Currents 080: Joe Edelman and Ellie Hain on Rebuilding Meaning

Jim talks with Joe Edelman and Ellie Hain about their new movement, Rebuilding Meaning, and two recent talks introducing ideas towards a better world. They discuss tools for building toward more meaningful lives, the meaning of meaning, looking behind the void, the litany of shit, exercises in eliciting meaning, coherent pluralism, containers vs meanings, how religions lost their grounding, values articulacy, the importance of aesthetics, using language learning models to extract meaning profiles, values vs virtues, sobering up from internet optimism, the decay of spaces, when focus shifts from meaning to incentives, funnels, tubes, & spaces, piling up strangers vs creating spaces, metrics of meaning, meaning cards, space trains, the example of science, Carl Rogers’s concept of congruence, designing good ideal selves, spreading the message, and much more.

Joe Edelman developed the meaning-based organizational metrics at, then co-founded the Center for Humane Technology with Tristan Harris, and coined the term “Time Well Spent” for a family of metrics adopted by teams at Facebook, Google, and Apple. Since then, he’s worked on the philosophical underpinnings for new business metrics, design methods, and political movements. The central idea is to make people’s sources of meaning explicit, so that how meaningful or meaningless things are can be rigorously accounted for. His previous career was in HCI and programming language design.

Ellie Hain is an artist, researcher, and cultural strategist working on new imaginaries and ideologies for the post-industrial age.