What is Sloww? I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately.
Sloww has evolved over the last few years, but everything is still rooted in the seed that started it. This post is intended to give you my latest thinking about where Sloww has been—and where it’s headed.
I’m also interested in hearing your thoughts: what does Sloww mean to you? There’s a section at the end of the post with a request to leave a comment or get in touch with me via email/social.
Post Contents: Click a link here to jump to a section below
- What is Sloww?
- How has Sloww stayed the same?
- How has Sloww evolved?
- Where is Sloww going?
- Why the name “Sloww”?
- Reader Feedback Request
What is Sloww?
At its highest level:
- Who: Hi, I’m Kyle 👋
- When: Sloww has existed from late 2015 – 2022 (site launched in mid-2017).
- Where: Sloww has a global reach (I’m personally based in the USA).
- Why: Sloww shares the art of living with students of life.
- How: Sloww synthesizes lifelong learning that catalyzes human development.
- What: Sloww is creating the web’s deepest guide to the world’s wisdom through an interdisciplinary study across diverse (yet interconnected) disciplines:
What I do:
- Everything you see on Sloww is a result of my existential crisis and reflection of my journey to life purpose over the last ~7 years. Sloww is essentially my public, digital, “commonplace book” where I’ve attempted to combine and align everything about myself: my personality, my purpose, my play, my philosophy, and my philanthropy.
- Thinking is my passion. The term I’ve found that best describes what I do is “synthesizer” or “synthesist,” but these also apply: knowledge integrator, autodidact, philomath, comprehensivist, generalist, life strategist, cognitive explorer, and citizen researcher.
- I’m an interdisciplinary dot connector across philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, professors, scientists, spiritual teachers, and many more.
- In short, the approach I take is: self-taught + syntopical reading + summarizing + synthesizing (synthesizing as a thinking style and a writing style).
- I’m a solopreneur pursuing the path of “conscious capitalism” (“enlightened entrepreneurship” or “spiritual business”) by creating digital products (“info/knowledge commerce” or “d-commerce”) for the new era of civilization we are now living in (“info/knowledge age/era” or “creator economy”).
There’s no operating manual for life, but life is an open book test. We’re all copying the best of those who came before us and “standing on the shoulders of giants.” I do all the homework—researching, curating, reading, note-taking, summarizing, synthesizing, writing, creating, and sharing. You get all the highlights—so you spend less time on all those things and more time learning, practicing, and mastering.
What you get:
- You get a growing resource of the world’s deepest knowledge to maximize your human potential.
- You get a trusted guide on your journey to transformation: self-realization, self-discovery, self-development, self-actualization, self-transcendence, and more.
- You get high-signal content with a high wisdom-per-word ratio so you can get wise in less time:
- You get me as your personal curator to surface the most interesting content from around the web to you weekly (via the free Sloww Sunday newsletter).
- You get the most detailed book summaries of the world’s best books (via free book summaries).
- You get syntheses of the dots connected to live the good life (via Sloww Premium).
Where Sloww fits in your information diet:
- Samplers = Social media content, podcasts, YouTube videos, short-form blogs, etc.
- Heavy Appetizers = I feel like this is Sloww’s sweet spot. There seems to be a gap online between short-form blogs (300-1,000 word posts) and long-form books (50,000-100,000+ words). I’ve realized many of Sloww’s articles fall somewhere between 2,000-8,000 words. In a digital world of superficial content, this deeper level can better communicate deep, timeless insights. It also allows for connections across insights. Sometimes digesting a heavy appetizer will be enough on its own, and other times you’ll still want an entrée.
- Entrées = Books, source material, etc.
How has Sloww stayed the same since the beginning?
Learning has been the foundation of everything from the very beginning.
When I was deep in my existential crisis in late 2015, my natural instinct was to question everything and start searching for answers. Searching led to researching which led to a lot of reading. Reading led to notetaking and summarizing. The more I learned, the more I started to analyze. And, ultimately, it all converged on synthesizing.
The visual below shows how a lifelong learning structure supports all human development stages. This lifelong learning is considered “horizontal development” or “translation” because it’s adding new skills, information, and knowledge to your current “stage” of mind—as opposed to human development which is considered “vertical development” or “transformation” because it’s unlocking new worldviews, perspective-taking, and meaning-making. You’ll see more on this below as we fill in the blanks.
How has Sloww evolved over time?
I’ve observed at least four stages in Sloww’s evolution. Here’s an overview of each stage and how Sloww can help you no matter where you are in your own journey.
Sloww Stage 1:
Stage 1 Key Question:
- “How do I design a lighter life?” Life is busy and cluttered. Sloww supports slowing down in a fast world because slowing down is the gateway to all things good—which aren’t things at all. “Things” like intentionality, unbusyness, less stress, simplicity, enough, lightness, reflection, deep thinking, purpose, meaning, connectedness, centeredness, mindfulness, and awakening. Sloww encourages lighter living because more hasn’t added to our lives—we must subtract the superficial “stuff” (physical clutter and mental-emotional clutter) and shift inward where we can meet life face-to-face. This first stage is all about the initial paradigm shift: growing inwardly vs outwardly, qualitatively vs quantitatively. Slowing down and simplifying are stage 1—creating the space for all the transformation that comes next.
Stage 1 Student Focus:
- Shifters: downshifting to slower, simpler, intentional living.
Stage 1 Topic Sampling:
- Slow living, unbusyness, simple living, voluntary simplicity, downshifting, decluttering, minimalism, digital minimalism, financial independence, lifestyle design, essentialism, etc.
Stage 1 Book Recommendations:
- In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore, Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin, The Quest of the Simple Life by William J. Dawson, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel, Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker, Essentialism by Greg McKeown, Atomic Habits by James Clear, and more books here.
Sloww Stage 2:
Stage 2 Key Question:
- “How do I find higher purpose?” Humans (individually) and humanity (collectively) seem to be in the midst of a meaning crisis. Sloww promotes finding purpose because there’s not much more important than meaning in life but no one taught us how to find it.
Stage 2 Student Focus:
- Seekers: actualizing life purpose through hero’s journeys.
Stage 2 Topic Sampling:
- Existential crisis, life purpose, ikigai, meaning of life, death, happiness, self-actualization, etc.
Stage 2 Book Recommendations:
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, Yes to Life by Viktor Frankl, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer, The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson, and more books here.
Important Note: Designing a lighter life from stage 1 is transcended and included in stage 2—making space for you to find your life purpose.
Sloww Stage 3:
Stage 3 Key Question:
- “How do I master the mind?” Along with the meaning crisis, humans (individually) and humanity (collectively) also seem to be in the midst of a sensemaking crisis in the information era—our knowledge isn’t keeping pace with our technological advancement.
Stage 3 Student Focus:
- Sensemakers: developing mental wealth and memetic immunity.
Stage 3 Topic Sampling:
Stage 3 Book Recommendations:
- Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows, Whole Brain Living by Jill Bolte Taylor, The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist, Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger, Super Thinking by Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann, The Great Mental Models (Vol 1) by Shane Parrish, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature by Abraham Maslow, This is Water by David Foster Wallace, The Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant, and more books here.
Important Note: Lighter living (stage 1) and life purpose (stage 2) are transcended and included in stage 3.
Sloww Stage 4:
Stage 4 Key Question:
- “How do I embody wisdom?” My most recent realization on this journey was that the previous stage 3 needed to be separated into two distinct stages: the mind (stage 3) and beyond the mind (stage 4). Sloww synthesizes the timeless art of living for our modern world because we aren’t taught how to live in school or the workplace—how to be conscious and holistic humans who live fully alive.
Stage 4 Student Focus:
- Seers: awakening and transcending the mind.
Stage 4 Topic Sampling:
- Philosophy, spiritual growth, mindfulness, wisdom, awareness, truth, consciousness, enlightenment, transcendence, etc.
Stage 4 Book Recommendations:
- A Calendar of Wisdom by Leo Tolstoy, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, On The Shortness Of Life by Seneca, Thought as a System by David Bohm, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, Awareness by Anthony De Mello, Spiritual Enlightenment by Jed McKenna, Being Myself by Rupert Spira, Be As You Are by Ramana Maharshi, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, and more books here.
Important Note: Lighter living (stage 1), life purpose (stage 2), and mental mastery (stage 3) are transcended and included in stage 4.
Where is Sloww going in the future?
Here’s my full reading list (Google Spreadsheet). I’ve currently read roughly 20% of the list. If you browse the remaining books, here are some of the topics I’m interested in exploring more:
- Personal Sovereignty: self-sufficiency, self-reliance, resilience, permaculture, Game B, etc.
- Better Thinking: learning science/theories, systems thinking, metacognition, meta-crisis, memes, mimetic desire, polarities, paradoxes, free will, etc.
- Information: the study of information itself/how it flows, information ecology/commons, hive mind/global brain, etc.
- The Natural World: universal laws/principles, big ideas from big disciplines (physics, biology, etc), complexity, energy, evolution, emergence, biomimicry, etc.
- Spiritual Texts & Indigenous Wisdom: The Bhagavad Gita, The Upanishads, The I Ching, The Bible, enlightenment, consciousness, truth, reality, etc.
- Human Development Frameworks: Integral Theory, Spiral Dynamics, etc.
Why the name “Sloww”?
Obviously, Sloww at stage 1 makes the most explicit sense:
- In Nov 2015, I was in the midst of an existential crisis. I had been working 60/70/80-hour weeks consistently for the better part of a year. I was consumed by busyness. And, I tried to offset my hard work with lifestyle inflation (hint: didn’t work). On Christmas Eve 2015, I bought the domain name. On Christmas Day 2015, I emailed my dad: “Just bought the domain Sloww.co. Not sure what I want to do with it yet, but I’ve been inspired reading about downshifting, minimalism, simple living, and the slow movement.” My crisis was the beginning of the end of my glorification of busy and unconscious consumption—the beginning of my awakening to intentional living.
Fun Fact: Someone once asked me why Sloww ends in “ww”:
- It’s just a fun play on the word “slow” that adds some emphasis and extra meaning—like when you catch yourself speeding through life or reacting too quickly and mentally tell yourself to “slowwww down.” It also represents the slowness needed to be present and dive deeply into anything in life (as outlined below).
Sloww at stages 2-4 is a bit more implicit:
- Slowing down is the gateway to create space to discover purpose, the gateway to the mind, and the gateway beyond the mind.
These days, the name could even be an acronym for how I sum up my own purpose:
- Sloww = Synthesizing Lots Of Worldly Wisdom
The name also encapsulates my thinking and writing process:
- All of these processes are slow and time/attention/energy-consuming (going wide and deep): researching, curating, reading, note-taking, summarizing, synthesizing, and writing.
The name also implies compounding that only happens over the long-term:
- Building a mental latticework of knowledge is slow and compounds over time.
- Building a business is slow and compounds over years.
- Human development is slow and evolves/emerges over decades.
- Mother Nature takes her time over generations, centuries, and beyond.
Last, but certainly not least, the name is contrarian:
- Everything today is about faster being better. But, is that really true? “Sloww” makes you pause, question, and think.
- The word “slow” often has negative connotations. But, are they really true? Pause. Question. Think.
It turns out the simple idea of slowing down was just the seed—it continues to evolve and emerge. And, I feel like I’m just getting started.
Reader Feedback Request:
- What is Sloww to you (in your own words)?
- Has Sloww helped you in one or more of the four stages mentioned above (or with something else)?
- How has Sloww actually impacted your life?
Anything goes here. I’d love to better understand Sloww through your worldview and words. If you’re comfortable sharing publicly, please leave a comment below. If you’d rather message me privately, please reach out via email or social media.
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