Jerry Michalski, Founder of REX


Cool Tools Show 061: Jerry Michalski

Our guest this week is Jerry Michalski, who spent a dozen years as a tech-industry analyst during the dot-com era, then founded a think tank called REX in 2010 after figuring out that consumer capitalism is giving way to something more trustworthy and connected. Something he calls the “Relationship Economy.”

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Show notes:

TheBrain, mind-mapping tool
“You can add things to your Brain by dragging and dropping from your browser. … One of the things that distinguishes it from all the other mind mapping, memory mapping, concept mapping, visual, sort of search tools, is that you can only connect things through these 3 little circles on every node, and every node is called a, “Thought,” and the circles are called, “Gates.” They go up, down and left, which means when you add something, you have to decide “Is this a parent, a child or some kind of either a sibling or an opposite of the current thought I’m connecting it to.” That little exercise turns out to be a phenomenal organizing feature of this tool that nobody else has done because all the other tools either put things in a big circle around whatever you’re looking at or they have this rubber band effect, or kind of a hyperlink effect where you’re scrolling through a giant ball of twine, none of which, to my mind are easy for the human eye and brain to peruse and make sense of, and yet in TheBrain that seems to give it enough structure that I have no trouble, even when the screen is really, really full.”

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Jerry’s Brain
“The file we’ll talk about a bit today, is the file that I started 18 years and 6 months ago. I’ve been filling one mind map for that long. … For anybody who’s gone to jerrysbrain.com and is looking around … [the] map of the tech industry seems like the most natural place to start because when this company came by me, I was a tech industry analyst, and the thing I needed to do was track all these startups, and who had funded whom, and what, and where.”

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Belief Snapshot
“I wish everybody published some version of their beliefs. I call it a ‘Belief snapshot.’ This happens to be my version of a belief snapshot, because I happen to use TheBrain, and I don’t think everybody on earth should be using TheBrain, but I wish people expressed why they think what they think … I think people are born good, and we underestimate that. I connect that to all sorts of other things, and there’s dozens of things under my beliefs …. if we all did that … we could then sit down and have a reasonable conversation about any topic you want, and we could trace it back to some of our beliefs, and argue about them as good civilized humans, and I might shift my beliefs.”

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Lessons from My Brain
“I’ve learned that we’re an amnesiac civilization. I’ve learned that because we don’t have tools like this that help us create shared meaning, shared context, we’re really easy to manipulate and spin. We don’t have a shared memory that the closest thing we have to it is Wikipedia. There aren’t that many people contributing to Wikipedia. It’s clearly a crowd sourced phenomenon, and I love it, and I use it 10 times, 20 times a day, but it’s not a distributed, shared memory, and nor is my Brain, obviously, because it’s missing the collaborative aspect to it, but our civilization is worse off, because we can’t do what I’ve had the pleasure and luck of doing for 18 years, we can’t do that together, as a society.”