I’ve been lurking around what’s possible when you want to publish content across a peer-to-peer network, and not on a central server or one owned by a hosting company.
And I’ve been watching the new wave of “domain/name” registrations on the blockchain, as an alternative to using central registries as we are currently used to.
UnstoppableDomains recently approached me, asking if I would consider publishing content with a new domain wmougayar.crypto. They kindly offered that domain to me.
Yesterday, I took the dive. I connected my Metamask to a new account on UnstoppableDomains, claimed my domain and registered it on the Ethereum blockchain, chose a template, published it on IPFS, then wrote my first blog post.
The whole experience was like being into a new world. I compared it to publishing my first website in 1995, or my first crypto transaction in 2013. You only get it when you actually do it.
To read my journey on the decentralized web, head over to wmougayar.crypto, but here’s the catch. If you’re on Chrome and desktop, you need to install this special Extension. If you’re on Android and mobile, you can use the Opera mobile browser where the capability for browsing .crypto domains is built-in. Both experiences become seamless.
This is clearly a v1 of what’s possible, and certainly, this experience is not optimized for mainstream adoption yet. But like most new technologies, they often start being a bit awkward and are mostly used by early adopters.
To read my post on the other side of the web, head over to wmougayar.crypto and let me know what you think if you do take the same dive in publishing one.
Since then, I’ve had direct experience and involvement in the first social currency that showed a decent adoption, Steemit, as well as with Kin, another large-scale cryptocurrency for socially-minded mobile apps.
[disclaimer, I was an early advisor to/holder of STEEM, and am currently on the Kin Foundation board, and hold KIN]
This brings us to wondering: How about a personal token for a brand or individual that is tied to their unique online presence, and one they directly own, control and use to coordinate how value is created across their community’s touch points?
That’s where Roll comes in. Roll is social (crypto) money that a personal brand can use to incentivize a variety of earn/spend activity for their community. Think of it like a personal loyalty points program, with the difference being:
you receive and manage your points as crypto-tokens in a special wallet, which means that you have custody of these tokens, and no one can take them away from you or arbitrarily force an expiry date.
you can spend them inside the community where you earned them, or across other services in the crypto universe- that’s the equivalent of using your United MilagePlus at a hotel or restaurant seamlessly.
you can exchange them for another cryptocurrency like ETH or BTC without asking anyone for authorization, so the equivalent would be to redeem your mileage points for their actual face value in dollars/euro/etc, with the additional twist that these points might appreciate in value based on a various demand/supply factors related to the economic strength of that specific currency.
To get this started, Roll has minted 10 million $WAM tokens, and that supply is fixed. It will never be increased nor change. Roll holds 12% of that supply, and I was given 2 million initial $WAM that I plan on distributing across the community I touch via this blog, social media or events I produce, such as the Token Summit. Every month, for the next 3 years, I will be issued a new number of $WAM that I can continue deploying.
How do you start?
You can earn $WAM via an action you take, or via a redeem code I share with you.
Specifically, here are some options to consider:
Redeem code: Just click on this link, and if you complete the steps which include signing-up for Roll (or downloading the App), you will find 100 $WAM auto-magically appear in your wallet. Note this is available only to the first 30 that respond within 3 days. So, it’s a one-time offer (and I will receive your email from Roll).
Subscribe to any one of the 5 blockchain-related news content portals that I’m personally curating. Each new email subscription between June 10-15 that doesn’t un-subscribe for at least 1 week will receive 50 $WAM into their wallets.
OnDGov – Decentralized Governance and Decentralization news
3. Leave a comment on my blog with an idea on how to “spend” $WAM, and I will send you 200 $WAM. One idea could be to redeem them as a discount for a future Token Summit ticket, or potentially for early access to my next book, or something exclusively available to token holders, but I’m looking for creative/interesting/valuable ideas.
As a sidepoint, last week, during a virtual presentation on Decentralized Autonomous Associations, I pre-announced $WAM and offered 100 $WAM to the first 50 users that subscribe to the Decentralized Governance news portal, and they will be receiving their $WAM shortly.
$WAM is an ERC-20 token. This means that the Roll wallet allows you to send your $WAM to another ERC-20 compatible wallet you may already own, and in the future, you will be able to trade it on the Roll Exchange (similar to Uniswap).
How do you spend $WAM?
Currently, the “Spend” options for $WAM are limited, which is why I’m asking for feedback in point #3 above. Another spend idea is that $WAM could be used as a currency to purchase a digital asset on the OpenSea marketplace.
Sign-up to one of the curated news portals. Start here: OnCoins.org
There is no shortage of experimentation in trying to apply blockchain technology to organizational dynamics [this is different than governing technical blockchain protocols, reference: Let’s Be Clear About What is DAOable and What is Not. Decentralized autonomy in organizations (DAOs) is one popular metaphor that has seen a surge of entrepreneurial activity especially in the past year.
The differences between each DAO implementations abound, but the most common denominator is the desire to inject smart contract technology into how organizations/processes are run. And each one of the above named examples (and other unnamed ones) assumes a different set of assumptions as a starting point.
In my opinion, any successful “decentralized autonomy” initiative needs to be able to simultaneously satisfy the three key pillars:
The Swiss Association has lower startup hurdles than a Swiss Foundation. In the context of the DAA, the autonomous activity focuses on certain membership-related functions, which is a realistic scope that doesn’t risk slipping into the abstract during implementation.
Along with Luka Müller and Thomas Linder of MME and Sebastian Bürgel of HOPR Network (formerly co-founder at Validity Labs), I will be discussing the DAA and many of its aspects tomorrow Thursday May 28th at 10:30AM EST / 16h30 Central European Time during a Zoom virtual session. You can register (free) by using this link.
I’m interested in diving further into the DAA concept. I don’t pretend to have all the answers pertaining to how this might evolve, but it’s definitely an area that deserves experimentation and implementation.
I’m supportive of the concept of decentralized autonomous organizations, aided by blockchain technology. But I believe that we are still tinkering with its application in the realm of business. We are at ground zero.
The first thought that came to my mind is that I wished Plaid would have rather been acquired by a large blockchain company, like Coinbase. The only issue is that $5.3 Billion is a hefty price for even the largest of blockchain companies, whereas it’s only a digestible bite for a behemoth like Visa.
Many analysts referred to Plaid as “FinTech plumbing”. For me, Plaid symbolized more than plumbing. It was an essential on-ramp/off-ramp component that enabled consumers to loosen their reliance on banks. I have previously written about and continue to believe that FinTech, DeFi, and blockchain-based financial services are allowing us to gradually depend less and less on large banks as our primary financial services providers. In Banks as Back-ends: The Decentralization Has Started (January 2016), I gave examples of that trend, asserting that the decentralization of banking is already here, but it hasn’t been evenly distributed yet.
I became aware of Plaid in the past years as it is used by some cryptocurrency wallet providers to provide an essential on-ramp to bank accounts. Basically, Plaid users connect their bank account to participate in off-banks personal finance, payments, lending, brokerage, wealth management, and a plethora of ancillary financing services. Plaid’s metrics were impressive: they signed-up 11,500 banks/credit unions and touched more than 20 million consumers via popular apps like Venmo, Robinhood, Betterment and 2,500 others.
Of course, FinTech broadly is a big culprit in this unstoppable finance decentralization trend, but I had wished that the companies leading this trend (such as Plaid) would not be swallowed by incumbents.
I don’t know the Plaid team, and I congratulate them on this amazing exit. At the same time, I’m a little apprehensive because we all know too well how these types of acquisitions typically end. Will Plaid services continue to flourish as before providing more freedom to consumers, or will that service become eventually suffocated and dictated by what’s important for Visa before what’s important for decentralized finance?
When big companies think of innovation, it doesn’t mean the same as when startups do. Big companies are restrained and chained by their current business models, and everything gravitates towards, and aligns behind their existing strategies and direction. This means that innovation will be boxed-in instead of flying according to its own path.
Just imagine for a moment how different the significance of this acquisition might have been if Coinbase had acquired Plaid, and not Visa.
I see this acquisition as another successful FinTech company that was supposed to give users freedom from big banks, yet it is brought back under the claws of big Fin.