From @oldmansearch to @oldmangrams

From @oldmansearch to @oldmangrams

By now you are probably sick of all the NFT posts. Writing for me is a discipline, a daily habit, and a way to get my thoughts down on paper database digital paper. I'm trying my best to tell a story along with each post that is interesting in it's own right - this one is about the brief golden era in fake Twitter accounts. More specifically, @oldmansearch.

I love a great fake Twitter account. They are hard to commit to, as most end up dumb and nearly every fake Twitter account eventually dies off. Some end much too soon when their inspiration unfortunately goes way too soon. On of the OG's of fake Twitter accounts was @oldmansearch.

@oldmansearch was an account where someone told their 81 year old octogenarian father that the Twitter message box was Google so it just tweeted all his searches. While never confirmed, I'm pretty sure it was satire. Either way it was pure comedy gold. One of the early innovators of comedy on the Twitter format. Some were him tackling technology:

Others were culture:

Others were just weird and had a funny universality to them:

@oldmansearch came out in 2011, at time when Twitter was having a moment. Many contributors and bloggers moved onto the platform/format in late 2008-2010, and then in 2011 you started to see your bigger celebrities and media arms start to onboard which brought with them audiences, "viewers", and network effects. 2011 was the year of Twitter and it's quite visible in the chart below:

At the time this was happening, it was met with much confusion, which was the genius behind the account. Your parents didn't get Twitter. They barely even got the first version of the internet in Google. It perfectly captured that moment in time.

I came across a blog post that summarized that moment perfectly in addressing whether or not it was real:

Because all of us who follow @oldmansearch are already on Twitter, we are already that far ahead of the curve so we are quick to judge the validity of this account. Might we remind you that there are still over 84 million people in the US alone who are not using the internet? And even if you have the internet it doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing with it. There are a lot of people out there who have no idea how to do a Google search let alone know what Twitter is. My mom is pretty tech savvy and even she thought following someone on Twitter without them knowing was illegal.

Real or fake looking back now, it was incredibly prescient and said a lot about how fast and weird things were getting for lots of people.

For me, it was art and belongs in a god damn museum. I would love to own a 1/1 of an @oldmansearch tweet.

Another interesting thing about @oldmansearch is that he followed zero people. If you've ever run a fake Twitter account it's hard to get them off the ground without posting some good stuff, following the right people, and some element of off-platform collusion - but not too much as to give it away. You can't know that someone is the fake account, most of the game was guessing and speculating who the fake account was. Satoshi Nakamoto knew this back in 2008. Looking back from a world now where privacy increasingly doesn't exist, the fake Twitter account was like some last vestige of a world that everyone knew was increasingly crumbling down. @oldmansearch was successful because it felt organic and authentic.

Even though I just wrote an essay long tribute to @oldmansearch, it all started last night with a brain fart for for a dumb tweet about what @oldmansearch would be saying today about NFT's. It then led me down a path to think through different related design concepts that I'm working on at Cardshop, and thought it would be a good way to just test out a few things.

Meet @oldmangrams

@oldmangrams is @oldmansearch but if you told your 81-year old father that Rarible was Instagram. More than anything it is a tribute to the art of @oldmansearch. I am not nearly pretentious enough to believe that I can even exist on that plane of genius - so it is merely an inspiration a source of tangible value.

Base (1/10) "my granddaughter painted this on the bitcoin"

I'm selling this for basically the price of gas.

Nashville (1/1) "how do you print out this face book?"

Lo-fi (1/1) "anyone know where the money goes?"

There is one more getting minted. Will drop from @oldmangrams when it's ready.

With this I want to explore the nature of organic growth using NFT's. Over the weekend I referenced a post from Chris Dixon where he writes how NFT's capture the entire demand curve and has organic user acquisition models locked in. People are so hung up on some of the novelty of NFT's and therefore skeptical of them need to understand this concept, and its broader implications.

To me it means that Web 3 will feed on Web 2. Not only will it suck out the core value units that many of these platforms are built around around - rides, tweets, posts, etc, it will also suck out the business models that support the companies - ads, matching/exchange fees, etc by doing it. This is all compounded by the fact that they will use the platforms in order to do it. It's like a bunch of people just slowly trashing a house then burning it down. But that's what happens to houses and "moats".  The network pull and/or CAC/LTV arbitrage that built these houses and moats will now be ownable and tradable. I'm not quite sure many people fully see this yet as they are caught up in the art vs. the "artbitrage". They see the potential for creation, but few are truly seeing the destruction that must come with it, and will be nearly impossible to defend.

So for @oldmangrams I'm trying to experiment with these acquisition models around something simple, but where I can add some level of creativity in order to try to demonstrate it (or at least show how it could work). I will update the Twitter account somewhat regularly, but it's a fake Twitter account, its hard.