if you are a creative person who is drawn to working on many things at once, there is nothing wrong with you— dom (@dhof) October 3, 2021
there is only a massive system that doesn’t align with you, which is thankfully being dismantled — albeit slowly
Dom Hofmann is a prolific builder and the creator behind the original Loot contract that spawned the Loot community. He’s also infamous for launching multiple projects a month and working across seemingly unrelated projects in parallel. Dom really embodies the portfolio and prototyping approach to creative work.
Back in July, I first wrote about thinking of my research as a portfolio, in which I reflected on the advice of don’t lock into a single project too early.
I’ve also started thinking of these weekly updates as an opportunity to give a status update on my research.
It’s now October. Since my last “research portfolio overview” back in July, I’ve continued to explore a broad portfolio of ideas. Here’s an overview on what I’ve been thinking about:
Blockchains are a decentralized computation layer for the internet. A smart contract is a program running on the Blockchain. Blockchain “nodes” are servers that are monetarily incentivized to run the program in the smart contract. Think of it as a marketplace for program execution that runs a common virtual machine.
Decentralized business models allow for a different flow of capital, which may fund a new wave of innovation in areas that gets overlooked or underfunded by current capital providers.
Applications are increasingly adding real-time collaboration features and consumers are coming to expect those features as table stakes. There’s an emerging set of libraries and platforms that simplify building real-time collaborative applications. But simple != easy. There are still many unsolved challenges, both in the user interface and in related technologies like persistence, offline support, and authorization. Real-time collaboration will be a fundamental building block for the next wave of computing platforms.
Operating systems are built atop a set of protocols and patterns and existing computing platforms have reached a saturation point. Emerging protocols and technologies will likely enable a new platform to emerge within the next decade.
“Tools for thought” are seeing a ton of exploration and capital infusion. We are in the divergent phase as lots of ideas are going in different directions. Convergence will come, too. In this divergent phase, we’re exploring lots of paths in parallel. Be on the lookout for usage patterns and emerging de facto standards.
Composability of applications and data has the potential to unlock innovation outside of the lock-in we currently find on the web. In the space of “thinking tools”, interoperability between tools for thought provides an interesting application within which to work on composability.
Visual canvas tools are starting to integrate stronger text-based interfaces while text-based tools are getting visual interfaces. The problem isn’t primarily technical; it’s a user interface challenge.
Technological innovation seems to be accelerated based on specific environmental aspects. What are the most important enablers? What can we learn today from past innovative organizations and contexts?
The technology industry seems to suffer from perpetual amnesia, continually re-inventing the wheel, and ignoring lessons from past systems. There are opportunities to glean from the past in a semi-structured way that influence what we invent in the future.
If this seems like a mishmash of topics, questions, technologies, and provocations, that would be a fair assessment. I’m starting to see some threads winding their way through this pile of topics, but it’s too early to say exactly what those commonalities are.
If any of the above topics are of interest to you and you’d like to talk about it, reach out.
If you have pointers to resources that could help me in my exploration, reach out.
For now, I’m enjoying scouting on the frontiers of the possible, and always on the look-out for fellow travelers.