Now—often these are good ways of thinking about a problem. But there are consequences to focusing so much on goals, incentives, or packaged experiences. Here are three:
- Agency. People driven by goals or incentives aren’t using their full agency. It’s the same when people are experiencing packaged “good experiences”. They also aren’t using their full agency.
- Meaning. When people are driven by goals and incentives, or piped through good experiences, there’s something missing—something meaningful to us. A goal-driven life misses space for values like creativity, honesty, civic responsibility, etc. These values give life meaning.
- Sociality. Finally, packaged experiences, goal-driven funnels, and incentives mechansms tend to be only superficially social: the user is isolated, connected to other via transactions like purchases, likes, and so on. No strong relationships.
So, the design method I'll describe tries to fill this hole—when you care about making things deeply social, high-agency, and values-driven.
Unused M echanism design, incentives design, or gamification. These approaches all focus on extrinsic motivation. What if, instead, we look for the deeper and nobler motives that underlie people's attempts to get upvotes, followers points, and so on. Another reason you might try for upvotes, followers, or whatever is to legitimize yourself within a social space, to legitimate a social move you want to make—to get a company funded, to get a proposal accepted, etc.
Usually point systems or money aren't the right way to approach legitimation.
Often people think that the way to build relationships or become legitimate is to amass followers or points in your app. Sometimes this is even this process can even work and at least. To a surge of use for an app, but pretty soon, even the people who have succeeded. And the rat race of accumulating money, followers, or points discover they haven't built the relationships that they wanted and that their social moves are still not legitimate. And don't have the impact that they hoped they could have. If I asking the new questions, instead of the old questions, we can avoid this run around and give people directly what they want. So every move that’s made in a social system has some rule that makes it legitimate. Actually, it has many such rules. Because you can go backwards from any move and see a whole chain of moves and rules that make the next move legitimate. Only members can vote . But only applicants can become members . And only people with a recommendation can apply . Etc. If we take a page from an app, we can look for the legitimation process behind each piece of information. Here on twitter, these posts are a legitimate part of my feed because of someone I followed, at the bottom, and because the twitter algorithm has guessed that I like “funny tweets” and “tabletop role-playing games”. But if I am on twitter to be vulnerable, or to be bold, the fact that my space is filled up with this information doesn’t help. Side note on incentives What exactly do you want to incentivize? incentivize reviewers to approve only papers which subsequently do well. well, there's all sorts of game theory in that incentivize authors to submit as many papers as possible. It's much easier to think in terms of legitimation process maintaining kind of balance between quality and the amount of attention something's receiving as it moves upward, in terms of legitimation. People whose attention is more constrained, such as journal editors and other scientists in the field will see things later. After more positive signals have been garnered if we set up a legitimation process, so that there's a wide end of the funnel like university admissions more convincing someone to be an advisor it will remain democratic and accessible even at its later stages this is hard to do, and science doesn't always succeed at it. But the incentives mindset doesn't make it any easier. In fact, the collapsing of an elaborate social process into a simple mechanism rules out most solutions If you make these shifts and understanding the user you don't see people a stupid lazy and over committed to those needing space and stuck and wading through a lot of bad information. And that leads to a different set of questions. Instead of looking for a smooth experience that can be incentivized, that saves time money. We look for a supportive container. We want to unstuck various steps in relationship formation and contribution and we want to surface the information that most helps people live by their values.
So, VBSD is about using these kinds of practices to make a certain kind of space. A space where people can attend to what they value while they make choices, and where the various hard steps of living by their values become easier to take.
In our terminology, we use ritual, relationship building, and legitimation thinking. We iterate with space jams and social prototypes. Looking for a design that addresses some values cards and some hard steps.
What would things be like, if spaces came back, big time? If there were suddenly more space-making entrepreneurs, more people doing this kind of design, and if the best spaces were measured and rewarded, and rose to the top. There was a time in our society before the current kinds of design took over, Before design was about achieving goals, delivering a packaged experience, or giving incentives. Back then, spaces were stronger. Religions were largely about making spaces. Local communities and local democracies were largely about making spaces. The modern shift, towards funnels and tubes, has meant an overall decline in spaces. So much so, that we can equate modernism with a decay in spaces.
In this talk, I want to look at new way to design. One that starts with the opposite idea: that people in a supportive environment will build relationships, contribute, and can be clear and self-authoring.
- There are people who intuit the values of those around them.
- There are people who build spaces—who make research labs, festivals, introspective tools, games, art projects—all based on those values.
- There are people who know how to anticipate these problems—relationship building problems, container problems, legitimation problems.
✅ Relationship-Building Relationships and values are often closely intertwined. Here’s an example.
Notice that when I approach the design this way, I get very different ideas than I would if I didn’t understand what’s hard about relationship building.
✅ Ritual / Containers
Let's move on to another place hard steps can be useful. In making a good container.
Jury Duty as a flow
I’ll start with an example of a good container, which makes space for certain values. The example I’ll use is The reason, is that smoothing leads towards a single user, making as few choices as possible, going through a flow the designer came up with. But values are about users making choices, so it doesn't work to start out with a model where users click through choices that the designer made for them.
If you’re designing something like Jury Duty, here’s a general way to do it. First , pick a Jury-Duty-related value you want to support. Here I’ve picked one called “high stakes discernment.” Next , interview people who have the value about their most meaningful experiences of high stakes discernment. Finally , in their stories, focus on the containers that supported them in that process, and find common qualities.
The real magic of collecting these stories and practicing this nerdy way of dividing up the stories into information, relationship building moves, and transitions... The real magic is that collecting these stories gives us a deep wisdom about what to build to fulfill our responsibilities.
To show how this works, I’ll break this wisdom into three categories:
- wisdom about relationships and how they form
- wisdom about what makes a good container
- and wisdom about what I call “legitimation processes”
I'll give brief examples now of each, starting with relationships.
And these hard steps become part of our problem formulation. A space for this kind of vulnerability, will make this kind of information available, will make these kinds of relationship building activities possible, these kinds of mood-setting or transition-making actions, etc.
This is a story that happened to me, at a dance workshop I went to. It’s a story of successful vulnerability.
The legitimation process is the whole sequence, the whole backstory, that makes the paper itself a legitimate contribution . What I’ve sketched here is just a summary. We can zoom in on any part. For instance, before you’re hired by an institution, you likely needed to have letters of recommendation, and a body of work. Scientific publishing may look especially bureaucratic, but almost every part of social life has a legitimation process associated with it. Do you want to sit next to a stranger at a bar or restaurant? There’s a sequence of gestures, eye contact, or inquiries that can make that legitimate. Do you want to have a stall at a local farmer’s market? There’s a series of applications and approvals that will make it a legitimate stall. You can ignore the legitimation process—by starting your own journal, sitting next to someone without asking, or setting up a stall in the market without approval. But usually, illegitimate moves are ignored or will get you ejected from the system. Legitimation Process of Science So, returning to my topic, if people in your system aren’t contributing, they might be blocked by the legitimation process. To see why, let’s go back to the idea that living by a value has hard steps —that sometimes it’s impossible to live by a value because you can’t get the right information, set the right settings, or make the right moves. Comparing Efforts Now, let's say you interview several scientists about their sources of meaning. You get a few values cards out of that—one’s about
shepherding new subfields
, another is about tip-toeing to the edge of human knowledge and then going a little past the edge,
exploring the frontier
. Does the structure of scientific publishing support or undermine those values? To find out, you’d gather the hard steps of these values: what kind of information do you need to go to the edge of human knowledge and a little past? what kinds of relationships? what kinds of settings and transitions? Is the process of legitimizing a paper difficult in the same way that living by these values is difficult? Or does the difficulty of scientific publishing diverge from the inherent difficulty of
shepherding new subfields
exploring the frontier
? Let’s say I’ve gone and found the hard steps of
, and they include getting a group to a place where they can think beyond immediate career concerns setting an earnest open mood seeing people’s real curiosities establishing collaborations and finding new methods We can compare this to the legitimation steps we found before. We see some alignment and some dis-alignment:
. We see a need to find collaborators both for publication and to form fields. We could look into how often someone starts by collaborating on a paper and later works with someone to found a new subfield.
Finally, the practice of scientific publishing would ideally form relationships that also help with practicing this value.
To publish, it helps to have collaborators who are more senior than you, and who can help you apply the methods of your fields rigorously, and to reference relevant previous work.
But these may not be the collaborators who are most open to extending the field in new directions.
I would have to interview scientists to see how much of a problem this is. Certainly I’d find many collaborators who came together to write a paper and ended up practicing this value together. But I suspect I’d also find some divergence between how co-author relationships are commonly formed, versus who makes the best reviewer for bold work.
iphones, CS, meetup, wikipedia, flashmobs, sharing
love ← money
News Feed, Youtube, CHT, TWS
porch → pubs → TV → smartphones
ch1Consider adding “could it be” from scale and space decay
If we imagine a society without spaces, only tubes and funnels, such a society would have problems. Are these problems familiar? Are our spaces are disappearing?
Ambitious goals—like curing all diseases or mapping the brain—require exploratory spaces. So, a society without spaces would be incapable of ambition.
More broadly, institutions like science and democracy would break down. Their funnels (for winning political campaigns, riling up voters, ramping citation counts, etc) would hypertrophy, taking up a ton of our attention, while the relevant spaces (where scientists and citizens explore values like civic responsibility, epistemic humility, and the passionate pursuit of the truth) would atrophy. We'd have degenerate, funnel-only versions of democracy and science. These would be terrible places: without values to keep them in check, perverse incentives would compound.
Social connections would unravel without spaces. Funnels and tubes tend towards relationships that are transactional, rather than deep or exploratory, because people want to achieve their goals quickly and without risk. Transactions (short-lived, predictable, and simple) are the most minimal kind of relationship, where both parties stay atomized, and there's no possibility of surprise. [fnTransaction]
Those limited, transactional relationships aren't enough. So a society without spaces would have less trust, less social cohesion. There would be spikes in drug addiction, suicide, etc.
There's another consequence of people's desire to achieve goals quickly and without risk: the elimination of surprise. Funnels and tubes emphasize efficacy and predictability, and these take precedence over other values like creativity, boldness, vulnerability, embodiment, etc.
We use a blanket word for these values: meaning. In a good space, we explore what's meaningful to us—not what's efficacious. Spaces are where you can live expressively, and treat yourself as a source of surprise.
So, without spaces, there'd be a "meaning crisis". People would grab at sources of promised meaning, like radical politics and get rich quick schemes, and they'd try to fill the holes, but that wouldn't work out.
Finally, a life without spaces would be exhausting. Every encounter would be about getting something done and moving on to the next thing to get done. Sometimes it's your own goals; sometimes, other people's. Completing one checkbox just brings you to the next, never to a space for relaxation or open-ended exploration.
People would race around, looking for spaces, but not finding them. This would make them exploitable: funnels would dangle the vague promise of a space in front of them: "buy this beer and be loved by friends", "take this online course, get rich, then you'll be able to relax and explore". But these would never deliver, because even the drunk, rich people would lack spaces. It'd all be a tremendous waste.
A group with shared tastes is a kind of degradation—if you get together a group of shared tastes and try to serve them as a group. You're often in a position where you can offer less personalization than you could if you took each person as an individual.
Part of the bias, we could say, is due to
: To know your sources of meaning, you have to introspect . That’s a transaction cost. On top of that, you’d need to
for other people who’ve also done that introspecting and somehow shared their results. And you’d need to
a group action together. Those costs are hard to overcome, so the advantages of togetherness get buried.
- funders and meta-structures
- alt social glues
Couchsurfing vs airbnb
Evidence in their favor. For instance, it does seem that a little bit of training about interviewing people about sources of meaning leads people to change their mind. Customer Reviews, product success metrics, and so on. This is something that I been able to verify and my course leads people to do better and recognizing what spaces are good for them. And see more reasons to gather motivate their friends to gather using their new articulacy. So, these are immediate effects of literacy in naming sources of meaning that I think I have pretty good evidence in terms of the Conklin current complex loops. I think I've also seen some evidence here. When people articulate about their sources of meaning they hustle less. They're less faked out by the idea that you need to hustle first. And, at least in small groups, they're better able to build alternate social glues and this does seem to meet to be correlated again with a very small sample size to be correlated with a dramatic reduction. In ideology and incentive spaced coordination so that's some evidence in favor of this theory. I think the weakest part is questions about meta structures. So we have a group working on that
- Hustle. this seems related to hustle you Europe has less hustle. As more spaces more people have space making jobs. So it's less obvious that you need to do funnels and tubes first.
- Language of meaning. And also the societies which have the richest language of meaning For instance, religious societies tend to be rich and spaces.
- Meta-structures. Europe for instance has better meta structures for spaces including art grants, support for religious institutions and so on.
- Social glues. Societies with at least ideology and least incentive structures seem to have the most space making this is even true on a level of individual organizations, families, that kind of thing. Europe has more spaces, less ideology although it’s swinging in the wrong direction and may soon follow the US and UK.
- SoMs are hard to collect for entrepreneurs
- We'd want to make demand for spaces easier to recognize. By changing customer surveys, user research product success metrics,
- People have difficulty shopping for spaces
- People have difficulty recognizing all the advantages of togetherness
- You'd want to spread articulacy among consumers, about their sources of meaning and help consumers who share sources of meaning find each other.
- People get redirected away from spaces into hustle, even though spaces are what they really want
- If we could, we'd want to interrupt the hustle loop by demonstrating to people that their lives can be immediately meaningful if they follow their sources of meaning in an immediate way.
- Entrepreneurial meta-structures are biased towards funnels and tubes
- We'd want to make that demand easier to meet. Changing design methods.
- We'd want to build meta structures that serve space makers and create kind of a community and identity for space makers. So that they can see that this new metal structures have a clear constituency.
- And substitute social glues have been taking over
- And we'd also want to interrupt is the spread of ideology which we could perhaps do by creating small groups by finding local scenes that can be held together by meaning instead of ideology and then growing the number of such scenes are their size
- Deep Work. or there's this one is about being patient and in the void creating some kind of container for yourself some kind of blank page or open problem because you return to again and again on
- or there's this one another social one about passing around and sharing generative frames, new problem desk definitions, new fields, creating a scene or improvisational or creative structure which is. In which many people can shine and many approaches can shine. Much more of a game design or Structured Design kind of creativity.
One of my deepest sources of meaning is this blank page one but I experienced it almost every day. So I could use a little more creative riffing in my life, just another source of meaning of mine. Create a frame approach. It's not so important for me it's very important for some of my colleagues at the school for social design
- Let's say you're into this kind of vulnerability—about speaking up when you have mixed feelings. People who practice it must attend to certain things. For instance, their feelings, or the people they are with, and how they’ll react to their admissions.
- Contrast that with another kind of vulnerability. If you value this vulnerability, you’ll focus on how people support each other in your group or community. You’ll look for friends who notice your struggles, and for moments when people care for you, etc.
Even though these are both kinds of creativity, they call for different designs.
- Think about someone who finds meaning in the first kind—speaking up. They’d be well-served by an environment that lets them reflect by themselves, and then share what they find, with an assurance that people won't flip.
- But someone who values the second kind of vulnerability would need a more social environment. Where people take turns caring for each other.
Put Person B in environment A, and they won't be able to pay attention to those friends, possibilities, and social events. And vice versa: put person A and environment B, they won't be so aware of their discomfort.
- The creative frame source of meaning is suggests kind of hierarchy or division of labor with some people creating the frame and others blossoming within it.
In general, to make others’ lives better, you must be in dialogue. You need to find out what’s good for other people! A shared language of meaning changes this dialog, and sends you in new directions.
Shift Towards Spaces → Space Policy
Meaning Enhanced Spending
Local Meaning Economies
→ Values-Based Recommenders
→ Extraction Squads
Values-Literacy → Insurrections Kits
School for Social Design
The same kind of thinking works for jury duty. For instance, finding yourself with a group of strangers in a grave situation seems important. But this is one of the only places in our society where this happens. Could the same thing work, to help people come together for environmental or political decisions?
I can imagine a kind of museum, where citizen assemblies tour the results of the previous decisions that other citizen assemblies have made.
When you find a good space, you can use hard steps to understand how it works.
For instance, here’s how Jury Duty works.
This is a practice in the US and UK where ordinary citizens form groups of 12 to decide on a criminal case—often whether someone accused of a crime goes to prison or is freed. Jury duty is a container in which people put aside their everyday goals to practice values of discernment, deliberation, and justice.
A variety of transitions and ritual elements make it work:
- It is separate from daily life in place and in time.
- Participants swear an oath.
- The consequences of their decision are front and center, and quite serious—often, imprisonment or freedom for a fellow citizen.
- A set of new relationships, built around the gravity of the situation.
- There are multiple rounds of deliberation in a closed room, a grave setting, reporting to a judge.
Once again, there is information to gather, relationship-building moves, and settings to transition into.
Imagine making something like Jury Duty, without acknowledging the hard steps of making a container. Instead of a container, you could think of it like a UX designer—like a flow.
It would be disastrous.
When you think about jury duty as a flow—there are certain stages. One for finding out about the case; another for making your first judgment; a third for hearing others’ perspectives; a fourth for revising your judgment. Then you can go home.
As soon as you think of it like that, you’re led in the wrong direction:
- It pays off to keep each user isolated, because that will get them through quicker.
- You try to manage formation of the initial judgment in a few simple screens
- You simplify and streamline information, to make revising judgments painless.
- The gravity of situation seems like a liability, not an asset.
A smooth experience turns out to be bad for the values. This is almost always the case!
The smoothest experience is a single user who makes as few choices as possible, in a flow the designer came up with. But to live by values, we, the users, need to make the choices!
As I’ve hinted, getting clear about values changes how two people can talk to each other.
When I know your sources of meaning, I can try to make things meaningful for you. If I just know your goals and preferences, it's less obvious how to do that.
But there’s a big difference between our interpersonal models of each other and the corporate models of us. On the interpersonal level, our models are loose and evolving—I know more about my girlfriend's feelings, more about your preferences, and more about my co-founders goals.
So… this talk is a draft, and chapter 4 isn’t ready. I did a rough cut of it, but Andy didn’t like it, so I’m not going to present it tonight.
But I’ll tell you briefly what’s in it.
One problem the happens as design scale up, is, people stop being able to navigate the diversity of contributions themselves.
There are three common solutions, when this happens:
- Recommender systems
- Paid curators
- And networks of private groups, which share contributions among them.
So this chapter is about how each of these models is difficult to align with values. The problem is that recommender systems and paid curators keep contributors and consumers isolated. They create a barrier with individual consumers on one side and individual contributors on the other—and this is not a good space. Contributors are not just alone but they are also unsupported in making their contributions.
Networks of private groups have another problem—it’s hard to see how to align them with anything.
In chapter four, I introduce a fourth model that I’ve found easier to align with values and sources of meaning. Which I call the “legitimation process” model.
A legitimation process is like a network of private groups where the groups agree to use common criteria and policies for sharing contributions.
An example of a legitimation process is scientific publishing, where journals and academic departments use common criteria for evaluating scientific work.
So, when chapter 4 is finished, I’ll give examples of how to think in terms of legitimation processes instead of recommenders, curation, and private groups.
I’ll show how TikTok, a recommender system, and Telegram, a network of private groups, can be redesigned as legitimation processes. In these redesigns, the criteria for success is more legible, and creators are more deeply supported to revise and improve their contributions.
I’ll show how to align legitimation processes with sources of meaning, and I’ll argue that much of the societal dysfunction in politics, media, and even in science can only be addressed by legitimation processes rather than by recommenders, curators, or private groups.
This last chapter will focus on the special problem of designing large-scale systems to support values and meaning.
As systems scale up, there are many challenges. Values cards and hard steps can help you monitor meaning, to make sure it’s not just transactions that are increasing, that meaningfulness also holds strong.
But in this chapter, I’ll focus on one problem that comes with scale: an increase in the amount of information that needs to be processed to surface “the good stuff”. Many kinds of systems have this problem—national media, national politics, global communication.
People taking on such a challenge tend to take inspiration in certain places:
- Some, from machine learning—they imagine training recommender systems or collaborative filtering to find the gems and surface to each person what they need.
- Others take inspiration from markets—they hope clever incentive structures will reward those who contribute or curate the best stuff.
- A third group imagines a network of private chats. Where contributors are first invited to a local one, then hopefully discovered into other venues, their excellence gradually surfaced in larger groups.
Each of these models has big problems. As I’ll show, when used for surfacing excellence at large scales, they have undemocratic effects, and are impossible to align with values. They are hostile to meaning and togetherness.
In this chapter, I'll present a fourth way to think about large-scale, excellence-finding systems: the “legitimation process model”.
Instead of taking inspiration from AI, markets, or private chats, the legitimation process model takes inspiration from scientific publishing and democracy.
Legitimation processes are a fourth way to imagine surfacing excellence in large-scale systems.
Let me first show an example of a legitimation process. Then I’ll talk about advantages they have.
I'll take an example of each of these models and show how they could be rejiggered as a legitimation process starting with recommenders
Legitimation processes have some advantages of incentives systems, and some advantages of private chats.
We want our social systems to be
accountable. The systems should work the same for everyone, and everyone should be able to see how it works. We imagine markets like this. And we imagine recommenders to have this universality, but not the accountability.
We lose both, with a network of private groups. No one can see how it works, or make it work for everyone. The public can’t critique and improve it.
But private groups do have one big advantage: with markets and recommenders, the relationships are anonymous and transactional. Relationships like buyer, seller, creator, curator, and so on.
Private groups can have lasting, ongoing relationships.
A legitimation process is
accountable, and also
personable like this! In a legitimation process, people level up in local groups and with lasting relationships, but the process connects the groups in a universal, accountable schema.
So legitimation processes can be universal, inspectable, personable, and broadly inclusive.
But that’s not why I like them.
I like them, because they can be meaningful.
Let’s compare with incentives. When you think in incentives you think people are externally motivated. If you want people to do something, you gotta incentivize them. You imagine a careerist scientist, following the money or the citations. You imagine scientists need a carrot leading them towards good science. In a perfect system, the carrot points in the direction of good science.
When you think in terms of legitimation processes, you can imagine scientists following their own sources of meaning. They want to contribute, but making a contribution is hard. In other words, the hard steps can stop them from doing it.
Starting there—with respect for scientists’ internal motivation—opens up a related possibility: the legitimation process of science can be values-aligned.
For instance, they show why the internet’s been so disruptive. The rise of the internet replaced complex, value-laden legitimation processes with cartoonishly simple ones—often just upvotes or share counts.
The results are unsurprising: even world leaders now discuss what's going viral, rather than what made it through the levels of pre-approval which, in earlier times, would have helped them stick to the plot.
It’s the clear-cutting of legitimation processes that led to our current crises, with politics, media, fake news, etc.
They cannot be replaced with recommender systems, markets, or private groups. These can be used in some places, but not to surface excellence at large scales.
Only by carefully building new, values-based legitimation processes, can we get back to sanity, and return to a situation where science, media, and democracy legitimate the good stuff.
Well, I don't think that we can just put everybody on earth in one breakdance circle because there's not one thing that we want everybody to do.
- We want some people to be breakdancing.
- Some people to be egging each other on to do great science.
- Some people egging each other on, to make brilliant comedy, and so on.
So obviously, we need multiple groups for that. And then there's another reason we need multiple groups. Which is, if we really want people to be embedded in networks form relationships, we we have to they need to be able to be in smaller groups, so they can recognize each other, learn about each other and so on.
And yet one of the qualities you want here is we want the system be global.
Scientific publishing is one example of a legitimation process, but they are ubiquitous, and operate at different scales. Local democracy is a legitimation process. Asking someone to marry you involves a legitimation process. Even just sitting next to a stranger at a bar involves a mini-legitimation process of body language and connection building first.
Let’s look at the effort that goes into preparing a scientific paper, getting it accepted or seen. Legitimation is a word for this effort. What steps do you have to take to legitimate a paper? Or equivalently, what makes a legitimate paper.
Here they are.
When people think about legitimate generalizing and paper they think about peer review and maybe acceptance by a journal, a leading journal. But that's actually just the end the tip of a long legitimation process before that you find collaborators you do a lot of background reading ground your claims before that you had to get hired by some institution. Before that you had a thesis advisor and a thesis at a degree if any of these things turned out to be bogus, you might have an illegitimate paper on your hands
Legitimizing a scientific paper is hard. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The difficulty of making a good contribution can be part of what motivates you, gets you to up your game.
So: we don’t want to make contributing easy. What we want, is for it to be hard in the right way.
In particular, we want contributing to be difficult in the same way that it’s always going to be difficult to make good contribution. The effort spent to prepare a contribution—or to get it accepted or seen—should be the same effort it takes to makes the contribution excellent according to the values of the field.
Is this the case with scientific publishing? With this value?
And they have another advantage. Legitimation processes can potentially include much more of a society.
With recommender systems and information markets, most contributions, most of the time, go nowhere. Someone is lucky if the algorithm gives them 15 minutes of fame, before they’re plunged back below the attentional waterline.
It’s like one of those movies where the rich influencers have a floating city in the sky, and the population below goes unmonitored and unsupported.
Legitimation processes can solve this. The easier parts of a legitimation process can come earlier; the harder parts, later. As you proceed through the process, you can gain relationships and skills for later stages.
Your thesis advisor can help you find collaborators, and become worthy of their time.
Potentially, people in a legitimation process feel an ongoing responsibility to their contacts, to get them a bit closer to contributing.
At the final stage are the excellent contributions, but at earlier stages, less excellent work gets the attention it needs to improve.
This is inclusive and supportive. It’s also efficient: it leads to many more contributions, in the end.