digital illustration. Paul Kliem + Boris Sidokhine
issue 4 – in motion
We achieved all of this by developing language as our magic wand. Language allows us to create powerful stories, which in turn foster cooperation at scale. Stories become social innovations when enough people believe in them. These stories–whether markets, money, religions, universal human rights, firms, states – provide us with trust. We trust governments with our property records, corporations with our brand experiences, and communities with our data and social graph.
These entities function as intermediaries, with the power to establish rules and resolve conflicts. They provide us with trust, but at the same time they limit our autonomy. To foster greater cooperation, it’s essential to have both. If we have trust but lack autonomy, it results in dictatorship; if we have autonomy but lack trust, it leads to anarchy.
We can clearly see this imbalance in the digital world, where big tech companies provided us with trust, but stole our autonomy. We live in a world of digital monarchy. We can’t choose the algorithms that feed our content, we don’t own our accounts, we can’t vote on the rules that dictate search results, and our privacy is compromised. It limits the way we innovate, and the way we connect with one another.
When digital communities don’t have autonomy from a software provider, they lose their main asset, the social graph, diminishing their valuation and funding prospects due to heavy platform dependence. This financial shortfall restricts a community’s ability to innovate.
Most online communities — including those in Switzerland – are subject to the rules created by US-owned software companies, simply because they are hosted there.
When one entity takes total control, it becomes Leviathan, an abusive power that suppresses freedoms and centralizes authority in the guise of maintaining order. This problem is especially vivid in the world of atoms because violence is used as a conflict resolution mechanism of last resort.
The world of bits is different. While in the physical world those who have physical power can get access to physical things, in the digital world, cryptography can be used in a way that no one can get access to information, even if they possess all of the computing power on the planet.
We see the digital world as a new fabric upon which stories that support cooperation can be woven, respecting individual autonomy and digital freedoms. Rather than relying on force, we can embed these principles into transparent open-source software, enabling anyone to verify how it works. No middleman is needed anymore.
This is the world where communities can flourish: math can be used to resolve conflicts and we can exchange ideas at the speed of light. It’s fluid, it’s a movement, where new stories appear. The pace of innovation on stories within this world far surpasses the progress observed in the physical world, where lawmakers move at a snail’s pace.
Technologies like blockchain enable community cooperation without intermediaries. Yet, there’s a lack of user-friendly tools that non-tech savvy individuals can use. Developing these tools is complex, as it demands not only an excellent user experience but also technologies capable of high-speed performance at scale. Given the absence of such technologies, they need to be built from scratch.
This is why we established ANY — a Swiss association, a non-profit organization on a mission to empower sustainable cooperation by building tools for thought, freedom and trust. In its core it’s a community of communities that aims to connect various stakeholders, such as software developers, infrastructure providers, content creators in order to build a sovereign web that they collectively own and govern.
The product we’ve built, Anytype, is a direct result of our vision of a sovereign web. It allows users to build and browse digital spaces – decentralized analogs of websites. Such spaces can be built without writing code and can operate without a middleman.
This grants communities, like ours, complete autonomy from software providers and empowers them to build the future web where they can govern what they create. This way we can create a better, more inclusive, and innovative internet, thriving on the digital ground of autonomy and trust.
In essence, the hope for the world of bits resides in autonomy coexisting with trust, enabled by innovation. The promise of a democratized Internet, characterized by vibrant digital communities, emerges from the chains of centralized authorities. This digital frontier points to a novel era of collaboration and innovation, shaping a future where technology empowers us rather than constrains us. The world of bits isn’t merely an abstract realm, but a tangible reality we are building together, line by line, idea by idea, community by community. It’s a movement.
The future will be the one you build!
digital illustration. Paul Kliem + Boris Sidokhine
© Schön! Switzerland. All rights reserved.