µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations (Part 24)

In Closing

Every idea starts in someone’s imagination and then slowly comes to life. In this series, I have imagined how the Web3 infrastructure being created can be applied to solve two problems: Attention Recession and Voter Aggregation. I have tried to imagine two worlds – µniverse and Bharatverse. Of course, much more work needs to be done to convert the ideas into real-world solutions.

Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. The Web3 world for the first time offers Indian entrepreneurs a level playing field. India largely missed the first two iterations because it did not have the digital infrastructure, the user base and the funding that many entrepreneurs need for their ventures. Web3 can change the game. Even as one set of entrepreneurs work to build the underlying infrastructure, another set of entrepreneurs need to start imagining the world beyond. What can Web3 really enable? What can be made better? What are the pain points today which can be solved 10X better with Web3?

For me (and like everyone I am a creature of my past experiences), the two biggest opportunities are in rethinking the brand customer relationship and transforming a nation of a billion people. The cost of Attention Retention and the consequent overspending on acquisition is $200 billion – half of what is spent on digital advertising. This wasteful expenditure is on reacquisition and wrong acquisition. Imagine this money in the hands of the brand’s customers – as incentives for their attention and network. Brands and customers will not need intermediaries to connect with each other. Web3 innovations – and not anti-trust legislation – is the way to take on Big Tech.

Similarly, in India, the Big Parties have sucked away the prosperity from a vast majority of Indians. Indians should have been many times wealthier by now – like Singaporeans or South Koreans. The average Chinese earns almost five times more than the average Indian – and both countries were at the same level just 40 years ago. It is India’s political parties and their leaders who have denied the people the chance to be free and therefore rich. Their policies of extraction and exploitation were no different from the British, and therefore the outcomes have been no different. India needs a political revolution first to bring in the economic revolution. This is where Web3 offers Indians an opportunity to use digital and decentralised mechanisms to unite their vote and bring about a change in leadership and future policies.

Two different worlds. Two different solutions. But the underlying ideas are the same. Decentralisation, blockchain, DAO, tokens. Can we make µniverse and Bharatverse a reality in the coming years? What we need are entrepreneurs with vision and will.

µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations (Part 23)

Bharatverse – 3

So, how would the Bharatverse world in its simplest form work? [I have discussed some ideas in a previous essay.]

The first need is for members to join UVI with a simple pledge: “we will vote and vote as one.” Bhim tokens can be issued to those who join and those who have facilitated the new member to join. Tokens will also need to be awarded to those in the network who can confirm the identity of the new member. The number of token issues will be high for the initial membership (say, the first 10 million). In fact, incentives could be offered to ensure that each constituency gets to a 5% membership base from the eligible voters. This creates the critical mass (“atomic network”) to drive viral growth and also attract candidates.

The second need is for raising funds because eventually some resources will be required for contesting elections, technology development, and physical world events. Donors can be issued tokens in return for their financial contributions. Candidates who need to get work done can also buy tokens by paying money; they can also get tokens as transfers from donors who have bought them.

The third need is for creating an economic value for the tokens. There are two possible approaches here. The DAO can announce a finite upper limit on the tokens issued, after which donors or candidates will need to buy tokens from a “trading exchange” which will determine price based on demand and supply. The second is to give decision-making power to the members based on the tokens they have: quadratic voting can be used for this purpose.

The fourth need is to create a process for candidate selection. This will be done via digital primaries. Every member will have one voting token which is transferable. So, if I am not sure who to vote for, I can delegate my vote to someone else who is more knowledgeable. A combination of ranked choice voting and quadratic voting can be used to improve the voting process.

The fifth need is to train candidates for power. This is where the Sabhas idea comes in. Local communities would elect their leaders to form Jan Sabhas (or shadow governments). This gives an opportunity for non-politicians to hone their skills and get trained in persuasion, debating and policy-making.

The sixth need is for rules rather than individuals to govern the UVI DAO. Simple rules are the key so all members can understand them. Recursion can ensure they flow downwards to the local level.

These are starting ideas to kickstart Bharatverse. A lot more thinking and refinement needs to be done. Hopefully, political entrepreneurs can enrich the ideas and start the groundwork for ensuring 2024 ends British Raj 2.0, and ushers a new era that brings freedom and prosperity to every Indian.

µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations (Part 22)

Bharatverse – 2

To bring about the transformation India needs, the first step is to gain control of the Lok Sabha to implement the Nayi Disha Agenda. (I have explained this in my Manthan talk.) The “Swatantra Lok Sabha” – a Lok Sabha of Independents – needs unity among the non-aligned and non-voters (NANVs) who account for two-thirds of India’s voting population. If half of them can vote as one in every constituency, the first-past-the-post system will ensure that the candidates they support have a very good chance of victory. This is the decentralised political platform that needs to be created. Bharatverse is about imagining this new world where Indian voters come together on a digital platform to gain power, transform governance, and put in place new rules for the future to finally end the kakistocracy that has ensured Indians stay poor even as the politicians and bureaucrats amass wealth at their expense. Digital is the only way to bring people together in a cost-effective manner; the only physical world action that is needed is the casting of the vote on election day.

Creating a new political party is not the solution because it will also fall prey to the centralisation of power that every politician aspires for. The model has to be one built on the principle of decentralisation from day one. Therefore, it needs to be thought of as a platform, a DAO – decentralised autonomous organisation. The blockchain can ensure transparency and “Bhim” social tokens can create the incentive necessary to bring people together for a common purpose.

Eliot Couvat explains the social tokens idea:

Social tokens are a way to incentivize anyone to work toward joint projects in a DAO, a crypto-based decentralized community, in exchange for a digital currency. This digital currency can then be redeemed in exchange for other cryptocurrencies or special perks within the community the token is associated with, such as access to token-gated content, the right to vote on future strategic decisions, or early access to community NFTs.

DAOs are firstly virtual places where people passionate about the same things decide to join forces to hang out and achieve high-ambition goals. It’s not about work. It’s first and foremost about culture, about vibing together and creating what you’ve always wanted to create. In DAOs, culture comes first, products and projects come second. There are many types of DAOs, some focused on building products for the crypto world and some focused on social networking. All DAOs, even socially-focused ones, are building different products with different ways to organize their work, and social tokens are how they can accomplish these goals.

Social tokens are cryptocurrencies like any other regular cryptocurrency. But the benefit of creating a social token is to give community leaders the power over the distribution of the token.

…The point of creating a social token is to incentivize collaboration by making it easy to collaborate with individuals that you don’t know and that you don’t specifically trust. Instead of setting up contracts and legal status to cover each contributor at the beginning, social tokens enable transactions on a blockchain, meaning there is an irrefutable record of the exchange.

Nayi Disha as the vision, Voter Aggregation as the mission, United Voters of India (UVI) as the DAO which brings together the voters and candidates, Bhim as the social token, and Bharatverse as the virtual world which brings it all together – this is the path forward if we are to truly transform India not over multiple generations, but in the next election.

µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations (Part 21)

Bharatverse – 1

As the election season once again plays out in India, the politicians are up to the same games: switching parties, muzzling media, uniting their core with dog whistles, and splurging money to buy votes. There is no discussion on how a party once in power will shut down the government-created anti-prosperity machine that has plagued India through the past 75 years. How will the massive surplus of Indians move away from agriculture to better jobs in manufacturing and services? How will they become upwardly mobile? How will the education system be reformed and freed from government interference? How will the discretionary powers that politicians and bureaucrats have be limited so that corruption can be eliminated, and individuals and businesses get the freedom they need to create a better tomorrow? Caste and religion dominate the conversation, as has been the case through the decades. The economic pain and the path to prosperity is on nobody’s radar. Political power is the endgame, not the means for a new direction for India.

Indian Express wrote recently: “In a trend unprecedented since economic liberalisation, the annual income of the poorest 20% of Indian households, constantly rising since 1995, plunged 53% in the pandemic year 2020-21 from their levels in 2015-16. In the same five-year period, the richest 20% saw their annual household income grow 39% reflecting the sharp contrast Covid’s economic impact has had on the bottom of the pyramid and the top.”

Praveen Chakravarty added: “30 million people queued up in November 2021 to ask for work at paltry minimum wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). It is a good reflection of India’s labour market since only those desperately in need of income, demand work. In essence, 15 times more people in penury are pleading for minimum wage work than the total number of people employed by all startups in India combined.”

Andy Mukhejee wrote: “200 million jobs are missing from the economy…Two years of Covid-19 have deepened the dichotomy in India’s production networks. Informal activity, which supports 90% of jobs, was under pressure to come into the fold of taxation and social security even before infections and lockdowns. Since March 2020, it has retreated into a shell. Organized activity has stepped into the breach and lifted output back to pre-pandemic levels, though not yet to its previous growth path. The revival of jobs is proving to be even more challenging because the same output can be produced in the formal sector with less labor. Hiring is muted outside of a few white-collar pockets like computer software. For India’s employment-to-population ratio to be at the global average, nearly 600 million people need to be at work. Currently, only a little more than 400 million are.”

For Indians to experience real freedom and irreversible prosperity, there is a need to look beyond the politicians and their parties. India needs a people’s revolution that brings in new rules, and not just replace rulers. This is where we need to think Nayi Disha, United Voters of India, Web3, and Bharatverse.

µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations (Part 20)

µniverse – 4

I remember the early days of the Internet. I was a failing entrepreneur in Mumbai in the summer of 1994. Two years after my return to India, I wondered if I could be successful after a string of flops. It was then that I started reading about the Internet. Two months spent in the US using a dial-up browser convinced me that this was the future. And thus was born the idea of creating IndiaWorld as an electronic information marketplace to connect Indians globally.

As I read about Web3 now and look beyond the price volatility of Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies, there is a similar feeling that there is something new and exciting being created. What is needed is to think about how this can be applied – what are the second- and third-order effects of the decentralised infrastructure that is being constructed?

Just as the early years of the Internet offered the promise of digitisation of all that was not, Web3 can decentralise all that is not. It is up to us to imagine the use cases and the new “universes” that can be constructed.

The Economist wrote recently about the promise of Web3:

The history of modern computing is of a constant struggle between decentralisers and recentralisers. In the 1980s the shift from mainframes to personal computers gave individual users more power. Then Microsoft clawed some of it back with its proprietary operating system. More recently, open-source software, which users can download for nothing and adapt to their needs, took over from proprietary programs in parts of the industry—only to be reappropriated by the tech giants to run their mobile operating systems (as Google does with Android) or cloud-computing data centres (including those owned by Amazon, Microsoft and Google).

The web3 movement is a reaction to perhaps the greatest centralisation of all: that of the internet. As Chris Dixon, who oversees web3 investments at a16z, explains it, the original, decentralised web lasted from 1990 to about 2005. This web1, call it, was populated by flat web pages and governed by open technical rules put together by standards bodies. The next iteration, web2, brought the rise of tech giants such as Alphabet and Meta, which managed to amass huge centralised databases of user information. Web3, in Mr Dixon’s telling, “combines the decentralised, community-governed ethos of web1 with the advanced, modern functionality of web2”.

This is possible thanks to blockchains, which turn the centralised databases to which big tech owes its power into a common good that can be used by anybody without permission. Blockchains are a special type of ledger that is not maintained centrally by a single entity (as a bank controls all its customers accounts) but collectively by its users. Blockchains have outgrown cryptocurrencies, their earliest application, and spread into NFTs and other sorts of “decentralised finance” (DeFi). Now they are increasingly underpinning non-financial services.

It is time to reinvent the world brand customer relationships and rethink them in the context of Web3, blockchains, and cryptocurrencies. There are hundreds of billions of dollars being wasted because of reacquisition and wrong acquisition. Tapping into those is one of the biggest business opportunities in tomorrow’s digital first world. The µniverse, constructed as a DAO with the right rules and incentives, is waiting to be built.

µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations (Part 19)

µniverse – 3

The next question to consider: how can Web3 ideas enhance Atomic Rewards?

Three tweaks to the Mu points system can create an even better solution. First, MuCo should think of Mu as tokens. Second, it should put an upper limit on the number of tokens in circulation with clear rules governing their minting – introduction into circulation. Third, MuCo should create an exchange enabling the Mu tokens to be traded between brands and customers. The impact of these enhancements will be that the value of Mu can now increase over time – thus making the Mu token holders (customers) as investors. The key to making this work is the assumption that incentives offered in the form of Mu can indeed nudge customer behaviour as desired by marketers. Games have done this very well; it still remains to be seen whether it can work in the real world.

Since the absolute quantum of Mu tokens is capped, over time brands requiring them will need to buy them via the exchange from customers (or potentially, other brands who have bought them earlier.) This “exchange” will enable the creation of a marketplace where the price of Mu will be determined by buyers and sellers, rather than a centralised entity. It is similar to how bidding on keywords for advertising on Google is determined via an auction.

As Mu tokens acquire value beyond what is set by MuCo, it can become an “attention crypto-currency”. Transactions are stored on the blockchain to ensure transparency. Every customer now has a “Mu Wallet” where they can hold their tokens. And as marketers and customers see value, the usage of the tokens can also diversify. A MuBox (or micronbox, as I have termed it previously) can aggregate all messages with rewards into a single inbox. A MuBrowser can address privacy and generate rewards. These would be the baby steps to creating the µniverse, a virtual world where brands and customers can engage with each other.

Let’s take this further. One of the biggest challenges that a brand has is new customer acquisition. Suppose they incentivised existing customers to help them get new ones via referrals. Let’s take the example of Netflix which is having growth hiccups in India. Suppose Netflix would allow me as a customer to check who among my social network is a customer. If I can then persuade those in my network who are not Netflix customers to sign-up, I can be rewarded with Mu tokens. This makes referrals targeted and rewarding. Each of us is a micro-influencer and we all know the power of word of mouth. What’s been missing is the knowledge of whom to persuade and an incentive to do so. Atomic Rewards in the form of Mu tokens can be the answer. Web3 tokens can thus drive network effects to solve not just attention recession but also the cold start problem that many brands have – in an efficient manner, where the cost of acquisition can be taken as a percentage of the sale value, thus creating an infinite budget for new customer acquisition.

µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations (Part 18)

µniverse – 2

Another company working to solve the digital advertising problem is Gener8ads. From a 2019 Forbes article: “Gener8, a U.K. based company is launching … a browser add-on, as opposed to a separate browser, that allows consumers to block ads they don’t want to see but get paid to view those they personally identify as being of interest (see graphic above). Consumers are thus allowed to select the type of ads they want to see and this applies across the web (excluding Facebook). For each ad viewed, the user receives tokens that they can either convert into currency or donate to charity… By using Gener8’s system, advertisers can reach an interested audience and collect additional data in a way that allows for even better future targeting.”

Attention is important. Brave and Gener8ads have focused on new customers and advertising. My  starting point is a brand’s existing customers. What brands need is a mechanism to pay for attention (time) because the alternative in the event of a customer churning is to pay 100 times more to the adtech platforms for reacquisition. This is where “Atomic Rewards” comes in.

Search Engine Journal writes about a recent Google which shows 90% of customers will share their email address for a small incentive, such as a discount. “It’s not possible to deliver relevant ads without gathering at least some data on who the ads are being served to. Customers understand this, and are willing to cooperate to a certain extent. The study finds that consumers are most willing to share information they don’t view as invasive and identifying. That can include information such as their gender, postal code, age, interests, and previous purchases.”

In our context, consider an entity (MuCo) which creates a pan-brand attention and engagement loyalty program. Brands can buy Mu from MuCo and reward their customers for specific actions linked to attention, engagement and zero-party data. Customers collect Mu from across their favourite brands and then can redeem them at the Mu Shop.

This is akin to what happens with credit card points today. They are aggregated across spends with multiple brands and can be redeemed at the store offered by the credit card company. There are also other pan-brand programs like Payback and Intermiles which reward transactions and enable customers to aggregate points in a single account. Airline loyalty programs have also expanded their offerings to enable earning via spending at affiliated merchants. All these programs are focused on the transfer of money, while MuCo is themed around attention and engagement (time).

Let’s look at this from the viewpoint of the end customer. I get push messages from various brands. As I open these emails, click through to the brand properties (website or app), provide personal information, fill out surveys, I earn Mu. I am being rewarded for my attention. Because Mu works across brands, the earning potential in a month can be significant. (Two alternatives to Mu are the use of a brand’s own loyalty program and Brand Tokens, an attention-specific loyalty program limited to a single brand.) The rewards are a form of gamification; marketers can thus influence my behaviour with specific incentives and nudge me along the buying journey. When I have sufficient Mu, I can go to the Mu Shop and redeem the points.

Over time, the ways to earn Mu can be expanded beyond push messages to the brand’s properties and in the physical world. In essence, a brand is paying for my attention, as an alternative to incentivising only transactions or paying ad tech companies to reacquire me in the event that I churn. Today’s B2C and D2C companies spend a large chunk of their capital on discounts and reacquisition; Atomic Rewards in the form of Mu offer an alternative pathway to building loyalty via gamification.

µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations (Part 17)

µniverse – 1

Brands are faced with three challenges: the rising cost of new customer acquisition driving a “doom loop” of spending on Google and Facebook, attention recession among existing customers which leads to retention recession and continuous churn, and retaining existing customers since competitors are persistently targeting them for acquisition. Brands selling through marketplaces have another challenge: how to build direct relationships with their customers since marketplaces do not share customer information.

These challenges can be reconsidered thus. In the world of martech, the focus needs to be building deep relationships with existing customers so that the need to constantly offer transaction-linked incentives can be obviated. This needs brands to shift the focus to the upstream of attention, engagement and habits to create “hooked customers”. In the world of adtech, the power of the intermediaries (Google, Facebook in digital advertising, Amazon in marketplaces, and Instagram and Tiktok in influencer marketing) drives up spending and creates barriers to profitable growth.

Solutions need to be thought about against the backdrop of three colliding worlds: customer loyalty, gamification and crypto. In other words, how can brand-customer relationships be reimagined in a Web3 world? This is where the idea of the µniverse comes in, with attention tokens as one key building block.

An early foray into the world of “attention tokens” has been done by Brave. From its white paper:

Digital advertising is broken. The marketplace for online advertising, once dominated by advertisers, publishers and users, has become overrun by “middleman” ad exchanges, audience segmentation, complicated behavioral and cross-device user tracking, and opaque cross-party sharing through data management platforms. Users face unprecedented levels of malvertisements and privacy violations. Mobile advertising results in as much as $23 per month in data charges on the average user’s data plan, slow page loads, and as much as 21% less battery life. In response, over 600 million mobile devices and desktops (globally) employ ad blocking software and this number is growing. Traditional publishers have lost approximately 66% of their revenue over the past decade, adjusted for inflation. Publishers face falling revenue, users feel increasingly violated, and advertisers’ ability to assess effectiveness is diminished.

The solution is a decentralized, transparent digital ad exchange based on Blockchain. The first component is Brave, a fast, open source, privacy-focused browser that blocks third party ads and trackers, and builds in a ledger system that measures user attention to reward publishers accordingly. Brave will now introduce BAT (Basic Attention Token), a token for a decentralized ad exchange. It compensates the browser user for attention while protecting privacy. BAT connects advertisers, publishers, and users and is denominated by relevant user attention, while removing social and economic costs associated with existing ad networks, e.g., fraud, privacy violations, and malvertising. BAT is a payment system that rewards and protects the user while giving better conversion to advertisers and higher yield to publishers. We see BAT and associated technologies as a future part of web standards, solving the important problem of monetizing publisher content while protecting user privacy.

…In the ecosystem, advertisers will give publishers BATs based on the measured attention of users. Users will also receive some BATs for participating. They can donate them back to publishers or use them on the platform. This transparent system keeps user data private while delivering fewer but more relevant ads. Publishers experience less fraud while increasing their percentage of rewards. And advertisers get better reporting and performance.

µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations (Part 16)

The Future

Let us combine the ideas of network effects and Web3 tokens (NEWT, as I have termed the combo), and virtual worlds to solve the problems of Attention Recession in marketing and Voter Aggregation in politics. For this, let us extend our imagination to constructing two virtual worlds: µniverse (pronounced mu-universe) and Bharatverse (which probably needs a better name).

Domain Marketing Politics
Network Entities Brands and Customers Voters and Candidates
Problem Attention Recession Voter Aggregation
Solution Atomic Rewards United Voters of India
Token Mu Bhim
Virtual World µniverse Bharatverse

As I wrote at the start of this series, what I am doing here is sparking the imagination. For this, we need to create a vocabulary and give labels to what we are mentally constructing. This helps us bring these worlds to life in our mind’s eye.

Good science fiction does this very well. Apple TV brought Issac Asimov’s Foundation series to life. So does The Expanse, based on the books by James Corey (the joint pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), and available on Amazon Prime Video. For the few hours that we spend reading or watching, we are transported into a different world. In the modern world, some of the digital games that are available do much the same.

My purpose in imagining µniverse is to consider possibilities. What if brands could reward us for our actions? How would that change our behaviour? Brands have always focused on transactions, but not as much on the upstream of attention, engagement and habit formation. How could they do it? Just appealing to our emotions is not going to be enough. This is where the incentives come in – via Atomic Rewards. To make such a system work, it would need to be pan-brand. How can such a mechanism be created so that half the digital ad spending billion being wasted on reacquisition and wrong acquisition via Google and Facebook is channelised to prospects and customers to create a win-win relationship for both sides?

The purpose with Bharatverse is much bigger. The future of a billion Indians has been deeply damaged by our politicians. Freedom, the prerequisite for prosperity, is withering in India as successive governments keep increasing interventions in our personal and commercial lives. No political party is going to do anything different – they are all cut from the same cloth of maximising power of those at the top and their cronies. India’s politics needs a disruption and it is not going to come from within the political class. It needs a people’s revolution. The mobile phone can be the transformation agent. There is a need to educate people, change their minds and channel their votes. Only a Swatantra Lok Sabha can free India from the fetters imposed by politicians and put Indians on an irreversible path to prosperity. How can such a future be realised – not in a generation but with the next election?

Every future begins with an idea in a mind. µniverse and Bharatverse are two such ideas.

µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations (Part 15)

Metaverse and Virtual Worlds – 2

Brooks Canavesi: “The most prominent representative of the decentralized metaverse is Decentraland, a world built on the Ethereum blockchain, controlled by a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) made up of individual players who can vote to change the policies that determine how the world behaves. Decentraland has its own cryptocurrency, MANA, and this cryptocurrency can be freely exchanged on cryptocurrency exchanges for other currencies. Other representatives of the decentralized metaverse include The Sandbox and Somnium Space. Together with Decentraland, these virtual reality universes tokenize in-game assets and land parcels to give players the ultimate control over the world they inhabit and help create—the same control they enjoy over their real-world possessions.

Minecraft, Fortnite, Roblox and The Sandbox are more examples of such virtual worlds. Business Insider writes: “[The Sandbox co-founder Sebastian] Borget said blockchain technology is hugely useful for allowing users to own the content they create in The Sandbox, because it lets them mint it onto non-fungible tokens, or NFTs — a sort of unique crypto collectible. It also allows complex networks to exist without any one entity having overall control. For example, the amount of land in The Sandbox is finite, Borget said, and is governed by a so-called smart contract written onto the blockchain.”

Maxwell Strachan: “The ever-growing number of avatar-filled virtual worlds selling digital land, bucketed under the term “metaverse,” share several philosophical and technological similarities. They are mostly enabled through the use of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens, keen to describe themselves as decentralized, and quick to promote the prospect of users making money. But they are often distinct and in different phases of development.”

David Chalmers offers a philosopher’s view in his new book, “Reality+”: “Today’s VR and AR systems are primitive. The headsets and glasses are bulky. The visual resolution for virtual objects is grainy. Virtual environments offer immersive vision and sound, but you can’t touch a virtual surface, smell a virtual flower, or taste a virtual glass of wine when you drink it. These temporary limitations will pass. The physics engines that underpin VR are improving. In years to come, the headsets will get smaller, and we will transition to glasses, contact lenses, and eventually retinal or brain implants. The resolution will get better, until a virtual world looks exactly like a nonvirtual world. We will figure out how to handle touch, smell, and taste. We may spend much of our lives in these environments, whether for work, socializing, or entertainment…Virtual reality is genuine reality . Or at least, virtual realities are genuine realities. Virtual worlds need not be second-class realities. They can be first-class realities.”