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  • Why do apps with good intentions cause bad social outcomes?
  • Why do helpful innovations — like cars, single-family homes, and smartphones — lead people into isolated lives that don’t serve them?

I’ve spent much of my life learning about values-misalignment, which…


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Two Challenges to Improving Social Systems We Can Help You Overcome

We all want better social systems: We want social networks rich in meaningful relationships, organizations which allow for great individual agency, political institutions that produce great collective decisions, and so on.

But to get there, we must face two big challenges: one is about design criteria, the other is about…


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A year of soul searching

For me, 2020 has been about rethinking what the world needs from me. My previous work on metrics and design techniques was helpful, but didn’t drive the changes I’d hoped. Recognizing this involved some personal growth.

My new mission

It looks like my next step can build on what I’ve done before. My…


Alternative Institutions are Rising

New social systems, collective intelligences, and coordination mechanisms are forming to address COVID-19. This post can be read as a guide to making them even better, or as an evolving index of the best things going on.

The WHO, the CDC, the media, the economy — many traditional institutions are…


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Its impact on my life and others’. Next steps.

Part of why I work on big, world-changing topics is that for much of my life I’ve been a narcissist: a person who has to believe they’re doing big, important things. For me, as I guess for most narcissists, this came from deep insecurities and fears.


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☝️ This essay is also available on the Human Systems notion.

According to Daniel Schmachtenberger, we are at the end of one kind of civilization and must transition to another. If we don’t transition — if we stick with our current civilizational operating system — then we won’t survive an…


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☝️ This essay is also available on the Human Systems notion, and is part of the course materials for HS101 Deluxe.

More and more people are talking about values these days, and that’s a good thing. A reorientation towards values is happening in many fields: economics, design, organizational theory, political…


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☝️ This essay is also available on the Human Systems notion, and is part of the course materials for HS101 Deluxe.

My job is to help people design better social environments and systems, both online and offline. This means distilling academic work from many fields into an intuitive sense —…


Steps towards radical redesign

Public debate seems like an important part of changing big systems. When modern nations formed, there was lots of public discussion and debates. In the US, for example, there were arguments in the newspapers about how the US government should work, later collected as the federalist and anti-federalist papers.

It’s…

Joe Edelman

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