Scenius, or Communal Genius
by Kevin Kelly
I highly suggest consuming the full piece here (4 min. read time)
What scenius is: “Scenius is like genius, only embedded in a scene rather than in genes. Brian Eno suggested the word to convey the extreme creativity that groups, places or ‘scenes’ can occasionally generate. His actual definition is: ‘Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.’ — Kevin Kelly
What current communities should strive for (imo): “Individuals immersed in a productive scenius will blossom and produce their best work. When buoyed by scenius, you act like genius. Your like-minded peers, and the entire environment inspire you.” — Kevin Kelly
Geography of scenius is nurtured by: mutual appreciation (the best kind of peer pressure), rapid exchange of tools+techniques (once something is created, it’s flaunted and shared), network effects of success (success is claimed by the entire scenius), local tolerance for the novelties (Kevin explains: the local ‘outside’ does not push back too hard against the transgressions of the scene. The renegades and mavericks are protected by this buffer zone).
Creating scenius is not easy: “The serendipitous ingredients for scenius are hard to control. They depend on the presence of the right early pioneers. A place that is open, but not too open. A buffer that is tolerant of outlaws. And some flash of excitement to kick off the virtuous circle. You just can’t order this.” — Kevin Kelly
My two cents: I did not realize this piece was from 2008 until after reading it. It’s pretty crazy to see 1) how scenius didn’t really take off as a mainstream word and 2) how scenius could be used as a synonym for what some current online communities are striving for. Total side tangent, I’m not fully anti-college, but finding a growing prestige scenius could (potentially) be a more valuable use of your time than going to college. Oof hot takes only over here! Now how can I make Gradually’s community a scenius…if you have ideas, seriously reply to this email haha.
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