The Weekly Bento // August 20, 2021
Hi there and welcome to the Bento Society. I’m Yancey Strickler. In this issue:
The Bento Society Time Capsule
The virtues of obliquity
Castles, multiplayer games, and letters to a young technologist
The Bento Society Time Capsule
This week on Bento Day, people around the world made extra effort to be more self-aware, to actively connect with the people in their lives, and to take time to think about their future and collective selves. To everyone who participated: thank you!
The final step of Bento Day is something we can all do. It’s to make a Bento representing where we think/hope our life will be one year from now.
This Bento will go into a time capsule. Next year on Bento Day we’ll be sent the Bentos we made today, and we’ll see how our expectations and reality match up.
You can do this by either drawing a blank Bento and uploading a picture when you’re done or by inputting your answers directly into the time capsule here.
The beauty of this time capsule is that it connects the person you briefly are at this exact moment to multiple future selves — your 2022 Now self, your 2023 Future self, and so on. Over time, Bento Day will connect these different moment-in-time versions of ourselves with one another, creating a dialogue between them. Join our time capsule experiment here.
Is there value in setting a vague goal like our Time Capsule Bento or is it wishful thinking?
One theory that might have something to say about this is an idea called “obliquity,” which Bento Society member Davide Tarasconi shared in our community space. David writes:
“Obliquity is the concept stating that the best way to reach complex goals is an indirect or uncorrelated pursue of them.” This idea comes from an essay and book by John Kay. Unfortunately, Davide writes, the book itself isn’t very good, but the insight of obliquity is worth thinking about.
Obliquity is comparable to the difference between “goal-attraction” and “goal-setting,” the theory that our attitude in relation to our goals determines how they turn out for us. In a world where we’re “goal-setting,” and pursuing very specific goals, we can end up disappointed by being fixated on a singular-goal. But by having a positive and explorative mindset, we can become “goal-attracting” and be able to see opportunities that appear as a result of our overall awareness and way of thinking.
John Kay writes that “obliquity” is especially relevant “whenever the effect of our actions depends on the ways in which others respond to them [and] when the environment is complex and changing, purposes are multiple and conflicting, and when we cannot tell, even with hindsight, whether they have been fulfilled."
Davide observes that “the Bento might act as a goal-attracting framework rather than a goal-setting one.” Perhaps our Time Capsule Bento is an attempt at positive obliquity for the coming year.
Recommended: Bento on the web
The Bento Society and the Bento have popped up around the web this week in a few places:
“A New Utopia” by Early Majority: In a newsletter exploring notions of Utopia, the Early Majority newsletter writes about Bento:
“The idea is multifaceted, but at its core it advocates expanding our definition of “self-interest” beyond the self, drawing in not just the people around us, but our future selves and citizens. In this way, we can create a more harmonious and equitable society less focused on money as the ideal pursuit. The Bento Society emerged from this philosophy and is a growing community of participants from all walks of life… Kickstarter expanded sources of independent financing, but The Bento Society proposes something more ambitious and radical: Expanding our idea of fulfillment and independence.”
“Value Beyond Instrumentalization” by Jasmine Wang : This is a fascinating essay by Jasmine Wang on how our culture defaults for specific kinds of purpose (achievement, technological advancement, financial rewards) when we fail to make time for genuine ethical reasoning. The essay is part of a remarkable, larger digital zine that came out this week called Letters to a Young Technologist that’s worth checking out. Finally, in the essay Jasmine shouts out the Bento Society as an example of a community that’s trying to rewire our tendencies, and on Twitter she cited This Could Be Our Future as a significant inspiration behind the piece.
Moving Castles: Modular and Portable Multiplayer Universes by Trust Support: This excellent essay explores the question of identity and where we live on the internet, dialoguing with my piece on the Dark Forest Theory of the Internet from 2019 that tried to explain why the main social media channels were becoming hollowed out and why people were sharing their true selves in more private spaces once again. This piece argues that these Dark Forests can become new kinds of institutions and launching pads in the 21st century. I wholeheartedly agree.
The Bento on Instagram and TikTok: When I see people making videos on Instagram and TikTok explaining the Bento like this one, it’s clear the idea is growing. More of this please!
The Weekly Bento this Sunday
As always, we’ll be coming together this Sunday at 12pm EST for the Weekly Bento to set our intentions for the week ahead. Join us:
The Weekly Bento
Sunday, August 22
12pm EST *sharp*
Doors open at 11:55am
Peace and love my friends,
The Bento Society