This is a curated list of resources we found helpful along the way. Links to commercial websites are not affiliate links. If you spot any errors (e.g., if we have done a poor job summarizing your article or project), feel free to raise an issue. If you have something you think we should read, raise an issue as well and use the provided template “Suggested Reading”.

Education and Theory

Thinking in Systems (Donnella H. Meadows) Introductory book on systems thinking. Great for building in intuition around feedback loops. [Link]

Breaking the Social Media Prism (Chris Bail) Book making the case that social platforms can be engineered to be less polarizing. Aggregates many studies that provide a theoretical basis. [Link]

Micromotives and Macrobehavior (Thomas Schelling) Mathematical and game theoretical models for equilibrium and emergent order in social systems. Understand how individual behaviors aggregate and express themselves in system-wide phenomena. [Link]

The Strategy of Conflict (Thomas Schelling) Very influential book on game theory. Explanations on games with multiple equilibria. Introduces the now famous idea of a Schelling point. [Link]

The Evolution of Cooperation (Robert Axelrod) Shows how computer programs optimizing for multi-round prisoner’s dilemma games choose “tit-for-tat” strategies. Evolutionary approaches about which strategy survives in the long run. Great insights as to how people are able to actually trust each other and cooperate in society despite each person looking after our own interest. [Link]

Entropy (for data science) Clearly Explained!!! (StatQuest) Youtube video explaining surprisal and entropy. [Link]

Information content (Wikipedia) Article on surprisal (= information content). Well-written and provides some useful intuitions. [Link]

Neural Networks: Zero to Hero (Andrej Karpathy) Course on neural networks. [Link]

Probability Monad (github/jliszka) Scala library to play around with probability distributions. Especially interesting to explore the implementation of a distribution as a monad. [Link]

Bayesian Networks and Causality (Jason Liszka) Great to get a good understanding of the concept of causality in probability theory. [Link]

How Hacker News ranking really works: scoring, controversy, and penalties (Ken Shirriff) Explanation of the Hacker News ranking algorithm. Still relevant, even though the article is old. [Link]

How Not To Sort By Average Rating (Evan Miller) Famous article about the pitfalls of ranking elements with ratings. [Link]

Bayesian Average Ratings (Evan Miller) Article on how to use Bayesian averaging to sort by ratings. [Link]

Causality for Machine Learning Free course discussing causality in the context of machine learning. [Link]

A frequentist approach to probability (Jason Liszka) Walk-through on building a probability monad from scratch. Very good to build intuitions around probability. Provocative reading if you think in a Bayesian way. [Link]

Polis Knowledge Base List of explanations and resources provided by Note that many links don’t seem to work anymore, but there are still many useful ones. [Link]

Network Science (Albert-Laszló Barabási) Free course on network science. [Link]

Emergence of Scaling in Random Networks (Albert-Laszló Barabási and Réka Albert) Famous paper on a random network model with preferential attachment. Insights on self-organization in complex networks. Short read. [Link]

Polis: Scaling Deliberation by Mapping High Dimensional Opinion Spaces Paper on the technology behind They use PCA and dimenionality reduction techniques to infer an opinion space informally (i.e., without explicit mapping of arguments). [Link]

Bridging-Based Ranking (Aviv Ovadya) Explanations and background on bridging-based ranking. [Link]

Bridging Systems Resources on bridging-based ranking. Links to a paper with an in-depth explanation and discussion of briding-based ranking. [Link]

Understanding Bridge-Based Ranking (Jonathan Warden) Explanation of the bridging-based ranking algorithm. [Link] [Hacker News discussion]

What do I think about Community Notes? (Vitalik Buterin) Explanation on and opinions about Community Notes. [Link]

‘Generative CI’ through Collective Response Systems (Aviv Ovadya) Working paper on collective response systems and how they could enable “Generative Collective Intelligence”. [Link]

Distributed Bayesian Reasoning Introduction (Jonathan Warden) Discussion of how Bayesian reasoning could work on a collective level to achieve collective intelligence. [Link]

Liberty and the News (Walter Lippmann) Very short set of essays. But very inspiring. Good first reading of Walter Lippmann. [Link]

Public Opinion (Walter Lippmann) Lippmann’s most well known work. Worth reading. [Link]

The Enigma of Reason (Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber) Explains reason as a social mechanism to convince people to do things. [Link]

Canonical Debate Lab White Paper Outlines the problem of debate on the Internet today. Proposition of a solution using debating tech. [Link]

Argumentation Framework (Wikipedia) Article on the argumentation framework proposed by Phan Minh Dung. Formal approach to mapping and relating arguments. Influential in academia, e.g., in the field of AI. [Link]

Crucial Concepts in Argumentation Theory (F. H. van Eemeren) Quite dense and academic. But worth a skim. Discusses concepts like implied premises, argument structure (linked vs convergent arguments, a handy concept), and other things it is at least worth being familiar with. [Link]

The Uses of Argument (Stephen E. Toulmin) Seminal book on argumentation theory. Introduces the influential “Toulmin Model” of argument. [Link]

Aggregating Sets of Judgements: An Impossibility Result (Christian List and Philip Petit) I am not sure this is the best paper on “Judgment Aggregation” but it is one entryway into the academic thinking on this subject. [Link]

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (Clay Shirkey) Book on how social platforms on the Internet enable new forms of spontaneous self-organization of crowds. [Link]

Deliberati Website (Jonathan Warden) Series of articles on how to improve conversations on the Internet. [Link]

Improving the Hacker News Ranking Algorithm (Felix Dietze and Johannes Nakayama) Identifies a feedback loop in the Hacker News ranking algorithm which leads to many great submissions being overlooked. Proposes a modified formula that solves the problem. Lead to creation of this demonstrator. [Link] [Hacker News discussion]

Truthtelling Games (Jonathan Warden) How to get people to tell the truth on the Internet using game theory. [Link]

Information Elicitation Mechanisms: Paying for Truth (Jonathan Warden) How to pay people to tell the truth, even if you can’t verify their answers. [Link]

Quality Assurance in a Structured Collaborative Discussion System (Felix Dietze) Master thesis on a hypergraph-based discussion system. [Link]


Social Protocols (Joseph M. Reagle Jr.) First use of the term “social protocol” that we know of (mid to late 90s). [Link]

Truth in the Time of Coronavirus (Jonathan Warden) How social media companies optimize for engagement and inadvertantly give misinformation an unfair advantage. Would serve well as a mission statement for what Social Protocols is trying to build. [Link]

Collective Intelligence Design Challenges (Canonical Debate Lab, CDL) Write-up on collecive intelligence systems. [Link]

How to hack Hacker News (and consistently hit the front page) Interesting write-up on how someone tried gaming the Hacker News algorithm. Exemplifies the kind of thinking you need to understand incentives in algorithmic content curation. [Link]

The Quiet Death of Ello’s Big Dreams Cautionary tale about the decline of Ello, a social network for creatives. [Link] [Hacker News discussion]

Why Twitter was right to replace stars with hearts, and why you hate it (Joscha Bach) Tongue-in-cheek discussion of Twitter’s replacement of stars by hearts. Interesting to think about semantics of buttons. Discussion of global brain vision at the end. [Link]

Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software (Clay Shirkey) Good thoughts about engineering positive culture in social platforms. [Link]

Twitter’s Recommendation Algorithm High-level overview of X’s recommendation algorithm. [Link] [Hacker News discussion]

Design thoughts for building a better kind of social space with many webs of trust Discussion of the unrealized potential of webs of trust as a decentralized institution for appointing moderators and curators (abstract provided in the article). [Link]

Kasparov versus the World (Wikipedia) A correspondence chess game between then world champion Garry Kasparov and “the world”, a large open forum coordinated by a few chess prodigies. It’s a fascinating experiment in collective coordination. Kasparov also wrote a book about it. [Link] [Hacker News discussion]

Talks and Podcasts

Simple Made Easy (video) (Rich Hickey) Talk on how and why to build simple systems. [Link]

Can Internet Debating Have Value (In the Bin Podcast) Interesting and exciting to see the world of a philosopher of rhetoric and argumentation theory intersecting with the world of software engineers who have come at the problem of effective debate and argument from completely different places. [Link]

Other Projects

Community Notes Guide Introductory articles on X’s community notes (formerly known as Birdwatch). [Link]

Canonical Debate Lab Group of researchers from around the world working on debating technology that favors productive discourse. [Link] Mapping debates with an informal argument model. Focus groups at scale. Has been used in digital democracy experiments in Taiwan. [Link]

Metaculus Crowd-sourcing forecasts on real events. [Link] [Hacker News discussion]

News Minimalist Filter large amounts of news articles for the most relevant ones. Uses an LLM-powered relevance score. [Link]

Kialo Collaborative debating tool using argument trees. [Link]

Society Library Mapping and archiving societies’ viewpoints through argument and debate mapping. An explainer video can be found here. [Link]

Socratrees Creating an environment for productive discussion through argument mapping and debate trees. [Link]