social processors



this post might sound rather techy (?)… please enjoy with me the exploration of this side of the spectrum :) it gets more practical in the end. the graphic is using an intel-logo that i edited further.

this piece returns strongly to me in a new loop… have been thinking about a “group programming language” ago and social algorithms since mathematics/programming and social dynamics married in me… i asked myself; can a group in the right setting calculate an equation faster than an individual brain could?

was waiting to write this, now triggered to write this down through questions Thor asked me, thanks! …two weeks ago when i was thinking about my process design for the process consultation work i was about to do with an amazing group of YIPies, and i had all this thoughts around futureofmoney/metacurrency/intuition based currency innovation through value tracking glowing in me… so i came to think about in which constellations of people value could be generated and how to make that visible. so i started listing how many subgroups could be created within a group. so a group of four people ABCD for instance have six different possibilities to form subgroups of two people: AB AC AD BC BD CD. they can create four subgroups of three people: ABC ABD ACD BCD. with non-linear :) help of some people (Rikke, Markus, Stephan, Marcelo) i finally learned what the formula is. for the total amount it is simply 2^n but to find out the amount of subgroups of a certain quantity (k) we need combinatoric (n over k) so that’d be: n! / (k! * (n-k)!). for a group of six people it looks like this:

0: 1,  1: 8,  2: 28,  3: 56,  4: 70,  5: 56,  6: 28,  7: 8,  8: 1,  SUM: 256

in a group of 20 people there are 1048576 possible sub-constellations. a group of 30 has over 1 billion subgroups. so you can see it grows like crazy. and yes, it IS math, but it IS also reality. in the first moment you share coffee with someone you build your ‘synergistic being’ that contains both of you (it might very well be perceived differently on the two sides), if four people stand together in a smoking break they sort of build/have a group being. maybe not with a clearly articulated value-preposition but there is something… we all know that, humans are tribal-beings and have an amazing capacity to charge a bunch of people with groupness :) isn’t it true? when you stand on one side of the street waiting at the traffic light – the others over there are somehow a group, and your group is on this side… immediately you start charging the meaning-container of this groups and look for significant attributes that helps you categorize. nothing more group-creating/group-bonding than shared emotions, so a bunch of people on the train station complaining about the delayed train feels immediately like a group of people with the uniting element of “we are the ones waiting for the train”. here could be written much about levels of natural and also unhealthy group-identification and the different nature this uniting elements can have – it might be a common enemy or something we are in resistance too… so this groups loose their uniting element when the enemy/obstacle disappears… than there are other uniting elements like the call to deepen into an inquiry or to care for a child.

next we have to consider that in a social setting there is the next dimension of the relationship between different subgroups! so the ‘synergistic being’ of AB has a relationship to BD and so on. so basically every subgroup has a potential (that means it IS a possibility but might not been charged with many experiences/values/interpretations yet because these people haven’t met each other consciously yet) relationship with all the other. so that makes in the group of 8 people 256 * 256 = 65536. however, there is a third level to it when EFG are having a beer and talk about the relationship that AB and BD have (parade example in a KaosPilot team would be meta-reflections about the field/spiritual/process-people vs. outcome/business/project-people). and it goes on with more levels of LM talking about the conversation that EFG had about AB and BD… and then L thinking about the conversation he just has with M and how that makes N feel who is actually the bridge-builder between AB and BD… there is no limit to this (well, maybe? to which level are YOU climbing up in your conversations? and is that still talking about people or are you talking about symbols of symbols of people?) its amazingly mindblowing! and it should be! the whole point here for me is that it is far far too much data to handle rationally and your only navigation tool that remains is intuition! and i mean it works… we are actually able to be in groups :) we have our landscape of preferences on who to be with and who we are attracted to or try to avoid… which constellation is interesting to be in, which one is easy to manipulate for your intentions… so the crazy abundance of constellation/relational possibilities that math is showing us here becomes absolutely real and social right in your heart and in how you are in the world… because one of all this different paths is YOUR path through all this possibilites… and it keeps altering/evolving/expanding/selecting/collapsing/filtering/prioritizing but it is always your social life reality. besides all the group members there are certainly much more participateurs (IPG) in the field and it is also a reality that you relate to B as well as to your own dreams and what your mum thinks and what is for dinner and so on :)

so where i want to get at with this wild divergence is to show how many information-bits are present in a group! if every participateur (that including all possible subgroups) is only processing one bit of information… then we might just exceed very soon the capacity of the processor in your computer! given that – what are the procedures/practices this group needs to actually utilize this amazing processing capacity? in my current state i believe this is the evolutionary gift of the 2nd tier (spiral dynamics) – that we learn to fully BE IN emotions and inner- or interpersonal friction AND ALSO have the capacity to BE zoomed out (its a state – not ‘to zoom out’) and hold the meta-perspective at all times that operates in service of the highest potential of this moment/constellation and can utilize ones own memories, emotions, wishes as well as sense others (i wrote more about these kind of character qualities here)…

as Tim B.L., the founder of the internet says in an interview somewhere, he does not want to know where the evolution of the internet is going in order to let it free, i currently (!) think that in the moment you can think/understand something you can be sure that it is not collective intelligence – why? because YOU thought it :) mmh… tough one, i can see that. especially for bright thinkers and (masculine?) world-view-generators out there ;-p the creation needs to be set up in a way that it can surprise the creator… it needs to transcend the creators scope. in that sense i don’t even want to try knowing what’s possible as we step into the potential of the 2nd tier (just using this handy model to have something to name), but i am absolutely eager to play around with practices and thoughts that bring possibilities and probabilities closer to each other (Reinoud Meijer), for it to click into place in the right timespace…

so here some ideas for practices that i’d love to see cracking open a perspective of empowering a system to see and process its own ressources much more intuitive and aligned as ever before…

>> what would happen if a group of 5 people who start working on a project put up 32 sheets of paper on a spacious wall – one for each subgroup and individuals of the 5. then as they move along in their proces together over weeks they put up post-its to a subgroup/individual that just has been created value for the project, or anything you notice – it could be the three (positive?) categories of awards (you are amazing at…), acknowledgement (i see you for…) and potential (i could also see you doing/being this…). so for instance i want to acknowledge AB for the job they did with putting up the website and CDE gets an award for making amazing dinner :) as the group gets used to this value/possibility-tracking system relational items might get activated – so i would put up a post-it for AB+C with the potential to ground the website in deeper values. by doing that instead of putting up a potential-note for ABC i am making clear that we don’t just throw them together but want to keep the skills of AB and add the unique magic of C. later i could then put up an acknowledgement note for ABC. does that make sense? just jamming here, haven’t tried it yet…

>> what would happen if a group spends a whole day just experimenting with sound-effects, body-language, non-verbal ways of communicating… i am seeing so much potential in getting a group to respond more organically! if i speak to someone face to face i can see mimic reactions right away and that gives me a feeling of being heard and i can adapt and so on… groups often sit still until someone says something… so what needs to happen so that it is totally ok and even encouraged to nod some more with the head and to express more “mmh”s and “aaaah”s and “wow”s… you see what i mean? what needs to happen so that i speak to a group and can read as much immediate responsive information in the visual/acoustic field of the group as i would do talking 1&1 AND maybe MUCH more… growing together as an organism…

>> what would happen if we establish a practice of inviting each other into contribution… so in a lecture-setting, instead of the usual pattern of me rising my hand if i feel like adding or questioning something – what if that would be not allowed for a day and you can only raise your hand to gently point on someone else you think is resonating with what is being said… this person can either drop the invitation easily or forward the impulse… so, after a groan zone of weirdness, might this empower the system to become much more aware of each other and find its voices where energy accumulates? can it be so non-linear that the system could either find the most resonant voice OR the most dissonant voice according to what might be the highest potential of our unfolding collective learning curve…

and things like that… (are you getting tons of ideas now? why not? what would need to happen to liberate your creativity?) it is about enriching the shared imagination of a group with symbols! i had this conversation in a Pro Action Café session that Kim hosted – spoken language seems to be the most advanced form of human ways of communicating in terms of the complexity we can communicate. so if i want to tell you about my grandmother 30yrs ago it might be quite hard to express that non-verbally because we have no agreement (Orland Bishop & Reinoud Meijer) on a body language sign that is ‘booked’ for either “grandmother” or “30 years ago”. so language is an amazing set of ‘agreements’ or shared symbols that we can put together in a playlist that is structure by grammer in order to communicate meaningful and achieve complexity in what we express… NOW, what if the collective intelligence of a group develops its language? it is certainly happening anyway, a group is longing for shared experiences/emotions to identify itself and have something to build on/from… so here might be an invitation to do that process of charging the shared imagination of a group-space with symbols/experiences that allow for more complexity to be held… and can that happen consciously? or is it an intuitive process… is it calling for other ways we create?

so, let me end this piece for now with an invitation to think and dream about what else we want to and can charge a social field with… an alignment in collectively exploring the conditions for collective intelligence. sometimes we have an idea or a project and we align all our forces on this one and things align around this goal… what if we see the social pool, the social body as something we want to pull all potential intelligences/symbols/metaphors into… what if the artist thinks all his work through the lense of social bodies… what if the musician is doing his work while thinking how this draws analogies for group work… what if we become so skilled and intuitive with all these amazing group patterns that the collective body starts utilizing them intuitively… what is collective intuition? what is the most elegant and simple architecture that liberates the potential of a social field so that it becomes more powerful in modeling real-life algorithms and processing information than any computer processor could do…

what if we take things so personal that they are not personal anymore?

what if we see social innovation as something that makes our interaction more collectively intelligent? on the ground, here and now, look in my eyes! personal transformation right here and now! before we think about the business plan… there is place for all your light and all your shadows! we take the whole thing…

what if the massive amount of innovation in communicative forms online and the collective digital brain are all invitations to harvest these brilliant branches back/forward into our social fields and hearts and bodies?

what if all expert-areas that are blossoming far out into their evolution unite around that one thing… to invest the best of their insights to draw the line to me and you and everything between and beyond… wouldn’t that weave all these areas together while they still expand? amplifying each others differences instead of meeting on the lowest level of understanding… vertical cross-weaving through social processors that are utilizing nothing less than the highest potential of all connected body-mind-spirit systems and much more…


Published by

Benjamin Aaron Degenhart

Currently pursuing a Masters in Computational Science and Engineering at TU Munich.

12 thoughts on “social processors”

  1. “Your only navigation tool that remains is intuition!”

    I’ve reached this same conclusion myself lately very often, and have been looking for ways to strengthen my intuition. The good news is we can exercise and fortify our intuitions. One way that probably helps is participating in improvised live music. It requires such careful, freeform, nonverbal listening skills to work that it must transfer on a deeper level.

    “Look in my eyes! Personal transformation right here and now!”

    Again, a paraphrase of a meme I’ve been spreading in the last half-year or so, namely, that we don’t need to wait for “The Singularity” — we can have one right here, right now.

    You’re definitely on to some big ideas here in this post. It resonates strongly with some ideas I was exploring some months back about Manifesting the Social API.

    Keep it coming!


  2. Benjamin, I appreciate the spirit of your “What ifs.” Let me add one.

    What if we transcended the non-committal “what-ifs” and choose one area for a deep-dive learning journey that precedes the co-presencing and prototyping of the future in need of us?

    What would that area be for you?


    1. thanks Gabriel, so much appreciate your resonance and thank you for inviting our first talk right afterwards!! the video i did for my next post was massively inspired from our conversation :) seems the personal/here&now is our biggest resonance surface for now and the art/transmedia/narrative is what i’d love to catch some vibes from your mastery…
      checked the social API, thanks! gets me thinking… a lot actually… but much more offline-thinking then global-twitter-brain-stuff… mmh, need to breed on that for a while.

      thank you George! i’d love to find that area!! and still i’d like to escape a bit from naming the area and wonder about the source where all areas come from and where they are speaking about the same… in my sense that’d be the energetic space where impulses are forming… the shape of the narrative/process before it finds expression in different areas.
      is that an area in itself?


      1. > i’d like to escape a bit from the area and wonder about the source where all areas come from and where they are speaking about the same…

        is it something like a spiritual wanderlust?

        > in my sense that’d be the energetic space where impulses are forming… the shape of the narrative/process before it finds expression in different areas. is that an area in itself?

        you can think of it, if you want to, more like a discipline called Focusing/Felt Sense


        1. Thank you George, I’ve been noticing the “felt sense” for a while now and have had trouble describing to others how it differs from feeling and thoughts. This is perfect.

          I also appreciate that their are techniques for increasing the ability. I’m looking forward to putting them into practice.


      2. thanks George :) it might indeed be a spiritual wanderlust… do you know the amazing music video Wanderlust by Björk? its pretty intense and stimulating i find :)
        anyway, i hear your invitation to focus and appreciate it! it feels my focus is emerging and is converging more and more into clarity:
        i like the Focusing/Felt-Sense :) got me carried away with thinking of all the many gems that people have produced in the last decades and eventually centuries and more that “we” don’t know about unless someone like you is remembering it, who can hold these inquiries over decades… what a rich deep and intelligent archiving function!


  3. Hi Benjamin – I’m starting to recognise the guys who are circulating around in Glass and Pearltrees.

    Here’s a highly ambiguous poem you can read in many ways – in response to your beautiful blog:

    We have this time to choose
    The rest is flux
    But once the choice is made
    The rest is Joy


  4. When talking about the (maybe infinite) possibilites of the diverse levels of relations (before stating the insufficiency of rational thinking and the need for intuition as a navigation tool for these matters), came to my mind the great book from Douglas Hofstadter, ‘Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid’. A ‘braid’, which I find quite difficult to expemplarize with common cases, can be easily understood with the example you give. Some other things came to my mind: ‘complex thinking’, ‘metacognition’, ‘rhizomes’…


    1. thank you Pedro, much appreciate your presence here! i know about the amazing graphics from Gödel-Escher-Bach but didn’t know there is a whole book around – do you have it by any chance? or can i find it in the library here in Bogotá? would love to explore it…
      here is a gorgeous picture on two different braid’s that look much alike when brought into this position :)
      tell me more about complex thinking, metacognition and rhizomes please – let’s go for a beer one of these days…


  5. I resonate with your whole post! Thank you, Benjamin! Love “groupness”! You wrote, “what would happen if a group spends a whole day just experimenting with sound-effects, body-language, non-verbal ways of communicating… i am seeing so much potential in getting a group to respond more organically!” Big yes!

    For the past few years, I’ve offered a full-day nonverbal creativity retreat ( for that same reason (integrating improv, nonverbal story, visual arts, etc – and no talking at all). By the end of the day, when people have to talk again, it takes a while to get back into it, and someone inevitably talk about the “magic spell” being broken. The co-generative field that organically emerges when the analytical, judging, verbal mind in not in charge and the right brain has free reign to create and connect elicits a “magic” each time. I believe nonverbal co-creating and connecting bonds groups more quickly and deeply….and we will be seeing and honoring more and more of it in the future :-)


  6. thank you Michelle, very much appreciate your response here! wow, your retreat looks amazing!! hah, i remember when i came back from my vision quest (4 days & nights alone and fasting in the wilderness) and saw the first person again i laughed so much about the whole human game of mimic resonance and language and all this subtle games happening in the space between us :)
    mmh, high resonance with your words Michelle! Hope to meet you some day soon :) this August i will be in Boston…?


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