Let's start with another origin myth.

The idea of the flood is a big one. Noah, Gilgamesh, the fall of Atlantis... it's such a strong one that maybe it has some actual roots.

If you look back, you can read about the Toba catastrophe -- a volcanic super-eruption in Indonesia about 70,000 years ago. The argument goes that this eruption disturbed the atmosphere so much that the global temperature dropped about 5 degrees, and flipped the climate from warm to cold. It took decades to recover.

There is another bit of the story. If you look at DNA, sometime in humanity's history, it looks like once upon a time we passed through a population bottleneck... the human population of the planet has been decreased to maybe only a few thousand individuals, and we've recovered from there. Whatever was in the memories of those people, whatever they looked like, whatever tools they knew how to make, whatever weird quirks they had -- this is what we are now, all 7 billion of us.

That bottleneck happened 50 to 100 thousand years ago. And so, the claim goes, maybe it was caused by the Toba catastophe.

Now, who knows. I'm implying an analogy with the First Fleet, of course, that thousand person cultural seed just a few hundred years ago. And I won't be so crass as to imply an analogy with lean startups and how culture is created in companies, when they are small.

But I will say that if humanity did pass through that population bottleneck, and if it was caused by Toba, and if our myths of arks and Edens and emerging into a new world are cultural memories of that time, then I draw two lessons:

The first is that cultural memory is long, and myth is that memory.

And the second is that origins matter: We are all unfoldings from first principles and bottleneck populations. What was there when the world was small, is there, writ large, when the world is big.

Source: Image from Population Bottleneck article

Matt Webb, Web Directions South 2014 (Sydney, Australia), October 2014