The Culture Compass

7 min readJun 23, 2021

How to navigate the flux of culture for commerce


The Culture Compass is a navigation device for understanding, predicting and hopefully capitalizing on shifts in culture.

Across any number of vectors, culture swings like a pendulum, gaining momentum in one direction before reaching an apogee, only to swing back with ever greater force in the opposite direction. Even before cultures around the world reached the levels of polarization we currently see, things would move in one direction and then swing backwards, sometimes violently.

At the most macro, political level, it’s hard not to have noticed how in the USA having its first black president seemed to lead to a lot of racism and the president that followed. In part, this is simply repackaging the idea of mainstream and counter-culture, which by definition exist in counterpoint to each other, shifting over time as some things that are fringe counter-culture get absorbed into the mainstream and monetized and so on.


1 Also called pendulum law. Physics. A law, discovered by Galileo in 1602 that describes the regular, swinging motion of a pendulum by the action of gravity and acquired momentum

2 the theory holding that trends in culture, politics, etc. tend to swing back and forth between the opposite extremes

Cultural pendula operate all over scales and concepts, especially in relation to waves in popular culture, which is of both mirror and progenitor of culture writ large.

In popular creative culture, there is a 30 year nostalgia pendulum:

“The pattern is this: pop culture is forever obsessed with a nostalgia pendulum that regularly resurfaces things from 30 years ago.”

essentially because as people grow up to be producers and consumers of culture they harken back to their own childhoods.

Using the Culture Compass for the Holistic View


Hello! I'm Faris. I'm looking for the awesome. Founder/Genius Steals. Itinerant Strategist//Speaker. Author of Paid Attention.