Blockchain-based virtual nations are an emerging concept in the digital realm that seeks to address various societal and governance needs like reduced bureaucracy, better legal systems, cheaper services, democratic decision-making and inclusivity. These virtual nations are decentralized, blockchain-based communities that offer several potential benefits, such as digital sovereignty, transparency, and community-driven governing.
Underpinned by the Jur Network, a decentralized technical infrastructure, Draper Nation offers a unique model for governance and service delivery. Citizens of Draper Nation have direct ownership and influence over the network and will be able to participate in decision-making processes and activities that actively involve the general public.
Vikram Bharati, founder of Draper Startup House, and Alessio Treglia, chief technology officer of the Jur Network, explain in this interview what opportunities Draper Nation offers its citizens and whether such projects can make us a stronger and more engaged citizenry.
CT: Vikram, Draper Nation is a revolutionary concept in the crypto space. Could you share the origin story of this Bitcoin-native society and what inspired its creation?
Vikram Bharati: Since 2018, we’ve been building physical startup societies around the world through Draper Startup Houses. It dawned on us that by connecting individuals with shared values from different parts of the world, we were creating comprehensive global ecosystems and economies. This realization led us to understand that, in a sense, we were building micronations within other nations. We then realized that there was no reason why we couldn’t create our own virtual nation. All the necessary ingredients were already in place — we just needed to bring them together.
🚀 Introducing Draper Nation: A New Digital Horizon 🌐#DraperNation as envisioned by legendary Silicon Valley investor @TimDraper & powered by @JurProject, is a borderless, community-driven, and Bitcoin-native #StartupSociety.— Draper Nation (@DraperNationHQ) September 4, 2023
Let's dive in to discover more 🧵 pic.twitter.com/xzjTo1L6aI
CT: Alessio, for our readers new to the term, could you explain what “Network States” are and how they’re poised to redefine traditional notions of governance and societal structures?
Alessio Treglia: Network states are online, decentralized entities that operate very much like states, but they lack control over physical land. They are the successors of the traditional sovereign states. By leveraging Web3 trustless technical tools, network states would allow citizens to interact and trade seamlessly and frictionlessly, causing efficiency to skyrocket and cost to become neglectable.
CT: The Jur Network is integral to Draper Nation’s functionality. Could you delve into how it underpins the operations and governance of these emerging Network States?
Alessio Treglia: The Jur Network is a decentralized technical infrastructure designed to facilitate on-chain decision-making processes and activities involving the general public in the day-to-day operations of digital communities. Our primary goal is to encourage more people to join these communities and engage directly in public discourse and action. In perspective, while a Facebook user interacts primarily as a consumer within the Facebook network, a Jur Network user has direct ownership and influence over the network. Draper Nation serves as our first real-world, large-scale user community — a critical proving ground where Jur Engineering turns abstract network concepts into practical, real-world applications.
CT: Given your extensive experience in blockchain, Alessio, how do you see global trends around decentralization influencing the future of national governance and economies?
Alessio Treglia: Global decentralization trends are fundamentally reshaping national governance and economies. In a completely borderless world, centralized control drops its mask and finally appears for what it is — the number one enemy of democracies based on active participation and equality. Peer-to-peer banking and decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols have given us a glimpse of the future. Now, we can empower individuals by ensuring financial inclusion and democratizing access to resources and opportunities. Governance models will gradually shift to decentralized models that allow citizens to participate in decision-making and policy formulation in a transparent and equitable manner.
CT: Vikram, Draper Nation emphasizes community, especially through its NFT passport initiative. How do you envision this fostering a stronger, more engaged citizenry?
Vikram Bharati: Draper Nation will eventually offer numerous services typically provided by governments. Since everything will be virtual and without intermediaries, we will be able to deliver these services at a fraction of the cost. The NFT passport will serve as the citizen-owned digital ID, granting the citizens access to all products and services.
CT: Startup cities are a fascinating aspect of Draper Nation. Could you explain how these special economic zones (SEZs) operate and the benefits they offer to residents, both virtual and physical?
Vikram Bharati: We are passionate about a new concept of Startup Cities. Think of them as neighborhoods tailored to the needs and dreams of everyone who lives there. They’re not just places to live, they’re hubs filled with exciting perks and services. What excites me is our effort to seamlessly weave in Web3 capabilities. So imagine handling things like Visa applications, setting up your business, managing insurance, and even paying taxes, all integrated and simplified. We’re trying to eliminate unnecessary middlemen and make everything more direct and efficient. But what will set our cities apart? It’s the spirit of innovation and collaboration. Living there means you’re not just a neighbor: you’re an integral part of its history, its growth. So imagine living in a place where you’re not just a resident but an invested stakeholder, celebrating every milestone of your own Startup City.
CT: Looking ahead, what major milestones can we expect from Draper Nation and the Jur Network in the upcoming year?
Vikram Bharati: The first year of Draper Nation will be experimental as we seek to understand who truly wants to be a part of this new nation and what the citizens’ aspirations are for its future. In essence, we want to co-create this nation with the help of its citizens. We will co-write the Manifesto and then the Constitution of Draper Nation through community-driven activities. We have already held two inaugural events and have more to come with the opening of a new embassy in Hyderabad. Netizens will have access to benefits of various kinds: free accommodations for events, scholarships, and more.
CT: How do you both see the evolution of crypto and blockchain technologies impacting global governance models in the long term? Is there potential for a “Democracy 2.0”?
Alessio Treglia: We’re on the cusp of what some call “Democracy 2.0”, and it’s not just a technological shift. It’s an exciting socio-political evolution. Imagine a world where bureaucratic hurdles are a thing of the past, where citizens can participate directly, and where every voice truly matters in shaping governance. This transformation promises to unleash an unprecedented wave of democratic energy and inclusiveness.
CT: Are there any upcoming yet-to-be-announced developments that you’d like to share exclusively with our readers today?
Alessio Treglia: The Jur Network is in the process of transitioning to proof-of-stake (PoS) and will soon enable JUR staking. We will soon enable the creation of new tokens and economies for Jur-based societies.
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