Cards for Insight

In a network, we play^n to win^n.*

John Kellden
3 min readMay 11, 2021


Cards forming part of different Social Machines

Cards addressing your generative driving questions.
Cards considered in light of questions.
Helping you reflect, reframe, rethink and enact.

  • A large finite set of questions.
  • A different set of cards.
  • A playable set of building blocks.
  • A different playbook.
  • A different social web.

Cards are decision quality and possibility space affordances.
Card decks are frames.
Card sessions facilitate insight.
The generative review of card sessions is small group genius.

Questions, cards, sessions, conversations, providing an interface between human play and social machine designs, in service to knowledge creation.

A large finite set questions bridging finite and infinite games, finite because algorithms and scale, infinite because individual, small group genius and social collective intelligence turned ability. Finite and infinite, combined: coordination of human effort at social machine scope and scale.

Card Decks are Frames
Card decks with between 15 and 7k cards, together with underlying large finite set pattern languages, facilitating both play and social computing, forming part of different social machines.

Card Sessions
Well-played card sessions are to 103% about connecting intelligence, ability, great ideas, questions, personal and small group genius understanding in a context of social collective intelligence and need.

Card: Insight
A catalytic, clear, meaningful, generative, comprehensive, perspective-
and profound perception into behavior and understanding.

the anatomy of insights

Card Session: How To Play

  1. Gather a small group around a great question.
  2. Consider cards in light of questions.
  3. Converse, hold space for insights.
  4. Comment and annotate.
  5. Conclude by aligning around direction and agreeing on next steps.
understanding: scaffolding and spiraling knowledge, problems turned possibilities

Card: Understanding
What if understanding is our ability to hold space for the possibility of knowledge, as it emerges, unfolds, directs and discloses its relevance to unexplored aspects of things known?


  • Play^n: Augmenting intelligence and agency.
  • Game^n: Engagement and immersion conducive to and co-evolving with structures, processes and flows, in between Play^n (instigation) and Win^n (outcomes).
  • Win^n: Navigating a requisite variety of paths with preferable outcomes in mind
flow — flow is how we know

Card: Social Computing
Information processing in service to cultivation of knowledge flows.

Flow⁠ = Structure x Process

To overcome the shared misery and borderline solipsist pontification of online platformed life, individuals must become both independent of the social media environment and interdependent with their own circles of friends, acquaintances, stewarding their joint sauntering, their concern, influence, confluence and considered, considerate conversations that mind, cultivate and matter to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of proprietary platform programming designs, affordances, rewards and punishments.

​”To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments.”
⁠ — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Conversations that Mind and Matter
Cards, conversations and patterns of play have been field-tested for a couple of years in an online community with around two thousand members.
In addition, there’s a prototype DKR, a Dynamic Knowledge Repository.
It can be seen as the ontology part of a social machine and can be accessed via search query.



John Kellden

Cards catalyzing stories, Conversations that mind and matter, Digital communities and collaborative narratives