YAP Cast

YAP Cast S3E2: “Coins and Communities” With Dr. Paul Dylan-Ennis



Welcome back to YAP Cast! In the second episode of Season 3, Samantha Yap continues her conversation 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.

This week they delve deeper into the fascinating intersection of crypto culture and the evolution of money, exploring the ways in which crypto communities are forming and how it may impact the way we perceive money.

What is the significance of DAOs in the world of crypto?

In this section, Dr Paul Dylan-Ennis shares his perspective on DAOs, highlighting the unconventional nature of their emergence. Paul expressed initial scepticism about DAOs, considering the infamous failure of The DAO. But he later acknowledges the rise of social DAOs like MetaCartel and Maker DAO, which rekindled interest in the concept.

Paul then recognises the challenges people faced in understanding DAOs and managing significant amounts of funds within them. He highlights the rapid learning process that occurred as individuals observed existing DAOs and attempted to replicate their structures. This process created a “Wizard of Oz” situation where, behind the facade of large institutions, regular people were accessible for interaction and involvement. With this, Paul emphasises the shift from rigid organisational forms to the newfound ability for individuals to participate and contribute.

Paul makes an interesting point to conclude this section about the potential adjustment to working for a DAO and the community, rather than having a traditional boss. Particularly, the self-directedness and autonomy required in these roles could be challenging for those who are used to a more structured work environment.

Building a Sustainable Ethereum: Balancing the Degen and Regen Culture of Ethereum

Paul shared his perspective on the lessons that can be learned from cultures that prioritize community cooperation and shared resources. He focused on the ongoing challenge of balancing the “degen” and “regen” cultures within Ethereum.

In his analogy, Paul likened Ethereum to a public park that requires shared responsibility to maintain and nurture. The “degens” represent disruptive elements that engage in fraudulent activities and prey on newcomers, posing a threat to the ecosystem’s long-term sustainability and deterring newcomers from fully participating.

Interestingly, one of the key paradoxes faced by Ethereum is its inherent permissionlessness. It empowers individuals by removing the need for permission but also creates vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

Therefore, the challenge lies in fostering a sustainable Ethereum culture that harnesses the positive energy of the regen community while mitigating the risks associated with the degen culture. Balancing innovation, decentralisation, and security is crucial for Ethereum’s long-term success.

The Challenges of Managing Ethereum as a Commons

In response to Ethereum’s challenges, Paul suggests viewing Ethereum as a commons, where exclusion is not possible, but misuse diminishes the experience for others. The reputation of Ethereum is exploited by bad actors, overgrazing the commons and abusing the goodwill of the community.

While the Ethereum community prefers self-policing and decentralisation, there is a need to define acceptable behaviours collectively.

Paul advocates for punishing bad behaviour, even though it may be controversial. Following this, Samantha Yap acknowledges the challenge of collective conversations in a permissionless system like Ethereum and ponders on the source of defining Ethereum’s values, considering the role of developers and Vitalik as a leader.

The Evolution of Crypto, the Role of Institutions, and Mainstream Adoption Challenges

Samantha Yap raises the question of when and how crypto cultures will impact the mainstream world, considering the lack of widespread adoption.

In response, Paul argues that the industry should focus on practical applications of cryptocurrency. He cites the need to reintroduce the idea of using cryptocurrencies for everyday activities and expresses concern about the insular culture fostered by the conference circuit.

Samantha Yap echoed this sentiment, emphasising the importance of broader use cases as a necessary driving force for the mainstream adoption of crypto.

Follow Dr Paul Dylan-Ennis on Twitter here