This was first posted as an internal metablog within Metalabel.

Imagine you’re told you need to direct a percentage of the money in your bank account into an account shared with a group of friends and strangers whose bank accounts are directing the same percentage of their money to the shared account too. But within this shared bank account there’s a special rule: no money can be spent unless the group votes together to do so, in whatever voting structure they see fit to use.

This sounds like a high concept Netflix reality show. Not like something a normal person would do.

In the context of crypto and web3, however, versions of this interaction are totally normal. Most projects are built on the power and comparative ease through which blockchain-native projects can share and distribute value and money-like things to each another. The rails and norms of web3 create a kind of flow state of exchange.

The same behavior that feels irrational in one world feels rational in another. And both are right. It’s a matter of each universe having its own native behaviors.

Native behaviors are powerful. They create the opportunity to do things we wouldn’t do in regular life. Think of Halloween or winning tickets at an amusement park or family customs on special holidays. These worlds are much less fun if you don’t adopt the native mindset — they require a suspension of non-native behaviors to make the most of them (e.g. Halloween is a lot more fun if you dress up than if you don’t).

Most of the time you know when you’re switching from an environment with one set of norms to another. You don’t find yourself surprised to be in Greece — you took the steps to travel there, and you knew norms, language, and natural behaviors would adjust when you arrived.

Though sometimes just as frustrating and cumbersome as international travel, web3 platforms also tend to communicate that a visitor has arrived in a different world. There’s an idea in web3, written by Kayvon Tehranian of Foundation, that “crypto wants to be seen.” By trying to make a web3 product appear “normal” you’re doing yourself and your audience a disservice. Native behaviors are the reason why. To know what to do you must know where you are and what rules there are first.

There’s a great app called Braid that’s basically a multisig wallet for regular money — a collective checking account. Compared to crypto, the total addressable market for this product is infinitely bigger — there are billions more people who use checking accounts than people who use crypto wallets. And yet it’s difficult to find an obvious application for a fiat multisig like the one described at the start of this essay. It feels unnatural.

In crypto and web3, tokens and money-like things constantly shift from one place to another — a split here, a treasury vote there, a new work sold over there — moving a flow state of value along chains and pathways from one individual or group to the next. In the context of this universe, multisig wallets and fractional flows of money-like things feel natural — simply the way things are.

Native behaviors aren’t locked in stone or frozen in amber. They change with the circumstances. There are infinite ways to clue people into them: you can be subtle, funny, contextual, or explicit. But until native behaviors have been discovered, defined, and people know where they are, don’t expect visitors to know how to go native.