“Do you want to collect your salary in streaming?” Why crypto projects are so hard to understand | Technology
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The mood at this week’s Ethereum conference in Barcelona was “techno-hippie”, according to an attendee who had given a talk. “This is the first time you’ve seen a conference of cybersecurity experts go barefoot,” said one presenter at a panel with three security company employees. One stage had a lush artificial turf and presenters were encouraged to go barefoot.
Despite the crypto winter, the atmosphere here was business as usual: “This is not a conference for venture capitalists,” said the same attendee. “People have come here to see what is being done,” he adds. Nerves over the fall of cryptocurrencies were not the protagonist, although another attendee admitted that he followed everything with some unease.
These conferences are meetings organized by local communities to share what is being done in the region around this cryptocurrency: there is a lot of talk, workshops and contacts. There are a lot of these conferences around the world, some bigger or more traditional. Ethereum Barcelona celebrated the first edition for three days in total at the International Convention Center, next to the Forum.
The halls of the conference were dominated by young men, in many-colored variants of modern and sporty clothing. The feeling was that anyone you chatted with had something to sell. Or he worked for someone who had something to sell.
Trade fairs are usually for this, but here the initial objective was to explain what it was for and how what was sold worked: there was a voting system, a social network that wanted many hours of Spotify to allow us to receive free merchandising from a singer (I imagine hundreds of cell phones streaming to the same artist 24 hours) or a data backpack for the metaverse.
One of the most curious was SuperFluid, which allows you to split payments per second of use: “Why wait to get paid at the end of the month and give credit to your employer if instead you can get paid for every second worked?”, he said. Francesco Renzi, founder of the startup. “Streaming salaries,” he called it. Although it could also be used to pay the rent or a subscription. He joked that it was fascinating to see a figure grow by ridiculous amounts every second, while admitting that it was terribly anxiety-provoking, especially “if you’re paying instead of getting paid.” In fact, he still did not know what it could be used for and compared it to “whoever invented the wheel did not know that it could be used for a car”. He also admitted that people would find it difficult to understand such small figures: “They are super small amounts, super difficult to understand.”
The general impression is that the speakers and participants are working on nascent projects, full of promise, but lacking in materialization or mass adoption. Nobody should come here to criticize their activities because they are the first to admit the challenges of making the general public understand what they do: “They keep calling me a scammer. Can someone explain to me how to overcome it?” said a speaker.
This journal and others have published countless explanations of NFTs, DAOs, and Web3, but the effort is half in vain. They keep asking me what each of these things is and I never feel that the other person really understands what I tell them.
The difficulty of understanding the final usefulness of these projects, together with the volatility of cryptocurrencies and the apparent lack of a massive user adoption in the near future, make their explosion difficult.
A few days ago a video of Marc Andreessen went viral, one of Silicon Valley’s biggest venture capitalists and creator of Netscape. In a podcast you were asked to give examples of useful uses of web3 in the world of audio. After a few minutes and three questions without answering clearly, he said something like this: “Look, it’s injecting economy. It’s injecting, at a very fundamental level, money from the internet, economy born on the internet, and incentives into a system that just hasn’t had that.” It doesn’t seem incomprehensible. It is. It is those phrases that make one suspect that this entire building is mounted on a structure that even those who invest millions of dollars are waiting for someone to explain to them what it is really for.
Cryptophilanthropy – How to Save the World with Web3: Used right, Web3 can trigger a wave of good in the world. How? Listen in to this panel to find out.
With Vanyi Robin, Andrew Funk, Ievgeniia Bodnya, Max Semenchuk, Arman Kazanjian
Moderated by Wendy Feher. pic.twitter.com/B2SkKy3mgv
— ETHBarcelona (@eth_barcelona) July 7, 2022
That impression was also perceived at the Ethereum Barcelona fair. In a panel on how web3 will “save the world”, every project had an NFT or blockchain leg, but it was nothing backbone to business success. In an industry where what the consumer really wants is the mantra, it’s rare to see dozens of engineers imagining confusing applications. I showed a friend the title of the talk as “How to create Defi products in LATAM to maximize their adoption” and the answer was: “I don’t understand a word”.
The effort to explain the advantages of something that is not even understood what it is for is impossible. Diego Mazo, the speaker, was the first to admit the challenge of bringing his “decentralized finance” or “Defi” product to consumers. In one of his slides he distinguished between the innovators, whom he called “masters of money legos”, from “my father, my aunt”. Between both worlds, there was an abyss.
There were several presentations of DAOs [Organizaciones Autónomas Descentralizadas], the famous clubs that allow you to invest, collaborate and vote on the decisions of a project: a kind of technological association with different purposes. Alona Shevchenko, founder of UkraineDAO, started her talk by asking the audience: Do you know what a DAO is? First no one answered. Then someone yelled: “Choos!” He was referring to the difficulty of managing such large groups where there are many people with the intention of giving their opinion. It’s like a big WhatsApp group. “It is true that it is not very decentralized, not autonomous and not very organized, but we tried,” admitted Shevchenko.
UkraineDAO was born as a Telegram group that sold an NFT of the Ukrainian flag for almost $7 million, one of the top 10 sales at the time. The sale was a way to help the country in its defense against Russia. He could have received the money in another way, but perhaps the sale of an NFT expedited it. Shevchenko used a quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead about how a small group of committed people can change the world. These kinds of comforting cheap slogans are often heard at these conferences.
In the presentation of another DAO, they put Charles Chaplin’s speech in The Great Dictator as a metaphor for his fight against an alleged fascism of today’s life. Another speaker conflated the debt slavery we are saddled with, the Snowden revelations, and an alleged project to dumb kids out of public education since the 1970s. In short, the government does it all wrong.
This criticism coming from a group of people who find it difficult to explain what they do and what they are for is, at least, daring.
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