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A Realm of One's Own: Urbit and the Next Creator Economy

4 min
Technology  ✺  Urbit

"The state is not founded upon single individuals but upon couples and groups." —Novalis

Holium's new desktop app for Urbit communities

In six days, the Holium company will ship a first batch of invites to Realm—their hotly anticipated desktop app for Urbit communities.

They're also aiming to ship 9 (!) other apps: Engram (Google Docs for Urbit), Lexicon (Urban Dictionary for communities), Chronicle (community newsfeed), Trove (community file folders), Campfire (video calling), Ballot (voting), Minesweeper (classic game), Realm iOS (mobile DMs), and an Ethereum wallet (pictured above).

If they succeed, this will be the most apps ever shipped on one day since the arrival of Urbit OS1 in April 2020.

I recently started consulting for Holium—as a creator, I know what creators want and need—and now Other Life has officially partnered with Holium to battle-test their suite of new tools on release day.

I'll be sending alpha invites to a selection of Other Life community members, who will meet me via Realm on December 12 (more details at the bottom). I'll help Holium squash some bugs and then we'll gradually send more invites to everyone else in the community.

Realm for iOS

In recent weeks, I've been talking about the significance of programmable money coming to Urbit via Uqbar (1, 2). At the same time, Holium has been quietly reimagining the entire Urbit experience from the ground up.

In this post, I'd like to explore what Holium is doing and how we'll start using their suite of tools next week.

The Next Creator Economy

Today, popular creators can galvanize massive communities, but these communities are technologically neutered due to the architecture of the current internet. That was the gist of my first Urbit thesis, published almost 2 years ago.

What will creators and communities do when they can wire their computers together, peer-to-peer, from the lowest levels of the stack? I've recently theorized that entirely new social-computational formations are likely to emerge, but this week is not a week for theorizing.

I'll just show you.

These apps may have some bugs next week, but they're the rudiments of a whole new creator economy. Community-based, private, customizable, peer-to-peer tools for thinking, writing, sharing, publishing, and transacting.

Engram

The %Engram app will bring a dedicated writing application to Urbit. Urbit Notebooks are great for sharing long-form text within groups, but they're not yet great for serious writing or collaborative document editing. With Engram, writers will begin to take Urbit seriously as an everyday substrate for their craft.

%Engram

Chronicle

The %Chronicle app will surface links shared in Urbit groups, letting members follow the content most interesting to a community, without having to scroll through chat logs all the time.

%Chronicle

Lexicon

Reality is splintering. Words take on different meanings in different communities. A popular neologism in one community is a meaningless signifier in another community. Lexicon is a networked dictionary that takes seriously the accelerating fragmentation of meaning across communities. Think Urban Dictionary but splintered by community. Deep lore: Trent's vision for Lexicon found inspiration from Mencius Moldbug's 2007 Uberfact: The Ultimate Social Verifier.

%Lexicon

Trove

Trove is a shared folder application for communities to save, sort, and browse different kinds of content. Somewhere halfway between the Mac OS Finder and Are.na.

%Trove

There are a few more surprises, but I think that's enough for now.

Meet us on Realm: December 12

Note: The first batch of invites will be for Mac only.

Holium is reserving a nice fraction of the first 200 invites for the Other Life community.

Before December 12, I'll create a Realm space for the Other Life community. This is where everyone will see each other and be able to use all the new apps together.

To use Realm, you'll need a hosted Urbit planet (i.e., your planet has a permanent URL).

There are many ways to get a hosted planet, but the easiest and best way for readers of this newsletter is just to become a paid subscriber. ;-)

💌
If you're a paid subscriber and you don't have a hosted planet yet, but you want to join us on December 12, just hit reply to this email. If you're a paid subscriber and you already have a hosted ship from elsewhere, hit reply to this email. I got you.

On December 12, I'll email a custom access code to all paid subscribers who obtained their planet through Other Life. The custom access code will automatically onboard you into the Other Life space.

Then I'll see you in our realm.

If you're not in a rush to join the Other Life realm on December 12, but you want to try Realm eventually, subscribe to Holium's waitlist.

Holium
Building a crypto operating system for the networked age.

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