I remember being at SWSX in Austin when I first heard of Twitter. Back then, SXSW was the place to launch exciting new ideas. I was walking to the event and bumped into someone on the street as we both walked to the event. He turned out to be the CTO of Pandora, which would later IPO, and be purchased for several billion dollars. But, then he was just a normal guy walking down the street to participate in the pageant of SXSW.
When you signed up for Twitter then, it was vastly different, I don’t even know if you could follow someone, so to increase engagement. you got assigned to random groups of people. Maybe it is a meme I’m twisting into my memory, or maybe this is a true memory, but I distinctly recall someone posting that they ate waffles for breakfast. I’m almost sure that was one of the first posts I saw in my new group. Immediately I thought: why do I care about this? Twitter has become something much greater in those 15 years, and often something much worse, but even then we could see that it would always be the unfiltered and excessive (and excessively) banal twisted around a few vitally interesting conversations.
Jack Dorsey has said recently he wants Twitter to be like a public utility. I’m not sure if that model would permit someone to share what they had for breakfast. Even though the internet has radically transformed how we communicate and brought the cost of that communication to almost zero, it isn’t actually zero. Every bit that moves across the internet has a cost associated with it.
This is why I got so excited last night when I stumbled across https://doge.hair. The author of the post on HN called it “Elon’s dream, a decentralized social network.” This is a social network where you can only participate by using dogecoin. It appears to me that each like, post and even updating your profile picture requires using a small amount of dogecoin. I indicated I was excited about it, and the owner asked me for my public address, gifted me some dogecoin, and I was participating. Participating without friction, it works just like Twitter.
What this means is that every single thing happening there is transactional. A huge question is what happens when every interaction is transactional? In therapy I’ve learned that when we start thinking transactionally about our relationships, it leads to counting, and that accounting inhibits connections and love. I’m not sure I agree with that, and I’m not sure it is possible for people to not count. so ingrained is the idea of assessing and evaluating our connections.
More specifically, every single thing has a transaction, and each transaction has a cost. That’s a big deal. If you have to pay to post “I’m eating breakfast” you might think about it more. If you are Kim Kardashian, maybe you don’t care, and that fits your accounting. But, maybe thiis kind of transactional social network would make people more thoughtful about what they say. Right now these social networks seem less thoughtful, mostly just triggering or manipulative, because there is no cost to posting, other than cancel culture, which is just manipulation from all sides anyway.
doge.hair is the first time I’ve seen a crypto project that just worked on my mobile device. I registered, the owner sent me doge (I could have done that from coinbase too if I wanted to transfer some funds that way). But, this ease of use and the ideas behind it strike me as something really, really special.