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The Word For Our "Industry" Onchain...

Onchain series: A narrated history of pre/post-internet, and post-onchain introduction.

Note to reader: Portions of this were assisted through AI prompts. All work is original to the human thinker and feeler. Till a future that is no difference. But, till then, only by me the human thinker and feeler.


Goal: to land on one word that summarizes the ideas in this article by visiting an intersection of history, technology, and storytelling. 


Onchain is not the word.

It's cool. I like it. I love it. Even want some more of it. I have written with it "From Online to Onchain". Yet, it doesn't resemble the cleanest idea of what the future behavior will be. Even web3 is not the right word.

Web3 does an okay job at announcing our entrance into a new aggregation of a technology stack, yet we have never used the lingo web0,1,2, surely 3 will not stick. If you have not, I highly recommend reading Read, Write, Own by Chris Dixon as a way to wrap your head around why "web3" is a new technology stack.

What is the better word describing where we will spend the next several decades working in?

To come up with this word I will explore the history of "online", how online maps to a life onchain, to hopefully land on, what's the word describing our industry? (originally proposed by Ben Roy, here)

To start unpacking some thoughts I think it is worth;

  1. visit where the word "online" comes from and some of the behaviors that drew us to coordinate online.

  2. breakdown the components of online and map them to web3, crypto, blockchains, and other names we use to bring our society into a new coordination ecosystem.

If anything, this is to expand our lexicon, language, or heritage of where our onchain behaviors will take us, online.

Online: An Quick Introduction

Where did the word "online" come from?

The phrase "on-line" was used as early as the 1950s, referring to systems or devices in a state directly connected, communicated, or controlled within a network. As computers and internet technologies evolved, the term "online" expanded to refer to activities and services accessed over the internet, becoming commonplace in the digital age to describe being connected to or present on the internet.

The word stems from the telecommunications, railroads, and computing industries. Where linemen would throw lines down, or rails, to connect humans across lands. When humans would connect they were "online", when they weren't connecting they were offline.

To my surprise being online dates back further than expected, yet it makes a lot of sense when describing the meta behavior of connecting.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

During the 19th century, the term on line was commonly used in both the railroad and telegraph industries. For railroads, a signal box would send messages down the line (track), via a telegraph line (cable), indicating the track's status: Train on line or Line clear.[5] Telegraph linemen would refer to sending current through a line as direct on line or battery on line;[6] or they may refer to a problem with the circuit as being on line, as opposed to the power source or end-point equipment.[7]

Since at least 1950, in computing, the terms on-line and off-line have been used to refer to whether machines, including computers and peripheral devices, are connected or not.[8]

I find it fascinating that online stems from an idea of energy. But that's not a rabbit hole for this article, maybe another. Within this context, I want to attempt to break down some of the behaviors leading into our current "online" state.

Mapping: Generalized Lay of the Land

What behaviors may be worth understanding and mapping?

The world requires many basic behaviors (pre/post-Internet) to function in the manner it does today, for simplicity I will use three very general umbrellas to aggregate behaviors:

  1. Coordination - the ability to communicate and plan for resource allocation.

  2. Socialization - the ability to belong and connect with others and communities.

  3. Commerce - the ability to transact and pay for goods and services.

Under the umbrella of coordination, socialization, and commerce, it is worth mapping the behaviors between pre-internet to post-internet, and seeing which behaviors are more novel that allow us to coin a word that more readily describes our world -- our crypto, onchain, online, world.


In a pre-internet era, the absence of digital communication and online platforms shaped distinct ways of managing coordination, socialization, and commerce. Here's how these aspects manifested:

Era Definition: The pre-internet era refers to the period before the widespread adoption of the Internet. While the foundational technology of the Internet began development in the 1960s and the Internet itself became more accessible to the public in the early 1990s, the era most commonly associated with "pre-internet" would be before the early to mid-1990s. Therefore, you could consider the pre-internet era to encompass the years up to around 1990-1993, before the World Wide Web became commercially available and started gaining popularity among the general public.

Coordination: the ability to communicate and plan for resource allocation.

Bodies - centralized, nodes, stated-preference, mid
- Government Agencies: Played a central role in organizing societal functions, from infrastructure to defense.
- Postal Services: Were essential for communication across distances, facilitating coordination between individuals and organizations.
- Local Community Organizations: Including clubs and civic groups, which organized local events and volunteer efforts.

Behaviors - users, decentralized actions, revealed-preference, edges, tail
- Physical Meetings: Face-to-face interactions in offices, community centers, and homes were necessary for planning and decision-making.
- Telephone Communications: Landline telephones allowed for real-time discussions without needing physical presence.
- Written Correspondence: Letters and memos were standard for formal communication, record-keeping, and coordination efforts.

Socialization: the ability to belong and connect with others and communities.

Bodies - centralized, nodes, stated-preference, mid
- Social Clubs and Interest Groups: Provided venues for people to gather and share common interests or hobbies.
- Religious Institutions: Churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues were central to community life and social gatherings.
- Schools and Universities: Facilitated social interaction among students and between educators, forming lifelong networks.

Behaviors - users, decentralized actions, revealed-preference, edges, tail
- Community Events: Fairs, dances, and town hall meetings were crucial for socializing and building community ties.
- Family Gatherings: Regular visits and reunions held to maintain family bonds and celebrate traditions.
- Local Sports and Recreational Activities: Organized team sports and leisure activities promoted social interaction within communities.

Commerce: the ability to transact and pay for goods and services.
Bodies - centralized, nodes, stated-preference, mid
- Brick-and-Mortar Stores: Physical retail locations where customers could browse and purchase goods.
- Banks and Financial Institutions: Conducted all financial transactions, including savings, loans, and currency exchange, in person or via mail.
- Trade Fairs and Markets: Periodic events that allowed traders and artisans to sell their goods and services directly to consumers.

Behaviors - users, decentralized actions, revealed-preference, edges, tail
- Cash and Check Transactions: Predominant methods for payments for goods and services.
- In-Person Negotiation and Sales: Face-to-face interactions were essential for negotiating prices and finalizing sales.
- Catalog Shopping: For remote purchases, catalogs were mailed to consumers who would place orders by mail or phone.

Post-Internet Behavior
In a pre-internet era, the omni-presence of digital communication and online platforms has, and continues to shape distinct ways of managing coordination, socialization, and commerce. Here's how these aspects manifested:

Era Definition:
The post-internet era refers to the period following the widespread adoption and integration of the Internet into daily life and global systems. This era effectively began in the early to mid-1990s, with the commercialization of the World Wide Web and the subsequent rapid expansion of Internet access and services. While it's difficult to pinpoint a specific start year due to the gradual nature of this technological adoption, a significant marker is the introduction of the first web browser, Mosaic, in 1993, which made the Internet more accessible to non-technical users.

Therefore, you could consider the post-internet era to start from around 1994 onwards, when the Internet began to significantly impact commerce, communication, and social interaction. This era continues into the present day, marked by continuous innovations in digital technology, social media, e-commerce, and the increasing centrality of the Internet in both personal and professional contexts.

Coordination: the ability to communicate and plan for resource allocation.
Bodies - centralized, nodes, stated-preference, mid
- Online Platforms and Social Networks: Facilitate widespread communication and coordination across global networks.
- Cloud-based Collaboration Tools: Enable teams to work together seamlessly, regardless of geographical location.
- International NGOs and Virtual Communities: Leverage the internet to coordinate global initiatives and mobilize resources.

Behaviors - users, decentralized actions, revealed-preference, edges, tail
- Virtual Meetings and Conferences: Replace traditional in-person gatherings, allowing for real-time collaboration across distances.
- Crowdsourcing and Crowd-funding: Utilize the collective power of the internet for funding projects and solving complex problems.
- Real-time Data Sharing and Analysis: Enhance decision-making and resource allocation through immediate access to information.

Socialization: the ability to belong and connect with others and communities.
Bodies - centralized, nodes, stated-preference, mid
- Social Media Platforms: Connect individuals from diverse backgrounds, fostering friendships and community engagement.
- Online Forums and Chat Rooms: Offer spaces for people with shared interests to discuss, exchange ideas, and offer support.
- Dating Apps and Websites: Revolutionize how people meet romantic partners, expanding social circles beyond traditional means.

Behaviors - users, decentralized actions, revealed-preference, edges, tail
- Digital Communication Tools: Texting, video calls, and social networking sites become primary means of staying in touch.
- Online Gaming and Virtual Worlds: Provide immersive experiences where users can interact and form communities.
- Content Sharing and Creation: Blogs, vlogs, and podcasts allow individuals to share their lives, opinions, and talents with a global audience.

Commerce: the ability to transact and pay for goods and services.
Bodies -
centralized, nodes, stated-preference, mid
- E-commerce Platforms: Transform the retail landscape, allowing consumers to purchase goods and services online.
- Digital Payment Systems: Facilitate transactions through online banking, mobile payment apps, and cryptocurrencies.
- Online Marketplaces for Freelancers: Connect freelancers with clients worldwide, changing how work and projects are outsourced.

Behaviors - users, decentralized actions, revealed-preference, edges, tail
- Online Shopping and Home Delivery: Become commonplace, with consumers expecting a wide selection and fast delivery.
- Customer Reviews and Feedback: Play a critical role in purchasing decisions, with platforms providing user-generated ratings.
- Personalization and Data Analytics: Drive marketing strategies, offering tailored recommendations based on user behavior and preferences.

To summarize the immediate bullet points above, we covered:

  • Definitions of the pre-internet and post-internet era.

  • How they break down within the construct of a collaborative society,

    • coordination,

    • socialization, and

    • commerce.

  • How each of these apply to bodies and behaviors with potential intersecting definitions of words.

    • Bodies, which can relate to multiple words in context of centralization, nodes, stated-preferences, and statistically mid behaviors. Individual humans or teams of humans.
      Bodies allow for hyper optimization of centralized data flows.

    • We also covered Behaviors, which can relate to multiple words in context of decentralization, user behaviors, revealed-preference, edges and tail events. The outputs from actions by individual humans or teams of humans.
      Behaviors allow for hyper optimization of decentralized data flows.

  • How the above definitions may have changed between a pre vs. post internet society, by identifying relative vehicles for bodies and behaviors during their time.

    • corporations vs. DAOs

    • public commerce squares vs. e-commerce squares

    • public social gatherings vs. farcaster social gatherings

Soft Closing

The majority of this mapping excludes onchain behavior, and I believe the reason for this is really telling. In the end if we look at the world through data flows, as Claude Shannon looked at the world through an information lens, we can begin to understand why data ownership becomes so valuable, and why onchain is so monumental in its ideas. Yet onchain is a subset of what it means to be more omni-online. It's a new behavior that will be adopted because we are more online and because the onchain ownership layer enables a better orchestration of the commerce world.

In the end, optimal states exist within these ranges:

  1. coordination requires ownership of actions and information flow

  2. socialization requires ownership of identity

  3. commerce requires ownership and financialization

blockchains allow us to enter into this new coordination state of actions and information flow, where decentralization gives us greater ownership of our identity, and how we trade and engage within these new actions and information flows, will give us a hyper-commerce space.

So what is changing are the mediums, the relative vehicles that will take us between these three general states.

But in order to operate, with a clear mind, in this hyper commerce space, you'll need, or want, an AI.

So what is the word that will take us deeper online, through onchain behaviors?

ChatGPT: Innovation, Transformational

Human: I still don't know.

See you on the follow up.

If you'd like to support more of this writing and the ideas we are imbedding into our onchain lives, with our AI assistants, considering subscribing to my hypersub and



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