Wardley Mapping Challenge: Twitter 2.0

My notes and cartoon map in response to the Wardley mapping challenge:

Elon Musk’s businesses tend to be highly integrated. SpaceX, Tesla, The Boring Company, OpenAI and Twitter, develop or fork technology and subsequently build on that technology. And to begin with, each of these businesses don’t have much in the way of competition.

Operating at the opposite end of the spectrum to “big finance”, you might call it hyper-engineering, Elon aims to establish monopolies. Monopolies not at risk of becoming “too big to fail” or “too big to save”, but rather “too useful to destroy”.

Reading the transcript of the meeting with Twitter employees, one form of gameplay I sense is operating integrated businesses that accelerate at a faster rate than the regulators can assimilate and respond to.

Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator

Arguably, Twitter was designed to exploit human attention during the era of advertising business models. A side effect of advertising technology was the emergence of walled gardens. Switching to a subscription-based model and aiming to become a WeChat + WeChat Pay clone changes things - Twitter becomes an extensible marketplace.

By offering a flexible payment system and an extensible plugin architecture, Twitter will not only pose a serious threat to AWS et al, but to Amazon e-commerce too. The objective is to establish Twitter as the default CBDC app.

In this respect, Elon as “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator” evolves into a baseline CRM. Longform tweets + subscriptions will disrupt Substack. Payments + mapping + Tesla technology could disrupt Uber et al. Moreover, a plugin architecture will pose a serious threat to app stores.

Search within Twitter reminds me of Infoseek in '98!

To become the default CBDC app and public application platform (further up the tech stack than AWS/Azure/GCP), you first need to become the world’s biggest and most effective sensing network.

I view Twitter as the IE6 of social media. In the next decade we’ll look back and realise just how primitive Twitter was as a communication platform. No wonder we became so polarised. Elon’s intervention is analogous to the introduction of Chrome in 2008. His antics will stimulate others to innovate.

Decomm

So, Twitter becomes the default messaging, voting and CBDC app. The default platform for retail banking, for building communities, building businesses and marketplaces both on Earth, and Mars.

Central banks lack the expertise to implement CBDCs. Elon is simply building a platform that central banks will be forced to adopt. The attractor (and distraction) at the moment is “protecting free speech”. Everyone is arguing about what Twitter is, or what Twitter should be.

In a CBDC wonderland, AI will play a greater role in policymaking and regulation. Operating within limited time and resource constraints, will CBDCs enable hyper-government, or will hyper-government emerge with the introduction of CBDCs?

What does seem certain is that AI will play a greater role in policymaking and regulation. To try and put a positive spin on things, AI operating at a hyper-government level may actually help us to better understand one another.


Adapted from an illustration by @swardley

Related to your comment:


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We should draw the components that are around CBDC: Digital Wallets, marketplaces, and understand their stage,

When you say “I’m working backwards” what is the stage TOBE that you are describing?

The assumption that “CBDC is inevitable”… I have to think about it, not have any argument towards it or against it.

I would like to understand which climatic patterns you are thinking about they could apply.

I do not know if this diffusion curve provoked by Elon will increase a lot the amount of users consuming these type of services or not. It’s very complicated to forecast when something will happen.

Thank you for your comments @joapen

From my perspective it is probably too early to focus on the structural components of CBDCs.

The theory of punctuated equilibrium may offer a compelling explanation as to why CBDCs are inevitable. But, a simpler explanation may lie in a combination of factors occurring at the same time.

Firstly, several key technologies are concurrently reaching a stable level of maturity; internet connectivity, cloud, mobile, cryptography, blockchain, machine learning. These offer the foundations for CBDCs to emerge as a viable option. The second aspect relates to the failure of policy over the past fifty years, including the Nixon shock that led to the end of the Bretton Woods Agreement.

During the financial crisis of 2007-08 (GFC) the rule “investments can go up as well as down” was broken . Banks deemed “too big to fail” received taxpayer bailouts. Many argued bailouts would increase moral hazard and place taxpayers at even greater risk.

More recently, in November this year, the Truss-Kwarteng plan exposed the extent the pensions industry is relying on liability driven investing to cover future liabilities. The LDI blowout was a strong indication that some financial institutions are nearing the precarious state of being “too big to save”.

Unlike the GFC, the next global financial crisis will be a sovereign debt crisis. I predict it will be exacerbated by a technical debt crisis too. For more than a decade cheap credit has acted as a form of life support for zombie companies. These companies host digital systems that in some respects form part of our critical infrastructure. I have no idea how the state will rescue these systems during a financial crisis.

As the next crisis unfolds, central banks will have very few if any options to intervene. Coordinated international action to stabilise the global economy will culminate in the nationalisation of all retail banks. There is precedence for such action. In 2008, Northern Rock bank was nationalised by the British government due to problems linked to the subprime mortgage crisis.

To stave off economic collapse a switch to CBDCs, or the Great Digital Disintermediation, could be achieved overnight.

I believe Elon Musk is positioning for this inevitability. Ultimately, the intention is to build on the scalable and secure messaging platform of Twitter and transform it into the default platform for this new form of programmable money, complete with services that central banks can outsource parts of their core CBDC infrastructure to.

Central banks and governments will then turn their attention to policy and a new era of macroprudential regulation. It is at this point the “decomm” shift occurs, and the implications will be profound.

For example, it is not hard to imagine CBDCs providing the scope for indulging in our urge to participate in “status games”. The combination of programmable money and observability will provide the means for individuals and organisations to signal their (corporate) social responsibility and green credentials.

In turn, governments and central banks will apply the real-time economic insights that CBDCs yield to nudge and incentivise behaviour. An upside will be a wider range of levers available to policymakers for tackling anthropogenic climate change. I anticipate more to emerge from the unintended consequences of this unimaginable level of surveillance and control though.

So, the question then turns to regulation. In this new world of hyperconnectivity, hypergovernment, hypercapitalism, hypercensorship, hypercomplexity and hyperobjects, who will regulate the regulators?

Oodles of training data

Large proportion of google queries are of the form compare and contrast two terms, concepts, methods, approaches, products… Two signals emerging from the capabilities of ChatGPT that lead in opposing directions:

1/ ChatGPT marks the dawn of a new burgeoning adtech era :nauseated_face:

2/ ChatGPT marks the end of adtech. In this case a subscription aggregation or pooling service would be needed. Goes back to my inkling Elon is positioning for this inevitability by establishing Twitter as the default messaging, voting and CBDC app…

Which one? Or are there other signals I’ve missed?