The Hero’s Journey: Creating Authentic Digital IDs And Personalized Engagement For Bitcoin Decentralized/Distributed Systems
Numerous Bitcoin podcast discussions have led to the inevitable “wall,” a wall which, to date, has not been penetrated and its adjacent territory explored. I’m referring to the existential question of how “Bitcoinization” actually manifests for each individual, while legacy monetary infrastructure and social structures disintegrate. It’s one thing to romanticize how our new society will somehow magically crawl out of the ashes like some unburned, proud and polished phoenix and quite another to face the real-life, ugly hurdles facing us.
The deeply embedded detritus of legacy fiat thinking and behaviors do not simply disappear. In fact, as we transition to the bitcoin standard and the working people of highly developed, industrialized countries become squeezed and further impoverished during the deflationary depression (see Jeff Booth, “The Price of Tomorrow”), social unrest will erupt, and inevitably, Bitcoin itself could be blamed and viewed by many as the culprit of the collective pain. It doesn’t take profound foresight to predict that many such people, seeking blame and simple solutions, could demand even more centralization and control through the perceived safety net of an increasingly powerful authoritarian state.
Will growth in Bitcoin infrastructure adoption magically and quickly transform the superstructure of human organizational design and engagement in some novel corresponding way à la “fix the money, fix the world”? Or are we doomed to simply “pretend and extend” by overlaying old fiat social engagement design on top of this new monetary foundation and naively hope it all smooths out somehow? How can we better attune the adoption of Bitcoin’s decentralized/distributed monetary infrastructure with an empowered, Bitcoin-defined social superstructure? Will our digital ID continue to be composed of only objective data (cold data), while our subjective experiences (warm data) remain devalued? How can we support and expand individual self-sovereignty through Bitcoin engagement design?
While the Bitcoin meme “fix the money, fix the world” offers a simplified solution, this paper and its described superstructure applications seek to penetrate the territory where contemporary Bitcoin “thought leaders” and developers have yet to explore. Hopefully, we can help avoid a misguided but possibly very real collective public response for a stronger totalitarian centralization of power. We do this by empowering the individual with the narrative, mentors and experiences of personal responsibility and self-sovereignty, which support and lead to developing individual tools to authentically recreate a peer-to-peer creator economy. We must become self-empowered entrepreneurs and creators. Think “decentralized, designer craftsmanship.”
For this to emerge, we must move toward a novel disintermediated, hyper-personalized engagement design which begins and ends with each unique individual.
However, before we get to where we are going, we need to know where we’ve been and what we are currently facing. Using seductive carrot-stick reward systems and enticements, people have long been objectified and manipulated by legacy engagement systems. Such “addictive design” strategies can certainly drive behaviors — through advertising, gaming, social media and more — but at a great cost to the individual. Unfortunately, such concentrated behaviorism and operant conditioning, now combined with emergent tech, have contributed to disabling and disempowering our youth. Judgmental, performance-based exogenous validation systems and its mindless FOMO (fear of missing out) have helped create an anxiety-ridden, dependent and emotionally fragile generation. These young adults suffer from unprecedented levels of crippling psychological/emotional disease in crisis proportions, now exacerbated by recent COVID-19 lock downs. Anxiety and depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, self-harm, addiction disorders, violence and suicide levels are off the charts. We are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis in mental illness, and it is currently underpinned and reinforced by exploitive, centralized engagement design. As Nora Bateson has said, “We need to de-industrialize and re-animate.”
Insular, rigid groupthink communities can provide a perceived “safe haven” with like-minded people, but they also demand their own narrow conformity. Groupthink can detract us from coming to know our unique selves and building upon our innate talents. It can preclude us from building vibrant communities richly thriving in diversity and bold creativity. Ultimately, there is nothing more emotionally affirming than being seen by another for who we truly are — our authentic, essential selves. We do not easily forget such profoundly meaningful experiences of being authentically seen and validated.
Companies which refuse to further exploit the vulnerabilities of our youth, and instead empower them with authentic engagement to find and grow their unique talents, and be authentically seen for their unique selves, can bring fresh, high value. Hedonic escapism may provide temporary relief but fixes nothing. We live in highly extenuating times necessitating inner resources and skills to resiliently adapt and recreate our way out of difficulty.
Media and its content distribution have historically focused on how to manipulate and incentivize people to think a certain way or desire, buy and use things they perhaps would otherwise not be interested in. All sorts of consumer manipulation strategies have been used over the years, now resulting in a consumer hardened by fake news, fake engagement, fake relationships, fake moral correctness and more. People feel worse than weary or angry. We’re numb.
Centrally sourced content messaging is suspect. It cannot be trusted. It’s inauthentic. We are objectified and hustled. Young people today don’t simply want more stuff. They want experiences.
What people want now more than anything are the experiences of authentic engagement, meaning, purpose and expression. These sought-after feelings of self-determinism and authentic engagement are currently not inspired or supported by exogenous marketing sources. In truth, such feelings can only be self-generated and cultivated from within each person. Those who wish to reach a more self-empowered state can assume personal responsibility to cultivate such tools to help them get there. Why shouldn’t social, gaming and marketing identify, address and expand upon what is most desired intrinsically by the customer and provide the methodologies for getting there? In so doing, is this not providing authentic and timely “value” to the customer?
James Andrews is head of product at Genies, and author of “Self-Expression, Spirituality and Gen Z.” He expresses well the mandate for the new, self-sovereign digital identity, its demand for empowered self-knowing and authentic engagement. He asks, “What happens though when you have an entire generation chasing their authentic selves?”
“The Fix”: Marketing For Decentralized/Distributed Bitcoin Technologies
So, how does the new Bitcoin marketplace of engagement attune to each unique individual, while also delivering highly curated and personalized, authentic and meaningful engagement experiences to that individual? What is relevant or inspirational for one person may not be for another. Not everyone engages the same way. “The fix” is not found in using some new technology overlayed with same-old legacy design methodologies only to produce similarly poor outcomes. “The fix” is using Bitcoin technologies integrating biomimetic engagement design focusing on the unique individual and not compelling the individual to contort to a standardized platform.
Today’s design “meta trend” is quickly moving from industrial-era centralization to digital-era decentralized and distributed systems. The public, open-source foundational settlement layer, Bitcoin, is seeing rapid adoption globally and is experiencing a mass migration from centralized internet sites to a decentralized/distributed and disintermediated internet layer where all engagement can be monetized, streaming to the seconds. There is a rapid birthing of Layer 2 and 3 peer-to-peer engagement systems built on top of, pegged to or side-chained that disintermediate legacy third parties while empowering the unique individual. And unlike legacy/centralized sites (“the Boomer’s internet”), this distributed design has capacities to now curate and hyper-personalize products, services and experiences to the unique individual in a dynamic inspirational and aspirational manner.
So, how do we do this? How do we move from top-down, standardized, industrial-era design to focusing on the digital personalization of the unique, highly nuanced individual in a meaningful, personalized way? What novel matrix biomimetic to our own human biologic design can be used for such individuation going forward?
First, we reject our overdependency upon centralized behaviorist/operant conditioning engagement design.
Secondly, we value, support, facilitate and celebrate the strong sense of self-determinism by the individual. The focus and commitment are on authentically engaging with the individual on their terms. A healthy inner locus of control is developed by identifying and scaffolding upon the individual’s unique intrinsic motivators. If we know what play is, and is not, we can identify intrinsic motivators and authentic engagement patterns and patterns within patterns. This then becomes the matrix for authentic personalized engagement design and provides user-generated data to fine-tune identity and focus personalized content distribution.
Thirdly, monetization opportunities emerge. Through authentic engagement and developing an inner locus of control and self-determinism, opportunities to capitalize on one’s growth and creativity ensue, as the engagement matrix and identity fabric contribute to the development of an authentic digital ID. All engagement, from gaming to social to enterprise and beyond, becomes streaming monetization on top of decentralized/distributed bitcoin. A robust peer-to-peer creator economy emerges. People create and pursue what they love and are literally paid to play.
How are these three goals accomplished? What are the myriad cross-sector applications? Here is but a brief synopsis.
Nature’s hard-wired engagement design in all animals is not game mechanics but play. Play is the first principle of self-generated, self-motivated and self-sustaining engagement design, whereas gaming and behaviorist design are not. These centralized and manipulative designs objectify the user and are based solely on objective data, neglecting the user’s subjective, warm data. Play is a fundamental survival drive; the exogenous reward systems and enticements underpinning behaviorist design and game mechanics are not. While gaming is a small aspect or subset of play, it is not the whole of play. And not everyone likes games. Conversely, we are all subcortically hardwired to play, and everyone plays differently. The cosmic joke, the playful paradox, is that despite our differences and the fact we all play differently, we can meet and engage through the languages of play.
Authentic play is authentic engagement: It is self-generated, self-motivated and self-sustained and disintermediated. Once someone tries to intermediate or control the engagement, it is no longer play, and the many beneficial outcomes of authentic engagement are lost. If we know what play is, and what it is not, we can identify within individuals their authentic engagement patterns and patterns within patterns. This then becomes the matrix for authentic personalized engagement design. Authentic play engagement is how we identify and develop what we love to do, what we like, what we aspire to, and it identifies and develops our intrinsic motivators, drive and grit (all “warm data”).
By suppressing or hijacking access to authentic play, a person’s sense of self and inner locus of control eventually become stunted. They eventually suffer from any one or a few of the panoply of negative consequences associated with play deprivation, including the plague of mental illness. They either isolate into hedonic escapist behaviors or become mindlessly dependent, anxiously chasing extrinsic rewards and exogenous validation. This stunts their moxie, their internal drive, inner locus of control, healthy sense of self, creativity and adaptability. These degraded human potentials are the attributes needed in robust fashion to forge the unique being, one’s authentic expression, while increasing self-esteem, meaning and purpose and adaptability in a world in great transition. Play foments creativity and evolutionary adaptation.
As an older woman who grew up playing on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the 60’s and 70’s, I feel the loss of free, authentic play in our culture. Play has been hi-jacked and sublimated by intermediaries, leading to a great loss in authentic engagement, meaning and purpose, social skills, creativity and problem-solving, and community-building. Thanks to standardized performance testing, centralized media, extrinsic reward systems and other exogenous measurements, our children grew up valued for their conformist performance, and not who they were intrinsically meant to become. We can fix this through recreating a disintermediated global engagement design on Bitcoin.
An older, pre-retirement, long-distance truck driver who lost his job to FSD semi-trucks is not the same as the low self-esteem young woman who anxiously seeks exogenous validation through objectifying herself. Yet each can potentially recreate their selves in a way that works for them. However, this is tough to accomplish when we lack the tools, insights, methodologies and supportive community to do so, particularly when we’ve been dependent, uncritical, fiat-thinking conformists all our lives, and software is eating legacy jobs. With warm data integrated into decentralized and personalized authentic engagement design, “Bitcoin can fix this,” too.
The value and invention here involve the system, methodologies, designs and myriad applications for identifying and scaffolding upon a unique individual’s intrinsic motivators as a matrix for personalized, intrinsically motivated, authentic engagement design and a self-sovereign identity adaptable to emergent decentralized/distributed systems. The engagement profile/play personality is a dynamic composition of play behavior patterns which can be collated from IRL and online through many means, depending upon its subject. No two people are the same or engage the same way. The composition and weight of engagement patterns are endless, so each profile/play personality is unique. One is not inherently better than the other. It’s just different, as nature intended. Nature loves diversity.
The unique intrinsic engagement profile/play personality can be collated for each unique individual dynamically, from birth to old age, and used as their avatars and/or dopplegangers. An instantly recognizable and decipherable graphic icon can represent the composition of play personality/engagement profile for each unique individual so another person instantly knows how to attune and uniquely engage with increasing nuance, empathy and respect. Each of us can represent our own brand and wear and express it proudly. Products, services and experiences can be curated to the unique individual so that marketing and advertisement do not manipulate users by asking them to contort themselves but instead attune with their innate proclivities to authentically engage. Legacy marketing protocols are flipped, validating the unique person on their terms, and providing added value in an authentic manner. We deindustrialize our schooling systems, and our children become blessed with personalized learning opportunities identified, driven and scaffolded by their own intrinsic interests and authentic engagement.
Of particular note: Because play states, like sleep states (both play and sleep are fundamental survival drives), can now be biometrically identified, optimal authentic engagement opportunities can be personalized and designed to each unique user derived by their biometric data (e.g., non-addictive gaming personalized for optimal play states with countless health and performance-related outcomes).
The myriad applications of this novel engagement design are directly aligned with emergent identity in the decentralized/distributed metaverse and have broad cross-sector applications, including hyper-personalization in advertising and content delivery, ML/AI, AR/VR, IoT, gaming, social media, preventive medicine, education and so much more. Truly this can be a design that easily migrates across all sectors.
When the measurement of performance goals (cold extrinsic data) become more important than the inherent joy and attunement found in an activity (warm intrinsic data), we have lost authentic engagement and the transformational recreative power of play. The activity becomes work. Creativity is lost. Self-sustainability, personal agency and ownership/responsibility are diminished.
By integrating personalized authentic engagement design into Bitcoin’s superstructure/social protocols, the benefits and goals we aspire to can become the unintended outcomes. It’s a playful paradox. However, this is nature’s design. If humans are to live sustainably and joyfully, it needs to be ours as well.
“All bear the inherent right to become sovereign of the self — not only in body and mind, but in soul, for any authority that is allowed to rule over you, does so by taking a piece of who you really are.” — Dan Thomas
This is a guest post by Kristen Cozad. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.