Building a Virtual Metropolis

Metropolis
8 min readJan 23, 2024

–This is an aspirational piece of how our platforms and frameworks in the pipeline can possibly manifest and the need for a meta-community for like-minded individuals that can facilitate experimentation in our field. Obviously the list doesn’t stop here — a lot more can be done and it will be gradually shaped by the market and our communities in the future. The virtual Metropolis might look very different from what we describe here, but we would like to plant a seed of inspiration. —

As we embark on a new year, it is a good time to share our vision for a virtual metropolis, a collection of interconnected virtual city states in the cloud, and how these virtual communities will converge to form a meta-civilization. By utilizing some of our existing platforms and frameworks and connecting these utilities together for a global community of users, we hope to see the launch of dozens if not hundreds of experiments in this arena that will continue to advance the frontiers of new governance. We’re excited for what’s ahead and hope to see you along the way on our journey through 2024.

Cross-border Community (global community / web3 nomads, etc.)

A virtual metropolis starts with a global cross-border community. There are powerful global diasporas for ethnic groups that have their function in the world, but we envision a group aligned by a common ethos. We envision a global commons for the Web3 community and digital nomad/ Silicon Valley diaspora as a starting point and aim to create a community for these technology and liberty minded individuals to coalesce and find common cause. Liberty-minded individuals from this community can join together to create their own parallel alternative to legacy world systems, while keeping a check on centralized forces (wherever they may stem from).

This group, once on the same medium or set of parallel systems (see Balaji Srinivasan “Kitty Corner” concept as applied to exit vs. reform) can then populate their own virtual worlds and create a vibrant set of alternatives to the status quo.

Users should be able to create new alignments based on ideology, future vision, geographical footprints, and through their participation in emergent communities (e.g. virtual city states).

Pseudonymity — Privacy Preservation & Increased Expression

Our assigned FIAT identities play a role in stagnating our development and putting a ceiling on evolving into a greater version of ourselves. In this parallel world, citizens can re-define themselves and create new forms of alignment that eschew the traditional binds of society.

Before Elton John, there was Reggie Dwight.

Before Marilyn Monroe there was Norma Jeane Mortenson.

A pseudonymous system for this parallel world allows users to generate trust profiles that accrue value over time, while protecting their FIAT identity credentials should they so choose.

Symphony of Selves

The book “Your Symphony of Selves” asks why “you” are a different you at different times and why that’s healthy and normal. Society encourages us to adhere to a single egoic identity which then should be re-inforced by all the activities and actions one takes. The book posits that one can and should have multiple selves, and that this is healthy for someone to be able to differentiate the many facets of their personalities that have evolved over time as opposed to a single static version of oneself.

Sara Guo of Greylock penned a thought-provoking piece on this subject “When we design our identities from scratch”, where she emphasizes the explorative nature of the early internet and its role in enabling identity dispersion, and how following this model will once again allow individuals to break free from content/clout/access treadmills that have been perfected in the recent decade-plus of social media technology.

“I call it identity dispersion, where individuals control the creation, separation and unification of their multiple online selves.” — Sara Guo

A vibrant, generative and extropic style network that utilizes pseudonymity can encourage users to step outside of their rigid identity labels and unlock a new more expressive persona tailored for the Post Westphalian world and its multitude of creations, no longer encumbered by legacy world attachments.

Minimum Viable City (State)

When individuals venture out, unrestrained by a “context collapsed” identity, they give themselves full permission to explore and connect with communities in different contexts across ideologies, experiences, and shared interests. Some of those interests will be in the formation and participation in new forms of governance, first in the virtual sphere, and some of which can make the leap to the physical world. This minimalist and iterative approach to world-weaving establishes a large surface area on which to promote Lore building/maxxing opportunities. By making the tools to create a virtual city state available, a minimum viable city can be bootstrapped by a leader or group of founders with a vision and this can be a space to get feedback and experiment with growing one’s community before taking bigger leaps into design, land purchases, etc, creating a glide path for building traction prior to larger or capital intensive endeavors.

Don’t see a community for biohackers with a strong affinity for corporate libertarianism? Start it. Looking to build a collective of digital minimalists to co-create a neo-classical settlement inspired by the World’s Colombian Exposition? Go for it.

Share your vision and let interested citizens migrate to your virtual city state over time, while drawing from network effects of other virtual city states and other collectives with similar vectors of interest.

Infrastructure and Piping

Well, a city sounds like fun. But what would a city be without its underlying infrastructure? While the surface should be a welcoming collection of hubs, an often overlooked and less glamorous aspect of city building involves underground piping systems and cables that connect the citizens aboveground to the necessary utilities that make their modern lives possible. While a web2 digital platform can suffice for basic social features, a trusted record using blockchain technology enhance trust and provability for vital information like identity, asset holdings, and credentialing from various trusted authorities.

By combining these technologies in a secure privacy protecting architecture, we can ensure that the beautiful things that we and others build on top are able to seamlessly utilize this to demonstrate provable information on their profiles, and enhance trust among the wider network of citizens.

Universal Digital Services (jurisdiction agnostic)

As referred to in our Digital Nation Stack article, there is a need for a neutral platform that facilitates this community’s access to public services. Key facets include:

  • Identity & Passports
  • Digital Banking
  • Land and asset ownership
  • Corporate Formation
  • Insurance

An example product that follows these principles is our X Corporations framework. This modular system follows a “law as code” design philosophy for corporate formation and supports principles of portability by enabling compatibility across jurisdictions.

Opt-in Governance (multi-flag, individual choice, menu of options)

The optimal port of entry for a digital-first community is one that draws from a canvas of principle-aligned communities. Web3 users hail from all over the globe, but are united in their principles of personal liberty, non-censorship and economic freedom.

Users on this agnostic network should then be able to join and participate in jurisdictions of their choice. Participation systems can be defined within each community, offering flexibility and transparency for citizens, while accelerating the rate of experimentation in new governance philosophies.

Transparent Assets (tools like TurtleX)

Transparent asset ownership and will be an important piece of digital infrastructure for new hubs. Metropolis is soon launching TurtleX, a digital real estate investment marketplace developed in collaboration with Desmo Labs that allows for the trading of real world assets like property and other similar assets giving the wider global community a foothold in real-world physical jurisdictions.

Platforms like this are an important layer of the stack and help to bridge virtual communities to the physical world, rooting them to specific geographic clusters that are aligned with the ethos of the meta-community or one of its factions.

Portability

In a virtual metropolis, as in any traditional trading port, users should have freedom to migrate to other ports in the network as they please.

People can “vote with their feet” in the physical world, but that only happens now when the situation is so egregious (crime, extortionary taxation, lack of opportunity, etc.) that the benefits outweigh the exorbitant switching costs to pick up stakes and move to another state (or country for that matter).

Physical world switching costs are enormous compared to that of the digital world. If we can provide a lower commitment entry point for people to “test the waters” within digital jurisdictions, this gives them the benefits of having first-hand experience with the product and services before making more significant commitments.

We believe this principle dramatically reduces switching costs and by reducing this jurisdictional friction and increasing optionality, we can better reduce their lock-in and ensure optimal experiences for users in the long run.

Flourishing

Ultimately, this canvas can provide a neutral and humanistic platform for the flourishing of a vibrant collection of virtual metropolis hubs, all built on the same underlying architecture, with seamless mobility from hub to hub, and sector to sector. Newly chartered hubs can benefit from the global network of virtual city states and create new lifestyle and governance innovations that incentivize participation in their own virtual metropolis.

This iterative approach to virtual city state and digital nation creation combined with a seamless global community platform will allow for a lower barrier to entry and with time the cream will rise to the top, offering a set of digital hubs that provide robust and increasingly practical alternatives to the legacy world status quo menu of options. Forward-thinking legacy world partners will embrace these changes, and seek early adopter advantages, enabling them to leapfrog their traditional world counterparts, (see: anarchy world order, offensive realism) ultimately contributing to a better world with more freedom, mobility, and a multitude of choices for global citizens.

See you soon.

Follow Metropolis on X: https://twitter.com/metropolishub

Follow TurtleX: https://twitter.com/turtlex_xyz

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