Four Paradigms of Tokenized Communities

James Duncan
Jul 2 · 5 min read

Our take on Fred Ehrsam’s interview with Blake Robbins and Jesse Walden about, Creators, Communities and Crypto.

Listen to our discussion on this topic on our first Collab.Land Podcast!

We are big believers that Web3 is going to recreate what collaboration means on the internet.

Fred Ehrsam recently interviewed Blake Robbins and Jesse Walden about, “How crypto can enable creators and communities to do things they may never have expected.”

Jesse and Blake are two of the most prominent thinkers in the world on the topic of tokenized networks, so we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight our favorite concepts from their discussion with Fred, as well as explain how Abridged plans to enable these incentive structures.

Their conversation expands on the less explored field of global tokenized networks for creators and communities. We felt that Fred, Blake and Jesse did an amazing job at simplifying the landscape of token networks into a few paradigms. We’ve picked out four to describe below.

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Paradigm 1:

Tokenizing Digital Creators vs. Digital Communities

The future of tokenization is infinitely complex when considering who and what can be tokenized. But this seemingly complex topic can be simplified if you break tokenization down into two main groups, digital creators, and digital communities.

A digital creator is typically one leader with an audience or fan base. Digital creators include influencers, thought leaders, or even brands. In this instance, the leader decides to tokenize themselves (or itself), and their audience.

Digital communities, or “Decentralized Autonomous Organizations,” typically operate as a democratically managed collective of individuals. This type of digital community can look similar to a collective of freelancers, a membership club, or even a localized government. Most tokenized communities today live in the Web3 world, and broadly fall under one of the DAO frameworks; Aragon, Moloch, DAOstack, Colony, or one of the government token networks; MKR, COMP, or BAL. Digital communities also includes ICO projects that plan to further decentralize and democratize their product.

Most traditional content creators online today, like Youtube starts, can only generate revenue through advertisements and sponsorships. No audience or fans want to be bombarded with ads, so generating revenue in this way can be annoying to the audience and even push fans to stop following a creator or influencer.

Tokenizing a creator, however, provides an entirely new way to monetize, and form strong connections with their partners, sponsors and fans in a more customized, less invasive way.

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Paradigm 2:

Social vs. Economic Incentives

There are currently two main ways to incentivize participation in a token network, social incentives, or economic incentives.

Social incentive:

For most fans it’s really about the flex: ‘I was the first person to be a fan’ or, ‘I’m the biggest fan.’ The social side of it exists because people just want validation. — Blake Robbins

The social benefit of owning a tokenized asset will likely incentivize adoption faster than the financial incentives.

As Fred Ersham mentions, this pattern of social influence leading adoption can be seen in the evolution of Bitcoin.

“Bitcoin was inherently financial in some sense, but it was mostly a social community first — a cypherpunk email list — and then the financial element developed as the phenomenon grew.”

Economic incentive:

Once given the opportunity to participate economically, it’s… a zero to one moment where suddenly, the latent demand to participate financially is exposed and everyone wants to do it…We saw the financial angle work in the crypto ICO boom. — Jesse Walden

Economic incentive layers could show a similar explosive adoption curve to the ICO boom of 2017.

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Paradigm 3:

Platform Freedom

What [token networks] unlock is the potential for a community to have autonomy from a platform. In the context of a single creator, they could have some existing leader board that is tied to an existing platform like Twitch. And then, they could bootstrap their community token off of that leaderboard. — Jesse Walden

Once people hold a specific token, they can cherry pick features and tools from multiple platforms, like the reputation system from Reddit, which will prevent a token network from being limited to the features and tools of one platform.

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Paradigm 4:

Long Term Games

Blake Robbins described the state of the traditional influencer and business agent relationship today as being heavily aligned in the short term, influencer get’s paid by sponsor or advertising revue, but less aligned in the long term (growing a sustainable community and product offering).

When creators tokenize what they stand for, both their community and business partners can participate in the long term success of the content creator’s personal brand.

The first person I’m aware of to tokenize themselves a web designer named Dapp Boi. His tokens were redeemable for an hour of his time. And you could speculate on the future value of his time as a designer. So you can redeem the token for his time or you could just hold it as a sign of ‘I was there first’. If he becomes this famous designer, you could cash in on that later. — Jesse Walden

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Why does this matter to Abridged?

Tokenized networks and the technology systems that power them are definitely still in the very early stages of development. Some would compare the current state of token networks to the internet’s development stage in 1992. There are simply not that many people using tokens today. The infrastructure is in its infancy. These digital token systems are not yet conveniently integrated with the vast ecosystem of Web2 platforms.

We want to change this.

Our team sees a future that allows for each of the paradigms described above to exist.

To make this happen we need to provide the tools and features on the platforms where users already live (ie. Twitter, Whatsapp, Telegram, Discord, Reddit).

We also believe that token issuers need the freedom to build a customized user experience and flows catered to their community, without being limited to one platform.

At Abridged and we provide community leaders, teams, influencers, groups, committees, or any type of organization, with templates to create memberships, incentivize participation, grant access to content, distribute tokens, and most importantly, to govern their digital communities.

Discussions like the one above between Fred, Blake and Jesse, as well as Balaji’s recent discussion on “Cloud Cities,” makes the case for creator and community tokens extremely evident.

We can’t wait to build more tools to provide functionality for these emerging token networks to succeed!

Please do comment below or reach out to us directly at


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