Daily Balajisms - Reverse diaspora
Cloud formations take physical shape
Almost ten years ago in 2013, Balaji Srinivasan wrote an article Software is reorganizing the world. He mentions there his concept of a reverse diaspora - one that starts out internationally distributed, finds each other online, and ends up physically concentrated.
You can gather people, who are aligned in values and interests, one by one, and build your community in the noosphere, with its capital city in the cloud. And later get fragments of it printed out on land, in the geosphere. Like a city for CrossFitters, or a Culdesac for car-free people.
Software isn’t just eating the world, turning every company into software company, as Marc Andreessen wrote in 2011. It makes people move to places, after they discover their soulmates across the globe. We have seen people gathering at Burning Man. Balaji wants to see something more permanent, like a Building Man, or Olympics for builders.
The frontier has reopened after 100 years again, when commerce became legal on internet in 1991. There are no unclaimed plots of land, but anyone could start their .com domain in the cloud. The cloud cartography is characterized by geodesic distance, the degrees of separation of two nodes in a network.
People can be separated by a physical ocean, but are next to each other in a network and the noosphere. Balaji thinks that this state will not last forever. Now we don’t know our next-door neighbors in an anonymous apartment complex, but share intimate moments with people across the globe. But a mobile is making us more mobile, and AR glasses, as the next convergence device, will 10x that.
Two people can meet online and spend a life together. 10 people can live in a hacker house for a year. Thousands can gather for a couple of days, to attend an annual conference of their digital tribe. This has no physical upper bound, so we might see 10,000 people coming together for a year and cloud towns, cloud cities and cloud countries emerge, writes Balaji in 2013.
Communes, co-living and co-housing are not new, what is new is the mobility and speed provided by technology. Web3 enables what Balaji calls a crowdchoice – sovereign collectives negotiating collective exit with existing cities and jurisdictions.
Something like the recent exodus of tech talent from SF to Miami, but organized by a network union that wants to crowdfund real-estate and become a network archipelago, to use terms from Balaji’s book The Network State.
These network unions emerge out of startup societies, which can be established by anyone with a laptop and a compelling moral innovation in the form of The One Commandment - like “sugar bad” for a Keto Kosher startup society.
Silicon Valley migrant tech entrepreneurs are a reverse diaspora created by the internet. The physical location was incidental and dictated by car commute of VC investors. Remote work changed that.
These reverse diasporas, or cloud formations that take physical shape, are much easier to realize today, thanks to the moral/cultural innovation of remote work after Covid-19, and technical innovation of Starlink.
We keep in touch with family and friends on Facebook/WhatsApp. We order meals and rides through Uber. Balaji says, when goods themselves can't be digitized, our interface to them will be.