Why you need a primer on value in culture

The idea of “On Value in Culture” converges with the mission of my work, which is to reframe value in business and society. I’m a writer, narrative coach, and author. But I am also a person making it work in the world, just like you. I’m always looking for new inspiration in art and a book, research, or body of work that will expand my horizons — the kernel of value that transfers from one thing to another to produce socially useful change.

It’s always been hard to wade through the noise and get the proper guidance. But recently, it’s become almost impossible. Culture is getting a lot of attention for many of the wrong reasons. It’s become a chore to find sources whose incentives are clear and output is not superficial and contextually suspect. We’re in a crisis of value — where guidance doesn’t come from deeper inquiry.

In a haste to prioritize immediacy, we don’t think things through. I’ve become less trusting in the system. Because it’s addressing a partial view of value — that of exchange — and overlooking or ignoring value in use. Which is why we’re destroying culture without understanding that it’s a valuable engine for transformation, existence, and flourishing.

I never let school (or any institution) get in the way of my education. And I made a promise to keep myself honest through constant exploration and discussion of what I know, enjoy, and learn. If you stay on this journey with me, I will share many things you won’t find easily or at all elsewhere. My commitment is to the promise of value in use of what I write and ask.

Reading the articles and listening to the podcast, you may miss that I’m taking you places you could not take yourselves. I’m not just the invisible utility vehicle for the guests, the person who just carries the information. I’m active part in carrying you in the journey to discovery and understanding through conversation.

Over the years, I’ve been blessed with good taste. Which means I often discover ascending stars and brilliant thinkers, authors, and practitioners much before the rest of the world. Often decades before anyone else notices. Humanity’s solution seems to be time — but it’s also our biggest challenge.

Do we, do you, have the luxury of waiting for when the time comes?

Why culture?

Culture is a synthesis of things, and the undercurrent of how people connect with the world in a specific place. It’s part of the infrastructure of civilization and we’ll see in this newsletter how it changes.

And now a question on how it spreads. How do we learn about what’s considered good, something to aspire to in our world? Culture is transmitted by values. Cultural assumptions come from simple sets of values we absorb in our environment.

We absorb ways to behave from the social signals of the things that are important. Learning about values can help us create context around behaviors, to see why people do what they do. It’s useful to learn how the current environment and circumstances shape assumptions, and how people use assumptions to shape future events.

But, and it is a critical “but,” perception is a very large part of culture. Values have a dark side and are subject to interpretation. You could take them to excess, or overlook them in your incentive schemes. Which is where value comes in.

What do I write about?

On Value in Culture will cover aspects and forms of value you may not have considered or seen, even when they do their work to enrich us and generate positive change. Because often you cannot ask the most important questions directly, I will come at it through different paths.

In-depth coverage will include books, art, research, and culture in a mix of reviews, conversations, commentary, links, essays, observations, and yes, even my own books as I write them. My perspective will be both historical and contemporary.

Many are familiar with my writing on Conversation Agent, and my book reviews. The articles and newer podcasts from the series “Conversation on Value” will be part of On Value in Culture, at a higher resolution. Because I’ve learned and continue learning from those pursuits.

And I will have original writings that I will share exclusively here for the first time. My promise is that readers will have regular access to valuable insights and knowledge from the cultural sphere, and not mere rehash of what you could find elsewhere.

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The value we generate in culture—the role narrative, language, and art play in how we organize, perceive, and communicate about reality.

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The mission of my work is to reframe how we value things (+ people) to transform business and society. I pursue it through narrative analysis and story design using conversation as a sense-making tool.