This weekend, I was in northern California for a off-grid camp run by a venture fund in Palo Alto. The camp implemented a practical philosophy of good conferences which I wrote about a few years ago: Good conferences are built around leaving space for unexpected meetings and interaction. The truly great conference will invert the highly programmed single-track structure to become unapologetically a space in which a bunch of interesting people meet, during which they have the time to discover the myriad emergent ways in which they have shared or complementary interests.”

Which is how I had several conversations over the weekend that combined with other threads that have emerged over the last year to make me increasingly certain that there’s space for some kind of non-VC fund for Intentional Technology — and that it is easier for tech companies that are intentional to make products that are better because they’re more situated, more beneficially unpredictable, or more agathonic.

What does intentionality” mean when building products? It is about interrogating where and what types of value a product creates, how that value is appropriated, and who appropriates it. This interrogation is usually triggered when new tools for building products show up. And the interrogation leads to new ways of thinking about how to make products, and so to new types of products. We suddenly have a new tool in the form of AI, so it’s a good time to be intentional about tech products, and this will almost certainly need clearer thinking about meaning-making and AI.

(I also ran a masterclass type thing for the Civil Service College in Singapore on how to design and manage public-sector organizations to put an end to firefighting. I’ll do one in July for private-sector organizations, details TBC.)

Updated 2 June, 2024