Daily Balajisms – Identity Stack
People are patriotic about different things, places, and networks.
Balaji Srinivasan says that when social media started, people put in their twitter bios locally-patriotic things – like someone being “a proud dad, local sports team fan, who loves his hometown”. But over time people became network-patriotic, rooting for their team in the noosphere.
Twitter bios represent a very precious and limited real-estate, where you can put only the most important information about yourself. Over time, people put in their twitter bios hashtags that show tribal affiliation.
Hence the identity stack – what are you most patriotic and tribal about?
He mentions how some people get offended when someone criticizes San Francisco and its sad post-apocalyptic vibe. Balaji realized that people are patriotic about different things, some about countries, some about cities and some about currencies, brands, and programming languages.
Someone can be a fan of Apple, Tesla, or totally into biking. Some people, like Balaji, aren’t into watching beautiful sceneries and sun setting over their beloved city. They care about ideas or technologies. Instagram is for people who go outside, he jokes.
Some people love Portugal, some their pets, and some their pet-projects.
People are increasingly assuming digitally-native identities around digitally-native artefacts, like bitcoin. And this network-patriotism will lead to crypto countries, or network states - a digitally-native form of nation-building.
Balaji says that the full-stack web3 engineer needs to have also a moral stack as a layer-0. What are your values and moral foundations? Y-Combinator has a motto “make things people want”. In the web3 era this is not enough.
Often startups use “seven deadly sins” to hook people to their services with showcasing immediate benefits. Balaji proposes something like seven lively virtues for startup societies – what immediate benefits does your startup society bring?
If web1 was about the tech-stack question “Can we build it?”, the web2 era was about “Will they buy it?” question of how to use the “immoral stack” of seven deadly sins to provide immediate benefits so we get the network effect and get as many new users as possible and as quickly as possible. The web3 era is about the question “Will they ban it?” and a need for a global stack of crypto-friendly and tech-friendly jurisdictions.
Crypto brought us into a full-stack era of technological, moral and global governance innovations. The identity stack includes a healthy dose of patriotism around morality, technology, and geography.
The core value proposition of crypto is “every user is a root user”. Crypto is making us into root-cosmopolitans.