YAP Cast

YAP Cast S3E1: “Money And Culture” With Dr. Paul Dylan-Ennis



Welcome back to YAP Cast! In the first episode of Season 3, Samantha Yap speaks with Dr Paul Dylan Ennis, an expert in blockchain and cryptocurrency. He is a lecturer and a Professor at the University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland. His research focuses on the intersection of blockchain, FinTech, and culture.

Together, they explore the intersection of cultures and subcultures in shaping the technical decisions made in the industry. This conversation dives into the reimagining of money and the rise of decentralised finance as a counter-alternative to traditional finance. This blog post will provide a concise overview of their stimulating exchange.

Exploring the Cultural Views of Blockchains: The Technical, Social, and Economic Aspects

Dr. Dylan-Ennis opened the discussion by highlighting how every blockchain has its own microculture. He introduced his Hash-Bash-Cash model of decentralised organisations to explain these cultural distinctions better. According to this model, every blockchain consists of a technical part (Hash), a social aspect (Bash), and an attached micro-economy (Cash).

According to this model, each blockchain encompasses a technical part (Hash), a social aspect (Bash), and an attached micro-economy (Cash). These elements shape the cultural views embedded within each blockchain and influence their technical decisions, social communities, and economic experiments. Bitcoin, for instance, emphasises deflationary economics and algorithmic authority, while Ethereum embraces productivity and economic changes.

This diversity in cultural perspectives and economic experiments highlights the importance of having multiple blockchain ecosystems coexist and thrive, fostering innovation and experimentation in decentralised technologies.

Economic Experimentation: Bitcoin Vs Ethereum

One significant theme discussed during the conversation is the reimagining of money in the context of crypto. Driven by a growing disillusionment and distrust in traditional financial institutions, individuals seek alternative ways to manage and transact with their wealth. As the pioneering cryptocurrency, Bitcoin introduced the concept of deflationary economics and scarcity, challenging traditional notions of monetary policies. This novel approach resonated with a community already inclined towards open-source development and libertarian politics.

Ethereum, on the other hand, offers a different perspective with its emphasis on Ether as a productive currency, fueling decentralised applications and organisations. These diverse views on money reflect a broader cultural shift towards questioning and challenging established financial systems.

Exploring the Cultural Views of Blockchains: The Technical, Social, and Economic Aspects

As the conversation progressed, Samantha Yap pointed out that new entrants into the crypto world are often introduced via Ethereum or other currencies rather than Bitcoin. She questioned why the introduction of Bitcoin or Ethereum led to such an explosion of community vibes and culture.

Dr. Dylan Ennis responded to Samantha Yap’s question by suggesting that the rise of community vibes and culture within the crypto space can be attributed to a combination of factors. He acknowledged that Bitcoin culture initially emerged from a group of individuals who were already interested in open-source development and niche technologies, as well as those with fringe libertarian political beliefs. These early adopters, known as Cypherpunks, were primed for the concepts and ideals behind decentralised systems.

However, Dr. Dylan Ennis emphasised that blockchain culture’s proliferation goes beyond these initial enthusiasts’ influence. He highlighted the role of disenchantment with existing societal structures and institutions, which became more pronounced following the 2008 financial crisis. The rise of chaotic political forces, the normalisation of disinformation, and a growing sense of isolation further contributed to this disillusionment. In such a context, blockchain technology provided an alternative and empowering platform for individuals to reimagine finance and governance, allowing them to actively participate in shaping their experiences and finding a sense of community within the crypto space.

Blockchain: A Culture of Disenchantment and Community

In response, Dr. Dylan-Ennis attributed the formation of these microcultures partly to a generational shift. He spoke about a period of disenchantment, a feeling of future promises disappearing, and the acceptance of institutional collapse. This led to people seeking alternative forms of community and organisation.

Dr. Dylan-Ennis also touched on the attraction to the control and power offered by the blockchain community. He observed the ease with which people could perform meaningful actions within the crypto space and the entertainment value of the ever-evolving crypto landscape.

In conclusion, the discussion provided valuable insights into the emerging microcultures within different blockchain ecosystems and the unique economic, social, and technical perspectives that shape them. It’s fascinating to see how something as ubiquitous as money can be so malleable, with the potential to represent not just financial value but also our values as a society. In our next episode, we’ll delve deeper into the concept of crypto cultures and their impact on money today. And we’ll ask the big question: when will crypto cultures become mainstream and what will that look like?

Follow Dr. Paul Dylan-Ennis on Twitter here