Digital Identity: The Smoke of The Industry.

Digital Identity: The Smoke of The Industry.

Log on to Twitter, and what do you see? A zoologist's dream as people fawn over the latest pfp animal craze.

Yet, identity is more profound than the pfp used, and this post marks my evolution.

Entering The Space

My first step into Web3 was a breath of fresh air. The significant concepts didn't click immediately (things rarely do for me.) with a bucket full of technology interest and enamored with the potential of the NFT industry, the ideas and visions of possibilities were quick to arrive.

In weeks, my opinion evolved from blind disdain to a slightly more developed but largely misconceived perception of what 'Web3' was and had to offer.

The hot-take generated with surface-level information quickly dissipated as I lost myself in the land of genuine possibilities. While my position within the present and future industry was entirely unknown, my desire to have the long-term luxury of a more engaging and fulfilling professional experience had become incredibly clear.

Stumbling through, I found ZED.RUN a digital horse racing game. I immediately found a community of people with strikingly similar interests. With a massive hole in community onboarding, I and a few others formed Steppe Stable. What started as a Discord server for us to hang out and jabber became far more than that.

  • With the background of automation, we began spinning up tools to lower the wall of asymmetric information dominating the ecosystem.

  • We didn't charge or keep it private. Anyone engaged in the community had immediate access to the tools we released.

  • Real research and planning was devoted to every action resulting in a community with significantly higher hit rates than the average player.

  • Ran community-personal tournaments months before anyone else in the space was doing anything similar.

All in all, it was a digital horse-racing home for so many.

It quickly went from lowering the wall of asymmetry to having raised our own, and ZED wasn't exactly supportive of the following features we proposed. It was then that we stopped the development of Steppe Stable tools. Taking a step back from the development, we handed off the Discord to the community. Ignoring the complexities of creating a DAO, the members that had led the group took over and still run it to this day. It didn't need to be complicated because we were a family of ~1,000 people who somehow all trusted each other. To this day, Steppe Stable stays running, focusing on the core mission of helping new and long-term players of the ZED ecosystem.

Having been a perfect Web3 testing ground, my appetite for building something of more significant impact grew. A place to build in Web3 driven by pure passion while avoiding the pounding pressure of financial expectation or obligation.

I had first-hand experience of the power of 700 people coming together, combining their minds, and creating something more powerful than any of us could have imagined.

Defining Who You Are

Following the closing of that chapter of my life came a pounding knock at the door. The realization that who one is, is an entirely different concept in Web3 than in the real world. There is a curtain of privacy and constant lack of transparency that will never be cracked even though the fanciest of immutable or verifiable data endpoints.

Your identity is:

  • your history

  • your contributions

  • your stories (told of you)

With the amalgamation of misperceived social media inputs and outputs, it takes only a few steps to create a digital image far different than was ever intended. For some, this has unlocked the capacity of maximum-velocity momentum, enabling compounding non-linear outcomes. Whether that perception is good or bad, most are yet to discover.

I need not name names for you to think of a few people in your circle that you know to have very different histories than their current digital-society perception. People at the top of this industry are "known" by their followers for a (generally) massive range of topics and niches. Rarely was it one or two decisions that landed them in the position they've "earned(?)".

The wisest of philosophers have argued over the existence of a soul or moral compass, a 'governing machine,' a system that determines who you indeed are. With the chance of sounding blasphemous, the state of condition in Web3 is vastly different as it has little impact on your digital public reputation. Even more generally, it is not rare to see someone become essentially immoral and/or unethical with the riches they so desperately craved arrive.

Like a toxic poison, the entire audience can watch as one is consumed by absolute greed and the blind chase for the most oversized bag of vices possible.

Like a chameleon, we often see massively influential individuals of Web3 do a complete 180° on their stance or financial alignment. It's an easy thing to do when there exist almost no ramifications.

Regardless of your objection to that statement, in reality, through a finely crafted lens of social media and the deliberate responses massaged to deliver a very targeted message, the digital brand of a person (who someone is) can evolve in a matter of minutes. The odds are high that a person's morals or ethics did not change. Merely, that person now has the total capacity to be them true-selves.

The resulting digital society is not purely a state of grim conditions. Unethical individuals will always find a way to dance around the fire in a land of retribution and celebration. The most cunning manage to escape the inevitable burns that anyone else would face. No, soulbound tokens will not solve this. There are reasons prisons surrounded by water exist.

A Brand That Can Test Time

The larger question is:

Can understanding the systemic downsides of a digital society result in a participant that can use those same points to gather the desired accumulations?

Isn't that what the most successful yet unethical are doing?

It is possible to craft a false brand that generates a high-converting and affluent fan base. With the springing of hilariously low-quality scam NFT projects that mint with an instantaneous rug, we have solid evidence to say this is true. Yet, I do not operate through a line of positivism, accepting the slightest hint of evidence in the hope that a system can be sustainable through a manner of dreaming or "just wanting it bad enough."

Digitally, who are you? That's entirely up to you, and even with the largest of success or failure, the public perception of who you are will change the instant you take another step. Realistically, all you control is the physical aspects of the brand; everything else is entirely subjective and relative to the viewer.

Picking sticks from the pile of leaves, a reader will exit the world with a handful of twigs that resemble a foggy image of the contents held within the forest. It's similar to the idea that very few internalize anything when speedrunning books or bands of knowledge. Your digital brand is the same.

With the:

  • release of a thread/article

  • change of a pfp

  • single endorsement of an idea/product

The public perception of who you are can evolve to be something new and something you could never have predicted. Worse, neither you nor anyone else has a way to measure any of these "imaginary" metrics of digital sociology. They are left to their own devices. Many resort to a shotgun approach of A/B(/C/D/E/F), testing their social following with different post topics, tones, and delivery mechanisms. The misguided firing of a far too powerful shotgun leads many to become unparsable as they descend into the social void of algorithm hell. More often than not, leaving that creator more confused and blind to the brand perception that the public has already defined for them.

Need a few examples?

  • How many creators do you know that saw massive levels of engagement while hype their project that now struggle to get a few likes?

  • How many individuals posted a picture of their skin, only for that to become the only thing that receives engagement?

  • How many creators gained their following by sharing "pump and dumps" while being ignored whenever they attempt to offer "real" value?

While that may be commonplace in the suburban life of Web3, that's not a path that appeals to me beyond the superficial riches of societal theologians. Placing creators, developers, and influencers at the peak of parasocial graspings is not a world I strive to see or help create.

Almost pridefully wearing the mark of a blue-flamer, individuals (both creators and collectors) that fundamentally misunderstand the industry's goings-on grift their way through the shadowy resemblance of the pseudo-network they've surrounded themselves with. With the simple mention of a future thing, speculation spins into a lingering anvil over the head of every creator. Lost in the expectation of financial return, routinely, we watch a creator get stripped of their passion and creation.

  • How many creators that have launched a project have the same brand as they did on the launching day? Very few.

  • How many creators decided to change that public perception? Even fewer.

  • How many creators launched a project to fade into oblivion shortly after?

This cannot be and will not be stopped. The industry is massively asymmetrical. Once driven and (largely) determined by the creators building the mechanisms of the industry, to a world that is now the purest form of consumerism. Capitalistic greed has seeped into the lightest corners of Web3. This article is not my withdrawal from my previous ideals. It is an adjustment to the far more brutal reality than I first perceived.

Evolving from a misconceived perception of a world driven by meritocracy, the naivety is not so wrongly misplaced any longer. CHANCE, as a brand, is a correction of my previous misperceptions. An exploration into a new type of brand that is responsive to the kind of person interacting with it at any given time. From the land of theory to actuality, this is the first attempt to not only find a proper definition of who I am digitally but also an experiment into what a digital brand truly is.

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In the current social economy, "building" a digital brand with a goal is similar to the process needed to grow any standard business social account. We all know the pillars of incredibly time-consuming and audience-generating content: consistency, engagement, and value. Yet, we are people and have lost the ability to be that if the only goal is to build a high-converting audience. A digital user is forced into a world of algorithm dictatorship through the over-fitting classifications of follower weight, the ratio of likes to views, and more.

For decades, experts have lusted over the idea of a headless organization. Yet, what has been forgotten along this road is the absolute requirement of having a brand that adequately conveys the journey that is sure to unfold.

Have we already reached the stage of the digital society where headless brands exist? Can a headless brand be realized without absurd levels of abstraction that distract from the original goal? Still, without real interaction, controlling a brand's perception is impossible. I aim to discover that as we step into a more appropriate version of the brand to represent who I truly am.

Contrary to a headless organization where the decision to be headless is deliberately made, brands' position is merely an outcome of an entirely digital world. Like a community, a creator can lay the forks in the road, but they cannot make their audience walk down a particular path. The path to walk is for every individual to choose, which remains true regardless of the public definition of one's brand.

Accepting that this is the situation is not a negative outcome. Instead, it frees the shackles and introduces a new world in which the creator can chase the passions most interesting to them while the individual receives a brand (and matching content) that aligns far better with the desires. This starts with adequately segmenting audiences (laying the roads) as that is all a creator can ever do and eclipses into raw interaction mechanisms that have genuine impact.

After all, you have seen millions of trees in your life, but how many can you remember planting? This, in practice, is freeing in two significant ways:

  • You can post whatever and be whoever you want. People will forget, no matter how good or bad.

  • There is a way for creators to shine through the noise. Person-specific interaction

These two realizations have brought a new form of CHANCE to fruition. Since February, I have been relatively quiet in the digital hemisphere. Impactful to my journey, this inspired a new type of work that I didn't feel necessary to talk about (yet). The incentives of the industry suddenly weren't aligned with my why.

Often in the professional world, someone will ask you if a place is a good culture fit because the answer often says far more than you ever could in words. A non-verbal rant would have done the same about my perspective on the current state of Web3. Mostly, that is because the reality that Web3 is just a speck of existence had become strikingly clear.

Operating in Web3 quickly lands you in a situation where doing anything is very difficult. We are so early. Earlier than even most in this space genuinely realize. The simplest of tools do not yet exist, and that is not because they are challenging to build. We are just incredibly early.

However, being so incredibly early is only bad for traders hoping to buy the next million-dollar NFT. The state of reality is far more excellent. Web2.5 has not even started yet, and that ground is incredibly cool while almost entirely avoiding the exact leeching expectations within the market. Builders can build without having someone spam #wen. Today, NFT projects use Web3 for little more than a fancy and more expensive Kickstarter campaign.

With this in mind, future content from CHANCE will come in a broader range of forms. Primarily explorations into deeper parts of technology that are often forgone for a more capitalistic product. More shipping; Less building a product that could make money. Tied with that is the branching of all written content through the digital medium it most benefits from.

Branched Content

Almost no piece of content is best served by being on every available platform. Attention should be spent where it is best. Otherwise, the best practice would be to post on every single option to "get the widest reach."

So, moving forward, I will share my content in the places where the right audience is most likely to be found. Preventing overshare and brand fatigue while improving the rate of engagement.

For example:

  • Where provenance is desired, Mirrorexternal link will be used.

Unfortunately, discovery is bad on Mirror, and it is almost impossible to grow your audience with Mirror. This brings us to Medium, an incredible mechanism for brand growth that lends a helping hand in audience curation.

  • So, Mediumexternal link is used when focusing on brand expansion.

The goal is to get served as the 'Daily Read' of your general audience. Based on the interests and pasts, the article is fed straight to the people who matter. Along with this, Medium is a content bridge between many of the most popular digital industries. With so much of the digital workforce often reading an article on medium, you can talk to people you would never reach through traditional social media.

  • Twitterexternal link has a shelf-life of about 12 hours unless you capture lightning in a bottle.

So, just be yourself. Let Twitter be a less professional outlet because that is how it functions. This is just further confirmation that it does not matter what your "digital identity" is, as your digital brand is far more profound than that (whether you choose it or not).

  • Finally, that brings us to your home of you.

Your website serves as a home for the more pivotal activities of you and your brand. Serving as a disconnection from the professional workflow of your constant grind, a creator maintains the ability to take back a sliver of who they indeed are. With complete control over everything, the one goal left is driving the traffic where it belongs.

This brings us to the elephant in the room. The big eye staring at you on the home screenexternal link with an alarming number to accompany. As a marker of my journey through this life, you can find an interactive element with a few surprises along the way. (Please note: if you care about the future, please make sure your wallet is connected.)

I know you want to. Content is best where it belongs, and a gladiator battle for 25 seconds of attention will constantly remind you of that. Step into my Thunderdome and deal minor damage to the eye.

Grasping At Straws

Within the little niche of NFTs, there is the commonly shared opinion that a pfp is the visual representation of one's brand. I am my Penguin, and my Penguin is me. In reality, that is far from the truth. The visual identity of many of the largest in the industry is constantly evolving. Bouncing between the investment of the new and hot projects at the time, consumers funnel in as they align themselves with a project brand that has yet to be defined—quickly smacking on that new pfp so that the number goes up a little more!

The launch of a new collection comes, and suddenly there is a swarm of people repping the project as their pfp. Even more, many doing this are fully aware of what they are doing. Pump my bag and all. To convince buyers, a picture is painted that this brand is the one to align with. This project has the community that you should invest in. This is the brand that is going to do something. Yet, it never is.

Countless people have asked: "if I change my pfp, will I be forgotten?" While the answer is yes to a certain extent due to the loss-favor of that micro-niche, for the most part, no. There is little long-lasting societal brand impact a buyer/holder can get from using an NFT as a pfp, whether good or bad. The existing PFPs focus entirely on brand expansion while leaving almost every other aspect of the current person's brand to the wayside.

  • Think of your three favorite social media influencers.

  • Can you imagine their pfp?

  • Can you imagine the three most recent PFPS?

While PFPs can be purchased and serve as a great mechanism to introduce oneself to an extraordinarily affluent and unsuspecting audience, the association is not much more profound than signaling significant wealth. Even if the pfp of a project does stand for something more, the well-earned perception the public currently carries does not allow for that subconscious assumption—further binding one's brand to the minuscule confines of the social NFT bubble that exists that day.

The idea of brand value is smoke when built on top of an NFT brand that can barely stand on its own. So when someone receives a life-changing offer for their NFT identity, what should they do? Accept it instantly.

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