We are rich with feeds that distract. Can we construct feeds that enrich?
One thesis for how the last few decades have played out is that we invented social networks too soon, prior to inventing cryptocurrency. Because social networks couldn't digitally model scarcity with a blockchain-like datastructure, they leaned too hard on likes, followers, upvotes, leaderboards. They turned messaging apps into status games.
These status games appeared locally positive-sum (as it costs you nothing to hand out an upvote), but were globally zero-sum (as one person's rise on any status leaderboard is necessarily accompanied by another's fall). Contrast this to economic games, which can appear locally zero-sum (as one person is credited money in a trade while the other is debited), while being globally positive-sum (when two parties engage in a voluntary trade it typically enriches both overall relative to the pre-trade status quo, as per the coincidence of wants).
Before we condemn social networks, though, let us praise them. Relative to the pre-social status quo, the "free" business model was an amazing invention. Social networks allowed you to communicate with anyone around the world, for free, and packaged content creation tools with enormous distribution and an engaging interface. All you needed to do was bring your content.
But today the "free" business model is showing its age. The next step may be what blockchains enable, which is the better-than-free business model, where you get paid for all the time you spend online. However, our thesis is that this doesn't work exactly like social; you aren't simply paid for posting whatever you want, but for completing tasks that other people want. The result, however, may be similar: an infinite feed of enjoyable microtasks personalized to your skills and interests that you can complete at your leisure. Anywhere there's a phone, there's a job.
To get there, we need at least two things: crypto addresses and decentralized task creation.
Crypto is half the microtasking economy
Think about how many website you've put your credit card details into, and which you've paid. Now think about how many websites you've put your bank account details into, and which have paid you. There's deservedly a lot of attention on pay-ins on the internet, on accepting credit cards and the like, but pay-outs are a huge blindspot. You can't just come to a website and start earning – or can you?
Crypto addresses help solve this problem. You can generate a Bitcoin or Ethereum address for free, in an instant, on any device, in a uniform format, without pre-approval, to receive payment from anyone, anywhere, at any time, on any device, in any amount, modulo fees. That's a remarkable achievement, and offers several 1000X+ improvements over the traditional banking system, on axes like speed of account creation (seconds vs weeks), number of simultaneous accounts (infinite crypto addresses vs one bank account), and perhaps most importantly security. After all, giving out your bank account numbers is more like giving out your password (anyone can send money with it), while giving out a crypto address is more like giving out an email address (only the person with the private credentials can send out from it).
Crypto addresses thus radically improve over bank accounts on several dimensions, thereby enabling pay-outs on the internet for microtasks.
Decentralized task creation is the other half
But crypto addresses solve only half the problem. Yes, now we can pay people any amount anywhere (modulo fees and scaling!), but to enable a feed that enriches rather than simply distracts, we need something else: task inventory.
That is, we need individuals or institutions that will create and fund tasks in sufficient volume to fully supplant distracting social media feeds. If we can do that, we can transition from mere social networks to true digital economies, where you open the app, scroll your feed, find a task that suits your skills, and then earn.
Insight arises when we realize we can separate task creation from task funding. That is, Person A can draft a task, while Person B (or Company C) can provide the funds. This allows for user-generated tasks which can then be sponsored. The idea and the capital can come from different sources, much like a startup searching for VC funding.
And that's the idea behind today's very meta task. You should create a task, just like the ones we've already posted. If we end up selecting it, we'll pay you $100 in crypto, publish and fund it, and link back to your original.
To keep things simple, we want to do zero editing of tasks. Ideally you have something that is just perfect, and we accept it, pay you, fund it, copy/paste it, and post it at 1729.com with a link back to your site if desired. Our goal is to prove that decentralized creation of unfunded tasks works. So here's what you should do to create a perfect task:
- Set up Ghost, either at ghost.org or self-hosted via something like cloudron.io
- Write a Ghost post introducing the task just like these. Keep these relatively short, under ~1000 words.
- Use Google Forms to generate a task form, just like these. Feel free to model your copy on ours. Embed the Google Form at the end of your Ghost post using these instructions.
- Use Figma to generate a cover image in our style, just like these. You can use libraries like IconFinder, Bootstrap, or Font Awesome to help illustrate abstract concepts with SVG images.
So, that's how to create a task: Ghost, Google Forms, Figma, and maybe an icon library.
The next question is: what kinds of tasks are we looking for? You should have a sense of the aesthetic and content so far. But in addition to the examples we've already published, here are a few ideas:
- Write a review of Ben Horowitz's book, the Hard Thing about Hard Things. Best five reviews receive $200.
- Add Ethereum subscriptions to Ghost by creating an open-source Ghost theme which adds this functionality. The best theme receives $5000, plus $1000/month for one year of maintenance.
- Create a video reviewing the state of the art on nootropics. Best video receives $1000, first five runners-up receive $200.
- Generate a Solidity exercise for Exercism in their open-source format. Accepted exercises earn $100 in BTC.
These are just ideas. Feel free to do your own. Note that you can change prize amounts and terms; you don't have to stick to $1000/task, or equal prizes for all winners. However, the fancier you get, the harder it will be to score, so keep the task as simple as possible.
Once you're done, submit the link to your task below. If we accept it and decide to publish and fund it, you'll get $100 in BTC.
✅ Task: Earn $100 in BTC
Create a great task
🏆 Winners: Best Tasks
The following ten submissions received $100 in Bitcoin for creating great tasks. Some could use modifications, but all of these are a good start! Check them out!