Trace of the Weirding

Today’s post is hopefully a bit of a treat for those of you who like audio and video more than text. I’ve updated my You Are Here map for 2016 (thanks Grace Witherell!) and turned it into a narrated video walkthrough. It’s basically about an hour of me talk-walking through a map. If you prefer audio, you can just scan the map to get a sense of it, and then just listen to the audio.

If you’re new to ribbonfarm, this may be a good way to get oriented — or entirely confused. I don’t know. I’m too deep in this thing. The big change in the map from last year’s version is the addition of the whole western 20% or so, and the incorporation of 2016 crazy election year motifs into the landscape. It’s still very US centric, and doesn’t satisfactorily capture some of my newer interests, but it’s a start.

What’s not represented is some of the developing influence of newer residents and their writing on either ribbonfarm or my own thinking. That’s too new, and it’ll probably get folded into next year’s map. So this is mainly me talking about my own interests, with some digressions on Sarah Perry’s stuff.

The narrated walk through was heavily inspired by conversations at Refactor Camp 2016. Here are the links mentioned in the video.

  1. High-res version of the map (5MB)
  2. Refactor camp session slide decks: Thanks to Mick Costigan, Megan Lubaszka, Renee DiResta, Jordan Peacock and Sam Penrose.
  3. Blake Masters’ notes on Peter Thiel’s 2×2 
  4. My gloss on Jane Jacobs Guardian/Commerce
  5. Economics of Pricelessness
  6. Hamilton vs Jefferson
  7. Post on future nausea and manufactured normalcy
  8. A post on New Horizons
  9. My extended riff on hedgehog vs. fox
  10. Bruce Sterling favela chic/gothic high tech talk
  11. Atlantic post on climate change
  12. Some stuff on serendipity versus zemblanity
  13. Sarah Perry’s roundup/introduction on postrationality
  14. David Chapman, Meaningness
  15. Sarah’s book Every Cradle is a Grave
  16. Less Wrong
  17. Slatestarcodex map
  18. The Gervais Principle
  19. Sarah’s theme parks vs amusement parks post
  20. My post on Crash-only thinking
  21. Breaking Smart if you’ve been under a rock and don’t know I do that
  22. The Breaking Smart newsletter in tweetstorm format
  23. Tempo, the book
  24. James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games
  25. My Now Reading page with a lot of background

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About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter


  1. FYI to viewers:
    Youtube has fast-playback settings. Setting > Speed > 1.5x or 2x

  2. Avinash Vamshi Hanumanthu says

    I felt very weird listening to the video, It awesome !!

  3. Is the actual map available anywhere as an image rather than a 1+ hour video? The links seem to go in circles.

  4. It is interesting that you put bitcoin on the upper part of the main 2×2; I suppose by philosophy it can fit. However, the ever-growing blockchain and ideas behind decentralized autonomous organizations, in my mind, put bitcoin closer to the big data gyre.

    Please make more videos! Hearing your emphasis can save a lot of time when being exposed to new concepts.

  5. Really enjoyed this. Video serves the map well. Hope you’ll do more as it makes sense.

  6. This is so much fun! I have travelled all over this map mostly driven by decade long moods…and feel at home in certain places but not for very long. A few spots seem to be needed but I can’t name them yet. I will suggest that Immortality Trail become Lazarus Long Lane…partially owing to the particular fantasy of besting birth and death and matter/mother time.

    I like that neither the Bernie quadrant nor the Trump quadrant has any relationship to Page Island or Promethean “problem obliteration”… And the Forced Normalcy only has a glancing hint at what might be positive or negative but tries to appear knowing and fails.

    If I were to add a third axis it might be rootedness/groupness/placeness vs untethered spore travelling as a capacity or freedom.

  7. Not to the descriptive part in the video yet, but I can guess who you’re voting for. haha

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  9. Given how there’s no candidates for the upper right-hand quadrant, you seem to imply politics can’t work within an indeterminate-optimistic quadrant.

    Even Clinton, seemingly the most hopeful, lies on the indeterminate axis between optimism and pessimism. Your portrayal of her as embodying “manufactured normalcy” makes particular sense in the context of one of her speeches in which she glorifies her father’s long gone work experience. I would regard such a stance, which you related to the stuff upper lip, to be just stupidity.

    By the way, to see that academia lay near on the area of manufactured normalcy was disheartening because I previously admired it.
    Overall, I enjoyed your walkthrough because you showed how various concepts on ribbonfatm were interrelated.

  10. Thank you for the video! Definitely interested in this format (even better would be your own podcast, that is for less visual content then this).

    One thing I’d be interested in to hear your take on it is are topics like Accelerationism (pedal to the metal capitalist hypetrophy and let’s see what’s on the other end of the tunnel) and even further out the cosmic horror of Fermi paradox/Bostrom’s simulation argument. Sort of indeterminate pitch black pessimisim (and indeterminate is probably not the right word. Neither pessimism).

    Also Robin’s Hanson work could add a few more interesting sites to the map.