This is my salute to a post of a similar name by Kevin Kelly.

Today, I’m reflecting on my 15 years of design and product management experience, mostly at early-stage tech startups. The product designers I admire most got their hands dirty with early Web 2.0. They ushered in a new era of apps, advertising, social, and big data. They started companies that would become modern-day juggernauts: Twitter, Instagram, Airbnb, Squarespace, Vimeo and many more.

Web 2.0 was the ultimate expression of right place, right time, right people. The right distribution ecosystems were built, like iOS and Android. The right developer tools were rapidly evolving, making experimentation fast and cheap. Startup funding was aggressive and plentiful. Billions of new consumers got their first smartphone. …

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At Blockstack, we’re building an application stack for developers that protects fundamental digital rights for all internet users. This goal entails rethinking the basics of authentication and data storage so they can be fully user controlled. We use blockchain to accomplish this magic, but one downside is that we have to rethink nearly every common user experience pattern on the web.

In my personal opinion, these challenges, and the long-term implications, are 10x more interesting than anything on the traditional, centralized internet.

I’ll share some basics on four of these tricky problems…

How can we make decentralized IDs as easy as email/password?

The problem: When you signup for your first Blockstack app our authenticator will grant you a Blockstack ID. Your ID uses the same public/private key system as Bitcoin to secure your access. Great for security, but challenging for user on-boarding: No user database, no password, and no password-reset. …

What really matters at this particular moment in time?

Its often incredibly hard for teams to keep focused on the 1 or 2 things that really matter at this particular moment in time.

Keep asking yourself:

“Will building this directly create the one or two results we need this quarter to reach our next [funding round, sales target, market expansion, etc.]?”

“Can we skip building anything and still validate this idea?”

“Would an end-user notice or care if this [button, option, information] simply didn’t exist?”

When you’re planning your OKRs, creating your board-meeting deck, planning your design sprint, designing a user flow, talking to customers, standing in daily-scrum, or debugging a 1000 line file… keep asking these questions.

Ask each day. Ask bravely. Ask with fresh eyes.

Ask like a new CEO on day one.

Illustration above by the amazingly talented Alexa Wright.


Jeff Domke

Product @ Blockstack. Product leader. UX/UI designer. Built several startups from ground-up as founder, first hire, or first product designer.

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