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The Network State

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I’ve been reading an online book called The Network State by Balaji Srinivasan. It’s an interesting read and well worth the time in my humble opinion. The author sums up the idea in one informal sentence thusly:

A network state is a highly aligned online community with a capacity for collective action that crowdfunds territory around the world and eventually gains diplomatic recognition from pre-existing states.

Balaji Srinivasan

The main idea is that with the advent of technology communities are not confined to contiguously connected parcels of land. Although land is a very important part of the authors vision. Also interesting is that unlike so many movements the author understands that his vision won’t work for everyone and encourages the reader to take his ideas and adapt them to their communities.

Picture a start-up but instead of a business it’s a country.

Facebook is huge. Its user base surpasses the size of many countries. Facebook has oscillated on issuing their own crypto currency but when it does it will instantly become one of the most traded currencies in the world. It would also consolidate Facebook’s own virtual economy. Of course nobody trusts Facebook, and trust is a huge component when you are trying to create an online economy.

The Network state examines how new entities that create online economies ( with a purpose! ) can croud-source their way into becoming physical manifestations of those cryptoeconomies. The idea is to “populate the land from the cloud” – start your community online and from there build out co-living communities of a “union” of voluntary participants IRL.

A Geopolitical Force

The end game is to become such a geopolitical force, with an economy of billions of dollars, that eventually the new network state will gain recognition as a sovereign state. Theoretically this new state, with initially ideologically aligned and eventually geographically aligned people, will be superior to states made up of fractured sub cultures.

I don’t care if it’s the Free State Project, the Amish, or an online community that becomes a pseudo country, I am all for the free association of people. Even if you disagree with the author’s vision there are so many good / interesting ideas in this book that it is well worth the read.

None other than Vitalik Buterin says:

“We’ve started new currencies. Now The Network State shows us how to start new cities and new countries.”