Master community architects Rafa and David Spinks joined Crypto, Culture, and Society to talk about using metaphors as a tool for building healthy communities in Web3. Known for combining organizational design theory with digital-first community practice, Rafa is the community lead at Mirror and a contributor at Cabin and other DAOs. David cofounded CMX and led community at Bevy until recently. He is the author of The Business of Belonging and host of the Masters of Community podcast.
Web3 has brought the value of community building into the limelight. With the increasing popularity of concepts like fractional ownership, community-centric design, and collective intelligence, it’s clear that we are witnessing the dawn of a more collaborative work environment.
Yet, it’s still difficult to nurture these spaces. Without a shared understanding and perspective, collective vision building can quickly devolve into mass conflict management.
In this workshop, David and Rafa provided insight into the ways metaphors shape our experience of participating in a community, and demonstrated how shifting our perception alters the nature of the work we’re doing.
Crypto, Culture, & Society hosted breakthrough multimedia artists Latashá and Sirsu for a lively talk about Latashá’s pioneering approach to cultivating community, talent, and attention in the NFT space. This is a condensed and edited version of their conversation.
Sirsu: Through the creative use of sound, film, and photography, Latashá has carved out a place for herself at the vanguard of the crypto art world. It’s remarkable for many reasons, not least of which is that she is, for all intents and purposes, the type of artist who is generally overlooked in mainstream spaces.
One of the reasons I was excited to talk to her is because she is such a great example of someone who has built tremendous social capital and used it to help other people. If it weren’t for her, we would not be seeing the breadth and depth of musicians getting involved in NFTs that we’re seeing now. It’s a refreshing contrast from most mainstream artists, who don’t tend to have the attachment to the community Latashá has worked so hard to cultivate — and which has had such an impact on the kinds of artists who are building a catalog and getting attention in the space. Day after day, she is building a powerful case study that shows how community building can help produce, cultivate, and launch talent.
When new mediums arise, so too do new possibilities for communication. As web3 continues to take shape, one of the biggest questions artists, writers, and builders are currently exploring is, what are the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the medium? And how can we use it to create new dimensions in storytelling?
As Simon put it, we have a blue ocean ahead of us that is just waiting to be explored – there are infinite possibilities for telling stories that make novel use of blockchain technology.
Antoine Sakho, a product leader with over ten years of experience shipping award-winning apps to 100+ million users (he was Head of Product at Busuu, which was acquired by Chegg), is currently working with TwoPlus to support Mental Fitness in the DAO ecosystem. He recently joined Crypto, Culture, & Society to deliver a talk on the intersection of Web3 and mental health.
As we become all starry-eyed about the potential of Web3 tech, many of us find ourselves stepping back and asking whether it’s really all it’s hyped up to be.
Are we really better off?
Why bother if our collective well-being is taking a hit?
Shreyas Hariharan is the co-founder at Llama, a company that builds economic infrastructure for DAOs. Llama has worked with a number of leading DAOs, including Aave, Uniswap, Gitcoin, PoolTogether, Fei Protocol, FWB, dYdX, Radicle, Harvest Finance, and many others. He visited the Crypto, Culture, & Society virtual campus recently to talk about building an economy within a DAO.
Though more complex activity has moved to the digital world, our tools to coordinate in a digitally-native way have yet to evolve at the same pace. DAOs are emerging as web3’s — and perhaps society’s — defining coordination mechanism, but they are still in their infancy. To reach their fullest potential, DAOs — just like nation states — must work to construct and maintain thriving internal economies that serve their missions.
This post delves into how DAOs can build sustainable internal economies, use both native tokens and treasuries to serve their goals, and apply models from economics, history, and anthropology to operate effectively.
David Ehrlichman, cofounder of Converge, a network of practitioners who cultivate impact networks, recently joined Crypto, Culture, & Society for a talk on building communities to effectively address systemic issues. David is the author of Impact Networks, which has influenced the organizational architecture of many of the largest DAOs.
Why is it important to cultivate catalytic communities, or communities that work together to effect change on a grand scale?
It’s simple: to address systemic issues we have to work systemically.
Addressing social inequities, combating climate change, providing economic opportunity for all… all these issues cannot be solved by any one person, any single organization, or any disparate institution. They require many people working across organizations, sectors, and disciplines.
There are a lot of reasons it’s perverse to say that web3 has made us all Marxists, but perhaps none moreso than the fact that web3 OGs really hate Karl Marx.
Take, for example, Nick Szabo. A scholar, cryptographic guru, and proto-bitcoin inventor — occasionally rumored to be Satoshi — who has bemoaned Marxism for fomenting closed societies. To quote Szabo himself, “how fucking pathological can a diseased brain become?”
Likewise, look at Ameen Soleimani, creator of Moloch DAO, RAI, and SpankChain — truly one of the most innovative and influential minds in the space — who has gone on record not only agreeing with Szabo, but arguing that “America has been invaded by the Marxist mind-virus” by KGB psyops. He writes: “When poor people are told what they want to hear — that they are equal to rich people,” writes Soleimani, “the seed of social unrest is planted.”
Austin Robey, founder at Metalabel, Ampled, and Unnamed Fund, joined Crypto, Culture, & Society to talk about both the opportunities and challenges inherent to building better collectively-owned-and-operated organizations.
As founding member of the three pioneering organizations listed below, Austin Robey is a key member of teams that are reimagining shared ownership and democratic governance for the digital era.
In a talk last week at CCS, Austin highlighted what he’s learned while building in both the DAO and co-op space, as well as some things to consider as web3 moves forward.
Scott Moore, co-founder of Gitcoin, and Alisha.eth, head of community at ENS, came to Crypto, Culture, & Society recently to discuss public goods, community participation, and the tools we need to build the future we want to inhabit.
The web3 community is, at heart, a community rooted in profound optimism and hope for the future. The increasing ubiquity and advancement of technology has given us all a reason to believe that a world in which everyone is equipped to both survive and thrive is not just a pipe dream, but an actual possibility. However, when we look at depictions of technology in the popular imagination, it’s glaringly obvious that we’ve all too often conceived of a world we wouldn’t actually want to inhabit; where technology has run rampant at the expense of our values, our privacy, and our collective freedom. It’s a failure of imagination that has far-reaching implications. It’s also one that we can choose to correct by dreaming up better outcomes and the systems that will help us accomplish them.
The recently released Pluriverse Artifact prompts us to consider the role language as a technology plays in the health of our digital spaces. It presents us with an opportunity to intentionally co-design the future of the web.
In late October 2021, and to the dismay of many, oligarchic social media behemoth formerly-known-as-Facebook publicly rebranded itself “Meta.” In doing so, it sparked a thousand hand-wringing broadsheet articles about what the metaverse means — none helped by charmless videos of Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual avatar, in a dull gray sweater, attending virtual meetings.
Announcing CCS Semester II. Apply by Feb 6th here
We can be in instant contact with each other, wherever we may be… It will be possible in that age, perhaps only 50 years from now, for a man to conduct his business from Tahiti or Bali just as well as he could from London… When that time comes, the world will have shrunk to a point.
- Arther C Clarke (1964)
Over the past 50 years, something remarkable has happened. We now live in an era where our youngest generations increasingly feel more like their true selves online rather than offline.
TLDR: We are hiring an inaugural Artist in Residence! Applications can be submitted via this link.
For Semester II, which begins in February 2022, we are inviting invitations from artists around the world to become our inaugural Artist in Residence (AiR) and to take a position within our community to not only visually interpret the second Semester of CCS but also to infuse our community network with artistic inspiration, creative expression and spontaneous improvisation.
We are envisioning that the Artist in Residence role will comprise three main responsibilities:
Jarrod Dicker and Gaby Goldberg, investors at The Chernin Group came to speak with Crypto, Culture and Society about Decentralized Media. The conversation was facilitated by Adam Ryan, CEO of Workweek.
Until fairly recently, the structure and value chain of the media industry were quite straightforward. Content was produced by artists, creators, authors, and production companies and sold by commercial distributors such as publishers, film distributors, and record companies. The industries were supplier-led rather than customer-centric.
As distributors and retailers become less profitable, many creators have found it necessary to take advantage of new technologies and have become more self-reliant. So media companies need to evolve to allow themselves and their associated creators to grow and profit together, according to Jarrod Dicker’s The Next Media Business: Talent, Reputation, and Lessons from Record Labels. These creators already have dedicated fans, so leveraging this relationship is key for all media companies.
Media companies should be a platform for creators.
Artist and designer Bhoka came to speak to Crypto, Culture and Society about “Art3”, her frame for the intersection of art and crypto.
Art and technology have always been dependent on each other—right now is no exception. Bhoka did fine art her entire life; that was always the plan. But during her four year fine arts degree, she discovered a severe allergy to oil paint, so had to figure out an alternative plan. She fell back on making websites and graphics and, for the last decade, has been a designer for clients in tech, fashion, healthcare and education. She spent time at Adobe as one of the principal designers for Lightroom in 2017, and after burning out on corporate culture, Bhoka has more recently been working with consumer social startups.
People treat art and design as the same, but they’re different. Art is an intentional act, the vehicle of expression and vision, and the material manifestation of desire, dilemma, feeling. Design is the process or outcome of creative problem solving; design can’t exist without the problem, and it’s usually tied to the commercial industry. Think client work.
Dame has been exploring identity and inclusion since their early experience in Web1 with a recent focus on democratizing access to crypto with Rainbow. They delivered a talk for Crypto, Culture, and Society diving deep into this topic. Below you can find a summary written by CCS Scholar Xian:
Every community positions itself differently and attracts an audience based on its niche. Look at these images below and think about which word you would associate with each community.
Variant Fund cofounder Li Jin came to speak to Crypto, Culture and Society about labor and work on the Internet.
Li Jin is the most polymathic of VCs; the kind that, alongside investing, founded a platform economy job site, ran a cohort-based course for founders building in the creator economy, taught social media celebrities how to angel invest, dropped surprise NFT sales that led to a New York Times feature, shares her prolific thinking through Twitter threads, her newsletter, her podcast Means of Creation, and writes for publications like The Economist and Harvard Business Review.
Consistently, she’s identified and catalyzed new waves of innovation, from coining “passion economy” while at Andreessen Horowitz, to joining forces with Variant to push forward the ownership economy: the idea that future winning internet platforms are going to be owned and operated by their users.
Not Boring writer, investor and thinker Packy McCormick spoke to Crypto, Culture and Society about curiosity, creativity and how best to play the Great Online Game (check out our full workshop notes here).
Packy McCormick’s newsletter Not Boring is an essential read at the intersection of tech, culture and web3. Recently, he’s brought topics such as the rapid growth of Solana and Axie Infinity’s pay-to-earn model to a wide audience of tech builders and followers. And back in May, he wrote about the Great Online Game, one of his most popular reads to date.
What’s the Great Online Game?
It’s the idea that we’re all existing in an infinite game that plays out constantly across the Internet. The lines between work and play are increasingly blurred. Like a video game, we’re experiencing our lives through our screens; unlike a video game, there are no boundaries between the game and what we call real life. Much of the work we do is manipulating digital objects on a screen. And, as our work, projects, and investments take place across Twitter, Discord and other online platforms, we’re building up skills, points and attributes that can unlock incredible opportunities that apply in both the digital and physical worlds.
Crypto, Culture, and Society members recently joined a session by web3 polymath Ameer Carter, aka Sirsu, to explore how social capital operates. Using real-world models of collective action and examples of web3 projects that bridge the gaps between social, cultural, and economic capital, he advanced a compelling argument for using blockchain technologies toward attribution of creative works to their creators. Below is a recap and response from our community.
“It’s not about streaming...that’s not the problem, right? You mean to tell me that the source of labor at the center of this experience is supposed to be satisfied and grateful with receiving a portion of a penny for their efforts and labor?” -Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) when asked during an interview on People's Party with Talib Kweli, June 14, 2021
Sirsu started his presentation by playing “Mathematics”—a fitting roadmap that set the stage for our conversation. The penultimate track on 1999’s Black on Both Sides—the debut studio album from Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def—finds the rapper weaving together stats that speak to a myriad of systemic injustices in America.
“How we choose to do what we need to do is the basis of culture; the difference between grabbing a bodega sandwich to sitting down for omakase. All these nuances across the spectrum of experience. But if crypto doesn’t care to find new wells, to expand our reference points, we’ll all stay thirsty for what we know we can do”
Writer, designer and Eternal founder Reggie James spoke to Crypto, Culture and Society about the importance of web3 expanding its cultural reference points.
Reggie: Let’s start by exploding a concept. There’s no single moment in time; we’re dancing in a long chain of reflection. Algorithmic feeds began to explode timescales and that seeped into the real world, and what it means for creativity and reference points is limitless.
Liberal arts have gotten a bad rap, especially in tech circles.
We see it play out in both Silicon Valley and in higher education: the emphasis on recruiting students of “hard sciences” and the stereotype of the indulgent graduates who studied history, sociology, or “underwater basket weaving” in college...
This dismissive attitude towards the liberal arts comes from the assumption that they’re not ROI-positive. Conventional wisdom goes that an English degree — even one from an elite university — is a precarious proposition in terms of career prospects. There’s a reason why no one has built a liberal arts bootcamp.
Liberal arts studies have a longstanding history: in Ancient Greece and Rome, for example, mathematics, rhetoric, and music were the formal curricula essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. During the Renaissance, a period that ushered in a rediscovery of ideas and knowledge, the term “Renaissance man” denoted an individual who sought to develop skills across many disciplines.
I have previously categorized ’crypto’ – a catch-all for blockchain- and Web3-related innovation – as part of the Digital Revolution that started around the late 1960s to early 1970s with the invention of packet-switched networks, microprocessors, and other digital technologies that enabled the proliferation of personal computers and the Internet. I would like to expand on that by:
Throughout the text, I will be using ’ICT’ as a shorthand for digital information and communications technology, and ’ICT Revolution’ as a shorthand for the Digital Revolution. From here on, quotation marks around the word ’crypto’ will be omitted, while still referring not just to cryptography, but to all blockchain- and Web3-related innovation. Readers familiar with Carlota Perez’s theory of techno-economic paradigm shifts may skip the first section.