I really don't.
It might sound a bit surprising but I bet you don't either.
If all this crypto stuff died tomorrow, I doubt it would be the end of the world for you or me. We would just find something else to think about. That's just the truth.
So why are we here?
I don't care about crypto.
I care about the people who care about crypto. Those that are here and those that have yet to come.
Don't Get Lost In The Sauce.
At the end of the day, all we're trying to do is:
Connect with other humans.
Why did Vitalik & Co build Ethereum? At some level, it might have been pride, money, and status. But on another, it was to connect. To build a legacy. To move humanity forward. It was built for others.
Reminder: who are systems built for?
Do we build things for the sake of building things?
We build things in service of humanity. In service of our community. In service of our colleagues. In service to our families.
Have we forgotten?
I sometimes feel like we forget about this. Like some of us exist in a "crypto" echo chamber – building things just cause we can. Not because it will move us ALL forward.
Early adopters building for early adopters. - CRADL
Are we disconnected from reality?
We spend A LOT of time online. Most people spend on average 13 hours a day on their screens. For crypto people, it's probably A LOT more. With all that screen time, is it possible that we're assuming we know what people need? What humanity needs?
All that information we consume might lead us to believe we know more than we actually do. Unconscious incompetence.
Have we even spoken to each other? (most people don't even talk to their neighbours). Do we know what others need? And if so, did we ask from a place of vulnerability & honesty?
More than that. Who are we listening to? Are we buying into yet another narrative? Or are the things we're engaging in truly going to make a difference?
So the question arises: who are we building all this for? and why?
Who are we building this for? Why?
We Can't Know What EVERYONE Needs
I'll concede. We'll never know what everybody needs. But in the effort of trying to figure out what SOME people need, I bet we'd learn a whole lot. Maybe build something useful.
Turning an abstract notion of our fellow humans into something more concrete is something we should ALL strive for.
How Would That Change Crypto?
If we all held this perspective. If we all demanded a better understanding of our fellow humans. Would Ethereum (crypto) still look & function the way it does? Would we still have wallets? Gas? Decentralization?
What assumptions underpin our systems? What does Ethereum assume of its users? Of humans?
Because right now, it looks like Ethereum (crypto) believes that users are just EOAs (externally owned accounts) and nothing more.
Where is the Empathy?
I'll be honest.
I think we coped out. I may be wrong (as I often am) but it seems like we've taken the easy road out. By abstracting away the user at the protocol level, we're left with doing UX damage control.
We push the responsibility & perceived burden of empathy down to the dApp & wallet developers and hope they can figure it out.
Making this complex, decentralized, crypto-economic system work is hard. I get it. But making a complex, decentralized, crypto-economic system that WORKS for people feels like an impossible task.
So I understand the tension here. Would you rather do something hard or something impossible?
We have to understand HUMANS and CRYPTO STUFF. Which is terribly hard.
Crypto is based on math. Humans are a black box. So we naturally ignore the black box. And stick to the math.
But wait! This doesn't make sense
We originally said that all this crypto stuff was made for humans. It was a way to connect people. But now we're seeing how people aren't even being included in the process at all. From network creation all the way to end products.
People are running around building WHOLE networks and products without once talking to another soul who hasn't completely bought into their vision. Based on an abstraction of others that they hold in their minds, a dream at best, a delusion at worst.
WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING?
"Well, I am building for people just like me."
If that isn't the dumbest thing I have ever heard. (excuse my language)
Reality check. "People like you" don't actually exist. At best, you'll build a mediocre product. At worst, you'll perpetuate a dangerous philosophy of exclusion.
It doesn't even make business sense. The TAM (total addressable market) of people just like you is 1 person. It's you.
We need to step out of our own world for a bit. And get into the world of everyone else. It's only then that we'll be in the best position to actually build something meaningful. Something that will have a legacy. That will propel us leaps and bounds into the future.
Manansh, what's the point?
What I want you to take away is that "we don't know what we don't know".
If you're building ANYTHING without first answering questions about why and for who. Then why bother building at all?
Otherwise, it just might make its way into the Museum of Failure!
I know this was a bit of a daunting read – it was very daunting to write. I might be wrong, I very often am, but I feel like this perspective needs to be shared. Otherwise, we might end up in a future with a system that everyone relies on but never acknowledges their humanness.
Our little human quirks. Our desire to look smart. Our hopes & dreams. Our fears.
Those can be programmed into any system. All it takes is collaborating with other people (designers, researchers, PMs, end users, engineers, and entrepreneurs) co-creating systems with them, and constantly experimenting. Creating incredibly diverse product teams with people from ALL walks of life.
We all talk about encoding values into our systems. Especially crypto-economic systems. But it looks like we haven't encoded any HUMANITY into them yet.
The day we do – will be a happy day.
I don't care about crypto
I still don't.
But I will forever care about you. The builders. The thinkers. The dreamers.