For some, online friends and connections are as important, if not more important, as those they make in person — in these cases, digital-first identities reign over geographic ones. What does a world where this is true for more people look like?
Former CTO of Coinbase, former general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, and all-around web3 expert Balaji S. Srinivasan has an idea. In his newly published book, he outlines steps for creating a network state, a digital-first alternative to a country, and romances a future where network states are widespread. His formal definition reads "[a] network state is a social network with a moral innovation, a sense of national consciousness, a recognized founder, a capacity for collective action, an in-person level of civility, an integrated cryptocurrency, an archipelago of crowdfunded physical territories, a virtual capital, and an on-chain census that proves a large enough population, income, and real-estate footprint to attain a member of diplomatic recognition."
In other words, a network state is a decentralized country. And, as his book goes on to explain, the first steps to starting one aren’t predicated on owning land, but on cultivating an online community that, when equipped with the right blockchain infrastructure, can eventually crowdfund physical nodes and collectively make decisions.
Building a fully-realized network state is a huge dream that may be out of reach today. But, to Instacart’s former Director of Product Jonathan Hillis, building a decentralized city is not.