Startupy Issue #9: a laid back newsletter about very serious ideas

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Welcome to the startupy newsletter. Every week, we curate the hottest links from our universe and share them with you here. As a reminder, startupy is a community-curated knowledge graph. Discover the most valuable tech, startups, and culture insights - mapped and indexed by the best and brightest curators. If you're feeling the vibe, consider becoming a member. For $20/month or $180/year you get unlimited access to our collective intelligence engine. 
 

🥸  MOOD
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🪐  HOT LINKS IN OUR UNIVERSE
After many years of building and tens of millions of users, Notion now describes itself this way: “Every department’s work. In one tool.” You can almost feel their internal struggle with language—the search for the right words. How can you describe something that is genuinely novel? What happens when something is so fundamentally different that it fails our shared vocabulary?
🕺  Curated in Notion, Storytelling & Worldbuilding 
Sometimes, tokens function like equity in a company, and owning a token is akin to holding a stake in the project’s potential upside. Other times, tokens function like a “token-of-gratitude” and symbolize goodwill among close friends in the purest sense. The wide-ranging role isn’t a bug but a feature representing value in the most abstract sense, whose meaning is given by the system's very design. In other words, a token doesn’t necessarily have any intrinsic value but relative value. It’s the encapsulation of a unit of value universally recognizable and enforceable by a system.
We experience the externalities of the attention economy in little drips, so we tend to describe them with words of mild bemusement like “annoying” or “distracting.” But this is a grave misreading of their nature. In the short term, distractions can keep us from doing the things we want to do. In the longer term, however, they can accumulate and keep us from living the lives we want to live, or, even worse, undermine our capacities for reflection and self-regulation, making it harder, in the words of Harry Frankfurt, to “want what we want to want.” Thus there are deep ethical implications lurking here for freedom, wellbeing, and even the integrity of the self.”
Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes. The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so that you might somehow get a glimpse into their minds. That’s what you really want—to internalize their way of looking at the world. If you just mimic the surface of somebody’s work without understanding where they are coming from, your work will never be anything more than a knockoff.
🕺  Curated in The Creator Economy & Creativity
and this week's just trust us – a stunning account of life as a show runner with great principles for all teams working on ambitious projects👇
Every clear directive you issue is a gift because it relieves your staff of the stress of having to divine your goals. A clear directive is an indication of trust: your way of saying "I have taken the time and effort to figure out our goal. I now acknowledge that you have the knowledge and resources to figure out the process. 
 

🔥  POPULAR RABBIT HOLES ON STARTUPY
Click to get key insights and highlights 
51 connections → 15 content, 30 companies, 6 related topics
28 connections → 14 content, 3 companies, 11 related topics
69 connections → 48 content, 15 companies, 6 related topics
 
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👆  Use the Startupy randomizer to get inspired ☝️
 

Block 29th
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🌱  COMMUNITY HEALTH
Welcoming Anne-Laure Le Cunff, Susie Conley, Omid Ghiam, and Krishaan Khubchand to our curator community this week and virtual high-fiving Prashanth Narayan, Johanna Einsiedler, Camilo Serna, Sarah Drinkwater, Kassen Qian, and Vyara Ndejuru for their contributions.
461 contributions this week
1,221 connections this week
668 highlights this week
 

✨  CURATOR SPOTLIGHT
Block 39th
 
Find her on Twitter
 
Why are online niche communities interesting? 
In my role as a Cultural Futurist, I’m infatuated with the changing tides of behavior — what’s driving them, and what kind of impact they have on our lives as individuals and societies. And this is the tide I’ve found myself most obsessed with over the last 6-12 months: call it ‘the nichification of everything.’ 
 
Whether we’re simply fatigued by them or questioning their societal harm more broadly, mass megaphone social networks are waning in popularity and engagement in favor of smaller, more focused venues of connection and community that organize themselves around shared interests, values, and passions down to just about any and every specific niche. 
 
At the same time, fluidity and flexibility of identity is at an all-time high, with gen Z driving the desire to try on different versions or sides of themselves without asserting any single space as a fixed badge. And we’re all catching the freedom bug as a result of this cultural center of gravity — embracing the niche, letting our weirdness shine, and finding likeminded compatriots in each nook and cranny, no matter how specific. 

So it’s a bit of a chicken or the egg conversation — but it’s a fascinating one that’s bound to have serious consequences for the future in terms of how, where, and why we gather (URL or IRL) and what it means to connect with (and act as) community in meaningful and impactful ways.
 
Podcasts worth listening to? 
Everything’s kind of cult-y these days (which is deeply connected to the conversation above). It’s not necessarily a bad thing, except when it is…which is why each installment of this interesting-meets-hilarious podcast ends with a question: Is this subculture a “Live Your Life” cult, a “Watch Your Back” cult, or a “Get the F*ck Out” cult?
 
Shannon, like me, considers herself a generalist. And I love how — among many other utterly fascinating topics — she talks about the magic (but also the difficulty) of finding and forging community as an interdisciplinary thinker. (And while we’re on the topic of the brilliant Ms. Mattern, please also give this a read.) 
 
Things worth reading and watching?
Two thoughtful essays, at two very different scales, both unpacking what’s so special about particular types of community and the distinctly human, creative potential that results from their formation.
 
I hadn’t considered what the nicheification of community & identity meant for the future of (knowledge) work…that is, until I read this.
 
According to this brilliant report from fellow curator Severin Matusek, the post-social media era is going to look a lot more like the only good thing left about Facebook, and a lot less like, well, the rest of it. 
 
As Rex Woodbury put it so eloquently, “rather [than a mainstream], we have 4.5 billion individual universes of culture, colliding and intersecting and building on one another to redefine how we collectively think and live.” And music and fashion, as explored in the links above, are two of the best realms to watch it play out.
 
Projects worth following?
The idea of creativity in multiplayer mode is ripe for the moment. And the way Yancey and team are thinking about it is well-worth watching. (🔉also: the Near Future Lab podcast recapping a General Seminar sense-making session on the idea of Metalabels)

Somewhere Good
‘Slow Social’ is an intriguing notion, and one they’re playing with over at Somewhere Good. Intentional conversations and genuine connections, thoughtfully built to encourage intimate community among those with marginalized identities. When innovations are built for the few, they generally improve things for the many — so I’m keeping my eye on this one.
 
 

Good vibes are meant to be shared
 
Refer someone to the startupy newsletter. 
They get cool insights, you get cool swag. 
Win win.
 
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