Daily Balajisms – Network Archipelago
Escaping global harmonization with special innovation zones.
Balaji Srinivasan’s concept of the network archipelago is a new kind of physical social network – where a highly-aligned community manifests its collective action in the physical world and crowdfunds properties around the globe. Indonesia’s islands are connected by the sea, a network archipelago is connected by the digital ocean of the internet and blockchains.
Network archipelago is a third step in Balaji’s vision of network states – a digitally-native form of nation building. Anyone with a laptop can do the first step – launch a startup society with a clear moral innovation in the form of The One Commandment (like “sugar is bad” for a Keto Kosher society). These startup societies will be the new SaaS – Society as a Service, says Balaji.
The second step of forming a network union is much harder. Because it is a social network, with a leader and a clear purpose, that is capable of collective action, and has orders-of-magnitude higher levels of engagement than current social networks.
If you have a million followers on twitter today, you might get 2,000 likes per tweet. Which is a 0.2% engagement rate. A network union would get close to 100% of its members engaged in a collective action – like retweeting a tweet by a member or fundraising for a member in need.
Some network unions can remain purely digital, and don’t need to become network archipelagos. But, if their moral innovation requires interactions in the physical world, they need to eventually crowdfund territory. Balaji says: cloud first, land last, but not land never. Like a reverse diaspora.
The network union can create its capital city in the cloud – and have VR meetups in the metaverse. The network archipelago then consists of physical printouts or fragments from the digital-first community. Balaji thinks that AR glasses are the most predictable invention of this decade, and they will make secret societies return. For example, only holders of certain NFTs will be able to identify other members through glowing sigils.
A network archipelago with a sufficient traction, proven by an on-chain census of population, its wealth and real-estate footprint, will be able to achieve diplomatic recognition and get to the final level of a network state.
These network archipelagos are fractal – there can be single houses, office spaces or clubs in some locations, and even whole apartment complexes, cul-de-sacs, gated communities and towns in other places. Balaji often mentions an example of Google offices with a similar branding and culture – which you can enter if you are an employee anywhere in the world.
Network archipelagos will be about community-first and business second, and can be thought of as private clubs with membership and an ability to do franchise deals with other network unions and network archipelagos.
China after Deng Xiaoping gradually embraced capitalism and a moral innovation of “profit is good” through special economic zones, that were exempt of the national regulation. Over decades, this created a $100T wealth unlock and brought hundreds of millions out of poverty.
Similarly, network archipelagos (and network states) will try to escape global harmonization of regulation and create special innovation zones – for longevity, drones, self-driving cars and (keto, vegan, carnivore…) diets.
Ultimately, the aim of these moral innovations and special innovation zones is to increase human freedom and wealth, lifespans and healthspans, and to help the powerless and the power users to pursue their dreams.