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1729: The first newsletter that pays you

Weekly curated tools for thought and ideas to share ✍️

I signed up to 1729.com this week, the first newsletter that pays you. Daily bitcoin bounties for completing paid tasks and tutorials with $1000+ in crypto prizes every day. It’s also a platform for distributing a new free book app called The Network State. 

Earn crypto, learn new skills and join a community of tech progressives. ‘That means people who are into cryptocurrencies, startup cities, mathematics, transhumanism, space travel, reversing ageing (bring it on!), and initially-crazy-seeming-but-technologically-feasible ideas,’ says the founder, Balaji – see his past work here. You can subscribe for updates and follow @oneseventwonine on Twitter. 

Truth, health and wealth 

Here’s how it differs from a regular newsletter or website. Firstly, it has tasks – e.g. the latest is to learn how to make a Discord bot with Replit for $100-$1000 in BTC. The first challenge posted in March was to set up a newsletter for tech progressives at your own domain to incentivise the decentralisation of media. They paid $100 BTC each for the 10 best sites. See the winners here.

Secondly, it has tutorials – bitesize learning with incentives to complete. Thirdly (love this!) a focus on digital health and the body. Startup culture can lead to burnout as we sacrifice health for business. This is false economy ‘because missing daily workouts is a physical debt that’s even harder to pay than technical debt, and fitness is as good for cognition as it is for health.’ So you can submit a proof-of-workout to earn a little crypto. Stay fit today and contribute to age reversal tomorrow. 

Fourth, it’s international and Indian to show how you build a global operation from an Indian base and expand to the rest of the world. Much as Silicon Valley started as ‘American’ and is now in the Cloud. They’ve named the project 1729 after Ramanujan, India’s greatest mathematician known for his contribution to number theory which underpins crypto. So exploring how we can use technology to help talent rise in developing countries around the world as Ramanujan did. 

Bootstrapping voices

It’s a global talent search to invest in diverse, unreported voices around the world. Enabling anyone with an internet connection to improve their knowledge and bank account through paid microtasks. Learning, earning and burning.

I like the ethos – earning recordable crypto credentials for completing and creating tasks, open-source education, and bootstrapping talent around the world. Balaji says he uses Twitter to hire people as you get a sense of their values and potential from their online content.

Imagine if we applied this process to job boards – rather than stating your skills, education or interest, you could prove it by gaining badges or rewards for mini tasks completed on a site. So you could log in and start working immediately. There’s also a focus on quality content – the tasks require some thought, time and writing skill – raising the value of online content to be on par with design.

Finally, building a ☁️ 👋 Cloud Community – a network of tech progressives interested in exploring things like startup cities, online communities, organising economies around remote work, enforcing laws with smart contracts, and simulating architecture in VR. A global, mobile social network with ‘digital bylaws, crowdfunding capability, a track record of collective bargaining on behalf of its members, and a numerically quantifiable level of social capital’.

It’s a step up from the organic online communities like subreddits and Facebook groups forming for the last 20 years. More on that here.  

It’s the most exciting media project I’ve come across lately. I love the ambition and focus on giving you content that strengthens rather than depletes you (clickbait, social media where there’s no reward for your posts, likes and shares). They’ve allocated enough money to fund a full year of daily tasks, and the goal is to build a scalable business and find individuals and companies that want to post sponsored projects for the community. 

Here’s Tim Ferris’ interview with Balaji about the project. It’s by far the longest podcast I’ve listened to (almost four hours!) but worth it. A deep dive into the future of media, founding vs inheriting (‘own a media company or be owned by one), podcasting, citizen journalism vs corporate journalism, and how the media scripts human beings. ‘If code scripts machines, media scripts human beings, even in ways we don’t fully appreciate.’ His point is that once we’re equal on distribution (a decentralised media), we can speak to each other as peers. 

I agree that journalism’s greatest blind spot is it draws from a limited pool of people with a similar background and class who can’t see the perspectives of people who aren’t like them, and it drives out people who don’t fit in. Is the answer radical decentralisation of media? Citizen journalism instead of corporate journalism – the notion that ‘everybody writes’ – drawing on local expertise, e.g. nurses writing about nursing, and writing as a duty rather than for-profit. But we’ll still need editors and proofreaders.

I want to build up those citizen journalists, those content creators. Second, I want to invest in a cumulative form of education, open-source education, where these folks are doing tutorials. So that people get paid for creating educational tasks others can do. Bootstrapping talent all over the world. Anywhere there’s a phone, there’s a job. 

It’s the digital native solution to education

Other ideas – if you want financial independence, you need to radically reduce your expenses. ‘Check Nomadlist or Teleport, do a spreadsheet and optimise your personal runway.’ (not easy for families to do this, but not impossible) – check out Reddit groups like r/leanfire and r/FIREUK (financial independence, retire early). Find a remote job that pays well and move to a cheaper location to stop the burn and save money over time, i.e. so you can work for a year and then take time out to pursue other things. 

How we’re going back to a hunter/gatherer way of life, but with technology. Relocation and digital nomadism will be huge – taking over from traditional tourism for long-term economic migration.

The best quality of life will actually be available to the digital nomad who has a minimum number of possessions, can pick up and move stakes at any point because mobility is leveraged against a state. 

New politics will form, and ways of self-governance that are network-based rather than state-based. How the virtual world dominates our lives, and the physical world comes second – something we’ve had a glimpse of over the last year with Covid, though not for everyone. Lots of emphasis on our virtual lives here, but we can’t underestimate the physical world. I understand the appeal of Miami as a startup city. We’re social beings and want to be around and work with like-minded peers.

If you’re constantly on the move as a nomad, you’ll struggle to maintain relationships and build community. And what about people getting left behind with technology?

Super interesting chat with lots of positive takeaways about building and shaping the future with a global vision, which he’s also exploring in his book. By changing the media narrative around big tech as evil and seeing technology as a force for good, we can work together across borders to solve problems. And all this work means A LOT of content creation – writing, podcasts, video so opportunities for creators everywhere to learn, earn and burn 💪

I’m excited to see where this goes – here’s to our decentralised and interconnected future.

It’s time we started funding community founders as well as company founders.

Interested? Sign up here.

– Nicci 


Goings-On(line) 

Projects + pieces from around the web.

🏙 The Network State – the Start of Startup Cities. Miami demonstrates that the era of startup cities is now underway. It was the first city to buy Bitcoin and put a BTC whitepaper on Miami.gov. What mayor Suarez has done is being studied by cities around the world. 

👨🏽‍💻 Remote work and the tech-enabled exit – where to live? And why? Doug Antin on the rise of the sovereign individual class and how freedom of movement will become a luxury good.

📬 Newsletter OS by Janel – a cross between an ebook, a project manager, a dashboard and a wiki. 130 resources to help you write, grow and learn with your writing.

🏝Work Travel Summit, 9-12 June. How to thrive in remote work and the new normal. Free 4-day virtual event for networking and learning.

✍️Open notes from this week’s Freelance Business for Writers event.

🎙Plumia’s Speaker Series, an ongoing series of public conversations with academics, policy-makers, and founders who are reimagining democracy and policy in the internet world.


Playlist of the week →


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is a newsletter exploring remote work, internet culture, technology, creativity, and writing. If you enjoy the content, please share it with friends or on social media.

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Categories
Creator economy Cryptocurrency future of work

🕵🏻‍♀️Fancy minting some art?

How creators can monetise using NFTs

You can’t move on Clubhouse for people talking about NFTs, the latest crypto craze set to disrupt the art world. So WTF are NFTs, and why should you care about them?

Thinking big💡

Last week, Sotherby’s CEO Charles Stewart was part of a 90-minute chat with CEOs, founders, crypto lovers and artists talking excitedly about NFTs (non-fungible tokens) — unique digital content represented as tokens — that are bringing cryptocurrency to the masses. There’s lots of speculation about how they might revolutionise the art world and how creators can use them to make money from their digital work. The general vibe is critical of the elite art world, and hopeful the crypto art revolution might change things.

NFTs first came onto the scene in 2017 when Dapper Labs’ game CryptoKitties dominated the Ethereum network, with people spending over $1 million buying virtual cats. A cool way for people to get started on the platform.

Lately, the NFT market has exploded, with the estimated value of crypto art at $182 million according to cryptoart.io/data, and this is just a fraction of the NFT ecosystem. The NFT Report 2020 shows $250 million worth of sales (art, collectables, metaverses, utility, sports, gaming). Metaverses have the lion’s share — collective virtual reality spaces. If we can’t get out, we’ll build a parallel universe to live in and find community! Nifty Gateway, SuperRare, Zora, and Foundation are leading platforms for creatives to monetise their digital artwork. Most of the press coverage focuses on the commercial side and big money exchanging hands, but many smaller transactions are happening — it’s a growing movement.

  • Last month net artist Beeple sold a piece of NFT artwork, CROSSROADS, for $6.6 million via Nifty Gateway ahead of the Christie’s auction of Everydays: The First 5000 Days — a monumental collage and the first purely digital artwork to come to auction. Current bid: USD $3 million with 10 days left to go.
  • Chris Torres created a rainbow-streaming animation of Nyan Cat based on his cat, which sold for 300 ETH, $454,974,00 on Foundation.
  • According to its creator Dapper Labs, the NBA Top Shot collectable crypto product has generated over $230 in gross sales. A Le Bron Jones clip from 2019 sold for $208,000.I’ve been down the crypto rabbit hole this week to try and get my head around NFTs to see what I can do with them.

Good overview here from Katie Haun, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, on the Dark Web, Gangs, Investigating Bitcoin, and The New Magic of “Nifties” (NFT), and blockchain trends to watch over the next 3–5 years…

WTF are NFTs?

NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) are unique digital items that can be owned and traded online. They make it possible for creators to keep ownership of their content without limiting the sharing of files across the net — giving creators an alternative to social media platform-driven monetisation. While most cryptocurrency is fungible — one bitcoin is worth the same as another, NFTs are non-fungible — like humans and unique on the blockchain so collectable (digital scarcity). You can own a piece of digital art and sell it like traditional art, and it’s trackable on the blockchain.

What’s cool is that if you sell a piece of work, the artist gets a cut of future transactions — no intermediary is taking an amount — it’s a direct relationship between artist and buyer — a shift towards the ownership economy, which empowers the creator.

Are NFTs the future of art or a fad? I don’t know, but it feels like we’re on the verge of something big — the money exchanging hands is mind-boggling, and the art world is ripe for disruption. As books have gone digital with Kindle & Audible and music and film with Netflix & Spotify, it makes sense that artwork and physical collectables will follow the same trajectory. We know the case use today for NFTs but not tomorrow. What future transactions will come? The launch of the iPhone in 2007 has led to Uber, ride-sharing, and the gig economy.

Beeple sells NFTs that represent his EVERYDAYS with a digital frame as a physical representation of the NFT and will give collectors a spot on his site to post a message.

Crypto trends over the next 3–5 years

  • Mobile payments will be huge — Celo.org is a mobile-first Defi open-source platform built on blockchain. You can transfer money on your mobile, and you don’t need a bank account
  • Content creators — Rally.io Creator Coin (one of Andreessen Horowitz’ products) Create your own branded cryptocurrency, sell your work and provide community benefits and incentives for your followers
  • Countries creating cryptocurrencies — China has made a payment system known as Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP), a digital version of China’s official currency, the yuan, which crypto pioneer Chandler Guo believes will become the dominant global currency

How Creators can use Crypto — Rally’s Creator Coin

Last week, I was in a room with @Mvellank, the co-founder of Rally.io, talking about their new Creator Coin and how NFTs are a viable path for creators to sell work and build community. They aim to give you the tools to create a virtual economy to extend your brand while providing community benefits & incentives for your fans — a tokenised economy. They’ve built a business model that “transcends the big tech platforms” to support the creator.

Someone in the room mentioned ArtCoins as another example of e-commerce innovation — a new digital cryptocurrency based on smart contracts and used for art trading, exhibition fees, curation rewards, art dividends, art profits & more.

Blockchain is hugely exciting, and it’s great to see it used to help artists and creators monetise digital work and reach a new audience globally. What excites me, though, is how we can use it as a force for change — as with Celo’s mobile wallet — to empower children and adults in developing countries to create work and sell it online as a means to pay for education rather than doing manual labour. CryptoWendy is keeping it real and has lots to say on this subject. She has put her daughter’s savings into Bitcoin and got into it as a peaceful protest against inequality.

Bitcoin was created by the people for the people and born out of the 2008 economic crash as a new kind of money. I expect we’ll see something similar with NFTs post-pandemic. They have made crypto more accessible for people and given power back to the creatives. As Jessie Walden says:

NFTs will become the port of entry to all internet media because everyone involved can make more money from the markets they enable.

Mark Cuban says digital assets are the future of business, and Chandler Guo, the crypto pioneer, believes digital currencies represent the future of money.

The downsides of NFTs are the network fees or ‘gas’, which can fluctuate and make it expensive to trade, and most NFTs live on the Ethereum blockchain, which has a huge carbon footprint. Companies are working on it and we’ll see solutions. We might have to have energy inefficiencies now to push the boundaries, build a new art world, and solve real-world problems if we can.

As remote work becomes the norm, we’re going to be looking for virtual spaces and experiences offering richer, intense and diverse social interactions — places to learn and grow together with people who have similar interests. NFTs are a gateway…

Everydays: The First 5000 Days — what a project! Beeple has created a piece of digital artwork every day for the last 13 ½ years. Imagine the level of detail! I need to psychologically prepare myself for that — it feels a bit like Hieronymus Bosch for the digital world. Great to see the evolution of his career — recurrent themes include our obsession with and fear of technology, the desire for and resentment of wealth, and America’s recent political turbulence.

Isn’t it amazing that we can create something at home, sell it online and get paid instantly — all without leaving the house. 🙏

The advice 🤔

Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth.

If there’s no gift, there’s no community. Charles Eisenstein.

Go deeper 🕵🏻‍♀️

🎧 Katie Hawn on the Dark Web, gangs, investigation Bitcoin and the new magic of Nifties (NFTs) — on the sofa with Tim Ferris.

💻 Jessie Walden — NFTs make the internet ownable — why crypto is becoming the ‘port of entry’ for all internet media.

📹 CryptoWendy says of Bitcoin, Polkadot, and NFTs in 2021 and talks to her family about financial literacy.

📖 Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein — Money, gift and society in the age of transition. A gift for you to read online here.

💰 Rally’s Creator Coin: How it works & how to apply.

🎞 One to watch tonight: Ready Player One — the world is a wasteland where people find salvation within virtual reality.

Welcome to my bookshop! 📚

I’ll be sharing books in my bag and recommended reads on Bookshop.org. They pay a 10% commission on every sale and give a matching 10% to local bookstores, an integral part of our culture and communities. Check it out here.

Work with me 🙋🏻‍♀️

Leopard print, always. Worry less and rock a red lip. Remote work evangelist, problem solver, internet person.

💡 Something you want me to write about? Leave a comment or email nicci@niccitalbot.io

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