When James Cameron opened the Avatar premier with the fateful words… “Welcome To Pandora” – not many could have predicted the meteoric rise of the film to one of the highest-grossing of all time (adjusted for inflation) (only surpassed by his other blockbuster – Titanic).
Widely regarded a modern-day “Renaissance Man”, Cameron’s 40+ year career in the film business, entrepreneurship and digital design has brought the world such masterpieces as Terminator, Rambo, Aliens, True Lies, The Abyss, Titanic, Avatar and over a dozen documentaries covering everything from the Bismarck to “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”.
The point is that Cameron – unbeknownst to him – is the quintessential example of the type of individual who’d have used a commonplace book even just 50 years ago.
Commonplace Books were meant as a tool through which people would be able to note down ideas, quotes and thoughts throughout their day; a cross between a scrapbook and daily journal.
The difference between a “commonplace book” and the likes of a journal comes in the form of how it’s used by its curator:
- A journal is typically passive, a third-party attempt at providing insight into one’s thoughts for the day – perhaps noting down feelings, events and considerations.
- A commonplace book is active – a direct tool used by many of history’s “luminaries” as a way to collate, expound and manage their ideas.
Now, it’s important to note that a “commonplace book” – although widely evident – was never really called as such; it was typically in the form of a “notebook” – which we can see clearly from the likes of Issac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci.
It’s interesting to note that men who lived 100’s of years apart ended up keeping “notes” in almost exactly the same way. This “way” is what became known as a “commonplace book” – but was pretty-much a free-for-all from the guys keeping the notes.
It means that the process of “commonplacing” was driven by a mindset – which ended up seeping into every facet of the work created by the various proprietors of different commonplace systems.
It’s this mindset which lies at the core of a “digital” commonplace system (designed by SGM + Ludvig Sunstrom). Whilst the software has its own way of working – the key is understanding how it works behind the scenes. This tutorial looks to examine that…
Digital Commonplace Systems
The “commonplace mindset” is what has driven the development of a number of “digital” commonplace systems of late.
The key behind this “mindset” is actually simple – revolutionary progress.
Most people (in fact, this is why 99.9% never really do anything with their lives) are concerned with incremental progress. They operate within the boundaries set by other people… be it in art, religion, societal or business. They conform.
Conformation is not a problem in itself; it’s a survival mechanism deeply embedded in our brains. The problem is that conformity stifles innovation; the pursuit of “new”.
EVERY time we see rampant progress (in some form or another), we see a brave individual (or collective) who innovated.
Whilst the pursuit of money, wealth or the power may have laid behind these individuals; the core element of their psyche that drove them was a sense of wonder as to what was possible.
In most cases, they saw that the majority of people at the time had been doing things either incorrectly, or extremely inefficiently… they endeavoured to improve the issue for good. This is why most “genius” people are actually extremely mercurial; they have an underlying concept of life/beauty and can’t stand anyone getting in the way of it.
Commonplace systems are their way of dealing with this process. Rather than focusing on things that have “already been done”, they concern themselves with new ideas, notions and pursuits. They don’t settle, and are not overly concerned about the cultivation of wealth or money.
To this end, SGM’s design of the first “digital” commonplace system might make some people question its veracity… the system is a world away from what a “commonplace book” might have been considered centuries ago…
- Focus on systems (not “strategies”) – the application is able to connect to *any* API data and manipulate it within the system
- Immersive experience – the software’s CORE focus is on putting the curator in a position to understand their “role” in society – understanding where you really “fit” and what you’re able to change it
- Proprietary data – taking heed of all the data added to the system, certain digital commonplace tools are able to manage proprietary data into uniquely informative systems
The key thing to appreciate is that in EVERY facet of life, “systems” exist to deal with everything from how a Medieval castle would need to operate to how you’re meant to behave at a business dinner.
What most people lack is the correct perspective on how these “systems” are operating in their lives.
A “commonplace” (either analogue or digital) is really meant to provide insight into these “systems” (some may call them “habits”) – ultimately culminating in the development of new ones.
The veracity and depth of the new systems created by the curator then determines whether these systems can be “marketed”. The marketability of the systems determines the scope through which the user will be ascend through society.
The most important thing to discuss about SGM’s digital commonplace in (particular) is its complete focus on cultivating a “role” for the user in question.
This could never have been achieved with paper alone – the depth through which a user is able to create a profile (populate with the various API integrations they have), map out their current systems / habits and the underlying nature through which the system is able to mange the growth, development and optimization of the user’s realm (through cultivation of new systems / ideas and better positioning) gives the way in which the “digital” commonplace products have excelled.
The point is that if you’re able to “systematize” your life – most things become not so much a question of “if” but “how”.
If done correctly, a “modern” commonplace should paint a picture of trade, defense and opportunities for any budding “Renaissance” man. The most important thing it should do is focus the curator onto the development of products that can be distributed to a market.
We’re in an age now whereby growth is determined by the level of creativity one bestows onto work. Regardless of what “self help” woo-woo idiots will tell you, EVERYBODY has to work. There’s no “passive income” or “digital business” that works without your input. Sure, you can outsource various things… but in the end – you need to be able to create something that someone else wants to buy. The depths you’ll go to make this work will determine who and why they wish to give you money.
The biggest problem today is that we’re in a war for our minds. EVERY single day – we’re fighting battles against junk food, convenience, easy living, stupid “investments”, “shortcuts” and all the other crap. I see it every single day – hoards of consumer idiots brought up into a world where they have absolutely zero purpose, reason or interest in thriving. They are so devoid of “connection” to the world that they end up trying to fill the void with video games, drugs and other hedonistic experiences. Even money doesn’t fill the void… it just provides more interesting distractions.
The key thing that determined most success stories of the past revolved around two people – someone who invented a new idea / way of doing things… and someone who sold it. If you’re able to consider this, and apply it to your own life – you should be able to relinquish the hidden shackles that 21st century life seems to have imposed on the majority of the populace.
The way in which SGM’s Digital Commonplace (in particular) did this was actually quite intriguing…
- Cultivation of a “digital world“ – through which the user is able to consider the TRUE nature of their standing in the world. Very similar to “Europa Universalis”, it puts the user squarely in the center of a vast trading empire (powered by their own data) – through which they’re able to develop new systems, cultivate resources, build alliances and manage assets to bring about maximum levels of growth/development. This immersive nature of the software is where the majority of the core value has been derived — with such benefits as access to SGM’s “masters” events and new systems being the core contributor to the success of many users of the system.
- Development of custom “systems” – being able to build a business, develop a brand, bring a product to market and a host of other concepts are being developed continually. Having a commonplace system which not only gives insight into these systems, but allows their curator to optimize and improve them, gives them a perspective never-before possible.
The KEY is to understand that whilst “meteoric” success is obviously interesting; the “magic” of commonplacing can attract success for anyone in their lives.
A simple switch from being a conformist to an innovator not only puts people into a position of creation, but also ensures that you’re able to start compounding growth/success. This is the trick most “successful” people employed to rise through the ranks relatively quickly.
Such systems as how to keep a personal blog (and make it successful), how to identify opportunities and being able to design.
How To Optimize
If you’re looking at developing your own commonplace system – or even use one of the digital variants available now – you need to consider the key element that drives growth – innovation.
Innovation is not an arbitrary idea – it’s a core element of life. Everything from how you dress, to which movies (if any) you watch, is determined by how “innovative” you feel as an individual.
The biggest aspect of a “digital” commonplace you have to consider is how it pushes “innovation” in a range of elements of life. Obviously, one can become extremely superficial about this – thinking that you have to “innovate” for the sake of it (which is NOT true at all) – a healthy understanding of how you’re able to continually push in a personal capacity is really all it takes.
Having a simple “note taking app” is not going to do this. Nor is having some random “API integration tool” – the depth and inspiration derived from a digital commonplace solution is what should be considered. No amount of “optimization” is going to replace that.