Something important is happening: The birth of a new economy
My personal journey over the last year has led me through the artisan landscape of Puerto Rico, nascent online organizations on Discord, and through this unlikely intersection, to the future of work.
The competing backdrop is bullying its way to the forefront with a monumental offer: inspiration, a pathway to philanthropy, and real ownership of work. And the company's counteroffer? Predictability at the expense of my individual production scale, time with family, and creativity. Hmmm.
👀 🚨 Collect your “I QUIT WEB2” NFT at the bottom of the page 🚨 👀
a BIG MOOD
It turns out many of us are having doubts about work. Is it the pandemic? The endless months in hibernation and dangerous introspection? Or maybe the realization that once the noise of the office dies down, what's left is rise and grind? Either way, this feeling of dissatisfaction with the current working environments is rampant.
In a report called The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready?, Microsoft found that as much as 54% of Generation Z workers and 41% of the entire global workforce could be considering handing in their resignation. Similarly, a UK and Ireland survey found that 38% of employees were planning to leave their jobs in the next six months to a year, while a US survey reported that 42% of employees would quit if their company didn’t offer remote working options long term. Source: World Economic Forum
I was too embarrassed to tell my manager I was going into web3 directly when I spoke with them.
I told them a half-truth instead: "This is not the right role for me. I think the team needs folks who want to manage tech-support tickets and enjoy catering to customers on a daily basis. You need a team that feels challenged managing accounts...”
The better and more important half of the story has two parts:
- The company is building technology for an age that is coming to an end, and
- I am no longer OK selling my personal work to any company, stealing my ability to scale expertise and wealth.
Note 1: Hear thee, yo, the hype is fr. Your tech is for the yesteryears.
I joined this job last year. It was very near my dream job: tech startup, employee #22, remote, in an industry that I'm passionate about, and with cutting-edge API-first technology for its industry.
And yet, I have quit for the uncertainty of web3 a bare 9 months later. Or might I say, I have succumbed to the certainty of participating in something bigger, more important, at a pivotal point in our collective history.
Spending any amount of time on crypto twitter (CT) will, at first glance, suggest that there are many people overhyping the tech. It's cultish, weird, and colorful. But as you dig deeper, into the Discord servers of avatar-specific communities for example, you'll find that the hype is real.
By real, I mean millions upon millions of dollars of investment by top VC firms and personal wealth into tight-knit pseudonymous communities, fun technology, and micro-economies. The folks working in this space have glassy eyes, looking beyond the horizon to something larger than themselves.
As I became enveloped in this new ecosystem (shoutout to @creatorcabins and @forefront__), it became increasingly clear that the technology my company is building is outdated. Specifically, the company is automating outdated enterprise operations.
"Am I going to spend my time, energy, focus, and life building something for outdated methods of collaboration?"
The company will no doubt be very successful: they will disrupt the current market and become an enterprise leader. However, it is focusing on dominating an industry from a previous generation.
Once I became aware of this, it became impossible to sit by the sidelines. New digital-native organizations are forming, maturing, and growing — and this is where the future of the global economy is being defined.
Note 2: From employee to free agent
Hype aside, there is a larger second reason I am quitting web2.
Traditional organizations offer a trade-off for employees: You get paid a fixed capped amount (hourly, salary, bonus, equity), and the company retains your intellectual property in perpetuity. A fair exchange?
Prior to the web, I strongly believed this was a good bargain due to transaction costs. Corporations and businesses paid you (on average) more than your ability to market and scale work across your lifespan. In other words, the payment was worth it. If you tried to create, market, sell, and scale individually, it would be too expensive (and you'd likely fail).
Now, as with all things, the internet has changed the trade-off dynamics. Individuals will slowly, and then suddenly, realize that their knowledge, craft, passion has accessible, monetizable niches. Companies are struggling to internalize this and, as a result, will have a great wave of resignations just like mine.
Many companies think that increasing salaries or giving out larger bonuses will fix this, but it won't. Why? Because it is a question about ownership, belonging, and self-worth. It is not a question about take-home cash. The next-generation organizations understand this intuitively and emerge accordingly.
To better visualize the impact on organization dynamics, consider this 2x2 grid. On one axis, we have transaction costs (x-axis), and on the other we have organization group size (y-axis).
In short: As transaction costs decrease (e.g. access to information, raw material for production, coordination and communication), the less need for central oversight and control (e.g. structured corporate entities). New organisms emerge, and participation pathways become possible.
In a traditional setting, you would need an interview and then a defined role to offset the cost of onboarding and coordination.
But now, I can write a single article as part of CabinDAO with no permission, get people to consent to the publication, and publish in a matter of days. No one requested this work, but these new organizations provided the space for me to express my creativity and passion. And beyond, the organization rewarded me with connections, work opportunities, and compensation. \n
A digital artisan emerges
Over the next year(s), I'll likely transform from a career professional into a pseudonymous agent across a variety of projects.
To start, I've joined Forefront in the Writers Guild, am supporting local creators at CabinDAO, and have begun working as a freelancer on digital-native organization design (send me a message on Twitter @rafathebuilder if you’d like to speak).
Most importantly, I'll continue my soul's passion: documenting the oral history of 100 local artisans of Puerto Rico and exploring a new, emerging generation of digital workers. I invite you to follow our journey at folklore.mirror.xyz and support the mission.
I'm not sure how this journey into web3 will turn out. However, I am sure that the exposure to this new economy will help me understand the future of work better. With some time, I might even reach the goal of becoming something more than a contributor: A Digital Artisan.
Finding your craft
If you're curious about the space and inspired, I'd recommend dipping a toe (or a leg) into the strange new organizations that are emerging today.
First off, sign up to the Forefront newsletter and start learning about the space.
Second, start building out your digital identity:
- Get some magic internet money into a wallet (Rainbow.me, Metamask, or others)
- Earn your first coins by completing quests on rabbithole (More bounties here)
- Find your online squad by joining a DAO (what is a DAO?) (Here is a list)
- Embrace the pseudonymous economy and buy your first Profile Picture NFT (what is an NFT?) (Here is an example marketplace)
And lastly… and watch out for gas fees
All funds from this NFT are in support of local Puerto Rico artisans through the non-profit Obras del País. 100% of the proceeds will be used to promote their works online and build a digital gallery of their stories and artisanal techniques.