A while ago I left the world of startups and I was plagued with an existential question: what can I do that will be the best contribution that I
can give to the universe? I used to think it was all about scale, but tech has made me skeptical of that. I could work with an organisation to further their goals, but I think good design has a certain threshold – once it is reached, it will not make a significant difference whether a designer is me or anyone else (I know, this may sound sacrilegious to designers).
I became increasingly convinced that storytelling along with education impacts the world in unseen ways (read
and The Storytelling Animal
). The lines between the two is increasingly blurred. While working at Medium
I discovered a huge passion in designing experimental prototypes. Prototypes which are not polished, but they are enough to demonstrate the potential of an idea.
I took a sabbatical to recover from startup burnout and to spend some time working on these experiments.
One of them is a
self-directing learning network
which I intend to open-source, that will enable anybody to learn whatever they want, however they want, and tap from a collective intelligence — drawing connections between silos of content which already exist:
This is borne out of my frustration as a self-directed learner. There are no existing platforms or tools that enable non-linear learning.
Find out more
or peek at a quick and dirty prototype
I am obsessed with how form affects the story, and how storytelling can be more immersive with data and technology. I am frustrated with the linear, traditional ways we tell stories with. I have wrote several posts on some of my thoughts and ideas including:
an interactive story to examine life's complex narratives
Imagine being able to explore interactive life stories of people? It would be like visiting a museum, except for a human being. We could identify themes, or see what was happening during a lead up to a major life event. We could get a sense of how someone has navigated their chaos.
I intend to make experimental interactive prototypes out of these ideas.
I have also been publishing posts at least once a week (on
, my public journal
) without fail for the past 4 years. People have told me
that my posts on my journey with chronic depression and suicidal tendencies
have made them feel less alone. I also tend to write about change
I want to see in the world and my self
. Here are some of the posts that resonated with people:
My unique contribution
I concluded that my unique contribution to the universe is to work on things that people will not work on because they may not have the desire, incentive or the privilege to. There is so much noise out there, and
I hope these experiments can contribute to the overall progress in delivering stories and truth in the way they deserve, not just long pages of endless scrolling which nobody will read. I hope my writing will continue to create spaces for people to be themselves.
By setting up a page here, it is a meta-experiment in itself. I do not have infinite funds and there will be a point where I have to return to employment, which will most likely burn me out again. But even if I could sustain my health, I believe I contribute more net value creating this work than working for any organisation. I hope to be part of a near-enough future where people can create value for society out of their innate gifts and self-expression, and there will be more platforms like Patreon that will enable diverse income streams. Why do we insist on imposing a 40-hr work week on people, denying them time to explore what they can truly contribute?
The small support I am asking for
Just $1. If you feel like patronising more, you'll have my heartfelt appreciation, but I won't ask for more. Just $1, less than a bus-ticket in most cities. My goal is simply to reach 2000 supporters with $1 each so I can work on my projects full-time without being anxious about returning to employment. I don't need more to live for now. I have deliberately kept my expenses low. I have no interest in material wealth, apart from the occasional gadget and travel indulgence. I don't have worldly ambitions except time and space to do this work.
For months I do get paid elsewhere...
Maybe from time to time I will take on consulting work if the right opportunity shows up. I do not intend to hoard precious resources, so I'll re-distribute your patronage to non-profit organisations.
I would like to consult your feedback on this. I am happy to provide some perks but maybe you can give me an idea what would you like to see? I want all my content to be available and free so I will not be creating certain-tiers-only rewards.
Other meta experiments
One of my main grouses is that most organisations that really need design help cannot afford to hire professional designers (well, capitalism). Perhaps every quarter my patrons can propose/vote for an organisation to contribute my design/writing skills to. Other quirky ideas come to my mind every now and then. My intention is to experiment with different ways of exchanging value.
...for reading this far! I appreciate your attention regardless of monetary support. :)