As we enter 2022, one new, big theme we will be more focused on is what I call: Rise of the “Rest”. The “Rest” here refers to any country or market that is not the US or China. Admittedly, “Rest” is not the most respectful way to generalize 80% of the world’s population. I would like to use a better term, and am open to suggestions. Sadly, thus far, “rest of the world” is often what people use.

BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) is another take on the “Rest”, but feels obsolete given that China has broken through the ranks of developing countries to form the other “pole” of a new bipolar world (or “Chimerica”, a term the historian Niall Ferguson coined in 2006). The last time we had a bipolar world was during the US-Soviet Cold War. Back then, the term we used to refer to the “Rest” was the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). It was strictly a geopolitical term in a world that was still decades away from globalization and the internet.

Source: Wall Street Journal art

This current US-China bipolar world is different. The challenges are different. The conflicts are different. The players and the way they think and act are different. But what I think is the most different is that the “Rest” – these so-called secondary players – have much more potential and agency to rise and chart their own course by applying technologies, know-hows, and resources that were not available to the NAM countries. Thus, contrary to popular narratives, I do not believe we are entering yet another Cold War.

The Rise of the “Rest” is already underway and inevitable. This inevitability comes from two other technological trends that are also underway and inevitable: open source and web3.

Open Source, Web3, A Permissionless World

Open source and web3 are quite interconnected and intertwined. Most of the web3 projects – protocols, layer 2 scaling solutions, etc. – are open source projects. The distributed nature of open source development and collaboration has paved the way for most web3 projects to be organized in the same way. Open source technologies, at least the codebase part of them, are also generally not owned or controlled by a single corporate entity; anyone can access, fork, use, modify, and distribute them without permission. Web3 projects, for the most part, also function in this permissionless way.

So how do open source and web3 help the “Rest”?

Put simply: open source lowers the barrier for everyone to access the best technology and web3 gives everyone control of the data, information, and resources (read: money) needed to build her own future using the best technology. As open source and web3 mature, the playing field between the US, China, and the “Rest” becomes more leveled. And “leveling” means less permission needed, more agency, and an inevitable rise.

With open source, you no longer need permission from a handful of companies to access technologies.

With web3, you no longer need permission from a handful of western countries who run the Bretton Woods system, or the capital markets situated in those countries, to access financial resources.

Of course, open source is not utopian. Neither is web3. Both are in their early days with many problems unsolved. But both are key in catalyzing a permissionless world.

This shift is already taking a foothold in many places. As Chainalysis’s 2021 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report indicates, 9 out of the 10 top countries that have the highest crypto adoption rate are what we consider “rest of the world” countries.

Source: 2021 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report compiled by Chainalysis

Our Lens: Developers and Entrepreneurs

There are many ways to unpack this Rise of the “Rest” mega-trend. Our lens is the one we have been applying since our inception – profiling the deeds of developers, entrepreneurs, and the technologies and companies they create. (See our profiles and deep dives on the entrepreneurs who built TSMC, ByteDance, Agora, Databricks, and Hashicorp.)

Developer-turn-entrepreneurs tend to be first movers in taking advantage of a permissionless world. As I’ve written extensively in the past, developers are “Global by Nature”. Open source enabled this attribute; web3 is accelerating it. Many of the best developers are gravitating towards building web3 projects as we speak. These developers-turn-entrepreneurs can (and do) come from anywhere – India, Nigeria, Brazil, Vietnam, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, South Africa – not just the US or China.

Our team will still do plenty of research and writing to unpack the ongoing US-China tussle, weaving together the intersections of technology, business, money, and geopolitics. But beyond the bilateral dimension, another dimension we are keen to analyze is: in a progressively permissionless world, how will the relationships between these two superpowers and the “Rest” develop?

Superpowers tend to know what to do in a permission-driven world, because they are the permission-granters and rule-makers. But as borderless technology movements like open source and web3 plant deeper roots everywhere, superpowers will struggle if they don’t adapt.

So the big story in 2022 (and beyond) will not just be about how will the “Rest” adapt to the whims of Chimerica, but how will the US and China, individually and together, adapt to an increasingly dynamic, entrepreneurial, and rising “Rest”.

We can’t wait to get to work and unpack it all with you.

2022 展望: “其他地区”的崛起

随着我们步入2022年,《互联》将更加关注的一个新的大主题就是:"其他地区" 的崛起。"其他地区" 指的是除美国或中国以外的任何国家或市场。诚然,"其他地区"这个词不是概括全世界80%人口最尊重的方式。我也希望能用一个更好的词,并愿意听取您的建议。可悲的是,到目前为止,"世界其他地区" 这一概括往往是大家经常使用的描述方式。

金砖国家(巴西、俄罗斯、印度、中国、南非)是对 "其他地区" 的另一种形容方式,但鉴于中国已经突破了发展中国家的行列,形成了新一代两极世界的另一个 "极点"(或称 "Chimerica",这是历史学家尼尔·弗格森在2006年创造的字眼),因此"金砖国家"一称感觉已经过时。上一次的两极世界即是美苏冷战时期。那时,我们用来形容 “其他地区” 的术语是“不结盟运动”(Non-Aligned Movement,NAM)。严格意义上说,NAM仅是个形容地缘政治关系的术语,当时的世界离全球化和互联网还有几十年的距离。

Source: Wall Street Journal art

当前这个中美代表的两极世界截然不同:面临的挑战不同,冲突本质不同,参与者和他们思考和行动的方式也不同。但我认为最不同的一点是,"其他地区" —— 这些所谓的次要角色 —— 有更多的能力和潜力通过应用科技、知识和资源来崛起和规划自己的发展路线。这些条件是“不结盟运动”的国家所不具备的。因此,与主流说法唱个反调,我不认为我们正在进入另一场冷战。



开源和web3是两股紧密相连的力量。大多数web3项目 —— 协议层、layer 2层的扩展解决方案等 —— 都是开源项目。开源开发和协作的分布式性质为大多数web3项目以同样的方式开发铺平了道路。开源技术,至少其代码部分,一般不是归一家企业或组织所拥有或控制的;任何人都可以访问、fork、使用、修改和分发,而无需许可。Web3项目,在大多数情况下,也以这种无需许可的方式运作。

那么,开源和Web3怎么能帮助 "其他地区" 崛起呢?

简单地说,开源降低了每个人能获取最佳科技的门槛,而web3则让每个人都能控制自己的数据、信息和资源(或钱),从而使用最佳科技搭建自己的未来。随着开源和web3的成熟,美国、中国和 "其他地区" 之间的竞争环境变得更加公平。而这种公平意味着需要的“许可”更少,主动性更多,"其他地区"的最终崛起因此是不可阻挡的。




这种转变已经在许多地方开始了。正如Chainalysis的2021年加密货币地理报告所示,在加密货币采用率最高的10个国家中,有9个是所谓的 "其他地区" 国家。

来源: 2021 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report compiled by Chainalysis


有很多方法可以用来解读 "其他地区" 的崛起这个大趋势。《互联》的视角是我们自成立以来一贯采用的 —— 剖析开发者、创业者以及他们创造的技术和公司的事迹(参见我们对创建台积电字节跳动声网DatabricksHashicorp的创业者的介绍和深入分析)。

从开发者转变成创业者的人往往在“无需许可”的世界中如鱼得水。正如我在过去所写的那样,开发者这个群体 "生来全球化"。开源很大程度促成了这一属性,而web3正在加速这一属性。目前许多最优秀的开发者正倾向于加入各种web3项目。这些从开发者变成创业者的人可以(也确实)来自任何一个地方 —— 印度、尼日利亚、巴西、越南、俄罗斯、韩国、土耳其、南非等 —— 而不仅仅是美国或中国。

《互联》团队仍将花大量精力研究和解读中美关系的各个角度,并将科技、商业、金钱和地缘关系的交集点编织在一起。除了双边层面以外,我们也会投入精力分析另一个大问题:在一个逐渐变得“无需许可”的世界中,这两个超级大国与 "其他地区" 的关系会如何演变?


因此,2022年(及以后多年)值得关注的大事将不仅仅是 "其他地区" 怎样适应Chimerica,而是中国和美国将如何单独或共同适应一组越来越有活力、有创业精神和即将崛起的 "其他地区"。