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Curativity Center

[Curativity Center] The Startup Curation Project (2022)

Mapping Synergy Effects with the Thematic Landscape Map

One year ago, I wrote an article titled The Startup Curation Project: Startup Studio as Container and Anticipatory Activity System.

Now it is time to start this project.


There are three reasons.


In the past 12 months, the Anticipatory Activity System (AAS) framework has been developed into a new phase. It led to a possible book and a new knowledge center.

The above diagram represents the development of the Anticipatory Activity System (AAS) in the past 12 months.

The framework of the Anticipatory Activity System is inspired by Anticipatory System Theory and Activity Theory.

The above diagram is the basic model of the Anticipatory Activity System. The center of the diagram is iART Framework. The name iART stands for i +Activity + Relationship + Themes. The iART framework offers an ecological perspective on Startup Curation. The term “ecological perspective” means the following three contexts of personal development:

  • Practice context: the “Know—Act” ecology (Activity).
  • Spatial context: the “Self — Other” ecology (Relationship)
  • Temporal context: the “Present — Future” ecology (Time).

The four basic elements of the iART Framework are “Self, Other, Present, and Future”.

If we apply the iART Framework to discuss Startup Studio, then we can consider Investor as Self while Founder is considered as Other.

On August 25, 2022, I launched Life Strategy Center with a possible book about the AAS framework.

This is a wonderful journey!

You can find more details in Slow Cognition: The Development of AAS (August 21, 2021 — August 26, 2022) and The AAS framework.


The Curativity Center has been launched in June 2022.

It has produced the Knowledge Curation toolkit and the Thematic Engagement toolkit.

It started expanding from Knowledge Curation to other challenges such as Life Curation (work with Life Strategy Center), and Startup Curation (work with Platform Ecology Center).

Inspired by Activity Theory and other theoretical resources, I developed the diagram below as a general model of the Startup Activity.

The model emphasizes six elements:

  • Opportunity: a startup starts from a perceived opportunity and it may change its activity due to an emergent opportunity.
  • Outcome: a startup expects an ideal outcome and it may face AN unintended outcome.
  • Objective: a startup sets an objective to guide its daily activity and it may change its objective in order to cope with dynamics.
  • Object: a startup relies on objects such as tools, materials, and instruments to implement its activity and it may consider making objects as internal activities.
  • Theme: a startup needs at least one tacit theme or implicit theme in order to connect the founder’s life theme, the meaning of the startup activity, and cultural themes of society. The theme of a startup activity may be a sense-maker of internal collaboration and external communication.
  • Settings: a startup is contained by various environments such as market, local government, startup ecosystem, communities of practice, technological infrastructure, cultural movements, etc.

The dotted ellipse refers to Startup Settings.

From the perspective of Curativity Theory, each startup is a nested whole that contains the Founder and Product as its parts. A Startup Studio contains several startups. The diagram below represents this double-nested structure.

I name the above diagram the Startup Curation Framework. The outer ellipse refers to the Startup Studio Activity.

We should notice that the Startup Studio Activity is a dynamic process. There are emergent relationships between parts within the double nested whole. This is the most important property of the startup curation. For example, how does a startup studio curate the relationship between its startups, its founders, and its products? How does a brand new startup studio attract founders?

Curativity Center


In the past two weeks, I developed the Thematic Landscape Map and the Thematic Journey Map.

There is a popular term called “Secord Brain” which is a metaphor for describing digital notetaking tools.

In fact, we can adopt the term “Cognitive Offloading” from Cognitive psychologists to replace the “Secord Brain” metaphor.

According to cognitive psychologists, Cognitive Offloading refers to :

  • Physical action is sometimes used to reduce the cognitive demands of a task.
  • The process of externally recording thoughts and memories.

From the perspective of Activity Theory, tools are mediating instruments between people (subject) and things they want to do (object).

For example, Lev Vygotsky, the prophet of Activity Theory, claimed that Diagram is a type of psychological tool.

Lev Vygotsky also claimed that we can use existing tools or make new tools as mediating instruments.

So, I often make new diagrams for dealing with my challenges. These diagrams are not only about recording thoughts and memories, but also about making new connections, discovering new opportunities, and making new decisions.

For example, my current primary challenge is managing five knowledge centers.

How can one person deal with the complexity of managing five knowledge centers?

So, I designed a map called Thematic Landscape Map and used it as a mediating instrument for my thinking and doing around these five knowledge centers.

Mapping Thematic Landscape (Curativity, 2019–2022)

By using this map, I can identify the Synergy Effects between five knowledge centers. In this way, I can put my brain into a map. I can see my brain in a large diagram.

This is an amazing experience. You can find more details in Slow Cognition: Mapping Thematic Landscape (Curativity, 2019–2022).

If I can use the Thematic Landscape Map to manage five knowledge centers, a startup studio or a startup community can use the map to identify Synergy Effects of Startup Curation Activity.

I also developed the Thematic Journey Map.

Mapping Thematic Journey (Engaging with Activity Theory, 2020–2022)

Now we have more actionable tools and methods to deal with the complexity of Startup Curation Activity.

More news will come!



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Oliver Ding

Oliver Ding

Founder of CALL(Creative Action Learning Lab), information architect, knowledge curator.