Codex Vitae

Just finished Robin Sloan’s very fun book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel. Here are my Kindle highlights on it.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the idea of a Codex Vitae:

“And this is the other treasure. Following in the Founder’s footsteps, every member of this fellowship produces his or her own codex vitae, or book of life. It is the task of the unbound. Fedorov, for example, who you know”—he nods to me—“is one of these. When he is finished, he will have poured everything he has learned, all his knowledge, into a book like these.”

The Codex Vitae is something that special members of this fellowship “earn” the right to create, after rising up in the ranks. When written, it’s submitted to the fellowship, approved, and encrypted. 3 copies are made of the book, 1 goes to the central library, and 2 others go to branch libraries in other parts of the world. The key to the encryption is only given to 1 person, and it remains a secret until the writer’s death.

Such an interesting idea.

To pour everything you’ve learned into a book, to be made public upon your death. A sort of immortality, a summary of your life’s meaning and learning.

We should all do this.

I was sort of surprised to think about this and realize that we as a culture don’t do this very consistently or well. This, as in, summarize and store our most strongly held beliefs, our most painfully wrought lessons, etc.

It reminded me a little bit of my Beliefs file, hosted publicly on Github so I’m able to track changes over time.

Beliefs diff

Github works really well for this because you can comment on changes, see how things change over time, fork it, branch it. There’s something magical about treating beliefs like code. It’s the code that runs our perspective of the world.

I also track other things this way. Such as my life list, my manifesto/rules for living, and even my raw genome.

Who else is interested in this kind of thing? Any interest in starting a group up about it? Join the discussion on this branch (I’m accepting everyone who requests to join).


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