How do we un-Green IntegralLife.com to bring back healthy hierarchy in the published topics?


#1

Seeing the very broad categorization of topics on the site these days, I wonder if IntegralLife has fallen into Green postmodern “let’s give everyone an equal voice”-ism. It occurs to me that the site is very scattered with a wide array of topics that are rather poorly organized. Since there is no hierarchical system built into it, every article appears to carry equal weight.

What I would love to see is a more focused and hierarchical approach to topics that have greater value to humanity as a whole. While some big and important topics show up, such as analyses of the political divide in the US, some seem to be completely missed, such as climate change. A lot of topics seem to be focused purely on undoing mean-Green syndrome (the irony here is the current system of posting itself is very Green).

Bringing some healthy hierarchy back into the picture, wouldn’t it make more sense for IL to be focusing on the primary topics of our age that can best benefit from an Integral worldview? My own personal bias is that there really is only one topic that should be primary from a species-survival point of view, which is climate change and temperature-rise mitigation strategies. Other topics may fit under that topic (such as the political divide and economics), but from an overall top-level monad point of view, climate change and its potential to significantly and detrimentally alter human life on earth would be primary in my mind as all other topics are moot if we’re not alive to talk about them :slight_smile:

There have certainly been climate related articles by Corey and Jeff and others on the site, but they seem to get buried under the “sexy topic title of the day / most recent post” What appears to be un-integral (and very Green) is the way the site seems to give equal weight to every article, even though the articles may be very targeted to a smaller audience / topic.

What would feel more integral is some sort of voting / ranking system based on scope and importance so we can more effectively call out “big” topics that should stay on the front page longer. I’m thinking there should be some kind of middle path here.

Thoughts?

-Russ


#2

More organization i.e. structure would be MOST welcome. But I don’t think structure need necessarily be “hierarchical.”

I would visit and participate in this forum much more if I didn’t have to spend so much time wading through everything to find the threads that are of particular interest to me.

I don’t yearn for a voting/ranking system so much as a system of subjects, like maybe the Dewey Decimal System is for libraries. Maybe we could start with the four quadrants as the primary organizing principle, then sort by sub-topics and sub-sub topics?


#3

Hi @russ.legear, are you talking about the Integral Life website itself, or this community page?

At first I read this and assumed you meant the main site, and spent an hour writing a very long response. But then I re-read yours and @ksv’s comments, and realized you might be talking about the community page. Let me know!


#4

I assumed we were talking about the community page. And Corey, thanks for the attention you are giving this.

On further thought, I’m imagining a combination of @russ.legear’s suggestions and mine. My ideal is a way to sort through a sort of system of the sort in which libraries or at least bookstores organize their offerings, so we could either browse at random or narrow down and zoom in on specific topics. Along side this, I see the value of being able to sort by trending, or most replied to, or whatever.


#5

Hey @corey-devos! I’m actually talking about the main page, though I think the Community page may suffer from this to a lesser degree since many posts track what is published on the main page.

The difference with the Community page is that topics automatically bump to the top based on their activity, which feels more integral to me (ie, what is “interesting and relevant” will naturally find its way to the top). No such mechanism that I am aware of exists for the main IntegralLife.com website.

I think this is a larger discussion that would be valuable for our community to have beyond just the logistics of the website: what are the big problems of the world we should be prioritizing, from a hierarchical point of view? How do we avoid getting sidetracked by issues that, while important to some, are not as relevant from an overall hierarchical perspective?

If we contrast IntegralLife with a site like the Huffington Post, the HuffPost is so Green that it hurts to read. They’re trying to be everything to everyone with fluff entertainment pieces as well as the obviously Liberal bias (which isn’t wrong, of course, but isn’t necessarily Integral as it will turn off Conservatives who might be served by exposure to Liberal ideas formulated in a way they can consume them). IntegralLife isn’t near as bad as the HuffPost, but I think it would benefit by a more direct focus on the big issues that we actually need to solve in order for our species to survive and prosper. I will probably sound like a broken record, but the reason I believe that main issue is climate change is because no other issue poses problems for humanity at the survival level like that topic does, AND no other problem is as well suited for the Integral approach. In fact, I don’t think our climate change problems can be solved without an Integral approach, given the moving parts. Of course, that’s just one example, and there certainly may be more.

Hopefully that clarifies :slight_smile:


#6

Cool, then you get the long-ass response I composed last night!

Thank you for the feedback Russ, I am always looking for ways to continue evolving our content and the ways we present our content. And since I have been curating our content pretty much single-handedly for the last 15 years, and since I am the one who actually built this version of our website, largely around our media classification system, I am just the guy you should be talking to :slight_smile:

I am curious what sort of system you have in mind. To help the discussion, I will let you know how I’ve been thinking about all this all this time, how the content has essentially “self-organized” over the years, and how I designed the site (within the limits of the platform) in order to offer our users multiple ways of engaging our content.

Because one thing you have to remember is that we have a full 15 years worth of content, and I am still migrating classic “evergreen” content onto this site all the time. It’s a LOT of material to work with, and any classification system(s) we use has to make sense in relation to the rest of the archive as a whole.

As of now, I have designed the site to offer multiple ways to carve up our content. Hopefully you will see that I’ve tried very hard to make it much more than a “green postmodern let’s-give-everyone-an-equal-voice-ism”. :slight_smile:

For example, we have:

  • Homepagechronological + curated — newest releases listed on the top half, curated selection on the bottom half

  • Main menu — transformation vs. translation — transformational practice media, translational perspectives media, and courses

  • Practice pageILP categories — Body, Mind, Spirit, Shadow, Relationship, Short practices, full modules

  • Perspectives page“pseudo-dewey decimal” system — Art & Creativity, Spirituality, Sustainability, Psychology, etc. — This is what @ksv mentioned, I believe.

If you roll over the Perspectives section in the Main Menu, you also get multiple paths through our content:

  • Recent media (chronological)

  • Featured Series (The Ken Show, The Daily Evolver, Witt & Wisdom, etc.)

  • Topics (Art, Spirituality, Sustainability, etc.)

  • Type (audio, video, article, ebook)

There’s also the Editor’s Picks page, which is a fully curated, rotating list.

Why is it organized like this? The basic idea is to be able to meet people at multiple levels of familiarity, from newcomers to long-time power users, while also making it useful for members, non-members, and not-yet-members alike, all of whom have widely divergent interests that brought them to the site.

So this is why our homepage is chronological — to give newcomers the broadest possible view of the many kinds of content that we produce, and to give supporting members an easy way to stay current with our latest releases. All the other classification systems I listed above are for those daring enough to step off of our homepage and drill down a bit more.

And this is another thing we have to keep in mind — all of this has to be aligned with Integral Life’s LR-quadrant needs, in terms of being financially sustainable and growing our membership. All of which is consistent with our core mission statement, “to bring the most depth to the most span”.

And this is sometimes a tricky needle to thread. Really, it’s multiple needles — our core values, our overall user experience for both members and non-members; the diversity of content topics; our site technology and limitations and and in-house skillsets; our website analytics and metrics and click-rates and email opens; and our ongoing financial growth and sustainability.

So, for example, I agree with you that climate change is way at the top in terms of our priorities as a species. And to whatever extent Integral Life can actually make an impact here, I very much want to create a platform for that.

And yet…

Of all the content we publish, can you guess which gets the fewest clicks, the fewest opens, the fewest membership signups, and the least overall user engagement?

Climate change.

Weird, right? I have theories about why this is the case, which I am happy to discuss (mostly I think it’s because the problem is simply so large, and it’s so difficult for an individual to feel like they can make any sort of meaningful impact, that people on average are not particularly enthusiastic about clicking that link. The fact that spirituality is by far the most popular topic reinforces this hypothesis, I think. When it comes to climate change, from what I can tell Integral has some really wonderful ways to frame the problem, but not many ways to go about solving it. Yet, perhaps?)

But this certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t want to continue publishing content about this topic. As you say, it’s importance cannot really be overstated. But the trap is, if we started leaning too heavily on this topic, our user engagement would begin to suffer, and then our membership signups and renewals would suffer, and if that goes on for too long the company becomes unsustainable and our ability to produce any content at all dries up.

So what I personally have been trying to do is find more skillful ways to “trojan horse” these ideas into the minds of more and more people. For example, it’s one of the reasons I am so excited to produce The Ken Show, so we can get him talking about issues and current events that I haven’t really heard him talk about in all the content he’s generated over the years, and to create a vehicle that people really enjoy so that, when it’s time to discuss something like climate change, there is an audience ready to listen. Same with The Daily Evolver, which is another effort to make integral more accessible by bringing the wheels a bit closer to the runway.

And part of the art here, I think, is to find the right ways to present this stuff, in terms of the actual content itself, as well as the imagery, writing, and marketing we wrap around it.

Here is one frame I often bring to things like this. When producing content for our audience, I keep the following four styles in mind:

Sugar - This is the typical “clickbait” headline, with very little substance behind it. We generally stay away from this as a category (though I try to sprinkle a bit of sugar on almost everything we do.)

Rice - This is standard fare. Tends to be nutritious (informative), but not very tasty.

Vitamins - This is what people SHOULD be paying attention to, but usually don’t. Only the most committed among us want to take their vitamins. It feels like broccoli wrapped in homework. Many of Integral Life offerings have fallen into this category, but I am trying to shift toward the next category:

Painkiller - Identify a particular pain point, and identify how this media helps relieve that pain. This is what people really respond to.

So using that frame, it makes sense why people respond to something like spirituality with more enthusiasm than climate change. Spirituality is, for many people, a painkiller. Something they can do or listen to right now to make themselves feel better. Climate change is at best a vitamin, possibly even rice.

Different user groups respond to different categories. Membership growth really leans on Painkillers, so we like to put that up front when we can. Long-time members need enough rice and vitamins to stay nourished, and therefore want to remain members. Sugar seems to make everyone sick, but we all crave it every once in awhile.

So my job is to figure out how to competently serve all four in their correct proportions, while also trying to figure out how to make a sugar-coated painkilling vitamin made out of rice.

So that’s kind of how I’ve been thinking about things. I’d love hearing how we can continue to improve, which means I love feedback like this.

So here are a couple things I think we could do together.

  • The “Featured Perspectives” section on the homepage is due for an update. We could create a thread in the community asking people to suggest features, and I can choose which of those suggestions to use.

  • This would actually be a more organic process if folks in this community had more discussion on the media threads that get posted here. Those threads show up as comments on the actual content pages, and allow the system to measure “interest” and “enthusiasm” much better than a rating system.

  • I should also refresh my Editors Picks and come up with a new batch of selections.

  • One thing I hear is that you would like us to produce more content around the issue of climate change, which I totally support. Have you considered submitting some focused, targeted questions for Ken for a future episode of The Ken Show? One thing I’ve learned is you don’t want to ask open ended questions, like “so what’s an integral approach to climate change”, or else we’ll get a somewhat overgeneralized response. We need some fresh perspectives, which means we need some fresh questions to elicit those perspectives.

I hope this all helps in some small way!


#7

wow, and thanks, corey. it looks like most of the heavy lifting has already been done. I will read this with detailed attention later when i have the leisure, but this exposition of yours has just changed the way I’m now thinking about this – i.e. how to make all this existing structure just a bit more transparent to a new-ish and IT-challenged user like me…

…more later…


#8

Wow! @corey-devos

Thank you for sharing such a great insight as to how thoughtfully you’ve laid out the IL platform.
Your metaphors are original and make clear sense. I also like your suggestions as to how to incorporate @russ.legear feedback.

In recognition of both of your comments, maybe it is a good time for me to develop a specific, targeted question to Ken regarding Biodynamic farming - a look at the Culture behind the Agriculture!?

Conventional Ag is mostly a reductionist approach focused on UR & LR quadrants, while our approach focuses just as heavily in the UL (our view of what soil is) & LL (how our team views our purpose). It is relevant due to Agriculture’s potential ability to sequester large amounts of carbon, enhance animal well being and provide quality nutrition to the majority if not all humans.

Thanks again for curating such great content!


#9

response to analytics and metrics:
I clicked on an email with the Integral Life Summary which contained a link to this thread. As I read through the comments, at the end of the comments section was a blue box with the following:

Hello! Looks like you’re enjoying the discussion, but you haven’t signed up for an account yet.
When you create an account, we remember exactly what you’ve read, so you always come right back where you left off. You also get notifications, here and via email, whenever someone replies to you. And you can like posts to share the love.
Sign Up Remind me tomorrow no thanks

After reading @corey-devos comments about metrics and analysis, this box leaves out someone like me who is a member, followed a link in my email, and did not log in. More often then not I link to threads through the email without logging in. It would seem then there might be analytics that are being missed. Without reading this thread I would not have known there is some benefit to logging in as a member for analysis purposes. It might be helpful for The Blue Box to include a note to readers who are already members with an encouragement to log in.
@corey-devos thank you putting all this together! Enjoyed your description of the four styles of content!


#10

@KrissKSprinkle and @Analemma, thank you both for your comments, and welcome to the community pages, I hope you are able to spend some more time in here and help contribute to some of the amazing discussions that take place in here!

And thank you too @ksv, I am glad that my comment was able to help in some way, and I’d be happy to hear about any additional feedback or suggestions you may have.

@Analemma, if you would like to submit a question about biodynamic farming for a future episode, please feel free to do so. I am not sure when we will be able to get to it, but I am always looking for fresh topics to discuss with Ken.

@KrissKSprinkle, your concern about logging in/out and its effects on our analytics are appreciated, but you don’t need to worry about that too much, especially when it comes to the community. We are able to see all visitors in our analytics, regardless of login status, and are also able to track member activity by looking at the number of plays any given piece of member content receives. And, oddly, I don’t think this community page is currently being tracked by our analytics at all, which is probably something I should fix soon. But either way, thanks for being engaged, and for being considerate around Integral Life’s LR-quadrant needs!

Big Love to you all,
Corey


#11

@corey-devos Corey, thanks for your detailed post. It deserves a better response than I can give today, which I’m hoping to do next week since I’m off the grid this weekend to work on some shadow stuff (and I gotta get some interdisciplinary research homework done, too, which has NOTHING to do with the shadow but is pretty Integral :smiley:).

I’m especially interested in the feedback about climate change topic hits (or, rather, the lack of hits). That’s a fascinating data point and one that gets me thinking about potential psychological and other possible causes. My initial thoughts are that climate change as a topic may be more interesting and comprehendible to Turquoise than Yellow, but I really don’t want to generalize since there are probably a lot of moving parts in that conversation; so much so I might just throw out a thread specifically for climate change.


#12

Thanks Corey - this was a very good overview of how best to get the most out of this.


#13

I was going to suggest you start a climate change topic here at this site; I’m interested.