By Yatu Yoga ::Blockchain Anthropologist exploring the Blockchain, Fintech, and Crypto space :: PHD Researcher at Golsmiths College, London—-The origin story of Coinscrum begins in September 2012, with five guys tentatively meeting up at a pub called the Cleveland Arms to discuss Bitcoin, the dominant cryptocurrency at the time. None of them knew what to expect. Back in those days the London blockchain landscape was deserted. You made do with sitting in front of a computer screen, glaring at Reddit and bitcointalk forums, refreshing the screen every so often, hoping that someone, anyone, would post. The philosophical, political, economic, and social interests that were sparked and embodied by Bitcoin remained somewhat siloed. The Cleveland pub meetup soon attracted a bigger and bigger crowd. As normal as this sounds now, it was one of the first crypto communities in the world. It was a boozy old school London pub, behind the bar was a wall with different notes and coins from all over the world stuck on. A fitting venue for a crypto meetup. Eventually, the meetup grew beyond the spatial capabilities of the Cleveland arms and the Coinscrum community was formed.
Skip to 2019, you see the term ‘community’ everywhere in the blockchain landscape. Most projects have their own community manager – communities are essential to the success of any project in this field. These communities are predominately online and are accessed through Discord, Slack, Telegram, Whatsapp, Twitter, to name a few platforms. Online communities potentially allow for different ideas to flow transnationally – different ideas from different parts of the world can float around the online global blockchain landscape in an unpredictable manner, cross pollinating different projects. The radical blockchain project is a truly global one and for it to succeed it requires a truly global community.
However, as anyone who has come across online blockchain communities will realise this is not how most online blockchain communities function. A lot of online communities become plugged into a certain vision and ideology. There’s a lot of loyalty in these kind of groups – which is important to kick start and expand blockchain projects. Without this loyalty it seems unlikely we would have crypto as it exists today. That is, it was important in the early days of crypto to not listen to the many naysayers, the legacy thinkers, that predicted Bitcoin (and other cryptos) would die – to date, according to 99bitcoins.com, there have been 360 Bitcoin ‘deaths’. Though this loyalty played a key part in the initial rise of crypto, in more recent times, it has also bordered on a sort of blinkered vision that has resulted in some communities becoming siloed, closed to different values and ways of understanding. Not only closed to legacy thinkers, but also closed to those who have a different way of achieving the blockchain dream. The blockchain project is still in its infancy. There are so many exciting developments happening across different areas of the blockchain landscape. For communities to have a blinkered vision now would be to miss the great revolutionary potential of blockchain – akin to treating the blockchain landscape as though it was a desert with one or two wells from which to drink. It’s so crucial we talk about our conflicting blockchain dreams – talking through conflicts, allows new ideas to sprout onto the landscape. A blinkered vision does not make use of the vast resources available in the blockchain landscape.
This is where the value of a space like Coinscrum comes in. An agnostic space where different visions, philosophies and ideologies are in conversation and flourish. Recently, Coinscrum hosted a discussion between Tezos’ Arthur Breitman, founder of Tezos, and Richard Brown, CTO at R3. At the last social meeting there were people from different parts of the blockchain landscape – fintech, Ethereum, enterprise, EOS, and Cardano community, journalists from different political spectrums, an anthropologist, and those new to the blockchain world, amongst a host of other representatives from different parts of the blockchain landscape were present. It’s important for different ideas to be in conversation with one another in the blockchain space. An agnostic space like Coinscrum provides a platform for different – sometimes even conflicting – ideas to cross pollinate and sprout new projects. A diverse range of projects such as Ethereum, Tezos, RSK, Cardano, DFINITY, Blockstack, to name a few, have come through Coinscrum and experienced this cross pollination effect.
There is little value in loyalty that isn’t tested through difficult conversations with those whose opinion differs from ours. The strength of a community is not defined by huddling closely around a dogmatic view, but is defined by having a space for conversation with those who differ from our point of view. This strength is necessary for a technology that aims to radically change a socio-economic-political structure that has been deeply embedded into our society.
By Yatu Yoga ::Blockchain Anthropologist exploring the Blockchain, Fintech, and Crypto space :: PHD Researcher at Golsmiths College, London