The Liminal Web: Mapping An Emergent Subculture Of Sensemakers, Meta-Theorists & Systems Poets
April 2023 Edit - I've added a Liminal Update section at the end of the article with a new graphic map, some new links and a description of some of the trends I've seen unfolding since this was originally published.
Somewhere along the way I seem to have unofficially joined a subculture or memetic ecosystem that I’ve come to think of as The Liminal Web. While there aren’t any hard and fast edges to this international constellation of thinkers and theorists it becomes pretty clear you’ve joined the fray when at least thirty percent of all the intellectual media you consume tends to emerge from this particular noospheric relay.
Here's how it looks in 2D.
A Visual Representation Of The Liminal Web
The inner circle represents six of the media platforms which due to their very high crossover of guests helped to cultivate a distinct Liminal Web in the first place.
The second circle includes a collection of some of the other podcasts, platforms, communities and organisations that tend to embody a similar ethos and worldview to those explored on the platforms in the centre. However it is by no means an exhaustive representation as there are many others people, platforms and projects who I also see as comprising The Liminal Web. I’ve included a longer list of some of them at the end of the article.
The outer circles represent different sub cultures or movements that intersect with the constellation of ideas explored within the The Liminal Web but don’t have quite as much of cross over as the groups in the inner two circles. There is a much greater overlap in some of these (for instance Game B) than others however this isn’t depicted in the image.
So put together the inner two circles represent what I’ve come to loosely define as The Liminal Web which includes not only the content creators and communities that are represented visually but also all of the people who listen to and resonate with this collection of ideas.
Sharing The Subtle Buzz Of Belonging
The Liminal Web is made up of a collection of individuals who often have a long history of feeling as if they don’t wholly belong in any particularly scene or space, as such they tend to hold onto any sense of group identification quite lightly. I myself fall into this category which is why it’s been refreshing to realise that I am more comfortable than usual broadly identifying with this particular subculture. In certain moments it feels as if I might have actually found the closest thing out there to my very own memetic tribe.
So in the name of sharing some of this nascent buzz of Liminal belonging this article is an attempt to describe the contours of the The Liminal Web, trace its lineage, identify its tensions, describe its shortfalls and point towards some of its latent potential. I hope it can serve as an invitation for people unfamiliar with the space to come and check it out whilst also precipitating discussion and perhaps even further cohesion amongst folks already in the scene.
While I’ve attempted to account for as much of my own personal bias as possible its difficult to avoid colouring the overall shape and feeling of the space through the lens of my own preferences, perspective and affiliations. And so a secondary motivation for writing this piece is to compare notes with others in the scene to determine if we are in fact we are all seeing something similar. It’s my hunch that we are. And that from certain angles, it is in fact rather beautiful to behold.
What Exactly Is The Liminal Web?
The Liminal Web is a collection of thinkers, writers, theorists, podcasters, videographers and community builders who all share a high crossover in their collection of perspectives on the world. It not only includes creators of content but also the people and communities who resonate with the constellation of ideas such creators put forward.
Like all scenes it started out as more of a cross section of other pre-existing communities but in the last few years it appears to have formed enough of its own identity to be classified as a discrete network of its own. This same constellation has already been described and defined in a number of different ways including as The Sensemaking Web, The Intellectual Deep Web and The Meta Tribe. My intention is to complement these earlier descriptions with a slightly different interpretation and hopefully produce a richer understanding of what we’re all pointing towards in the process.
Do We Need To Name It? And If So Why ‘Liminal’?
Whenever we name something we run the risk of it then becoming static. Just like with romantic relationships the moment we ‘have the talk’ and decide that we’re a ‘thing’ often some of the magic can instantaneously evaporate, never to return again. But just like with romantic partnerships if we can stay present to the experience then naming something as existing can open us up to whole new depths of relational possibility and that's my intention here.
I settled on the name Liminal because one definition of the word is ‘to occupy a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold’ which for me speaks perfectly to the idea that everyone in the space is in their own unique way attempting to mid-wife a new kind of regenerative culture whilst simultaneously hospicing the old. Jeremy Johnson offers a beautiful interpretation of why the word Liminal is so fitting for our times in this piece from his magazine of the same name. I use the term here lightly with the expectation that the scene will of course continue to evolve, shift and change over time along with the names we use to describe it. That’s what scenes do after all, run one after another in a much larger play.
From Whence The Liminal Web Emerged
I propose The Liminal Web began to crystallise in the wake of a number of podcasts and youtube channels which emerged between 2015 and 2020. Each of these platforms explored a very similar array of topics and platformed a similar collection of guests and in doing so created a distinct network of thinkers and ideas. Here is a brief overview of that period:
2015 - Some of the early pioneers in this regard were Mike Gilliland and Euvie Ivanova who launched The Future Thinkers podcast just before the Brexit vote and election of Donald trump would foreshadow a global wave of right wing nationalist populism.
2018 - A few years later Daniel Thorson launched the Emerge podcast which served to further delineate this diverse and yet somehow deeply interrelated constellation of thinkers. At around the same time David Fuller and Alexander Beiner started Rebel Wisdom taking this same field of ideas to a broader audience through high quality video production on Youtube.
2019 - Next up the Both/And Podcast and The Jim Rutt show both launched covering a similar array topics but each doing so with their own particular flavour and style. It was around this time that it became almost impossible to keep up with all of the content being produced in the space.
2020 - And then just after the pandemic arrived in 2020 Peter Limberg started The Stoa and pioneered a popular new format of group Zoom calls with shorter guest presentations followed by a wider collective Q&A.
While there are a number of other platforms and content creators who were also active and influential during this time I’m naming these six in particular due to the very high crossover in guests they all share. I’ve come to view each of them as critical layers of paint that would come to colour the canvas that has become The Liminal Web. Also formative to the space during this period was Jonathon Rowson and Tomas Bjorkman launching Perspectiva in 2016 and Metamoderna publishing The Listening Society in 2017.
Thinkers In The Space & What Connects Them
If I was given the task of inviting five people to come and speak at an event in the hope of attracting and thrilling as wide a cross section of The Liminal Web community as possible I’d probably suggest (not in any particular order):
Like all festival line ups this will no doubt cause some degree of contention and will hopefully be fun to argue with your Liminal friends about. However each of these luminaries have all appeared as guests on at least four of the six podcasts that I believe helped to form The Liminal Web in the first place, so there is some level of objectivity informing the selection.
To get a fuller sense of the range of thinkers in the space I've included a list of some of the other folks who have also appeared as guests on a number of podcasts and media platforms within the scene. Some of them include:
Miriam Mason Martineau
But if I had to choose just one metric for identifying the memetic scope of The Liminal Web it would be the breadth of guest selection on The Stoa. Another useful indicator would be the cross section of people that have attended the various Emerge gatherings in Europe over the last few years.
And while it can be difficult to describe exactly what it is that connects such a diverse array of thinkers together it seems to be less about what people think about things and more to do with how they think about them. Tyler Alterman summed it up well in this series of tweets outlining what he and others have called The Meta Tribe:
‘Metatribe members tend to be multi-hyphenate: artist-scientist; dancer-entrepreneur; programmer-monk. Their work often synthesizes multiple disciplines at once.’
‘The metatribe is neither nihilist nor locked onto an ethical system. It has political opinions without being left, right, or center. These opinions are provisional, nondogmatic, but strongly investigated, so metatribers often appear to be “heterodox”.’
‘Metatribe members tend to be at the center of a Venn diagram with many circles, often dwelling at the edge of many subcultures at once, acting as nodes between them.’
‘The metatribe is scientific without scientism. It is spiritual while being neither new age nor traditionally religious.’
‘Dissatisfied with the partial map of the world from any one subculture or discipline, metatribe members have evolved to fill the spaces in between.’
‘For all this, you might expect metatribe members to be noncommittal to a cause. In reality, they’re more likely to do cause prioritization. Popularly prioritized causes include existential risk and the meaning crisis.’
Liminal Web Discussion Points
To give an idea of what kind of subjects are most often discussed and explored within The Liminal Web here’s a little word cloud I whipped up.
But this list of topics really only speaks to the more surface level exchange of ideas within the scene, as in certain moments there is a much more diaphanous and subtle mode of interpersonal experience which can arise. Such experiences go beyond a simple exchange of procedural knowledge and point towards a new way of being together rather than a way new of doing. They are really quite sublime.
Such occurrences might be visualised as a group of people standing together with their eyes closed quietly facing the night sky, collectively sensing into the stories and sensations waiting there to greet them. This kind of symbolism highlights the fact that one of the central explorations implicit within The Liminal Web is how do we combine the yang of systems change with the yin of interbeing. How do we simultaneously let go of control whilst also growing into our capacities as cultivators of a world more curious and kind.
The Liminal Web Intellectual Lineage
I’d suggest the whole space has been heavily influenced by a number of systems thinkers and synthesisers such as Alfred Korzybski, Buckminster Fuller, Gregory Bateson, Joseph Campbell, Marshall McLuhan, Jean Gebser, Ken Wilber, Joanna Macy, Ursula Le Guin, E.F Schumacher, James Baldwin and Donella Meadows.
Obviously there is a much broader array of philosophers, psychologists, scientists, sociologists, economists and political theorists that have also had formative influences on the scene but I’ve chosen to highlight this more integral stream of influence in recognition of the fact that they have generally attempted to adopt as wide a perspective as possible. They also tend to blend together elements of the exoteric (or systems change) and esoteric (or sense of interiority) within their work which is a way of thinking typical to many in The Liminal Web. But this isn't to suggest that everyone in the space would subscribe to all of the ideas espoused by the names I’ve mentioned, it’s quite a disparate list after all.
A few additional names that I believe are also widely respected within the scene include that of Terrence Mckenna, Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung and Alan Watts. All of whom also specialised in playfully integrating and synthesising vast bodies of knowledge within their work. And finally I feel the book Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse deserves a special mention as it is often widely cited as being formative for thinkers in the space.
The Liminal Web Political Spectrum
It’s interesting to consider whether the traditional spectrum of political leftness and rightness manifests in space. While this binary is limited at the best of times when applied to such a complex and idiosyncratic bunch of thinkers it becomes stretched to the very edges of its usefulness. And yet I feel it’s still possible (and kind of fun) to have a go at roughly charting things along a basic Liminal Left to Liminal Centre spectrum.
Alas, I can hear the groans of some of my Liminal chums already, 'How dare you reduce us to a single binary spectrum, I shall not be contained so crudely!' they protest. 'I hear you friends, not even three thousand spectra could ever truly do justice to the exquisite nuance of your mercurial perspectives' I reply.
And yet 'forgive me' I plead, as here I go anyway..
I’ve positioned the platforms and projects along the spectrum based on a kind of average of the Overton Window of the entirety of their content. But take it with a grain of salt as pretty much all of these projects work towards integrating the wisdom inherent in all points of the political spectrum and so often also attempt to mediate between contrasting world views.
I'd suggest that all of the projects on the spectrum below fit into the space identified in the spectrum above.
Points Of Tension & Difference
While there is a broad alignment of values within The Liminal Web like with any group of people there are also distinct cultural tensions, differences of opinion, personality clashes and intellectual disagreements. To its credit I believe people in the space do a better job of respectfully disagreeing (or straight up arguing) with each other than I tend to observe in other subcultures, but there are still many points of tension that remain unresolved.
This is one of the reasons I find analysing the whole Liminal Web so interesting. As while it remains a nebulous, loosely defined and largely online network it still represents the collection of humans I appear to be most aligned with in terms of how we perceive the world and so it provides insight into exactly what levels of harmonised cohesion are currently possible between a wider group of people.
Is it realistic to expect everyone will be able to settle their differences amicably? What degree of conflict and discord is inevitable in any human grouping structure no matter how cognitively attuned? Is it possible to integrate the wide variety of political, spiritual and cultural world views present within the space and cultivate a truly thriving, supportive and multi perspectival network of thinkers and doers?
In some moments I feel that such resonant cohesion already exists (it certainly does in certain pockets of the broader Liminal Web) in other moments I feel as if I’m just projecting my own hopes and dreams upon something that isn’t quite there yet.
One of the more interesting and lively tensions in the space relates to the difference in perspective between a cluster of thinkers I’ve dubbed the Systems Poets and those in the scene more closely aligned with various meta-theories and developmental stage models. From my perspective it seems as if the former tends to view the latter as erring towards being elitist, overly structured and perhaps lacking in the full queerness and organicity required to meaningfully transcend the limits of our current cultural constructs.
While the latter tends to view the former as some how unwilling to engage with what they see as the uncomfortable yet unavoidable truth of pervasive developmental hierarchy and perhaps also as somewhat unable to commit to what they consider to be broader emancipatory meta-narratives. And while it’s tempting for the Systems Poets to cast the Meta-theorists as simply recreating modernity under a new banner and for this to be met with the claim that such a critique is just another example of postmodern limitation, I’m personally of the opinion that neither of these two positions does the other side justice.
I highlight this difference in opinion because I have the sense that there’s an important synthesis to be found between the two and find it interesting to compare these contrasting views as reminiscent of some the underlying differences between the Integral theories of both Jean Gebser and Ken Wilber, though this is by no means a perfect equivalence.
Beyond this particular disagreement if I had to identify some of the more contentious questions amongst thinkers in the space they would include:
What is your perspective on consciousness? Are you a panpsychist, emergentist, animist, idealist or something else entirely?
On balance do you think that developmental stage theories are more useful or harmful?
What is your conception of spirit and soul?
And if we really wanted to spice things up...What’s your take on the recent UFO disclosures and do you believe aliens have already visited us here on Earth?
Liminal Web Shadows & Blindspots
Like everything The Liminal Space comes complete with its own shadow sides and I point to some of them here in the hope that we might better integrate them over time. In different moments I’ve seen each of these elements in how I show up as well, so I consider myself very much a part of the kind of dynamics I'm outlining in this section.
Overly Intellectual & Analytical - Despite speaking to the importance of maintaining a balance between mind, body, heart and soul the space is still often intensely cerebral. This is no surprise really as spending so many hours thinking deeply about so many things and then communicating those ideas to each other through electronic devices tends to leave even the most grounded amongst us feeling somewhat disembodied. Such intensive bouts of thinkings can also serve to distance us from the kinds of stillness and presence which allow for more subtle states of inner experience, which ironically is what a lot of the intellectual discourse is directed towards achieving in the first place.
I would also suggest that as wider scene we are still very much grappling with how to honour and integrate ways of being and knowing that transcend words and rationality altogether. You could frame this archetypally as the ongoing challenge and art form of creating space for and integrating the wisdom of our more feminine/right brain/yin aspects in a culture that is so heavily dominated and shaped by masculine/left brain/yang energy.
Elitism - Many folks in the scene appear to have high IQ’s and EQ’s (or at least we like to think we do and value being seen that way). This means a lot of the ideas and language used to discuss them can be off-putting to people not familiar with all of the jargon. I imagine that for some people outside (and inside) the space it can all just come across as a bunch of smart people routinely validating one another for being so intelligent, sensitive and insightful which naturally wouldn’t come across as all that inviting. I think in certain moments there can also be a subtle sense of competitiveness between people (mostly but not always males) comparing their respective models of the world. There is a further irony here in that often times we are sharing in highly complex, jargon filled and thus relatively exclusive discussions with each other with the express purpose of cultivating a more inclusive and interconnected global culture.
Diversity - The space is still largely populated by WEIRD white men (myself included) and this can lead much of the discourse to have an overly masculine tone and feeling. It’s also mostly made up of people from Europe and North America (with a significant Canadian contingent) and this centres the discourse around Western thought forms and ideas whilst also unintentionally excluding anyone who doesn’t speak English. Ideally over time the space will continue to attract and celebrate an increasingly broad array of thinkers from all sorts of cultures and communities.
Ego - Many of us in the scene have what I would describe as overly inflated or perhaps more accurately relatively unbridled egos. This is not all that surprising considering there are many highly accomplished, successful and well respected individuals involved. However I’ve observed that while there is a lot of rhetoric about cultivating whole new ways of moving through the world there still remain many instances of people (including myself) striving to be right, to be recognised and even to be adored. I’d also lovingly suggest that these all too human motivations are perhaps more active in many of us than is often comfortable to look at and truly own.
Game A-ness - Despite the regenerative values and ethos of those in the space most of the discourse and exchange of ideas still happens within the context of late stage capitalism (or Game A). This means that there are book sales, Youtube views, new followers, course sales and newsletter subscriptions constantly being strived for even if such metrics aren’t the central intent of the creators. This is especially true for people making a living from producing content in the space and it brings with it a subtle ambience of commercialisation. Naturally until we shift into a wholly new socio-economic paradigm this is almost impossible to avoid and yet I feel it’s something worth keeping an eye on. How do we avoid succumbing to the temptation of focusing on what’s popular and profitable versus what is most important and necessary for us to consider as a culture?
It Can All Get A Bit Gloomy - With so much focus on The Meta-Crisis it’s no surprise that the general mood in the wider Liminal Web can sometimes feel a little forlorn. While I find it endlessly inspiring how willing people are to take on such a high degree of personal responsibility for the existential risks we face as a species, there really is only so much each of us can handle before we start to feel deflated and numb. For this reason I feel it’s important we all keep celebrating one another as often as possible and relish in the joy of just being in each others company whenever we can.
Some Common Challenges
There seems to be a number of fairly common challenges experienced by folks in the The Liminal Web. I certainly struggle with each of these at various moments along the way as well. Some of them include:
An often subconscious belief that everything we do needs to be directed towards helping save the world. Over time this can sap the joy out of life as we begin to lose touch with our relaxation response and our art, creativity and even our relationships can begin to feel more like means rather than ends.
A deep loneliness from feeling as we’ve never totally fitted in despite often getting on well with people and having meaningful friendships. I’d describe this as a feeling (which may or may not be grounded in truth) that we have not often (or ever) been held or appreciated in our totality. As Jung put it ‘if a man knows more than others [or thinks he does] he becomes lonely.’
Many of us appear to grapple with the question of how to make money without sacrificing our souls. And if we’re not able to earn a living directly contributing to the change we wish to see in the world we’re then presented with the challenge of keeping enough energy after our paid hours of employment to then work on our passion projects, cultivate meaningful relationships and still squeeze in time for some good old fashioned fun.
There seems to be a relatively high occurrence of anxiety, depression and existential malaise experienced by people in the space. My sense is this relates to the fact that most people have the capacity to think very deeply about things and can thus tie themselves in highly complex cerebral knots.
A more lighthearted but still prevalent challenge in the space is a sense of book, podcast and interview overwhelm. There is a constant flow of amazing material emerging from the space and simply not enough time to consume it all. This can lead to sense of FOMO and be surprisingly stressful in its own way.
We’ve Found The Others, Now What..
So now that we’ve found each other, what's next? The simplest option would be to just carry on cross pollinating one another with our creative output and (mostly) long distance friendships, all the while meeting up every now and again at regional and international Liminal-ish events. While this sounds pretty good to me I can’t help but also imagine some altogether more fantastic possibilities..
The Sensemaking Collectives
One trajectory of evolution within the space has been the development of what can loosely be described as Sense Making Collectives. These are projects or platforms that:
A. Release some kind of Liminal media (podcasts, interviews, films etc.).
B. Attract and cultivate an online community around this content.
C. Start to interact more deeply online before connecting up and collaborating in person.
The clearest example of this is probably Future Thinkers which started out as a podcast, grew into a fully fledged online community and is now developing their own Smart Village. Rebel Wisdom have also followed along a similar trajectory. Along side building a strong following around their films they have developed an ecosystem of online and in person discussions, workshops and courses that can allow people to become more fully engaged.
The Stoa has also attracted a loose ecology of people around its sessions and some of its founding members are currently experimenting with the process of forming Digital Gangs, there are also plans afoot to open a philosophical coffee-house for The Stoa to call home in Toronto.
One of the newer and most dynamic additions to the wider scene is Denizen (formerly Dent) which first grew out of Clubhouse and is now evolving into a media platform and in person Collective spanning the United States and beyond. They are particularly interesting in that they are actively prioritising the cultivation of community and moving towards a more co-created culture.
Meanwhile in Europe Perspectiva continues to host gatherings and weave ever more meaningful bonds between the people in its network. Metamoderna have just started offering online courses will soon be holding immersive retreats and have a vision of one day establishing Metamodern monasteries. Life Itself already have a series of residential hubs and the Monastic Academy continue to open centres across North America. While in Canada the team behind the Integral Leadership Review is planning a full scale Ecovillage.
So there is a clear trend of digital communities forming around a constellation of ideas before gradually coalescing into more physical collectives complete with in person events and locations.
And these are just the projects I’m familiar with. I’m sure there are a number of other communities and eco villages in the broader pipeline as well. I know that folks in the Game B space have been getting closer to manifesting some of their Proto-B ideas and that James Erlich has a whole host of amazing communal developments on the horizon. There's also Richard Bartlett, Natalia Lombardo and Michel Bachmann who are all seasoned community cultivators actively weaving new threads of microsolidarity across the European continent.
There are also Nora Bateson's Warm Data labs and John Vervaeke's and Guy Sengstock's Dialectic Dialogos events which are both prototyping new ways of interrelating that go far beyond just a surface level exchange of information. And in New Zealand Enspiral (perhaps just adjacent to The Liminal Web with some meaningful overlap) continues to pioneer what is possible within the context of an established mutual aid community and cooperative network. The Terran Collective are doing similar things in The Bay Area.
What were once largely memetic tribes are becoming increasingly embodied. We seem to be gravitating towards each other in ever more meaningful ways and creating new kinds of digital and physical culture in the process. This is for me the true potential of The Liminal Web, to cultivate whole new ecosystems of human relationship that are grounded in wisdom, kindness and playful presence.
And while I feel the continued evolution of these Sensemaking collectives holds huge potential for our inner and outer transformation I’m also acutely aware that community building is a highly complex and deceptively time consuming task. So I’m interested to see how each of these projects unfolds over time and I'm curious to explore how we can can offer support to those at the centre of each of these communal nodes. After all, it’s a lot to expect of people to both run media creation platforms and also hold space for healthy and resilient communities to unfurl.
There are a number of other ways I’d personally love to see The Liminal Web evolve over time:
Online Liminal Community - I think there is potential for a much more cohesive online Liminal Web experience. Right there now there are small pockets of coherence to be found in various Discord groups, Email lists, Facebook groups and in private groups on platforms such as Mighty Networks and Circles. But at some point along side these more cosy and idiosyncratic corners of the dark forests of the Liminal Web I would like to see a more widely shared online platform experience that connects up many of the different streams within the broader scene and allows for greater cross pollination between them. More often than not social media groups tend to devolve to the lowest common denominator, but if curated with care I've found they can serve as profoundly potent containers for asynchronous communal bonding.
If we could gather the few thousand people in the Liminal network together on a new kind of blockchain based social media platform that protected everyones privacy and data, then I believe much magic could ensue. Especially if there were paid administrators actively cultivating a more intimate and conscious experience that went far beyond the posting of hot takes and memes (as fun as this can be).
Such a platform could also serve as a watering hole where Liminal-ish folks could connect with each other form into smaller Pods and partake in peer to peer process groups (coaching, circling, co-therapy etc.). And as shared virtual reality spaces become more prevalent in the years ahead this kind of platform could also provide the means to hold international festivals in the digital space and even develop whole new kinds of digital villages online. Though it goes without saying the second order impacts of so deeply engaging with such technology should be carefully considered and always serve to augment rather than wholly replace any in person equivalents.
In Person Liminal Collectives & Villages - I hope to one day find myself living along side a whole host of other folks with similarly Liminal inclinations. I wrote a book about what is possible if you can gather between 25 and 200 people together in the same town or city and form a Collective. And of course developing a full scale smart village together is always a possibility as well. If the right project were to emerge I would be willing to move around the world to make this happen so I am watching closely to see how the various settlements already in the pipeline unfold over time.
Southern Liminal - I’d like to see an equivalent of Denizen, Rebel Wisdom or The Stoa emerge in the Asia Pacific and better cater to the time zones for those of us living in the south. Having a local network of sensemakers across Australia, New Zealand and Asia would be a wonderful thing.
A Liminal Movement - And finally, while I'm dreaming, over time I’d like to see a broader movement coalesce around Liminal ideals and start to influence the political landscape by applying the kinds of ideas found in the work of Indra Adnan and Hanzi Frienacht. And if I was to get really wild for a moment I could even one day envisage the formation of a kind of Solarpunk inspired, blockchain based progressive equivalent of a Liminal Network State, but such ideas are probably best left for when I finally get around to writing a Solar Punk Science Fiction novel.
In Conclusion: Some Liminal Gratitude
But for now I’m just deeply grateful to find myself in the gentle orbit of such an inspiring and multifaceted collection of people. There are so many incredible humans in this wider network and I’m humbled and honoured to find myself in conversation with so many of them. As it stands there’s a very broad array of world views and philosophies in the space and I hope the tensions between these various perspectives don't end up driving people too far apart.
Through my experiences in weaving community I’ve been lucky enough to have a felt sense of what it’s like to create culture with a group of people with whom you resonate deeply. It's one of the most precious things I've experienced and I'm hanging out for the day when we reach that same level of cohesion (digital or physical) with the broader collection of people within The Liminal Web.
I feel we're all slowly coalescing towards some kind of increasingly complex state of memetic symbiosis. That we're in the process of forming a thriving web of sensemakers, meta-theorists and systems poets who are all increasingly connected to communities of like minds in our bioregions and simultaneously attuned to a global network of shared insight and collective intelligence. A kind of physical and digital ecosystem where we can always return to find solace, joy and love in the presence of those who can hold the many parts of us and be held in return.
And if what I’ve experienced so far is anything to go by I think it’s going to be an increasingly beautiful thing.
A More Comprehensive List Of Liminal Projects & Platforms
Here’s a longer list of some of the other platforms and projects either within The Liminal Web or at least positioned close by. Again this is not a complete representation as I’m sure there are many other projects I’m yet to encounter.
A Liminal Update - Eighteen Months Later
It’s been a year and a half since I first published this interwoven map of Integrative thinkers.
And even though we held a playful death ritual for The Liminal Web with the aim of ensuring it didn't get weird by becoming too much of 'a thing', it remains a useful descriptor and this article is still popular so I figured it was time for an update.
From my perspective (despite still feeling a little cringey to say sometimes) the term Liminal Web hasn't yet crossed into being overly weird in a bad kind of way. So I'm not averse to adding a few extra layers of Liminal mulch every now and again to encourage further growth of communal mycelium throughout the network.
With that said I’ve added some new projects to the graphic and rotated a few others out in the name of sharing around the Liminal limelight. It’s worth noting that this isn't meant to be a complete depiction of the web but rather a visual cross section that attempts to represent the full spectrum of what I see as the ever evolving Liminal vibe.
Since this piece was originally published I’ve noticed a number of Liminal trends unfolding. Some of them include:
That we appear to be gathering much more regularly in person. After discovering each other through platforms and podcasts and then connecting more deeply online during Covid many of us have begun more frequently meeting up and collaborating in the flesh. Meaningful friendships and partnerships are continuing to blossom. This has afforded us all a much fuller appreciation of each others (sometimes marvellously messy) humanity in comparison to the often more curated personas we sometimes encounter and present with online.
There seems to be a common evolutionary journey unfolding where people who started out with platforms or podcasts are now creating whole curriculums or educational institutions.
People seem to be talking a little bit less about embodiment, emergence and sensemaking and a little bit more about egregores, wisdom and how we increase the sagacity of A.I. The Meaning Crisis and Multipolar Traps seem to be getting about the same amount of attention.
Developmental Stage theories appear less of a hot topic these days and seem to be critiqued as much as they are praised.
Newsletters appear to be more central than ever to the distribution of ideas.
People are still coming to terms with the concept of Metamodernism. Some suggest its original academic definition should be honoured and upheld. Others are enthused by Hanzi's developmental repurposing of the term. And then there are those who welcome a plethora of meanings for the word. Meanwhile many folks in the web don't think it points to anything new or couldn't care less about the term in the first place.
While originally a few central thinkers and platforms served as coalescing Bat-Signals for people to find each other there is now a continued movement towards more evenly distributed exchange and relationship. Emergent Commons is the clearest example of that and is the closet thing to a bonafide Collective to emerge out of the Liminal Web that I've seen just yet. That being said in certain corners of The Liminal Web the ideas of John Vervaeke and Daniel Schmachtenberger still have a big influence while in other parts of the web these two thinkers are much less relevant.
A number of the projects shown in the new graphic already have links presented above in the original article. Here is the list of links to the new ones:
And here is a small and diverse tasting platter of other potent projects from across the wider Liminal Web. Some of these I’d deem as more central to the web and others as more periphery but I believe they all represent high quality Integrative thinking:
Collective Soulmaking (link coming soon)
I’d like to give a friendly shout out to the Intellectual Deep Web and The Wisdom Web (mentioned towards the end of this talk) . I see them as close neighbours in the wider noospheric landscape and believe that both of them share a high degree of Liminal overlap.
I'd also like to thank Cheryl Hsu, Brendan Graham Dempsey, Scout Rainer Wiley, Tucker Walsh and Layman Pascal for providing feedback and insight in relation to the update.
Joe Lightfoot is a writer, podcaster and apprentice community weaver. He is the author of A Collective Blooming: The Rise Of The Mutual Aid Community and the host of The Lightfoot Podcast. You can sign up to his newsletter The Lightfoot Letter and find him on Facebook.