Washington, DC—For almost a decade now, social media has stepped in to erase traditional diplomacy’s wrinkles, masterfully negating diplomacy’s aging process and ensuring its longevity. Digital diplomacy, its youthful manifestation, uses platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to increase international dialogue between heads of states, governments, foreign ministries and their accompanying institutions. The most recent Twiplomacy Study analyzes social media’s increasing role in international relations, affirming that modern-day diplomacy encompasses much more than formal face-to-face interactions. This Year’s Report This year’s Twiplomacy report evaluates world leaders’ social media influence, effectiveness and connectedness. As 97 percent of all 193 UN member states—represented by foreign ministers and heads of state and government—have official Twitter accounts (compared to Facebook’s 93 percent and Instagram’s 81 percent) the study affirms that “Twitter is the key channel of communication for digital diplomacy.” The amount of represented UN member Twitter accounts increased from 178 to 187 accounts following last year’s study. As diplomats’ presence and interactions on Twitter have grown, so has the platform’s importance in global affairs. “Governments that do not allocate sufficient resources to their digital communications and social media channels risk being left behind and left out of the global digital diplomacy movement,” the report states. Trump Twiplomacy President Trump has altered the dynamics of digital diplomacy. As one of the few world leaders to personally tweet himself, the U.S. president uses his own @realDonaldTrump account rather than the established @POTUS account to “bypass traditional media outlets” and stun the world—all while applying his signature Twitter brazenness. His mass following, exceeding 52 million followers and vast number of retweets earned President Trump the title of “Most Influential World Leader on Twitter” with the amount of platform interactions serving as the title’s primary metric. The report also keys in on the @realDonaldTrump’s tone. Disrupting diplomacy’s traditionally courteous approach to interacting with fellow leaders and their countries, Mr. Trump has assailed allies on the platform. Noting that “the undiplomatic use of Twitter by the U.S. president presents unprecedented challenges to traditional diplomacy,” the report highlights the complex interplay and tiptoeing tactic that leaders now experience when communicating with each other via Twitter. Victims of President Trump’s hardline tweets, such as Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Theresa May, largely avoid Twitter debacles and respond through other means. This is due to the scope of President Trump’s Twitter presence and the nature of the countries’ alliance. However, that is not to say that the U.S. president is immune to Twitter flack. Rather, leaders from the French Foreign Ministry, Botswana, El Salvador and Chile have all confronted the U.S. president via the social media platform for his statements and actions. Leaders may additionally confront Mr. Trump, but refer to him as @POTUS rather than @realDonaldTrump, to align with the U.S. State Department’s guidelines regarding official and private social media accounts. World Leaders in the Twittersphere Diplomacy has become multidimensional with Twitter’s added involvement. World leaders now apply humor, emojis and graphics to their tweets when interacting with both each other and their fellow citizens. The report highlights the UK Foreign Office, Italy’s Embassy in Washington, the Belgian Foreign Ministry, the German Foreign Ministry and French President Emmanuel Macron as masterful tweeters, coupling humor with tech savvy to engage a global audience online. Calling attention to President Macron, the report shows that he “made a dazzling appearance on the Twittersphere in 2017.” By being up-to-date on the platform’s services and recruiting a social media team to livestream his speeches and public appearances using Periscope, the report recognized Emmanuel Macron as a rising Twitter star. Platform capabilities of following, liking and retweeting has made diplomacy electronically nuanced, with seemingly inconsequential and minute actions carrying more diplomatic gravity. World Leaders are ranked as “Most Influential,” “Most Effective,” “Best Connected,” “Most Active” and “Most Conversational” based on their average amounts of comments, retweets, mutual peer connections, daily tweets and @replies, respectively. Twitter provides world leaders, not historically in the limelight, with a venue to garner their prominence on the global stage. Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro is one such example. He is considered Twiplomacy’s tenth most influential leader and his account is the most mentioned world leader Twitter account. Additionally, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry is “the most prolific government account,” topping the “Most Active” Twitter account list by posting an average of 55 tweets daily over the past year. Venezuela has put in the work on Twitter to increase its international presence and influence, showing that a stronger online presence can supplement their traditional diplomatic interactions. Onward into Digital Diplomacy Digital diplomacy has paradoxically complicated and streamlined international relations. As Twitter fosters interconnectedness, relationships between countries can alter at the click of a button or press of a key, to some extent. Though some view this phenomenon in a negative light and too informal a setting for important conversations, Twitter and social media do not replace traditional diplomacy—they simply modernize it. The advent of social media has dissolved communicative barriers and obstructions to political transparency all while giving voice to not only world leaders, but the public at large.

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.

And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.

It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.

In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.

Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.

This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?

We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?

Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?

Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.

Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.

These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.