The Other Others
By Tyson Yunkaporta
Through the Deakin University Indigenous Knowledge Systems Lab, we have unlikely, borderline seditious and kind of inappropriate yarns with surprising people about how an Indigenous complexity science lens can be applied to solving the world's most wicked problems. There's gold at the margins, but almost no trigger warnings, so enter at your peril. Podcast artwork "Blackfulla Ratatouille" by Baradha woman Eden Thomas. Intro music by The Murri Ghibli Fangirls.
Return of the Viking Yarns
Picking up the thread again of our most viral episode "Yarning with Vikings" with Rune Hjarno Rasmussen, a Danish animist who is flirting with the idea of a Nordic resurgence and revitalisation of land-based Scandinavian cultures. Some great yarns here, but also a lot of laughs and an unlikely bromance that is always entertaining.
September 21, 2021
Space-time and Schwarzenegger
Latest in a yarn that's been going for four years with Danie Mellor, an Indigenous artist from the volcanic jungle soil of far north Queensland. He might be called a landscape artist except he's also a time-traveller, which is tricky when your culture's view of time is indistinguishable from space (especially when you're interacting with a marketplace and society grounded in real estate and the arrow of time). We talk about the haptics of ancestral objects and archival images, and apply a snake-eye lens to rain forest country to see what might be revealed about the physics of our reality through infrared viewpoints. And of course, this means we have to spend at least half an hour talking about the film Predator and Big Arnie's rumble in the jungle with an alien who sees in infrared...
September 21, 2021
Friend of the pod, Frisian Indigenous man from the Netherlands, Michel Grobbe, returns for his third yarn with IKSLab. He shares Frisian burning practices and we find some startling parallels across hemispheres of experience.
September 9, 2021
China is a Thing
Fionn Wright used to be Irish, then married in to a Chinese family in Shanghai, where he is an executive coach, World 2.0 & China Dream Advocate, Media Personality, Meditation Teacher, Metamodern and Integral theorist. Some really nuanced perspectives here on China's future and global systems. A lot to learn here and think on.
September 9, 2021
What does decolonisation even mean today, here in the master's nephew's house, and what will we do with the tools we find here? Motaung Thomas Mofolo is a futurist, a proud Mosotho, digital content creator, decolonial activist and media theorist leveraging the creative economy for social impact and sustainable development across the Afrikan continent. Our yarn here was authentically our first communication, and I think you'll like it. Particularly when we start whipping out our knobkerries...
September 8, 2021
Psycho-technologies of Memory
Lynne Kelly, the 'memory whisperer' in beautiful dialogue with Tyson Yunkaporta (the 'settler whisperer') about embodied, place-based, storied memorisation techniques used the world over by cultures retaining pre-industrial traditions. Lynne is the author of The Memory Code and Memory Craft, and if you're interested in how your entire life and community of relations might be transformed by engaging with and recovering ancestral psycho-technologies, this yarn will blow you away.
August 23, 2021
The Science of Relationality
Torres Webb is a proud Erubam man born on Darnley Island, who advocates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing through culture, language, music and education. He is an advisor at CSIRO and is establishing a national First Peoples' Science Centre. We talk about power laws and economies of scale, science as embassy, our historical contribution to the enlightenment (and global finance), seasonal knowledge cycles and more.
August 17, 2021
The Weird Complexity Community
Dr Jason Fox, red-bearded, waistcoat-wearing, Melbourne settler-squatting complex systems hedge wizard, tries to help me make sense of the complexity theory community globally. We're both on the wrong side of the equator for this, and we struggle to understand our vigorous, confident US counterparts and our conflicted responses to them. I begin to unpack my racism towards orange people and Jason explores that annoying trope about westerners being uncomfortable with silences. Unfortunately I do way too much talking here and fall into my bad habit of indigi-splaining everything, so I will have to get Jason on again and try to honor my commitment to centering orange voices.
August 11, 2021
IK Systems and Climate
Chels Marshall is a Gumbayngiirr woman, a marine biologist who works across multiple disciplines with Indigenous Knowledge Systems applied through a complexity/systems thinking lens. Her PhD was on Indigenous Knowledge Systems and climate change. We've worked together on the Regenerative Songlines project and will soon be working together in the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Lab at Deakin University.
August 6, 2021
Beckett Carmody is a Bundjalung/Lama Lama fella who is one of the most exciting thinkers I've met in a long time. His Indigenous process of inquiry is uncut, undomesticated, but he employs these oldways processes with complete rigor and integrity, utilising a kind of natural experimentation methodology, in which you can see him verifying and falsifying findings and running complex simulations that are non-digital and involve mapping data sets onto naturally occurring cyclic processes and then observing them in real time. His thinking and practice blow my mind.
August 5, 2021
A yarn from a couple of lockdowns ago (important to know about time lag because of the seasonal knowledge in the yarn). Victor Steffensen is an Indigenous musician, film-maker and expert in the ancient tradition of caring for land through the use of fire. He is the founder of the Firesticks Alliance and author of the book Fire Country: how Indigenous fire management could help save Australia. A very interesting idea to emerge from this yarn is Vic's notion of 'allowances' as opposed to the idea of 'affordances', based on the way plant species share resources with each other. I'm interested to frame future cybernetics yarns around how things change if we say 'allowance' instead of 'affordance'.
July 23, 2021
Ethical Investing Can Be Fun
Yarning with Johny Mair, one of those rare beasts - an actual self-made man. An Australian ex-pat who went from casual labor in Brisbane for six dollars an hour to banking and investment magic in the US. He's the co-founder at Ethic - Sustainable & Impact Investing. I'm often rolling my eyes at the idea of sustainable finance gurus, but not this time. We yarn up about billionaires in space, our cold takes on Gamestop, and whether shareholder-centric market ideologies can be used to leverage change in the world. And Johny catches me stealing a joke from Bill Burr.
July 20, 2021
Slow Protocol Indigenous Tech
Angie Abdilla (Palawa), Megan Kelleher (Baradah), Rick Shaw (Gamilaroi) and Tyson Yunkaporta (Wik) tell the story of our work so far for Oldways New, in the IPAI (Indigenous Protocols in Artificial Intelligence) group. We share this work as part of our protocol of transparency and open collaboration, and invite suggestions as we reach a very sticky point in our project. We know how to develop something that could be groundbreaking, but now we must ask - should we do it? Is it even possible to be accountable for the externalities and knock-on effects of a new innovation?
July 8, 2021
Long on Trust for 2030
Bruce Pascoe and I yarn up the blackfellas' futures market, the prisoner's dilemma, trust dynamics and the thinly veiled Daddy issues of settlement. We absolutely don't mention the culture war. Well, maybe once, but I think we get away with it. Bruce refuses to advise me on a writing project in which I need to make torture and dark ops just a little more up-beat to fit with a jolly musical score. But that's always been Bruce's problem, no moral flexibility.
June 29, 2021
The Bezosian Power Principle
I was in a bad mood so my mentor, Worimi man Deen Sanders, threw me a bone and ran a bit of a thought experiment on how the maximum power principle and pos/neg feedback loops apply to billionaires who own the supply chains. Is there potential for equilibrium? We didn't arrive at a solution, but we did come up with a kickass name for one. And we had a good laugh, too.
June 24, 2021
Free range research yarn with Dr John Davis, head of the Stronger Smarter Institute for many years, now moving into our Indigenous Knowledge Systems Lab as a leader. We talk about Bunya nut story and interspecies communication as a methodology and economy, ranging through many topics, from solar panels in the Sahara to how to honor two conflicting conclusions at once and still remain productive. We'll figure out how Indigenous thinking can save the world yet!
June 17, 2021
Dr David Reser and I talk about our inter-cultural bromance that has grown out of memory science experiments over the last few years, starting with our initial meet-cute nerding out over cranial nerves, 3d printing, dot paintings and Hannibal Lecter. This bromance has survived two culture wars and a recent controversy in which our experimental research paper (comparing the Ancient Greek Memory Palace technique with Aboriginal memorisation techniques) was turned into divisive click-bait for culture warriors.
June 8, 2021
Beyond Critique - Wot Now?
Prof Yin Paradies talks about his evolving research moving from anti-racism to a deeper intervention into the true causes of structural inequality. We also look into the usefulness of intentional communities as safe-to-fail experiments in generating distributed governance patterns that might be replicated fractally over time, as The Wheel grinds slowly to a halt. Yes, we talk about Game of Thrones too...
June 4, 2021
What Can I Do?
Outsourcing our biggest FAQ here. Maya Ward, author of "The Comfort of Water" is now receiving queries from settlers who are calling themselves "white" and asking how to come back into the spirit of place in rigorous and respectful ways that are not in extractive relation, not overstepping or appropriating. It is a space of nuance and intense discomfort and danger there, but it is generative, so Maya and I talk up Kingfisher ceremony on Wurundjeri land, in a feedback loop of crazy. It may be crazy, but both of us agree that if settlers cannot come back under the Law of the land soon, everything and everyone will die. No pressure.
June 4, 2021
Frisian Tracking Methodology
Michel Grobbe (friend of the pod) is a Frisian Indigenous scholar from the Netherlands, and we yarn here about our complementary universes of tracking game, a pattern-thinking skill set that we believe is transferable across many disciplines and domains.
May 30, 2021
Violence and Chivalry
The uncancelable Dr Kelly Menzel, Indigenous thinker from the Adelaide Hills, jumps in with me through our ongoing research project that demands innovation of new methodologies just to grapple with the horrendous complexities of our topic.
May 25, 2021
Going Commando in Leadership
Ben Ford from Commando Development applies his knowledge from the Royal Marines and a decade of software development to the tragedy of the commons, the scalability issues of distributed governance, what Waterloo and Gettysburg have in common, and the questionable impact of Vegemite on the Middle East.
May 24, 2021
Consciousness and AI
Jim Rutt, former Director of the Santa Fe Institute and general complexity and tech guru, shares knowledge of his favourite field – consciousness research. We examine embodiment, external cognition, implications for AI and AGI, and even psi research. Then we apply his knowledge of neural nets and genetic algorithms to a project I have underway with Oldways New (Angie Abdilla) in which we are attempting to apply marriage Law in Aboriginal kinship systems as an algorithm to solve the biggest problem in genetic computing.
May 18, 2021
Executive coach, corporate trainer and Systema instructor Glenn Murphy yarns with me about distributed cognition, the utility of fluid self-other boundaries, how to connect with place when you are displaced and the possibility of generative violence in right relation, with right story. But first, you must get through 4 minutes of a Viking Metal song about Rasputin to light up your limbic system!
May 17, 2021
Positivity meets Complexity
Jack Manning Bancroft is an Indigenous Australian change-maker who built the juggernaut organisation AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) on the power of hope, trust falls, high fives and "follow your dream!" tropes. It worked. Many individuals were uplifted and empowered. But the one thing it didn't change was the system producing inequality in the first place. Jack is somebody who can talk his way into any room on the planet, so what happens when a man like this takes a deep dive into complexity science and decides to tackle global power systems in non-linear ways?
May 5, 2021
Queering Dignitas with Mana
Best podcast yet. Maori complexity voyager Guy Ritani explains Queering as a generative praxis rather than a mere instrument of critique. It is not even a lens, but a relational embodiment within a landscape rich with Mana. Guy inhabits this way of being perfectly while sparking innovation in science, permaculture, and many other fields, leaving those fields richer from the encounter.
May 4, 2021
Jason Twill is an expert in sustainable urbanism, creative city making, housing affordability and green building economics. I know he's from the US, but I'm not sure where his home is. Right now he's on lockdown in Qatar as four different Covid mutations ravage the population there. Jason applies training he received from Gumbayngirr people in Australia to systems thinking approaches in all his projects, and he has a very different take on First Principles thinking.
April 28, 2021
IK in a Post-Truth World
Greg Morris is a Samoan knowledge industry professional who takes a deep dive with me into the relational nature of knowledge, the joys and dangers of intercultural knowledge translation/production, and the thousand-year-long tail/tale each of us is dragging. We examine the vital role of Indigenous Knowledge processes (not content) in forming collective thinking practices for truth-seeking, rather than arguing over which facts represent truth.
April 23, 2021
First Law and Songlines
Australian Indigenous Elders Anne Poelina and Mary Graham share with Megan Kelleher (my spouse) and I, about the Law of the land and First Peoples, as well as Songlines. Megs had to leave half way through for family biz, so we didn't get to some of the big stuff she was bringing about spatial relation and cognition, but we will come back to that yarn later. This is a good example of how messy and vibrant yarns can be - these Aunties hit the ground running and left no space for the niceties of introductions or explanations! Just try and keep up.
April 22, 2021
Red-pilling the Margins
Listen through for one of the finest Jordan Peterson impressions you'll ever hear. Sound for this episode isn't great, but you know what? Stop being such an audio snob! When I was a kid we only had cassette tapes recorded off the radio and it was fine. Suck it up and have a listen. This is an intimate yarn reflecting on personal experiences of online radicalisation and the old rabbit-hole, with Jordan Price, a young Gunditjmara fella who has lived with chronic pain all his life and sought agency through self-reliance philosophies, largely curated through a YouTube algorithm. I've known him since he was a kid, watching him struggle bravely through his pain during hours of hard dancing in corroboree. He's found a defiant kind of inspiration in his culture, but also in Nietzche, Macchiavelli, Jesse Ventura, 9-11 truthers and Jordan Peterson. I haven't seen him in a few years, and we reflect on the carnage of the last decade, since our first innocent online encounters with big foot, the Kennedy assassination, flat earth theory and the Mayan calendar. There is a universe of raw and troubling stories to unravel in this hour.
April 15, 2021
AI Origins Story
What happens when you put two middle aged Aboriginal nerds with adult ADHD together on one zoom call? Nothing good. Rick Shaw is a Gamilaroi mathematician who works on algorithms for Deloitte, and spends quite a bit of his remaining hours slapping my brain around the room like a cat with a half-dead rat. He used to model and monitor extreme events like terrorism and hurricanes. Now he's monitoring me. Our yarn was interrupted by his daughter charging round on a horse and my spouse panic-buying ethereum in the background. According to Rick's bush-physicist's unified field theory, that's good chaos and we need to embrace it.
April 14, 2021
Indigenous Venture Capital?
Jacqueline Jennings, mixed heritage Cree, Anishinaabe, Métis and settler descent, is 2nd generation residential school survivor from Canada - a self-made woman who started out with nothing but a turkey feather (not even an emerald mine to get the ball rolling). She has found herself in a very unique position as an entrepreneur and investor who is now navigating the world of Indigenous finance at Raven Capital, where her team brings the traditional role and protocols of The Intermediary to bear in a way that is seeding some interesting disruptive innovations, seeds intended to grow over seven generations. I was heartened to see that her work is neither Indigenised finance nor financialised indigeneity, but something else entirely. I gained some helpful clues about risk management and the issue of trading beyond spheres of trust at scale, but also some troubling wake-up calls about the impossibilities of allowing land to be anything but capital without sparking a global catastrophe. In the end, it's your body or your land as collateral, and you can have skin in the game or be somebody else's skin in the game. Maybe. As long as we remember that the house always wins.
April 14, 2021
Indigenous Systems Thinking
Melanie Goodchild, Moose Clan, Anishinaabe (Ojibway or Chippewa) from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Ketegaunseebee, co-founder of the Turtle Island Institute, talks about her group's work in conducting traditional processes of inquiry in dialogue with Systems Thinking and Complexity science, mediated through a council of Elders. My family and I have been sitting in ritual yarns with Melanie and her family for a while now, and we are ready to share some of the knowledge that lives in the relational connection between us.
April 8, 2021
The Original Augmented Reality
Heir to the silent fallout of multiple genocides, Monika Bielskyte is one of those ordinary people who has fallen through the cracks of industrial identities, gone through the fire, evolved some salamander traits and emerged to do extraordinary things. A denizen of liminal country, Monika's medium is cybernetics and intensive pluralist praxis in this area has produced some high level insights about global imperialism and its incursions into the realms of AR and VR. I once did a ceremony with Ainu people and I put myself in that headspace for this interview, to better connect with Monika's grandmother's people. Trigger warning - anti-woke folk might hear some things in here they won't like much. More on Monika's protopian future visioning here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAZLLW2y4eo
April 6, 2021
Wrong Story - Bad Faith, Disinfo
Prof. Deen Sanders OAM is a Worimi man who has wandered the intrepid space between Western systems of corporate life, law, academia, psychology and government; and the Indigenous culture and knowledge systems that shape his relationship with the world. Brother Deen always has a nuanced analysis of wicked problems, to which he applies an Indigenous complexity lens and a mastery of many disciplines. We point that weapon today at disinformation and bad faith discourse, which have migrated from the digital world and into our lives. Parts of this interview also appear in another podcast I do called Disconnect, a show about Indigenous engagement with IT.
April 1, 2021
Story as Currency
This is startling and spontaneous yarn about economic transitions, imperialism, re-imagining value, colonial script, and much more. It's good and long, as yarns are when they're worth having. Join Mike New, founder of Smart Enterprise Villages and intentional community economy guru, his libertarian operative mate Frank (who might be Satoshi Nakamoto), and my spouse Megan Kelleher (Indigenous blockchain savant) in a free range and sometimes dangerous yarn about money and value. And Jack and the Beanstalk. And about how knocking someone out in a pub can be considered "proof of work" in a relational credit economy! We also perform a live lab experiment on the effects of microwaves on the Zoom signal.
March 31, 2021
Tina Ngata is a Maori activist, community legend and writer who has her finger on the pulse of a problem almost nobody is talking about - the radicalization of Indigenous communities through disinformation online. The thing is though, whose problem is this? Is disinformation a new thing or just a digital version of the classic colonial toolkit for nation-building on the lands of others? Is it becoming a self-organizing system that has achieved something of a singularity and decided to turn on its masters?
March 30, 2021
Yarning with Vikings
Non-Indigenous people are always wondering how (a) they can get access to Indigenous culture and knowledge, and (b) whether it is possible for them to return to this way of being. Well, yes and yes, but not in the way you think. The way into this world is through your own door. I talk to Frisian (Netherlands Indigenous) scholar Michel Gruber and Nordic animist Rune Hjarno Rasmussen, about the ancient Viking practice of Finnfaring - studying under Indigenous masters to increase knowledge of land and spirit, sustainable economies and governance, while remaining firmly planted in your own culture of origin and appropriating nothing. It's all in the yarns.
March 23, 2021