Decentralised ideals and the people that hold them

Forethought:

I am writing this on July 5th 2019, apparently the day of the world’s first deliberate effort by a somewhat influential fellow to give all earthlings an idea what a social media blackout might be like; and so i assume inspiring the public as to why it’s important we have more discussions about how social media platforms operate. Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger highlights in his blog why it’s important to act now:

We, the strikers, urge the global developer community to perfect a new system of decentralized social media. This strike, if successful, will show the world—Big Tech corporations, governments, developers, and social media users—that there is a massive demand for a system in which each of us individually owns our own data. 

Each of us individually controls it, just as we have control over our email, text messages, and blogs. It can be totally private, courtesy end-to-end encryption, or totally public; the choice is up to us. Social media services stop acting as silos but become interoperable. If we make a post on one service, it can appear on another service. Instead, social media services compete to create the best user experiences for a common pool of data.

Social media services agree upon and use a common, universal set of standards and protocols. This is how social media should have been developed from the beginning, rather than walled off in separate, competing networks. In this way, social media would work the way websites, email, text messages, and blog hosting and readers work: as neutral service providers.”

When I read a statement like this from a person who one would assume has some “reach” online i become further confident we are reaching a true inflection point where the current ways in which we collectively share our digital identities online may be coming to an end. 

While we are still a long way from mass adoption of decentralised applications however, the mainstream conversation seems to be more and more lending itself to some of the original ideas for how major internet services could operate. 

The inherent vulnerabilities in centralised systems make more headlines each week, with global internet infrastructure outages beginning to become somewhat regular. I can’t help but feel that those early adopters of Bitcoin might just be putting all that excess capital they have sitting around to work, by moving the public perception and narrative through organised guerilla marketing campaign efforts. I certainly wouldn’t put it passed them having seen the kind of tactics used in the crypto markets on the daily. 

It’s no secret, and the butt of many jokes that crypto attracts all kinds of odd people, over the past six years I have encapsulated many of these personas myself, leading to me constantly refining my view of myself and approach to the technologies coming on to the market. 

As a team member of a new dapp development platform called Chromia now i am being tasked with reaching out and communicating with the types of person i was, and perhaps to some extent still am. In this way I am interpreting my current communications challenges as a personal journey back through time. A self inflection. 

While earlier in my journey many if not most of the people I met working on blockchain inspired ideas were a mix of both creators and speculators, we were all believers (and so speculators) by default; made abundantly clear from the time and money we invested in our actions in creating and so speculating on the future positive development of the industry. 

It was only after a few years once we saw the media declare Bitcoin as dead several times that the ‘belief’ category in the religious sense started to gather some ground external of the inner geek sanctum. Bitcoin died, and so was resurrected no less than 270 times in the last ten years, all the while seeing long term mostly steady growth and new diciples joining world wide.  

Below I attempt to use my experiences to provide a general overview and categorise the types of people attracted to, and to some extent currently operating within this field. 

 

The Believers

Like anyone that associates with something or someone bigger than themselves eventually they will start to recruit others. When belief becomes so strong that one can no longer keep their faith to themselves we often see large public displays of indoctrination attempted. 

People that believe blockchain will change every aspect of societal and economical life across the planet don’t just believe it, they know it. And what’s more they have known it for a long time and find comfort in their established faith. 

Their comprehension of the technology itself (these days) no longer needs to go very deep, they have been recruited, indoctrinated by friends or family, perhaps even radicalised online. 

In this sense you could categorise the believers into two categories, those that have become believers through rigorous study, deep personal curiosity and ongoing research over time, and those that adopted their beliefs from others. Like secondhand smoke the latter more ephemeral groups faith can evaporate at any moment. 

So there are those that have met god first hand, kissed his feet, touched his skin and seen the future though his eyes, and accepted the future for better or worse. Then there are the pure disciples, the followers of those that claim to have spoken to God, and now can speak on God’s behalf, with confidence that they are correct in their undivided allocation of faith.

 

The Creators

The makers, builders and doers, these are the ones that built and are still building those protocols and platform initiatives you’ve been laughing at as they raise millions of dollars for what many perceive to be worthless visionary nonsense. This group believes by default and so falls into the first group most closely affiliated with ‘God’ 

They have plenty of disciples but do not necessarily talk to them, they are amongst the most technical savvy but are not always developers. They hold a vivid picture of the promises of blockchain technology and what it can afford mankind and as many with an entrepreneurial bent, they have thrown a lot of shit at the wall repeatedly to see what sticks. 

They are not necessarily builders of on-ramps or other typically legacy fintech infrastructure although they realise the value of these infrastructures. This group is responsible for pushing the technology to breaking point in an effort to realise its greatest potential, and mostly failing in the process. They are very likely the holder of various shit coins, largely out of curiosity. They are not bitcoin purists and fully understand the pitfalls of most of the majorly funded platforms.

 

The Speculators 

Long before I became a creator and around the same time I became a believer i started to mess around with altcoins (now often referred to as shitcoins) the likes of which many would become legendary in the crypto scene, coins like Aurora coin, Peer coin and GPU coin. All of which have rather dubious yet interesting stories attached, speculators in general basically practice the art of what I assume some would call informed gambling. Informed but not necessarily correctly informed.

The role of speculators is an important one and must be maintained for each project no matter the cost, for without these speculative players the economic support system set in motion by the coin or token project leaders would begin to grind to a halt. 

Speculators often hold a bag of shitcoins, which they refer to as “digital assets” if a speculator is not a true believer then these various project tokens (or shitcoins) are simply another set of online casino chips to them. 

They take a punt, stick around as long as their attention will allow, before moving on to another ‘table’ or project. Speculator cash up to now have been largely comprised of what some would call ‘dumb money’, people with a little or a lot of excess cash that they wish to put to work or put towards entertainment. While the dumb money from the west seems to have left the space or at least carming, plenty of new dumb money is entering from the east and much of the so called “smart money” some would say is only just begining to arrive. 

 

The Investors

Many in this group have been present for a good few years, although in the minority and likely we only have heard of a few of them, those that have to have press attention to survive, like the Winklevii, or McAfee. However the really solid unshakable institutional monies has arguable not really arrived yet. 

Those Investors that have poured money in to the space are typically already affiliated with the madness that are the regular global financial markets and so saw a potential opportunity to increase their wealth in a new and engaging way. This group is fracturing and there is no longer a catch all description for them but what can be said generally is that these players are not fucking about, they are serious about putting their money to work and they can move markets if they cooperate. 

The collective hope is that they cannot gain control over the large open source platforms currently available, which to many a “Creator” is very possible but expensive, and as many will recall arguably something similar already happened when the Ethereum community rolled fork on a dodgy contract back in 2016.

The investor wants two things, they want a great return on their initial put down, and they want to participate in building and owning the world’s next global financial systems, i.e they want to increase their wealth while having skin in the game when it comes to how the infrastructure on which their future wealth will rely on is governed and operates. 

Of course there are many more groups, stereotypes and categorisations to be made in this space, and each of the groups mentioned above breaks down further in to smaller sub groups, but at this time it is still very early in the market development for these types of distinctions to be leveraged for marketing purposes. 

Marketing to sub groups of these major groups is currently a waste of time in my opinion as they are simply way too small a target to lift a project up, even if some of those present in these subgroups appear to have what is peddled as “influence” these days. 

I’ve got opinions, you’ve got opinions, share them below if they’re that pressing. 

Rich Tella

Cover art by Cryptomemes

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