TL’DR: Julian gave us the motivation, Rick the inspiration, Vitalik the tools. Now it’s up to us.
You can just barely make out a new societal and economical model through a dense fog of mainstream media, advertising, sports and politics.
People are always yelling “society needs institutions like a free press, a democratic government and rule of law in order to have a free and open society”.
I would state it differently: a free and open society indeed needs an informed public, a way to govern themselves and a way to provide a means to create, share and exchange value, thereby enabling security.
The difference is that in the first belief we state the current solutions, ones we had from a time where we didn’t even have electricity. I can’t begin to explain to my kids how different the world was back then. I can only imagine how my 90 year old grandmother experiences the world today.
Innovation comes through identifying the problems you want to solve. Not by making the old solutions work better.
I use this frame of reference to show you how I see Swarm City positioned in a much larger universe of societal change.
When we look at the first problem, an informed public, we see Wikileaks showing through that fog — like how I imagine my great-great uncle must have seen the Statue of Liberty slowly piercing the fog when arriving at the New World after a brutal voyage. Wikileaks is taking things rather radical: they just provide the public with the information, leaving it to other people to give context to it, or create new stories out of it. They cut out the middlemen. Julian showed us how the world operates, so we get moved to change it.
The second problem is a way to govern. When Rick Falkvinge started the pirate party somewhat by accident, he tapped an underlying stream of consciousness that was waiting in cyberspace. These people finally found each other in real life, over beer and pizza. They have awesome ideas on how to self-govern. Everywhere (maybe not on TV) we see self-organising citizen groups. Rick gave us a tactical manual to organize around a shared belief, again cutting out the middlemen.
Third problem: a way to create value and exchange it. People are creative beings. Always looking for new stuff. It’s in our nature. Literally. So we always will create progress by wanting novelty. Technology and science always are the creator of wealth and progress. Vitalik gave us the tools to express, create and share value, and organize, by cutting out the middlemen.
By having created a technology that allows communities to have consensus over what is true, and not on what is thought to be true, blockchain technology has provided a way for people to finally start agreeing on something. Instead of having an opinion, or organising people with the same opinion, you can now just create value, exchange it and do whatever you damn well please with it. The problem now still is: in order to get technology in the hands of people, a lot of middlemen need to be paid and passed.
This is where we come in: we (and lots of other groups) are creating the simplest, first tools with which people will touch blockchain and decentralized technology for the first time. People will be able to organise themselves not only as “citizen movements”, but as groups of likeminded people that create value together. So instead of organising to poll the politicians to change their minds they can skip that step and start organizing around creating value by actually acting upon their ideas and beliefs.
We even will have to find new words for it: what do you call a movement of like-minded people that are generating and sharing value like a company, self-governing like a collective to find consensus over what should happen with profits?
If people criticize us for not communicating well about what exactly we are, it’s not that we do a shitty job, it’s that we ourselves don’t yet know what exactly we are. But it’s shaping into something tangible.
Over the last year we saw blockchain technology being applied to the low hanging fruits of the current internet. We see facebook / reddit translated into SteemIt, where the value you add is expressed in a token that keeps your value, allowing you to send it to other creators. It’s just a matter of time before someone does a decentralized youtube on ipfs with a token running on Ethereum.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Swarm City is “Twitter” in web 3.0. Where Twitter provides their users an easy way to quickly share bursts of information, we are creating the tools to quickly transact bursts of value. Ridesharing is just a first burst. Many more will follow.
In swarm.city, everybody can start a hashtag and maintain it. The hashtag itself is a company, a brand, a movement where you can build reputation for yourself. Profitable hashtags will have widgets to quickly format a request, for example creating a request in #ridesharing will give you a mapview, datepicker and everything else you need to complete a successful transaction. Groups of users can organise in hives, by agreeing on how value is shared.
Unlike Twitter the tools we are creating will be unstoppable and unable to censor.
I know the world loves how we can get information anytime, anywhere. I know the world loves organising for a better future. I know they will love creating, keeping, sharing and enjoying the value they create and consume.
We are standing at the forefront of a new technological phenomenon: the decentralized internet of value.
Let’s see what Swarm City can become in it.
Michael Thuy @kingflurkel
Swarm City Dev Team