Some cognitive theories define culture as a distributed cooperative substrate, and an essential component of "cognition in the wild".

The book "The Secret of Our Success" which establishes that "culture" is that secret ingredient, presents numerous anecdotes to support its thesis. One of these is in the extraordinary hardship that Western colonial explorers faced when arriving on strange lands. Despite their apparently excellent skills, intelligence, and physical shape, they nonetheless struggled to survive.

The book reasons that raw intelligence isn't enough - and what they lacked was the relevant cultural knowledge that had evolved amongst the local inhabitants of that region over centuries or milenia.

Today it's clear that we are facing a similar crisis as more of civilization's coordination and communication systems are remade through the internet and digital technologies. Over time, new cultural norms will emerge to help us with foreign demands like attention management, but for the time being we find ourselves mostly afloat, with this knowledge either non-existent, only partially effective, or localized and so far poorly disseminated.

While technology companies aren't incentivized to guide the formation of "positive" or "healthy" cultures, I'd argue that they are largely oblivious to it. Without a vocabulary to describe it, or processes to help seed it, they will continue to blindly shape it through unsophisticated product development decisions.

Our primitive culture is the source of …