Kernel Returns
    Vivek Singh
    October 4, 2023
    KERNEL Returns

    Kernel Block 8 begins January 2024. Applications are open here.

    I recently woke up, as I do often, and clicked into a random part of the Kernel website. Inventing on Principle was the choice of the day, a brief tucked away in Module 6 of the Kernel book.

    Module 6

    A guided review of interface designer Brett Victor’s inventive 2012 talk, the brief hyperlinks to many other places in the Kernel book, including Serenity (the design rationale for Eth 2.0), and Finding Lost Paradises which explores the garden of forking memes with Aaron Lewis. It also links out to a Imogene Heap Tiny Desk concert, a Doug Englebart talk on Collective Intelligence & Augmented Knowledge, and to a StackOverflow post on modes in Vim. This is a typical rabbit hole of stories in a Kernel brief, a choose your own adventure experience.

    In the brief, Victor advocates for “finding and following a principle”.

    He suggests this as an alternative to the more popular motifs of the early 2010s – “find your passion” or “do something you love”. Victor suggests finding your principle through lived experience – through invention.

    “Make many things. Make many types of things. Study many things. Experience many things. Use all of these experiences as a way of analyzing yourself by asking, 'Does this resonate with me?', "Does this repel me?', 'Do I not care?' Build up this corpus of experiences you care about and then try to make sense of it, try to figure out why you care.”

    Once you find a principle, life will ask you to invent (and reinvent) around its voice. Listen for your principle, even when other voices loudly ask for your attention. Invent ways of being which make that principle more likely, more lived. In a continual process of self-discovery, re-invent your own life story. By extension, the world naturally shifts.

    “Even the lowest whisper can be heard over armies... when it's telling the truth.”

    What is Kernel?

    The principle Kernel follows is: Humans live better when learning and teaching with others, in ongoing dialogue.

    Each Kernel block is an instantiation of the principle: a participatory learning environment dedicated to building a better web, together.

    Each Kernel block brings together ~250 unique people around the world who are each inventing in earnest.

    Each Kernel Fellow brings with them an “adventure” – a project, a company in the making, a research question, a topic of interest. An adventure almost always resembles a principle: a way of life you are actively inventing for yourself and by extension, others.

    Your adventure guides and colors your Kernel block experience and also extends beyond yourself and Kernel into the world.

    A Kernel block orients one towards:


    building/creating your own chosen Kernel "adventure",


    in fellowship and dialogue with the peers learning alongside you,


    with a Kernel book offering "techno-philosophical" questions for contemplation.

    Kernel is an experience equal parts online, onchain, and “translocal” (in small local groups, globally). It is primarily about creating beautiful things with others.

    Adventures take many forms, and so too, do the forms of dialogue which arise between fellows in response. We've seen many product validation demos of new interfaces, research interviews for a phD thesis, dinner at the restaurant of a new Kernel fellow, and music shared between new friends. The friendships are the real reward of Kernel, and dialogue is the constantly moving centerpiece.

    The Kernel Of Crypto

    Kernel explores technology from its roots. Language, stories, memory-making, library science, anthropological accounts of debt, open source/peer to peer culture, inventions of weird money and the frontiers of modern technology are represented in the Kernel book. There’s also quite a bit of poetry and film referenced, but that’s another story. Each block is responsive to the technical and cultural context of the day.

    Today’s context is a crypto in search of meaning. Rather than focusing on consuming (“Consumer Crypto”) to find it, Kernel asks to consider active participation, through learning and teaching with others, as a means of differentiated experience in crypto interfaces. A Kernel Block shows just one example of what that active participation might look like (Bonfire, Blackbird, and Jokerace are recent inspirations).

    Inventive and 'home-cooked’ technologies which encourage conviviality remain central in Kernel. Can we invent simpler interfaces, form factors, and even monies which work with us – not for us – so that we might remain more aware in our interactions online, onchain, and in the world?

    After all, as The Evolution of Trust game by Nicky Case offers us in Module 0 of Kernel: “We are each other’s environment”. And we have the chance right now to make our own environment a little more clear.

    Apply to Kernel

    If any of the above resonates with you, we invite you earnestly to create, build, and be with us during Kernel Block 8.

    Applying to Kernel begins a conversation with Kernel Fellows and the Kernel Stewards. We consider it a gift and would be grateful to learn more about you.

    Please apply here.

    Read More


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