We're Having the Wrong Conversations about Crypto
from Studio Morrow's Thoughts on Things
Welcome back to the newsletter from Studio Morrow, serving you monthly hits of my POV on culture so you can form yours.
It feels like every other headline in my feed in the last 6 months has had something to do with the NFTs, DAOs or crypto.
Most are calling out the problems plaguing these emerging spaces.
Not for nothing, sustainability is a huge consideration within NFTs . (And actually most of the internet, but that hasn’t gotten quite the same press treatment as NFTs/Ethereum'’s carbon footprint.) I’m not saying it shouldn’t be addressed - and I’m happy that many are starting to do so.
Not to mention, crypto markets are very volatile and not where you should be investing your emergency savings or the cash you’re using to buy a home.
But the thing is, they represent something that’s so much bigger. The shifts that we’re witnessing in the emergence of crypto, NFTs, blockchain and DAOs are not small technological advancements. They are giant ideological leaps that point to the way we are going to interact and function as a society in the future. Maybe they themselves will be the technology that ends up powering that future, or maybe not. But the seed for that future has now been planted.
However, it feels like we’re spending an exponential amount of our energy arguing about the trees when the unshaped forest is sprawled out in front of us just waiting to be shaped.
Bitcoin, EOS or another decentralised currency may or may not be the way we use money in 2030, but I can guarantee that we will look back at this period where TransferWise was the most elegant ways to move money overseas & credit card companies had to be manually informed of international travel plans and we will laugh. As Forbes puts it, when it comes to money, we are in the middle of a complete revolution.
You may be totally over hearing the word NFT, but digital art & fashion are also creating the future of aesthetics in both the digital and physical world. The impact that’s going to have on creativity and the millions of new ways we will be able to look in those spaces in the future is so vast it’s mind blowing. Whether or not that digital art and fashion is an NFT or something else is completely irrelevant from the vantage point of creativity.
NFTs & crypto are often, for better or worse, associated with bro culture and the type of toxic masculinity that’s destroying the planet. But the future they point to is undeniably exciting, or more accurately, it still could be. Whether it ends up being amazing or awful is yet to be seen, but unlike ecosystems like Google & Facebook, we still have the chance to shape it. Or better yet, use it to create new platforms that break up power and pull resources away from the evil Google & Facebook overlords (h/t for this great point, Dan).
The creative potential is enormous and I personally am so stoked to get the chance to look out into the horizon of these unmolded worlds and imagine the things I’d like to exist rather than picking at the shit that’s not working in the few technologies that have emerged, which by the way represent like 1% of what’s possible.
So that’s the conversation I wish there was more of around these spaces – and if you’d like to have them too, I have all the time in the world for you. Not conversations about limits in existing technology, but what about their existence points to about the type of future we want to live in.
How we can recognize that feeling inside ourselves, the undeniable spark you feel when you look at something nascent and see all of the potential it holds. When use that feeling as the fuel to create something you want to see exist in the world with your own two hands. When you see something emerging and instead of poking holes in it, start furiously inventing (or reinventing if you hate the version of the thing that exists). Amber Jae Slooten's manifesto about how it might affect the creator economy in fashion is one version of the future that's made me excited just this week.
Another exciting part for me is also just how broad the possibilities are, from the totally revolutionary, to delightfully useless. Some of the things we create in this new world could very well make a huge dent in creating a more sustainable earth, but others will just give us new ways to be silly and make each other laugh. Or look stunning. Or pay for ramen when we go to Japan.
Maybe I’m a hopeless optimist and the fire blazing in the trees right in front of us really will be the thing that burns the whole world down, but for now, I’ve got my eyes fixed straight ahead on the forest we’ve yet to build because the way it looks in my mind is fucking beautiful.
As always, feel free to respond, even if you mildly disagree :)
I’ve prepared this month’s feast of 3 things I like on the internet just for you.
1) Solange’s creative agency Saint Heron launched a free archive of rare books on Black art and design
2) Cash App announced Cash App Studios, a new program to bankroll artists and other creatives. It’s an invite-only initiative where artists maintain ownership and don’t have to pay back any funds.
3) The future of physical goods is virtual goods - anybody who’s worked with me in the last year knows I think the strongest brand marketing statement any brand can make right now is releasing virtual concept products, but not in an avatar metaverse context — more generally. Think about it: you undercut annoyingly long innovation timelines, get straight to the purest articulation of your beliefs, and make a gorgeous digital concept design piece in the process. So much easier not to hate than the 21,493,209th wokevertising manifesto brand ad this month.
Anywho, that’s me! How’s everything with you? Slide into my inbox if you wanna chat and if you’d rather lurk, do your thing.
Happy Friday/weekend/newscorpiomoon - see ya in a month :)