Hacking the Tapestry 095

Kent Dahlgren
7 min readSep 10, 2020

Prior to the introduction of the printing press, stories were captured on tapestries, similar to the one that’s depicted here.

If you were sufficiently wealthy, you would commission the creation of a tapestry, and you’d be interviewed by an artist so he could customize the story to suit your fancy.

It was common for the artist to add little customized elaborations or artistic flairs to reflect the patron’s interests or perspectives.

For this reason it was theoretically possible for there to be as many different dialects or elaborations upon a story as there were tapestries commissioned to tell it.

Take a moment to reconcile this to the modern era.

Let’s say that you and six of your friends are out one night and you witness an automobile accident.

Let’s say that all seven of you decide to commission the creation of a tapestry so the story is crafted to reflect your unique perspective.

Of course, each of you views the world through a different lens, so to speak, so one of the tapestry depictions of the automobile accident might elaborate upon the social interactions between the people involved, whereas another one might focus upon the clothing they’re wearing, and maybe a third would focus on the terrible physics of the accident itself.

What’s the most accurate depiction?

Well, that’s an interesting question, isn’t it?

What’s Truth?

I would argue that Truth would be the aggregation of perspectives would reflect the most transcendent (highest) truth, but that’s open to subjective interpretation, and it’s not really the point of this post anyway.

Let’s return to a time before the printing press, and discuss how tapestries were explored as they were “read“ by the families that stored these narratives within their personal libraries.

The reading of a tapestry was an extremely social event, and it was fairly common for several people to be standing up at the same time talking through their interpretation of the story, boisterously and with great energy.

The printing press changed all of that.

Whereas before there might be as many different versions of a story as there are tapestries, the printing press made it necessary to coalesce around a single perspective, and this perspective became Truth.

There’s a lot of really interesting letters and articles that were written about the social change that occurred in the two generations or so which followed the introduction of the printing press.

The printing press was able to produce large quantities of books, and these books came to be stored in large centralized repositories that we have come to call a library.

For a couple of generations there were people who came to explore a story in the historical manner, as they had learned with the tapestry form of storytelling, but that was boisterous and disruptive, and this is where we get the trope of the librarian hushing people, telling them to be quiet.

Soon, this became the new normal.

Tapestries were no longer custom-created, and people were conditioned to wrap themselves around a single perspective, a single Truth, and they were instructed and conditioned to be quiet about it.

But this constraint is entirely artificial; a reflection of the device that created the book (the press), and even then not very well if you think about it.

Because, as illustrated and implied in my example of the automobile accident, there are as many different valid perspectives as there are those that observed or even those who had interpreted the event, after the fact.

I mean, how many different books are in the gospel of Jesus Christ? You know?

And the books that Paul wrote after the fact are pretty extraordinary, considering the guy never even met Jesus.

Therefore, it might be argued that the printing press imposed a tyranny that was entirely contingent upon the mechanical limitations of the press when it was originally created.

Because if you think about it, that constraint no longer exists, you know?

Let me tell you something else about tapestries that I find most fascinating:

Implicit to its design is the assumption that one will explore the story in a linear manner: beginning to end.

But look at this thing. Why wouldn’t a person just jump to the end?

My mom does, by the way. She reads stories at the end to see if she’s going to be interested in becoming invested in the characters.

Sheesh. What a hacker!

Honestly, why wouldn’t a person just walk this tapestry and explore the story from different perspectives in an entirely non-linear manner?

Who’s the say that this methodology of story consumption is not valid?

Therefore, does it not follow that the tapestry itself might be contrived in such a way that it tells a story in a nonlinear manner?

Of course, this is metaphor.

We calibrate our interactions with the world to a construct that we call time.

We are conditioned to believe that 10 AM Sunday morning is a consistent baseline truth within our time zone.

We might schedule a discussion to begin at 10 AM local time and proceed until 60 minutes have elapsed.

This is an excellent example of a custom — created tapestry which describes the shared experience of the participants and those who review the events afterwords.

A far simpler example of a shared tapestry are the many interactions that take place within a family home.

There are those who clamor for the scarce resources of a bathroom, there are meals to be prepared and consumed, message to be cleaned up, private time for different people, etc.

The representations of this tapestry might exist only within your memory, but there might be other expressions of it, within text messages, messages on the tapestry of social media, phone calls, “side quests“ which manifest as meetings elsewhere, etc.

I mean, duh. Of course it is. So?

There are cool hacks to the tapestry if you get a little bit creative, because you might be surprised to learn that time is not fixed.

You heard me: you can hack time.

Within 214 we embrace the concept we call divine timing (DT) in the calibration of our corporate tapestry, and, well. It’s pretty sweet.

It’s healthy to consider it a great example of a “side quest” which runs concurrent to other tapestries.

Let me give you a really simple but important example.

In the traditional business world, the sales maxim is “time kills all deals,“ and it is implicitly and frequently explicitly understood that if you wait too long to close a sale, you have lost the deal.

And it’s for this reason that millions of sales people have been trained to treat their customers like assholes so they can get money consistent with an arbitrary deadline.

Which runs counter to a sales person’s core competency, you know?

They spend half of their time building trust, and the other half squandering it by pressuring their customers into paying earlier than they are comfortable.

And why?

Therefore, the corporate tapestry comes with an operating system, so to speak, and that operating system basically says: “you need to be forceful with your potential customers or they will walk away from a deal.”

By contrast, within our company (214 Alpha) the “corporate tapestry operating system,” so to speak, has an entirely different understanding regarding timing.

It basically says this:

We would like to do business with you, and what that means is that we would like to become part of your life, and we would like you to become part of ours.

We are preparing a place for you at our table.

As such, it’s our conviction that sometimes the most wise thing to do is to spend a couple of days in bed crying, because we have all been through a traumatic event, and maybe the best thing to do right now is chill, spend a few days in your pajamas, and just breathe deeply.

We don’t force people to do anything, we’re not gonna give them some high pressured nonsense, because I can’t think of a better way to screw up a friendship.

I happen to believe that the operating system that runs on our corporate tapestry is better, because we’re not really gaining customers, we’re expanding the network of our friends, and that’s way the hell better to be honest.

And this cuts both ways, right? We have walked away from many opportunities that tried to play hardball with us regarding time, and that’s just not how we roll.

What’s cool about this is that we might add latency in the actual signing of a contract, but because took the time to earn trust, from a place of sincere empathy, shit starts rolling really really fast, typically faster than the ordinary approach.

In other words, divine timing in the context of customer acquisition might take a little bit longer as you allow someone time to heal, and then runs faster than usual, because he took the time to earn that trust.

The point of all of this is that we are not subject to a baseline tapestry operating system. We aren’t victims to the system.

We get to choose our own tapestry, and as such we get to choose our own operating system.

In the selection of your own operating system, you get to decide how time works, to use a simple example. There are others.

Once you start “hacking time“ and “hacking the tapestry,” you can’t stop exploring other options.

Once you learn just how malleable things are, your mind is blown wide open with the possibilities and opportunities that are sitting right under our noses.

In fact, I would argue that the core reason our exiting system is in such a distressed state is because it has chosen to calibrate its execution to a single monolithic tapestry operating system.

But it’s flawed, inefficient, doesn’t even reflect reality, really.

I mean, look at mainland China. Those stupid assholes have calibrated their entire country to a single time zone, which is so astronomically ridiculous I can’t even get my head around it.

And it’s not all or nothing, you know?

You can straddle two tapestries, even more as far as that goes.

Who’s the say that you can’t launch two or three “side quest“ tapestries as an experiment?

I mean, why not?

Why not fire up an A/B test, so you can evaluate the relative efficacy between the primary tapestry, and your side quest one?



Kent Dahlgren

Product management fix-it guy. World-famous people skills. Extremely small hands. (edit) marketing lady says I’m also supposed to say “CEO of software company”