer mode of organizing that makes it possible to aim for something as ambitious as ‘accelerating emerging futures.’
When I say multiplayer… RADAR consists of 250+ contributors, all of whom choose to be here; want to see RADAR flourish and thrive. They are many things: researchers, strategists, cultural analysts, network weavers, creative catalysts, facilitators, producers, entrepreneurs, co-designers, writers, makers. But there are two ties that bind: an interest, talent, or just a knack for sensemaking — connecting dots, unpacking drivers, spotting patterns; and, critically, a desire to activate that knack in service of building a better world.
There’s the core team, full of committed, talented, above all good people — Emily Howell, Sergio Ariza, Jarrod Barnes, Caitlin Keeley, Domingo Beta.
RADAR’s founding instigator, and purple orb, Fancy.
There’s our Research Instigator, Keely Adler: a time-traveling futurist who has attracted so many brilliant minds into the RADAR ecosystem.
And there’s me, the Incubate Instigator, helping emerging futures to hatch.
This has been installment 1 of 7 of Multiplayer Futures: Toward an Emergence Economy. You’ll find installment 2 in your inbox tomorrow.
If you want to skip ahead and read the whole paper now, you can do so here.
And if you already know this is something you’d like to be a part of, join RADAR.