Joel Dueck ·

Being in the Graph Mind

Participating in the Graph Mind (whatever you call it — “scrolling”, “poasting”, “surfing the web”, “being on your phone”, etc.), is like being a neuron that can drive. Whether you’re consuming or producing, you are negotiating with the graph mind how embdedded you will be and what your roles are.

For me, the enjoyment of being online mostly comes in the form of making serendipitous connections between surprising or unlikely people and ideas. For example, replying to someone’s question with a link to someone else’s blog post that I bookmarked nine years ago; or combining work in different fields to make something unique. The opportunities for these connections are often extremely contingent, which makes the work of seeking them out one of the “infinite games” that keep life interesting for me.

Because “making unlikely connections” is the graph-mind-role I want, and because there are tempting counterfeits of that experience, I have evolved some guidelines for Being Online that keep me positioned to find and make use of connection opportunities. Experience tells me that when I follow these guidleines, I end up in networks of people and roles that feel more rewarding.

  1. Make things, and talk about the things you make.
  2. Contribute ideas that would seem to be missing from the world if you specifically didn’t offer them.
  3. Spend a lot of time reading other people.
  4. Spend a lot of time distilling what you read.
  5. Throw points at people you enjoy. Upvotes and likes are free. Use dollars, too.
  6. Keep your feed weighted towards people who seem to follow similar guidelines.
  7. Put things in places where they will get responses.

The tempting counterfeit of the “making connections” experience is the experience of “being right online”. Activity born of a correctional motive attempts to make connections of the most unoriginal kind between nodes where they are least wanted, and so fails as a graph mind embedding strategy. The guidelines above are partly designed to encourage myself not to engage in that kind of activity.


A real adept oughta be able to meditate on the angriest, most toxic twitter stream, consume the bile, and turn it into nectar: actionable insight you can bet on in the real world.

The level of bile that you evolve to tolerate, and what you do with it, are up to you.

Currently I’m trying to be more effective at learning from high-acidity interactions without necessarily participating in them or going out of my way to find them.