Help Draw a Map of Reality

Ptolemaic Projection Map on Face of Jester c. 1590

Something very special is happening these days. We can feel it all around us yet we cannot quite name it.

The signs are everywhere. Whether in Pokemon GO, Magic Leap, Microsoft Hololens or Google Deep Mind, it’s clear that the largest technology companies on the planet are investing sums denominated in Billions of dollars in a future that looks dramatically different than the present.

What do they see?

I set out on a journey to answer that exact question. This has turned out to be the hardest work I’ve ever done.

Nine months later I’ve spoken with hundreds of people building this future. I’ve filled dozens of notebooks with sketches and schematics and created deck of nearly 1000 market maps and trend visualizations. Yet in many ways I’m no closer to having an answer than I was when I began.

What I’ve come to believe that because “what is happening” lacks a name, we are calling it different things.

We say “Virtual Reality” or “Augmented Reality” “Intelligent Assistants” and we have rough taxonomies for each field. None of this is sufficient.

It feels as if we all have pinholes to a giant map but none individually can see the whole picture.

But despite my frustration, I also made a lot of progress and the picture that began to emerge was exciting. Very exciting. It was also humbling and forced me realize that the only path that made sense was to turn over all the work I’d done and ask for help. Luckily I’ve got some amazing friends and they’ve all agreed to help out.

Last Monday, 23 of us met at the Upload Collective in San Francisco. We agreed to work together between now and November 11th to create the following:

1. PATTERN5 NETWORK A group of people who share both an ability to see patterns within complex systems and a creative commitment to the common good.

2. A TIMELINE A 1-page visualization to set the context of our present moment and clarify the stakes for the future

3. A STATEMENT A single statement that explains why now is a definitive moment in the history of mankind and a vision for guiding our efforts and energy.

4. CATEGORIES AND FRAMEWORKS (This is the largest single deliverable). The future of simulated reality requires common naming conventions. We will attempt to create a working model so that relationships between disciplines and markets are clearer. For each category, there will be an Editor

5. A MAP: A graphical representation of the systems, software, content and markets that comprise the future of networked experiences.

6. A LIST OF HOLY GRAILS (TBD)

7. A NAME

If you want to contribute, please reach out. Tomorrow we’ll begin the journey and I’ll announce the first few editors. (NOTE: Part two is here: What is a Map of Reality).

Stay tuned.

(NOTE) In 2006 a group of 60 technologists, storytellers and futurists assembled at SRI for the Metaverse Roadmap Project. Collectively we created a vision for the world of 2016. I encourage you to read the document — it’s fascinating both in terms of how wrong and right we were . . . .