Note — May 09, 2021

The New Frontier of Belonging

Let me prologue this one with a mention that if, like me, you have strong doubts about blockchains, the last part needs to be approached with an open mind, but the framing is intriguing, independent of current energy worries.

Tina He at Fakepixels considers cities, how we relate to them as citizens or tourists, and how these physical places have been replaced or added upon by digital spaces. How some parts of cities, or communities within, can form a dislocated whole across multiple geographies, for example when you recognize the places and people as “the same” even though you’ve just gone from Montréal to Berlin. Not a uniform sameness, various shared circles across distances.

However, the virtual places that enhance or sometimes replace the physical ones, are almost always situated on platforms, not owned by its citizens who are also extracted from and surveilled. So then, “without these platforms, can we still find our path to one another?” This is where the author switches to the DAO (Distributed Autonomous Organizations) and the possibilities of co-owned, blockchain-based, self-determined orgs which could replace today’s platform-owned “places.”

If not for energy, pollution, and common dodgyness of crypto, I’d be enthused at this vision. As it is, I’m intrigued and encourage you to have a read. He points at something that’s needed, but will it be built on top of a chain?

Nation states impose borders, stories erode them. Institutions design boundaries, human bondage destroy them. The vivacity of West Village, New York mirrors that of Marais, Paris. The unapologetically colored hairs of youth in Shibuya, Tokyo is reminiscent of those found in underground bars in Sanlitun, Beijing. It’s through the diversity of social fabric and creative activities that a city becomes a symbol, a myth, an idea that can take on a life of its own and permeates the collective psyche through the process of mimesis. […]

If digital nativism becomes the new residential state of the Information Age, how do we build places that foster creativity, reciprocity, and freedom and not be concerned by the invisible hand of an omnipresent ruler? How do we build places that are understanding of our increasingly fluid identities and intolerant of malice? […]

For the past years, the outsized narrative of DAO as an alternative to venture capital dims the light of its much more profound, and much more interesting potential — a fluid, programmable, modular social network that is by design global, transparent, and collaborative.