Post by Nadia Asparouhova

Idea Machine: a network of operators, thinkers, and funders, centered around an ideology, that’s designed to turn ideas into outcomes.

Related: funding, research institutions

An Idea Machine is a self-sustaining organism that contains all the parts needed to turn ideas into outcomes:

  • It starts with a distinct ideology, which becomes a memetic engine that drives the formation of a community
  • The community’s members start generating ideas amongst themselves
  • Eventually, they form an agenda, which articulates how the ideology will be brought into the world. (Communities need agendas to become idea machines; otherwise, they’re just a group of likeminded people, without a directed purpose.)
    • Does agenda come first or ideas? I would think agenda first for more autocratic orgs and ideas for more autopoietic orgs
  • The agenda is capitalized by one or several major funders, whose presence ensures that the community’s ideas can move from theory to practice – both in terms of financing, as well as lending operational skills to the effort. (Without funding, an idea machine is just that: an inert system that needs fuel to turn the crank and get it moving.)

Idea machines are different from movements, which are focused on achieving a specific outcome and are therefore self-limiting (if they succeed, the movement winds down). On the other end of specificity, idea machines are less broad than paradigm shifts, which are widespread, headless, decentralized shifts in cultural norms and attitudes due to changes in systemic conditions.


  1. Ideology: a mimetic engine that drives the formation of a community
  2. Agenda: articulates how the ideology will be brought into the world
  3. Funders: presence ensures the community’s ideas can move from theory to practice
  4. Scene builder: sustain the community, develop the agenda, attract new members
  5. Operators: driver operating initiatives which lead to real outcomes
  6. Support organizations: infrastructural organizations whose purpose is to strengthen the values and best practices of the idea machine