What is Metavalent Stigmergy?
Metavalent Stigmergy is the process by which we have observed New Default Consensus Realities Instantiate.
Another way to consider it as the process by which phase state changes occur between perceived collective realities. Like water can exist as solid, liquid, or vapor, realities can exist in different phase states across a wide range from completely hellish to absolutely heavenly.
And on this topic, Project Xanadu and hypertext imagineer Ted Nelson perhaps said it best, “There is too much to say, and it goes in all directions.” Further qualifed by the effectively Einsteinian maxim that, “Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.”1
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How I constructed this neologism, some time in the mid-to-late 1990’s.
- Meta-: 1. Meta (from the Greek μετα-, meta-, meaning “after” or “beyond”) is a prefix meaning more comprehensive or transcending (Wikipedia). 2. a prefix appearing in loanwords from Greek, with the meanings after, along with, beyond, among, behind, and productive, [examples] in English on the Greek model: metacarpus; metalinguistics (Free Dictionary).
- -Valent: Having valence. Valence: 1. the quality that determines the number of atoms or groups with which any single atom or group will unite chemically. 2. the number of determinants per molecule of antigen. 3. the capacity of one person or thing to react with or affect another in some special way, as by attraction or the facilitation of a function or activity.
- Stigmergy: a mechanism of indirect coordination, through the environment, between agents or action (Wikipedia).
The Fifth Grade Explanation
Metavalent Stigmergy is the process by which new insights, intuitions, understandings, ideas, or concepts originate, germinate, blossom, propagate, and instantiate Default Consensus Realities.
What this means is, a team of scientists may make a new discovery; a mathematician or physicist may realize a new insight; an inventor or philosopher may surface a new idea that results in a new product, a new process or new way of understanding and interacting with the world. These concepts and innovations are shared, in concentric circles of conversation and interaction. At some point, some facts, ideas and artifacts become so widely understood and accepted as true, that the entire collective environment shifts into a reality in concordance with the previously little known or understood thoughts, ideas, capabilities.
 There was a time in human history that slavery was considered normal, and okay. Through the process of metavalent stigmergy the opposite is effectively, universally untrue. The current default consensus reality defines slavery as immoral and wrong.
 Just a generation ago, the concept of a global brain like information network with handheld interaction devices in the hands of half of humanity, was the most far-fetched science fiction. Today, there are some who believe we are at very great risk of losing our very humanity because of the present tense American everyday boring digital reality.
 The Simulation Argument. Prior to the articulation of the Simulation Hypothesis by philosopher Nick Bostrom, the idea was mostly limited to some versions of Hindu and Buddhist mystic traditions. Teachings about the relative unreality of the material world are very ancient; however, the innovative reframing of those productive into a computer era context was novel; and now, in less than 20 years, arguably mainstream.
 Ethnic and Tribal Supremacy. Just about every nation and people have some kind of historical or contemporary narrative that views one’s own ethnicity and culture as superior to all others. Prior to whole globe awareness, trade, and communication, skirmishes over these collective narcissistic beliefs were settled on local and regional scales, through various levels of violence and war. Since the development of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction, multi-polar and multi-lateral ethnic supremacies drive misunderstanding, fear, and conflict at a scale that poses increasing existential risk.
By understanding the processes and principles that lead to change at scale, we can learn to apply these practices to other areas of human experience that are considered normal in the present context, but need not continue to be perceived as acceptable, natural, or given levels of suffering. In particular, the multivariate emotional, psychological, and physical suffering caused by poverty – both absolute and relative – the latter of which has been widely utilized in the west as a coercive behavioral environmental feature, through clever and intentionally engineered economic precarity. One fundamental algorithm behind this engineering is the dark metavalence of maximizing shareholder returns, at the cost of all other factors of production, including human health and wellness.
Process and Perception
Perceiving the process of metavalent stigmergy, perhaps, has had something to do with the emerging art and practice of omnitention – for lack of a better neologism – and additional, emergent, still very poorly understood ways, means, and methods of extended cognition in this Post-Automation Era of hybrid-human-cortex-cloud-extended-mind-intercogntion (PDF). Beyond that, this website is an expression of the further consquence of finding The Artist’s Way.
Perhaps, there is some form of abstract word art and practice of increasing curation value involved, as well. Definitely, we think about ways to address Tristan Harris’s Social Dilemma, in all of our online activities. I can’t entirely know where this project is going, just yet. This particular site is just another experiment in a life spent experimenting, thinking, and doing out loud. Most of those experiments have failed; a few have been fantastic beyond belief. So, we’re engaging with all of that, as always, from this infinitely limited subjective perspective of the infinitely available objective present moment.
“I seem to be a verb.”
Buckminster Fuller taught, through his own process of inquiry, “I seem to be a verb.”2 In a sense then, Metavalent Stigmergy is a name for my verb-being sense of self, in the pursuit of what is described by most of the great faith and wisdom traditions as something akin to a true self, authentic self, redeemed self, sanctified self. This persistent non-symbolic aspect of our experience as pure awareness, as children of God.
Isn’t it add that we limit our own children when we give their bodies a name at birth, like a branded piece of livestock? “This item shall be called Proper Name.” Children are not inventory. Humans are not resources, to be strip-mined and extracted. Human beings first and foremost be. We exist, with intrinsic and inalienable rights and qualities endowed by the creator, not be any governing bodies of man. That’s what makes the American experiment unique, among nations. It’s also something that we seem to have increasingly lost sight of, to the point of present crisis.
So, Metavalent Stigmergy is a name for a process that belongs to, and is intrinsic to all. We are each instantiators of new default consensus realities. We are verbs, not fixed assets, not chattel.
Scientific Exploration Belongs at the Fringes
Since the early 2000’s I’ve proposed Metavalent Stigmergy3 as the process by which new default consensus realities instantiate. It’s a bit mind blowing and incredibly gratifying to find out, twenty years later, that people like Professor Donald D. Hoffman were proposing Conscious Realism at about the same time that my own ideas were taking shape. I had no idea of Hoffman’s far more extensive work, at an even lower abstraction layer, until the last few years. Yet, over the decades, both theories have gained significant experiential and mathematical credence.
Both scientific and personal discovery, at their best, belong at the fringes, at the event horizons, at the edges, where all new understandings are gained, where fears and comfort zones stretch, where, in economics, all value is ascribed and exchanged. When it comes to innovation, invention, discovery, and self re-invention, it all happens at the fringes. So keep on fringin’, however cringey it can be at time. The best scientific exploration is done at the fringes of the presently known.
Maybe not too many readers will be able to understand this, but to me, there’s just about nothing more fun in life than to explore the fringes of possibility and probability and discover something new, useful, and just plain true. That, for this writer, is as thrilling as any roller coaster. Although I’m hoping to still live just long enough to see if a ride into Earth orbit doesn’t top it. It might get down to the wire, but if progress continues at the current pace, we just might make it. That’d make for a pretty nice Earth movie ending for a kid born within months of the first human being being launched into space, to get that same glimpse, for oneself, yeah? Not a bad movie ending at all.
So what about this content creation and curation space? I suppose if Picasso worked with words and non-symbolic concepts instead of paint, and had access to a kind of fledgling global brain, of sorts, I would wonder what might he have created. Is it arrogant to use a Picasso analogy with such a question? Maybe. Maybe. Or, I’m acknowledging some kinds of similar afflictions of perception and interaction with my environment, a lifelong schizoid kind of desire for some semblance of a space within which I can hear my own thoughts; or what appears to subjective consciousness as “one’s own creative voice,” as distinct from the overwhelming invasion of demanding thoughts of all of the humans surrounding me.
As of this writing, the global default consensus narrative of pandemic is receding by way of the narrative of vaccination, and this post-pandemic moment is oft referred to in the media as The Great Reset. The nurseries for these collective meta narratives is often places like Davos, where, in contrast to conspiracy theories, people would be amazed to find out out arbitray and ad-hoc The Story co-creation and co-editing actually is. Global billionaires are all far too competitive and narcissistic to all sit down in a room like at a sitcom writers writing table and hammer out some kind of world script. It’s more like a sequence of completely intutitive and interative metavalent stigmergic utterances of “that sounds about right,” between conversational agents each acting in their own self-interest, first and foremost. The the extent that self-interest enlightened, it’s actually not such a bad way for complex adaptive system to narrate it’s own story. Alas, it is the evident lack of enlightenment, as evidenced by the contuation of the brutality of war, avoidable famine, climate catastrophe, and so on, which give the public rightful cause to question and even demand that the people and processes that have led humanity into its current predicament, be held to account.
These are some of the typical conditions facing humanity, from this writer’s perspective, at the dawn of this Post-Automation Era. So, for the moment, I want to circle back just once more to where we began.
Right, but where did this all come from?
As introduced above, since the late 1990’s and early 2000’s I’ve been captivated by this phenomenon – one micro-instance of which is described, above – that I eventually dubbed the process of default consensus reality cultivation as metavalent stigmergy. The principle began to become evident to me during architecture and construction of the world’s first gigabit fiber-optic Ethernet to the Home networks, in Palo Alto, and then clarified by the time I registered the domain name in 2007. The term metavalent stigmergy was inspired by my own direct observations, experience, and informed by countless authors, academics, cultural practitioners, scientists, philosophers, and especially the most marginalized others I could find, who all shared the common quest to understand what we used to refer to as “the future,” (more later, on why I largely reject the validity of that term, these days), as a means of making optimally informed choices for the maximum benefit of all sentient beings in the present. The concept of metavalence was inspired by Philip K. Dick’s concept of an over-valent idea, described in The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. Stigmergy, “is a mechanism of indirect coordination, through the environment, between agents or actions,” and best understood as the way ants communicate. The insight that came to mind in the late 1990’s and become more clearly formed during the early 2000’s was that metavalent stigmergy is the process, the means and methods, by which new consensus realities instantiate on planet Earth, through human to human interaction.
For All Sentient Beings
Today, I extend this definition to include all sentient beings, and our extended, disembodied cognition spaces throughout the internet, including our artificially intelligent colleagues, artilects, if you will. Alas, this also introduces several abstraction layers of complexity that will still take some years to unpack, provided that this writer’s time on Earth is granted to complete the work in process, or at least make a bit more progress toward understanding, prior to being inevitably, abruptly, removed from the material realm, such is as common to humans. We all, eventually, face death, and would do well to acknowledge so, as Ernest Becker compassionately pleas in his classic book, The Denial of Death. It is our individual and collective denial of death, suggests Becker, that leads to much, if not all of humanity’s greatest suffering.
If you’ve read this far, I’m deeply impressed and honored. Thank you for your interest, attention, curiosity, and perseverance. The subjects we’ve touched upon here are among the subjects of our Open Inquiry, but by no means does this define any kind of limit to the exploration of consciousness. As always, I invite you to share your own investigations, intuitions, and insights, that we may grow in mutual understanding, and assist one another in the journey of awakening together.
“A mind that demands experience is really living in the past, and therefore can never possibly understand something totally new, original. So there must be freedom from that urge for experience. Do you understand? You know this is going to be tremendously arduous, to go into this kind of meditation, because we all want rather easy, comfortable, happy, you know, an easy going life. And so when something difficult, which demands your attention, your energy, you say, “Well that is not for me, I’ll go another way” (Jiddu Krishnamurti).
Do it, anyway
We can’t all be Mother Theresa, nor should we even try. Instead, some of the best things we can attempt as interstitial guerilla-wordfare-uplift-agents and interdimensional negativity-counter-insurgents is to practice:
- Holding Digital & Physical Space with SERENITY
- Removing Online & Offline Obstacles with KINDNESS
- Reading and Listening Deeply with UNDERSTANDING
- Seeing and Responding Clearly with COMPASSION
But none of this airy fairy rainbow pony unicorn poop is even close to possible without deeply and fully acknowledging and sitting with all of my own greatest anxiety and deepest denial, right? Life is not a fashion show. It’s not a beauty or popularity contest. It’s about learning how to live and to die with something that approximates authentic meaning and dignity, right in the midst of a realm that often appears entirely devoid of either.
May we indeed GO GENTLY Into That Good Light
Not Rage, Rage; There is No Dying Of The Light
[ 1 ] “Alice Calaprice the editor of “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” presented the following 1933 precursor quotation and comment in her reference work [UQUE]: It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience. From “On the Method of Theoretical Physics,” the Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford, June 10, 1933. This is the Oxford University’ Press version. The words “simple,” “simplest,” and “simplicity” recur throughout the lecture. The version reprinted in 1954 in Ideas and Opinions, 272, is a bit different. This sentence may be the origin of the much-quoted sentence that “everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler,” and its variants.”
[ 2 ] “For the first time, man has the chance to be a complete success in his environment.” This startling thesis is supported in I Seem To Be A Verb, by the out-of-the-ordinary author: R. Buckminster Fuller.
[ 3 ] Initial content of this site was imported from metavalent.tumblr.com and metavalent.wordpress.com so there may still be some gaps and broken links to tend to; which may lag a bit, as the focus is on new content here, moving forward. Also, remember that this is _twenty years_ of steam-of-consciousness curation, some or much of which I many not even any longer believe. This is all part of the experiment toward an objective understanding of the nature of subjective experience, the nature of which I’m only now becoming increasingly aware, and sharing, for no other reason than to observe, write, share and learn; hopefully with a dramatic reduction in thinking, as we conventionally understand it.
[ i ] Mahalo so much and thank you for following the guidance of your intuitive curiosity by supporting our creativity via Patreon, Venmo, Cash App, or my author web site. Your support completes the circuit, so that I can continue following my own creative muse, in service.