The whole planet, smiling, at the same time.

What is the first thing that we'll choose to do, together? As a planet?


Reference point: Queen - We Will Rock You.

All live music is participatory. This song, We Will Rock You, asks for more - it is engineered to invite participation - so that the audience becomes a member of the band. A simple, but powerful set of coordinated actions. and perhaps a lesson.

What happens when 7B people do this?

Walk in step.

Push the military march, rifles on the shoulder out of mind. Go back to Wembley. A celebration.

Smile aspires to this: Finding a pathway where our interests and principles overlap. And inviting us to do something - all of us - together.

What could we accomplish if we learn to do this well?

What is the largest group-coordinated event in human history?

What are the moments in history when we have been most aligned? acting together/in unison? "most aligned in action and attention?"

Is it useful to draw a distinction between passive events (like watching something on TV) and active events (like Salah prayers or ?)

Call to prayer?

Perhaps it would be useful to know both (i) total number of people and (ii) as a percentage of total global population (basically normalizing for population to get at participation rate).

Watching the super bowl? or some other sporting event? (does this count even though? it's so passive?)

"On 20 July 1969, an estimated 652 million people watched the live global broadcast of the Apollo 11 Moon landing (this constituted around one fifth of total population of the world at the time)" wikipedia

"The 1996 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, where Muhammad Ali lit the torch, was watched by an estimated 3.5 billion viewers." wikipedia (Personal comment: this feels hard to believe...)

"The funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 was watched by an estimated 2 billion people globally, making it the all-time most-watched royal event on live television in the world." wikipedia

"The original Live Aid was a dual-venue benefit concert held on 13 July 1985. It became an ongoing music-based fundraising initiative. ... It was one of the largest-scale television events of all time, watched across 150 nations, with an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion who watched the live broadcast." wikipedia

"China Central Television's Spring Festival Gala has regularly attracted between 700 million[119] to 1.17 billion viewers annually" wikipedia

Sporting events make up the vast majority of "most watched" events. Crazy thought: Maybe "Smile" could be a part of an upcoming opening ceremony.

  • Paris 2024
  • Los Angeles 2028

And in general, tie the Smile Campaign to major events.

  • World Cup Soccer
  • Olympics
  • Is there anything else?

What about technology?

  • Would Facebook or Snapchat participate in some way? Custom filters? Free announcements?
  • Use of social tags, #allsmiles ?
  • Android/Apple updates - leverage these platforms in some way to reach all users?
  • A way of adding to people's calendars. Or??? What? Not exactly sure how to get a useful foothold on a device.

What do major religions and long-standing spiritual / wisdom-traditions have to say about smiling?

  • Buddhist teachings, Koran, Bible, etc...

What does science have to say about smiling?

What does science say about coordinated / group action?

  • Coase, Theory of the Firm // transaction costs

Islam - salah times: what's a time zone that has the most followers? (note: ~1.8B total)

Other events?

Also, gets me thinking, are there particular groups/countries who are particularly good at coordinated action events? What's their secret?

As far as I know, no one is against smiling.

It's universally ok.

Smiling is pretty uncontroversial.

Maybe think of it like this: No one ever talks about outlawing smiling.

Throughout history people have wanted to outlaw all kinds of things (insert absurd laws here), but never once has there been a discussion about making smiling illegal. That's a few bridges too far for everyone.

And people like smiling.

It feels good.

Just the physical act of smiling has been shown to improve mood - all by itself.

What would it mean to all smile, together?

A reminder of what unites us.

That beneath all our layers of disagreement, there are still foundational shared experiences that unite us.

And a way to practice acting together. Coordinated action across all political, economic, racial lines.

What happens when:

(1) we learn to identify those areas where we agree


(2) translate agreement into action

Problems that seemed intractable, might become solvable.

Levers of Change

Thought 1: The potential for coordinated action has never been higher. Tools for networking, communicating and creating community have never been more widely distributed, never been less expensive.

Thought 2: The cost of individual action to motivate meaningful change has never been lower (when coordinated with a sufficient number of co-actors). An individual doesn’t need to get on a bus and travel to their nation’s capitol for a protest march, they don’t need to stay home from work for a work stoppage, they don’t need to park their car on the freeway to block traffic.

They can sit at home and do nothing.

And if they do nothing, together with enough other people, that can be enough - with some messaging/marketing - to induce meaningful change.

People could, in a coordinated way, stop visiting Facebook for a day.

Or stop buying gas at a particular gas station

Or buying coffee at a particular coffee shop

If these simple forms of abstinence are performed in concert with a sufficiently large group of people. and if that group attaches a coherent and popular message to their action, change will come.

The goal of Smile is to practice this kind coordinated activity. To remind people that this is possible and within reach.

“When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast with a scientific and technological abundance. We’ve learned to fly the air as birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas as fish, yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.” MLK

Proof of Smile

  • A formal process for securing the Smile Chain
  • How might this work?
  • Just copy Ethereum proof of stake?
    • Goals: Lowest cost. Most efficient. Most secure. Net-positive social impact (vs. complaints about bitcoin and environment. Or even ETH and rewards to people who are already wealthy)
  • Other proof of stake systems? Obv we can pick/choose features that we want. and do some modeling to confirm that it's likely to work (economics/incentives/game theoretic stuff)
  • Potentially linked to social media
    • Smile holders would vote on the validity of a "smile"
    • Prizes for whistleblowers / fraud detection
  • Competitor to the CAPTCHA system: Smile detection / identification
  • Opportunity to create an identity system // reputation system
  • Some time-lock / roll-back feature where Smiles can be revoked from bad actors

Smile NFTs

  • Have various artists do SMILES
  • As a way of fundraising / driving interest / increasing the number of stakeholders


  • Release curve?
  • Bounded returns? Idea of putting a cap / ceiling on investment returns in order to maximize chance of positive outcomes for the entire project
    • Really asking the question of what level of incentives are optimal
    • As a matter of simplicity and bcs of technical+cultural limitations we've tended to offer only a few levels of ROI via different classes of shares. and/or different (preferential) deal terms (VCs vs. public offering). Employee stock options (and other time-locked/vesting mechanisms) are another way of achieving this
    • But it doesn't feel like we've carefully posed (or attempted to answer) the question about: If we could create any method for allocating ROI amongst investors/owners, what would be globally optimal? and what would be optimal for the project?
    • Gini coefficient and related stuff
    • This is obv a bigger question.. but just capturing the thought for now.
  • Appropriate incentives for each action. Some dynamic process where incentives/rewards adjust. Probably will always need some minimum number of "high reputation/stake" participants (for security at least).


I was reading about Stewart Brand's "Why haven't we seen a picture of the whole earth?" campaign yesterday. and his strategy for getting the word out. Such a simple but effective mix: (1) Get out in public and share the idea in a fun way (on college campus with top hat and sandwich board), (2) Create a list of well-placed people and reach out to them in a thoughtful way, (3) Keep doing 1 and 2 with love + good will. I do have the sense that this approach works best for projects that speak to the zeitgeist of the current moment, people are more receptive.


—expanding Overton windows—