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A tool for mapping the future as it's emerging in the present

on 18 May 2010 - 1:13pm

This blogpost is the first public news of a project that I am working on with a small team of friends; it is focused on creating a tool for the interactive, 3-d mapping of the ecosystem of evolutionary initiatives on the edge. We call it the élan map. élan also stands for the yet-to-born Evolutionary Learning & Action Network"The larger social structures are proving to be inadequate to solve the problems they're creating. New social innovations are emerging everywhere, but they are not sufficiently connected or empowered. So right now, any effort that we can make to connect and create greater synergy and participation in this awakening process is probably the most important thing we can do". (Barbara Marx Hubbard, 2003)

élan proposes providing a technical and social platform for collaborative sensing and meaning-making to augment the collective intelligence, wisdom, and capabilities of groups and movements on the leading edge of social evolution. It is to the evolutionary impulse in them and us that we dedicate our work.


The concept of élan, when fully embodied, will be an activity ecosystem that includes an interactive map for navigating Emergence (the concept of which is introduced here), an online  magazine, a bio-mimicry inspired, community knowledge garden, and a network of self-organizing communities of users/contributors. The latter will also include a research think-net that will scan the landscape of our Emerging Planetary Reality to identify early signs of strategic challenges and opportunities for the movement. 


Neuronfire.gifThere are two lenses through which you can look at this project:


1. Seen through the lens of "global brain," it's about creating a visual tool to help organizations/groups on the edge:

• Experiencing themselves as neurons in the nervous system of the passage to a new civilization

• Discovering how they can interact with other neurons for rapid and effective transmissions


2. Seen through the lens of complex system of initiatives that are harbingers of the future in the present, it's about making it easier for:

• Individuals to decide which are the initiatives with which they resonate the most and to which they want to give more attention and energy

• Groups to assess their functional alignment with each other in the neighboring niches of the fast-changing ecosystem of evolutionary initiatives, thus multiply everyone's transformative impact

• A kernel of knowledge about the field of social transformation, to become a booster of the field's self-knowledge and collective intelligence


The last point also implies that "if we increase our ability to perceive (visualize, understand) problems or opportunities or activities, it will leverage our efforts greatly… If we really could perceive and make sense of much larger chunks at the same time, a lot of stuff would sort itself out quite easily." — Flemming Funch  


What we also hope is that such a mapping tool will let its individual and collective users:


• Discover common patterns of concerns, projects, and practices worth replicating across a vast range of initiatives, whilst remaining sensitive to the uniqueness of each individual       context.
• Discover and tell the story of emergence into a wiser culture, as it unfolds. “Wiser” as in: capable of embracing broader and higher perspectives.
• Increase connectivity so there are more resources available  to the ecosystem as a whole and its parts.
• Increase coherent communication between initiatives, to facilitate the process of transformation.

• Make it easy for people to find the best match between their desire to serve the whole, and the most suitable contexts for that service.


These are the descriptors that we currently plan to use for characterizing them: Philosophy (including Mission Values, Principles), Structure, Founder(s), Leadership patterns, Projects, Organizational affinities, News, Events, and Social media presence. That list will probably change as we play with a modified version of Narrative Fractals and other approaches. Our current focus is on developing the content structure of the map, then go into an alpha proof-of-concept, and beta prototype. Once the beta is made public, we will explore what's next. Next moth, we also plan to open a public site for our collaborators.


Meanwhile, we started building two advisory groups. Terry Patten, author and integral thought leader accepted our invitation to serve on the project's Wisdom Council and Scott Nelson, an information technology steward, who will work with us to build out a Drupal platform for the community of élan collaborators and serve on our Technical Advisory Group.  

We're curious of what you think of the features and capabilities that could make the map and the mapping tool really useful to you as individual, and to your group or organization if it lives on the edge of social, knowledge, technology or business innovation.


Your input could directly influence the design of the mapping tool. Please comment.


P.S. on June 30:

Good tools always have unintended uses discovered by its individual and collective users, and hopefully, that will be the case of élan map, too. Once we released the alpha version, a direction worth looking in to find new uses is this: there will be some hypertrails connecting the vistas that may emerge fro our very walking those trails. That's the subject of another blog entry.













The human perceptual apparatus
is currently locked
into the dualistic mode of perception.

We may choose to shift out of this
Dominant Dualistic Perceptual Paradigm
and enter into the emerging
Non Dual Perceptual Paradigm
There have always,
from the very emergence of the human species,
been individuals
who have been able to make this shift.

Some of them
set up systems of teaching and training
that they hoped would help others
who wished to make this shift
to do so too.

The number of individuals
making this shift is increasing.

Those who have made this shift
are beginning to link up with each other
to form a global network.

This global network
has the potential to function as a
global perceptual mechanism and as a
global strategic guidance system
that can facilitate
Civilizational Transformation
Conscious Evolution.

The visual mapping of an evolving system is not a trivial affair. If we create a map of our "current state" we only provide a snapshot view of what is more closely aligned analogously with a continual stream of images such as video...

Any snaphot view will be outdated immediately and superseded continuously. So we need a tool which is capable of illustrating the dynamic of the evolving neuronal network as it emerges into our field of awareness.

I'm sure the technology exists to provide an interactive, visually oriented platform for co-operative, co-evolution and collective observation of the emergence of a collective mind-space, it is a matter of discovering the components and integrating them with the input information we wish to observe and interact with.

I think you might find this research facility interesting:

From the website:

"The AlloSphere space consists of a 3-story cube that is treated with extensive sound absorption material making it one of the largest anechoic chambers in the world. Standing inside this chamber are two 5-meter-radius hemispheres constructed of perforated aluminum that are designed to be optically opaque and acoustically transparent.

There are currently two projectors, soon to be multiple high-resolution video projectors, mounted around the seam between the two hemispheres, approaching eye-limited resolution on the inner surface. The loudspeaker real-time sound synthesis cluster (around 500 individual speaker elements plus sub-woofers) is/will be suspended behind the aluminum screen resulting in 3-D audio. Other clusters include simulation, sensor-array processing, effector-array processing, real-time video processing for motion-capture and visual computing, render-farm/real-time ray-tracing and radiosity cluster, and content and prototyping environments."


I've done much thinking on this knowledge pathway and I'd like to share a couple of posts I've written:

I know that these scenarios can benefit from a slightly more integrated conception of neural activity.

At the moment, developing alongside Junto, are discussions on how to build collaborative mapping tools and what sort of interaction interfaces we can play with. It would be great to synapse the distended neural network a bit.

#junto this week?

Dear George: of course, a very important initiative,

feel free to incorporate the raw material available via

For me it is to a large extent simply about amplifying perception. How can we see (or feel or hear or smell) something complex? Like "what is going on" right now in the world or in a certain field or a certain region.

Real stuff has many dimensions to it. Yet we're used to media with much too few dimensions. Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words, but it is only in two dimensions. We can extrapolate and imagine things in three dimensions without too much trouble. But what if most of our problems have 5 dimensions, or more?

We can easily enough make meaning if we first can perceive.

Most of the channels that connect us with the world give us very, very fragmented information. One tweet at a time, one news story, one comment. We can connect a few of these together, but we very quickly get lost, much before we have any reasonably complete picture of what is there.

Everything else develops quite naturally if we can perceive. Decisions are easier if you know what the situation is. Collaboration happens more naturally if you know what the issues are and who holds what position.

>>descriptors that we currently plan to use for characterizing [include] Leadership patterns

Have you seen @umairh's "Buildership Manifesto"? It proposes 'buildership' as a meme better suited than Leadership to the era of co-creation.

>>That list will probably change as we play with a modified version of Narrative Fractals and other approaches.

Will be glad to pitch in on this! @andrewdigenova and I are developing visualizations of tetrahedron-based user profile - inspired by the Sri Yantra mandela - that can contain multilevel #NarrativeFractals. Hope they'll offer a framework useful to Elan and Junto.


Mark Frazier

Mark, thanks for your comment and offer your help!

I look forward, with joyous anticipation, to collaborate with you on #NarrativeFractals, #élanmap, #junto, and supporting global transition, of which they all are part, IMHO...

The sheer combined level of wisdom, experience, open-mindedness and rigor of the participants in this thread is astounding. This bodes well.

The issue could be thought of as: how do we utilise available technology to cybernetically enhance collective organisms (organisations) so as to improve their collective intelligence and thereby their overall effectiveness?

These organisations are socio-technical systems, which involve a social dynamic in a symbiotic relationship with a technological system.

Thus there are two aspects that can be designed, the tool and its use-practices. These are closely related but separate issues. For instance...

  • Robust use-practices should be able to switch tools when better ones become available.
  • A tool can have a very different impact depending on the use-practices applied to it.
  • With good use-practices we can still do good work with relatively primitive tools.
  • With poor use-practices even the best tools will not lead to overall effectiveness.

In terms of quality tools we are fortunate that there is a vast amount of work that has already been done in this difficult technical domain. Semantic technologies are available in order to create such a mapping tool. E.g. see

In terms of quality use-practices ???

Imagine that we already have a socio-memetic mapping tool that is also a collaboration facilitation tool. Now what would / could we do with it in order to improve our collective intelligence?

What socio-cultural 'rituals' can we evolve or augment in order to benefit from the potential of such a tool?

What is the structure and dynamic of existing groups and how can they be cybernetically enhanced by incorporating certain tools and use-practices into their work-flows and communication techniques?

Form small discussion groups of up to 12 people each wherever you can.

There is a likelihood – not yet fully explored – that there will emerge groups that are made up of persons, some of whom are not “material entities” but are persons encountered within inner spaces.

The objective of these groups are to study and discuss

• 1. Declining access to Fuel

• 2. Pollution and Global Climate Change

• 3. Global Monetary Collapse

• 4. The Growth Model of Development.

amongst their members and with other groups all over the world and formulate responses to these issues and the many others that may arise in relation to these at local and global levels with the objective of civilizational transformation and conscious evolution

To engage these issues it is necessary that the members of this group learn how to transcend their anthropocentric ego based gender biased authoritarian identities and relate to each other in supportive facilitative inspirational and therapeutic ways making it possible to associate, communicate and relate to other individuals with honest and genuine intents

Therefore all these groups practice systems of teaching and training aimed at achieving this objective.

These groups also follow procedures and protocols aimed at facilitating, supporting, inspiring and therapeutically responding to processes of change

They use various strategies to generate required resources and linguistic and communication skills for their sustenance and development and effective expression at local and global level

These groups may become nodes of a global network that may function as a global perceptual mechanism and as a global strategic guidance system that can guide us through Civilizational Transformation and towards Conscious Evolution.



The groups meet on Saturday evenings.

Each group has a center and a periphery – neither the center nor the periphery are determined, but emerge and change naturally

The demarcation of center and periphery are dynamic and interchangeable tending towards a dynamic equilibrium amongst a network of people whose networking forms the group which functions as a node of the global network.

Interactions between these networked people that gives rise to the group tends towards greater and greater levels of openness and transparency transcending elements of identity and making connectivity possible.

Connectivity is based on an understanding that individual life is unsustainable and we are all dependent on each others help especially in relation to responding to the issues identified as being critical.

Wherever possible the outcome of group interactions will be documented – wherever possible in audio visual format - and shared with other groups throughout the world.


John Ringland touches on a very important point when he writes: "In terms of quality use-practices ???"

The silence says it all. *This* is the missing part that we need to grow together, ideally in a growing group.

A few groups whose practices we should look at, to learn new skills from them: