Everybody has bias when thinking about the future. For me, it’s an odd combination of catastrophizing and idealizing it. I see worrying trends and tend to extrapolate, but I also see the good in things and believe it will win out in the long-run. We may be headed for rough times, but it’s up to us to sow the seeds for brighter days beyond that. Going “long on civilization” is what gets me out of bed each day.
This glass-half-full perspective tints how I see Web3. I am aware of many of the risks inherent in blockchain technologies. And while I do my best to call these out, my fundamental orientation is one of “appreciative inquiry.” I also believe that the best way to make blockchain economics good for society is by painting this picture as though it were already so.
Nine years ago, I gave a TEDx talk about the future and what I was then calling the “soulful company.” When I watch it today, I cringe at how I used actual companies to try to illustrate what I was then feeling. It’s not just that some of them have so obviously fallen from grace. There’s just something inherently tinny about talking explicitly about the soul. I knew the risks at the time, and something still gave me the courage to proceed. I found myself inexplicably drawn to this idea, an excitement you can probably feel in the last few minutes of this talk.
I knew that something was on the horizon, and it wasn’t Google, Southwest Airlines, or even REI. It’s only been over this last year, however, that I have begun to understand what that was. That “something new, something beautiful, and powerful” that I was sensing in this talk was the blockchain — even though I had no idea what that was at the time.
Blockchain technologies offer us a choice. We can use them to replicate the mistakes of our past. Or we can use them to forge a new path. I believe these tools create a window of opportunity to fundamentally re-imagine how we design economies. I believe they can serve as a mighty forge for building what we need to go long on civilization. And in the process, they might just help us build that soulful organization.