TheNetworkState and its Personal Toll | GratitudeSeries 27/60

Reading "The Network State" by Balaji Srinivasan in 2022 was a roller coaster experience. Since reading it I have become a better person for sure. As Balaji was releasing his chapters one by one, I was publishing snippets of my book, 'TheInternetOfValue' for feedback.

As Srinivasan released chapters of his work, I noticed a common flaw in many proposed solutions: 1) attempts to fix capital, and 2) urging one institution to morph into another, like a state becoming a market or vice versa in 'The Network State'. This approach overlooks the distinct optimization functions of states and markets as separate entities.

During my second year at the LeeKuan Yew School of Public Policy, we had the opportunity to choose courses from the NUS Business School. I took a course titled 'Commercialising Technology'. This course involved selecting technology from A*STAR, coming up with a venture-fundable business plan, negotiating technology usage fees to factor in the cost, and finally pitching it in front of the Venture Capitalists. with creators, mediated by A*STAR. This experience, juxtaposed with my previous year at the public policy school, highlighted clear differences in decision-making approaches: optimizing for revenue in business versus focusing on societal good in policy.

This dichotomy underlines my issue with states trying to emulate markets, as suggested by Mariana Mazzucato's 'Mission Economy' and markets trying to emulate states in Srinivasan's 'Network State'. The talks of public good in the crypto and web3 space are also a directional pointer for us. I stay strong in my opinion that states and markets should retain their distinct roles, with our goal being to strengthen the third pillar: the community.

In 2022, while reading "The Network State," I grappled with self-doubt and questioned my capabilities. This fear led me to explore spirituality, fitness, and deepen my understanding of the web3 world, token engineering, and finance.

Srinivasan's book taught me that while some can contemplate changing the entire system, someone like me needs to focus on personal change, laying a foundation for systemic transformation.

Definition of a network state: "a highly aligned online community" that could transform into a physical entity through collective action and crowdfunding illuminated new possibilities for societal organization​​. This highly-aligned online community, if curated around skills we got TheInternetOfValue. I acknowledge the need for books like TheNetworkState as they start conversations and dialogues like these.

Creation of a Network State: Srinivasan envisions a 'Network State' as a polis with a transhumanist mission, starting as a virtual university that bootstraps a digital economy, eventually becoming a new opt-in political entity. These 'cloud cities' allow members to collectively negotiate with existing jurisdictions and crowdfund physical territories​​.

Srinivasan's discourse on the historical context of societal evolution and the significance of a collective moral compass provided clarity during a time of personal and professional introspection. His ideas on technological determinism and the trajectory model of history helped me understand the role of technology in shaping our future​​.

Thank you, Balaji Srinivasan, for "The Network State" and for the last quote in Tamil. I eagerly await the opportunity to meet you!

If you’re curious about how this idea could pan out within skill-based community economy, do check out TheInternetOfValue

Thank you,

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