To pay them we must explore the complexities of measuring relationship.

We are facing a global crisis of social isolation.

In the spring of 2020, just as the world was heading into lockdown, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released Together, a book arguing for the critical and underappreciated role of social isolation in public health. It’s not hard to imagine that social isolation leads to serious mental health problems, but there is equally compelling evidence that it contributes to problems from heart disease to obesity. Our bodies need relationship the same way that they need exercise and sleep.

For decades, experts have been sounding alarm bells about the increasing scarcity of…


It’s hard to make money on the internet.

For the past decade, our online economy has been structured as a market for human attention. This precious resource is extracted through ever more engaging and personalized content, then delivered to those who consider it economically valuable: traditional advertisers, microtransaction-heavy mobile games, political candidates, niche artisanal goods, monetized conspiracy theories. …


Image by Maureen Barlin on Flickr

I’ve noticed a paradox: almost everyone with money wants to build community, and almost no one gets paid to do it.

Community, like physical health, is something that we’re wired to need but can’t define. There are many, many definitions but no agreed upon paradigm, many ways to quantify it but none that begin to capture its complexity. Even with this inconsistent methodology, science is pretty clear that relationships help us accomplish pretty much anything we might want to deploy money to accomplish. Care about physical health? A network of supportive relationships can positively impact everything from obesity to heart…


Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

A note on this piece

I first heard the term “trauma informed” about five years ago. I chair the board of a large online queer community, and was coming to terms with the many stories of trauma that people in our community hold. Even though we hadn’t explicitly set out to build a place for trauma recovery I realized that it was a central part of why community was needed, and set out to learn what I could.

Now, in my role as the Head of Mobilization at the Center for Humane Technology, I see teams across the technology ecosystem…


How To Fight Social Isolation With Better Zoom Dance Parties

Recently, a friend of mine asked for advice on how to build relationships. She’s a new mom, a gifted community organizer, and an incredible party organizer, someone who feels alive on a dance floor and who has beautifully integrated that truth with her life as a parent. All that was before the pandemic hit.

She, her husband (who moonlights as a DJ) and their one year old son have to started throwing killer dance parties on Zoom. Amazingly some of the energy was still there, a joy and release that was more needed than ever. …


Image by PDPics (pixabay.com)

Here are 10 Questions Critical to Shaping a COVID-19 Editorial Policy

There is no neutral in a pandemic.

Up until a few weeks ago, most major tech platforms aspired to be neutral platforms for free speech. Their argument was that they were in the business of showing users the content those users wanted, not of deciding which information was worth showing. Until late February, the kind of decision making that occurs in a newsroom, determining which specific pieces of information are most important to push out to the world, was a third rail*.

Covid-19 has revealed what has always been true: large tech platforms are not and never have been neutral…


Love is change. To love I must both change and be changed by that which I am loving. If the love is light the change is light, a glance or a smile or a moment of connection. As the love grows deeper the change grows deeper.

Paradoxically, love is also stability. When I am cut my body changes to heal. When I leave my home the world changes me, and when I return to my home my family brings me back to a place of balance. There is change at the heart of resilience.

But we can only be changed…


Towards a mathematical understanding of dynamic relationships.

Modern graph theory has given us everything from Google’s legendary search algorithm to Facebook’s ad targeting to the artificial intelligence behind self driving cars. The mathematical study of networks was invented by an oddball polymath who traveled the world crashing on friend’s couches, and has proven incredibly broad in its application. From the proteins in our cells to the neurons in our brains to communities that shape us networks are everywhere, which makes tools to understand those networks especially powerful. But those tools are missing something significant.

At its core, graph theory describes…


As I learned from firsthand experience, it’s all about the relationships

Photo: Frankieleon/flickr/CC BY 2.0

I have had the rare privilege of witnessing the birth of a movement. At the age of 18, I founded Asexuality.org, the world’s first and still-largest community of people who identify as asexual. What began as a desperate search for people who could understand what I was going through has grown into a global movement—one that has powerfully impacted hundreds of thousands of lives and challenged the assumption that love, sex, and romance are intrinsically linked. The site mobilizes the work of hundreds of people on a daily basis, with an annual operating budget of only $3,000.

Asexuality.org, and movements…


Why Giant Corporations Can’t Survive In A World Of Effortless Connection

Consider the Chinese restaurant.

I’m talking about the purely american invention: General Tso’s chicken and fortune cookies, soy sauce packs and plastic forks and not a pork porridge in sight. In many ways, walking into a Chinese restaurant is like walking into a McDonalds: you’ve already memorized the menu, with a few variations you’ll get the same decor and cuisine in Austin and Anchorage. Both McDonalds and Chinese restaurants are a kind of franchise model. McDonald’s owners get a loan to start a restaurant, then open up a catalog given to them by the McDonald’s corporation and order all of…

David Jay

Head of mobilization @ the Center for Humane Tech, fascinated with the way that relationships and movements form.

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