California, anon?

March 11, 2024

A few people believe that pseudonymous social profiles – often referred to as anons will gradually gain further status over the "old world", as physical objects and experiences become less attractive to generations who are building more socially and economically fulfilling existences online.

I recently read about the California Gold Rush which began in the late 1840s and continued until the mid 50s. It all started when someone named James W. Marshall reported finding gold about thirty-six miles east of Sacramento.

Over three-hundred thousand people travelled to California from the United States and abroad upon hearing this news, in the hope of making the same discovery. That's almost two million people relative to today's population.

The rush became a major catalyst for the population of Northern California to erupt, and by 1850 it was already declared a state.

You could make the point that California never stopped being a "gold rush" – the material simply changed, even becoming the immaterial, with The American Dream sweeping up the ambitions of people all over the world.

How is this relevant? Well, it's a good example of a historic land grab, and that's what we've been experiencing on the internet since it first became viable to build a business on the web in 1995.

Just as California's land grab transcended from digging in the dirt, to filming in it, the internet changed from being a read-only service to a medium you can actively participate in.

And now it's a place where individuals can not only participate, but own assets as well.

Ideas, or to put it more broadly, creativity, is becoming Sacramento's gold; publishing is now the only way to build reputation and status in these newly discovered lands.

Just like a one-way plane ticket can be a new life and identity, figuratively, the internet can be used to achieve the same but virtually.

A new reputation online no longer needs to co-exist with one that has already been established offline. In fact, because the creation of an entirely new identity can take place, many of the oldest reputational signals are no longer as relevant as they are in the real world.

University degrees, leveling up within an institution and existing influential connections, will gradually become less appealing signals in comparison to a catalogue of published work containing good ideas.

The requirement for trust to be contextualised within someone's personal identity can now instead be resolved through a history of microscopic footprints on the blockchain.

Footprints that point to and uncover specialised knowledge, community participation, and even full-blown companies and hedge funds... perhaps built by a 2D cat and his friends.