Crypto Creator Economies and Capitalism (3-min read)

January 5th, 2021

There's a fabulous essay called Naming the Nameless by @s_r_constantin that describes the tension between creators and tastemakers. Creators originate ideas and styles, and tastemakers expand the market and popularize them. In our current form of capitalism, expanders get a greater share of the economic value produced by this relationship, through scale and distribution - by commoditizing the invention. Here's a quote from the essay that frames and explains the problem:

...we don't really have good tools for fairly compensating people for intellectual originality. Intellectual property law is a kludge, with a lot of problems. Creators don't really know how to extract "fair market value" for ideas, possibly because they're intrinsically motivated to create them and the kind of "payment" they want is more like appreciation or kindred-spirit-ness than money. Standard startup ideology says that ideas are of low value: "If you go to VC firms with a brilliant idea that you'll tell them about if they sign a nondisclosure agreement, most will tell you to get lost. That shows how much a mere idea is worth. The market price is less than the inconvenience of signing an NDA." That may be true, but you could also interpret it as markets not knowing how to price ideas, in the same way that markets can't price natural resources until you figure out a way to define property rights over them.

So, whenever you encounter a piece of media -- words or images or music or anything representational -- no matter how many levels of imitation or expansion it's been through, you're still hearing some distant signal from its originator. And its originator probably feels ripped off and undervalued. When you go looking for good art, you're looking for art that's closer to its creative source, and that means you'll hear in it the voice of the frustrated creator.

The "creator economy", prominently proposed in the crypto space, can solve this problem - specifically, by "[figuring] out a way to define property rights over [ideas]". I think Mirror can help to do this.

Blockchains allow us to track the provenance of ideas, from the original creator through the expansion cycle. They also allow us to tokenize and track ideas (for example, by creating NFTs of whitepapers, articles, color schemes, etc). We can use this to prove how an idea has influenced society, and to financialize the idea itself, if desired.

P.S. I recommend reading the full Naming the Nameless essay.

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