Who is Cosmos?

The organizational values and norms defined in the Organizational Values & Ethics and the Design Principles: Community/Social Norms pages function as constraints, inherently, on the “fit” of users’ behaviors in Cosmos. Beyond these basic structural building-blocks, does Cosmos have an explicit culture that it expects all users to adhere to? If people don’t identify as “visionary” or “artist”—do they still belong in Cosmos? What if they definitely do, but the labels or look of Cosmos present perceived barriers to their buy-in or engagement?

There are many terms that “get at” the people who might feel at home in Cosmos’ community. Ultimately, Cosmos is integrative, and thus aspires to integrate diverse peoples and cultures. To rigidly name the types of cultural affects that we vibe with is to set ourselves up for a narrow span of participants (i.e. a “cult”), which is not ideal for our aims. However, to not have carefully chosen norms, nor to be explicit with our norms, would set everybody up for frustration, distrust and failure. Unregulated online spaces are havens for trolls and tend toward the derailment and fragmentation of constructive conversations—we, at the very least, require norms protective of the outcome of high-quality, vibrant conversations, or else we are not meeting our aims.

So far we have been using the identity of “visionary creative” to blanketly refer to “the kinds of people” we want to attract and hope will be attracted to Cosmos. We want people who are deep, thoughtful, passionate, holistic, avid self-educators, open to experimentation; who are writers, podcasters, new media artists, makers, storytellers, systems thinkers, designers, philosophers, readers, engineers, activists, therapists/healers, teachers, and who are weird/outrageous/boundary-bending and uncategorizable.

There is a real set of qualities that various labels like these get at, but defining it is problematic. Perhaps the conversational and resonant webs that we’ve already been building will be sufficient to maintain the culture without an explicit label, but aligned with desired patterns of interactions named above–IF we build it mindfully and gradually, taking the time to build trust and awareness of our many differences in moving through and making sense of the world. To view each individual as a microcosmos–full of wonder, vast in possibility, spectacular, surprising and mysterious creatures–is to set ourselves up to honor diverse expressions and to accept the challenges of divergence and uncertainty.

Initially, we imagine that people will self-select into Cosmos on the basis of their identification with the values and/or the media and conversations emerging out of the Cosmosphere: the “network effect” of people resonating with each other’s work and their self-arising enjoyment of productive & meaningful conversation. We appreciate that Cosmos’ identity emerge from the people that show up and stick around—acknowledging that how you encounter and at which developmental stage could make for very different experiences, and we’d hate to “waste” an encounter by not greeting a new member or interested party with the appropriate care and attention—nor by squandering opportunity to learn from inappropriate interactions through a lack of effectual feedback processing mechanisms. If anything: a person willing to perform ongoing inquiry into their experiences and themselves, who are open or pursuant of self-transformation, self-realization, and who have faith that creative, thoughtful and collective action can transform the world, will be a harmonious fit in Cosmos.

To take a crack at the broadest possible definition of who belongs in Cosmos’ community: We want to gather into relationship and productive community as many people as possible who seek to mitigate their ignorance rather than extend it. What defines these people is the choice they make to actively inquire every day about their belief and who willingly augment their working models of the world, who embrace processes of discourse and discovery, who tolerate discomfort and unclarity and who actively work for improved syntheses. These are people who are may be at peace, but never fully at rest, people who want to do only the best and greatest work that is there to do, that is theirs to do. Those who abandon the comfort of certainty for the process of continuous letting-go, who prefer to engage with the world and undertake to refine working models instead of reclining, distinct, in a smugness of absolute truth. This may be the fundamental differentiator of those who would “fit” in Cosmos: Do you prefer uncovering the truth as an ongoing process to being right? And do you prefer good, functional works and elegant designs to ideological fundamentalism?