Prototyping The Network State

The future of media is all about worldbuilding. Nation state building. And it starts with 1729 and The Network State.


The future of media is all about worldbuilding. Or in the context of this essay – nation state building. And it starts with The Network State.

Modern media is becoming purpose driven, crowdsourced narrative creation. This media uses new incentive models unique to the digital age. Through narrative creation and leveraging digital incentives, media organizations are able to lay the foundation to build communities. And as these communities form, they evolve into the precursors of digital age nation states.

For example: 1729 is building a technologically progressive, digital community and experimenting with this new media model. If successful, 1729 may form the foundation for what is referred to as The Network State. A network state is a concept for how modern nation states will form. First as digital communities (network states) and then settling in physical locations as nations.

1729 is creating a community with crowdsourced ideas, status, and monetary incentives to explore and build technology narratives of the digital age. Functioning like a search fund, the a goal is to identify and incentivize the growth of a diverse technological community. And if successful, it likely leads to the formation of a first iteration of The Network State.

This essay focuses on what 1729 is, how it accomplishes it’s objectives, and what we might expect from the publication and its community in the future.

What is 1729 & How It Supports Community Growth

The publication: Self describes as a “bootloader” , which is a key term that signals the publications longer term goal. It seeds the community it’s trying to build with ideas, digital age credentials, and monetary incentives. Simply put, 1729 or a sponsoring partner posts a task and asks community members to complete the task for compensation. Tasks serve many purposes but typically cover research and skill building in topics that are foundational elements to the technologically progressive community.

“The format of a Task may vary over time, however, the current intent and practice of 1729 is to publish a task brief (“Task Brief”) which describes the Task as well as the opportunity for a Task Completer to receive compensation (the “Task Reward” or “Reward”) for submitting a response to a Task (“Task Submission”).”

And these tasks function as digital nutrients to facilitate healthy community growth.

The publication is not an exclusive vehicle for the founder (Balaji Srinivasan) to share his personal thoughts directly. Rather – the publication is branded under the 1729 moniker so that there can be other community seeders (community sponsors) that participate.

In this way, 1729 can develop as an ecosystem of community builders that shape the ideological framework of the community. Ie: other businesses, individuals, and sponsors can provide ideas and incentives such as status and monetary payments to facilitate the community growth and engagement.

1729 – Worldbuilding the Network State

1729 is not just another platform for matching tasks with able bodied contractors. It is a worldbuilding campaign.

Worldbuilding is when an idea or theory is taken from a concept and created through action. Most people think of fiction writing when they hear the term worldbuilding. An author has a vision of a world in their mind and communicates that vision through written word.

But worldbuilding is more than creating works of fiction.

People become worldbuilders when they use their time, energy, and resources to build belief systems, processes, and companies to shape the world to make their vision a reality.

Worldbuilders are entrepreneurs. They create products, services, and/or concepts to shape the world with solutions to build the world a certain way.

So how is 1729 a Worldbuilder?

1729 has several core initiatives but two primary functions.

The first function is to distribute Balaji’s book, The Network State, in which he outlines his vision for how nation states will form in the digital age. This includes the technologies, the challenges, and the likely implications of how communities are forming online. By freely distributing this information, the 1729 community gains a common set of ideals that function as the communities foundational set of beliefs.

The second function of 1729, is to take the lessons of The Network State and apply them to create a prototype network state. 1729 accomplishes this using the other “initiatives”. All initiatives support identifying and attracting a specific community (technology progressives) to share knowledge and engage in common discourse.

Through it’s newsletter, readers are incentivized to share work with the publication and the broader community. Further, the publication incentivizes certain activities and keystone behaviors that it identifies as important for community members to act on. Activities thus far have focused on education, skill building, and personal wellness. By performing these activities, readers help themselves adapt to the digital age while also coming together as a community to form the network state prototype.

As readers engage and build information capital assets related to common topics and ideals, they become network nodes. Active and passive participants in expanding and adding value to the community. These network nodes are the foundational elements for the network state.

How This Project Facilitates A DAO Based Network State

What comes next for the 1729 project?

There will be more meaningful support of the emerging community from third party sponsors. And early task participants will likely emerge as micro influencers that have higher status within the community.

These micro-influencers are best explained by what Nadia Eghbal described as independent researchers “gentlemen scientists. In this context, the gentlemen scientists are passionate community members that want to self fund a portion of the community building process to align with their vision of the network state.

1729 is training both institutions and individual to understand the importance of independent research and user generated content. As Eghbal wrote, “Institutions can also help enable more independent research.”

One of the byproducts of 1729’s newsletter is a generation of creators, empowered through independent research, entrepreneurship and content creation. Without the need for late industrial age gatekeepers like media organizations, universities, and traditional governments.

We can also expect walled garden communities to form from within the prototype network state community. Filled with individuals and sponsors that repeatedly provide and complete tasks that grow the community and become influential. They’ll need private spaces to coordinate activities without fear of conversations being taken out of context in a cancel culture world. Similar to the many developer communities that form along open source projects.

And because of the decentralized way in which 1729 is trying to facilitate a crowdsourced community and set of ideals, we can expect the formation of a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization).

This DAO will eventually function as the community governance mechanism. It will also provide codified rules and agreed upon ideals for the community to adhere to. And ultimately, it will function as a vehicle that raises meaningful capital to support the growing number of community initiatives. Eventually leading to the acquisition of land for the physical manifestation of the network state.

Final Thoughts – The Network State

1729 is a prototype. More of a minimum viable product than anything at this point. But the idea and potential success of this community building initiative is fascinating.

Consider that at this point, 1729 is funded by a small group of sponsors with a shared vision. This will only get the community so far. I’d expect to see some experimentation with a variety of business models in the near future. A way for community growth to become self sustainable. Further, I expect we’ll also see more robust community mechanisms will be introduced. Message boards, discord channels, and other community oriented communications tools that will compound community development.

In the long run, we may never see this project evolve into the network state. Regardless, it will provide many valuable lessons for future nation states that emerge in the digital age. And that makes the 1729 project worth following and participating in.

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Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

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