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Top 10 of 2021
Hey Everyone 👋 ,
Happy (almost) holidays! 🎉 I wrote 50 pieces on Digital Native in 2021. To wrap up the year, I’m sharing the 10 most-read pieces below. If you missed any of these, hopefully they provide some good reading over the holidays.
You’ll be hearing from me one more time in 2021, and then I promise to not invade your inbox over the holiday. I’ll do my final piece of the year in a new format: a video recording of me walking through a presentation I put together. The presentation will be a “State of the Union” for creators, culture, and crypto. Expect that over the coming days.
I’d also love your feedback on Digital Native this year. If you have a few minutes, here’s a 2-minute survey that I hope will let me take things to another level in 2022 😊
With that, the 10 most-popular pieces from 2021 👇
In this piece from June, I dissected Gen Z behaviors and explored how they’re shaping our digital world, all through the lenses of TikTok trends, memes, and language. If nothing else, hopefully you can now use “no cap” and “cheugy” in a sentence.
Digital economies are underrated in their nuance and complexity. I broke down how Axie Infinity and Star Atlas design their economies, how those economies compare to our analog economy, and how we all might earn income in the metaverse.
Squid Game shone a light on how exploitative our financial system can be. I wrote about how consumer fintech is having a renaissance as young people react to a broken system. We’re seeing this in the rise of neobanks, crypto, investing apps, and BNPL.
I wrote this piece for The Atlantic, arguing that the financialization of the world is a good thing. This isn’t obvious: if everyone is becoming an investor, that means the inverse is also true—everything (and everyone) becomes a potential investment. This has risks, but is ultimately a powerful force for economic opportunity.
Lil Nas X embodies Gen Z in many ways. He’s fluent in the language of the internet, using his hustle and savvy to rise to the top of his industry. Whereas most superstars arrived at stardom top-down, Lil Nas X arrived bottom-up. He brought growth hacking to music and reoriented the architecture of fame.
This was my longest piece of the year, an attempt to tie together many (seemingly) disparate topics: web3, the creator economy, the metaverse, Gen Z. Many of these “buzzwords” aren’t vertical trends, but horizontal throughlines that traverse sectors like social, gaming, and commerce.
Digital worlds unlock self-expression. We’re embracing new identities online, and technology is enabling those digital personas to untether from our offline selves. This piece—the third in a series about digital identity—traverses vTubers, VR and AR, and gaming.
Culture is becoming liquid: tokens are the new lifeblood of the web, erecting new structures of wealth and power. Compared to NFTs, DeFi, and DAOs, social tokens haven’t had their moment—but they’re about to.
From Mario Kart to Call of Duty to Axie Infinity, gaming has pushed forward boundaries and acted as a bellwether for mainstream technology adoption. I wrote about how we can learn from modding in web2 and extend user-generated content creation to the composability and IP rights of web3.
The most-read piece of the year was last week’s, about the rise of Gen Z and how Gen Z is changing our world. Topics include sustainability, secondhand fashion, social networks, and the rise of digitally-native work. Oh, and lots of emojis.
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