(2021-05-11) The Network Union
Balaji Srinivasan: The Network Union. the network union, a social graph organized in a tree-like structure with a leader, a purpose, a crypto-based financial and messaging system, and a daily call-to-action. cf DAO, cooperative
it's a way to go from an influencer posting online to a scaled community with digital bylaws, crowdfunding capability, a track record of collective bargaining on behalf of its members, and a numerically quantifiable level of social capital. It is thus an intermediate form between mere online communities and full-fledged network states.
Robert Putnam observed 20 years ago that Americans were now bowling alone... the forces that are quietly fixing this situation can be observed all around us: they are the organic groups that have been forming on the internet for the last twenty years, like subreddits, Facebook groups, Telegram channels, and online forums.
with blockchains we can power them up dramatically, with backlinks we can quantify their support base, and with the concept of a network union we can re-conceptualize their very purpose.
Blockchains are similarly transformative for social networks, as they provide a series of new tools. Consider for example a new social network organized around something as simple as issuing an Ethereum-based ERC-20 token to every member. This gives:..
While people have written about these ideas for years, up to this point we haven't really had the on-chain capacity to integrate these kinds of functions with social network workloads. But because many scaling techniques are pure software, and coming online fast, token-based social networks will soon arise.
A startup that achieves ambitious goals isn't staffed higgledy-piggledy from the population at large. It has a clear CEO, a flattish-but-hierarchical leadership structure, a definite culture, and an admission policy as selective as any university. This is very different from the entropic structure of social networks!
Put another way, there are significant gates on joining Facebook the company, and no gates whatsoever on joining Facebook the social network. (membrane)
One approach is to start thinking about social network structure in terms of backlinks, a concept popularized by search engines
the quantity of backlinks is by no means the only thing that matters; the quality does as well.
Backlinks allow us to quantify a leader's support base. (TrustMetric)
if the asymmetric act of merely choosing to follow someone is turned into the asymmetric act of choosing to follow their direction, we can summon an immediate mental visual of a digital leader's support base.
Mark Zuckerberg did not get elected to run a three billion person social network with no prior executive experience. He started it in his dorm room, and convinced every single person in his support base to join him over a period of 15+ years
There's one catch, though. The current quality of backlinks that founders generate when creating new companies, communities, and currencies is not sufficient for starting new cities and countries. One way to think about it is to note that it is considered legitimate for Mark Zuckerberg to give explicit direction to all fifty thousand Facebook employees, but not to all three billion Facebook users, even if he is in a sense the ultimate system administrator of the platform.
(Because) they didn't sign up to start a new city or a new country. But what if they did? What if we developed a new kind of social network, organized not as a social graph but a social tree, organized like a company hierarchy but at the scale of a city or state? Don't say that isn't possible, because founder-run Amazon scaled to 1.1 million employees, which already makes them bigger than dozens of UN member countries.
What common purpose are people organizing for at that scale, if not work? The answer is that they are organizing to defend their interests as a sovereign collective.
A network union is a global, mobile social network with an integrated blockchain and an explicit backlink structure, capable of collective bargaining with giant corporations and states alike. It is a check on the power of both concentrated capital and political capitols.
The blockchain component provides economic alignment, and the backlink component provides ideological alignment (shared mission). The leader provides clear direction (strategic context), and the network union has an actual purpose.
One day the network union may bargain on behalf of the collective for cheaper bulk purchases of a high-volume staple like masks. The next day it could negotiate with a payments platform to reinstate a deplatformed member. And the next day it might find a job for a union member down on her luck.