web3 transformed my sense of self
The life and death of the brand. pt 2
First, we start with a story.
I’ve been talking with folks for months and months who need my help, have gotten my help, or aren’t sure how they can best utilize the services community engineers, as Lizelle van Vuuren describes us, offer.
In one of those recent chats with a friend, I blurted out something that shocked me.
“web3 has RUINED me…ruined me,” I said as I sat back straight as could be (not very, kinda shrimply these days) in my chair, leaning into those words, feeling the tears well up.
I didn’t realize at the time what those words meant. I’m only vulnerable like that with friends I believe actually care. I'm grateful this was one of those chats.
But as I had a few days to let it sink in, I want to complete that statement.
Web3 and the blockchain industry ruined me in the BEST way possible.
What Do You Mean? 😭
What I mean by that is: this has been my only real exposure to startups the front lines of emerging tech since spending a career in retail corporate and tradfi.
In a past life, I was definitely not living for Alive Time, as Robert Greene teaches. I was lazy, watching Netflix, not growing, scrolling through Facebook (ew), only caring for Dead Time.
I still find myself falling into Dead Time moments but at least the self-awareness is there.
This deep immersion into such a rapidly moving space has meant nearly two years of not taking much time off, if any, on top of very long days and nights.
There is just much exciting information to absorb!
Working freelance means I have time to learn, write, create, curate, and connect. This earned me a significant presence as a leading community builder and marketer.
The Downsides Have Been Damaging
It also means I’ve had a lot of time physically alone.
It means I’ve spent well over 10,000 exhaustive hours in the space chatting with and learning from some of the most brilliant people in the emerging tech industry… largely neglecting any semblance of a personal life in the name of survival.
*note: this isn't a huge problem since, as Alexis Ohanian reminds us this week, work-life balance isn't so clear-cut.
This has resulted in what felt like an oncoming and ongoing identity crisis.
The journey upwards is the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world.
-Plato, The Republic
I guess you could call it growth, but damn, it feels like crawling from the depths of hell. Or, as Plato would have it, being forcibly dragged out of a cave.
The Allegory Of The Cave
I’m not so pretentious (okay maybe a little given this week's subject) to say that learning about onchain cultures has been actually “enlightening,” or always philosophical, but anyway let's get into it:
Plato’s The Republic tells the Allegory of the Cave, where men are chained since childhood inside a cave, unable to move their heads. Images cast as shadows of animals, plants, people, and other items onto the cave walls by people behind them.
One of the prisoners is set free and dragged to the surface to behold the vastness of reality.
At first, the prisoner is blinded by the sun. After all, the sun is a lot brighter than the fire. 🤩
He gradually overcame the awe and wonder of this new brilliance. Coming to understand his new knowledge.
Just as the prisoner has a duty and responsibility to return to the cave to rejoice and share, I have felt this urge to share like many others. Even if coming back to the cave is just as blinding.
This education leads us out of the cave and away from the image makers, those casting shadows on our cultures, our societies, and the languages we use.
I propose this challenge to you:
Whats your journey out of the cave? Be fearless in examining your personal story, get vulnerable, dig deep. Share it with me sometime!
Hot Tip: use allegory in your writing and community building to craft narratives that lead folks to the light.
You’ve Got To Make That Journey Yourself
So now, after a lifetime spent in Dead Time, I’ve been privileged to spend time immersed in learning within this part of the internet.
One that has continued to challenge everything I once knew, bringing me to an exploration of what we are to do with one another online and why we gather the ways we do.
Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth… there is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
This journey I’ve been on has been absolutely relentless in tearing down ideas of how we consume, purchase, connect, and market products online across web2 mediums.
However, one observation we’ve collectively made is that blockchain is not the final answer. Nor is it the answer to many questions most of us are facing.
Like, yes, we need the option of decentralization and sure that kicks us back to the ethos and origins of the internet.
But most people outside our bubble would say “so what?,” “How does it solve my problems?”
I’m curious to know what realities we face next.
And I’m optimistic what’s next will be onchain, decentralized, and cryptographic.
However much I adore web3, it’s still not the singular or even in the top three answers for a majority of internet users right now.
It is a path to what comes next.
And now that we are emerging from an adolescence of sorts into multiple inflection points as tech accelerates, it’s time to consider what that is.
Tokens vs Non-Tokens, Zora & Superchains
The financialization of crypto up until very recently meant a few things:
High gas fees
Majority of activity on Layer1 like Ethereum
Volatility, scams/rugs, and casino markets
Accessibility and interoperability issues
PFPs, DAO work groups, and shitcoins as adoption mechanisms
Extremely poor ecosystem branding and creative direction
We are exploring super exciting paths that lead to solving each of these issues. Rollups as a Service (RaaS), infrastructure upgrades, and professionalized DAO governance, as Parker writes in her ETHCC recap.
I’ve also been exploring cultural icons like Zora, who are redefining culture, and Jokerace, defining a post-token future that holds the keys to how we envision curation on and offchain.
The upcoming mainnet launch of Base is very exciting. Onchain Summer! 🔵
All of the links here will give you ideas on how people are building, creating, and earning right now, not in theory or months from now.
The Superchain is near and it’s powered by Optimism and the OP Stack. This article introducing the Law of the Chains is brilliant (ily OP)! 💖
These are each relevant to crafting new visions of community, marketing, and branding as web3 evolves. Loads of opportunities for curators, artists, and builders of all experience levels.
A New Definition For “rileybeans”
The purpose of this issue.
Since the space has sufficiently left me broken into a million different pieces, literally hungry, I’ve doubled down to piece together the puzzle of rileybeans.
If you’ve been reading past issues, you’ve likely picked up on it too.
The tail end of a bull market leading into a cold downturn has led to innovation and an inflection point. I’m equipped with the knowledge to lead with you.
Through conversations with hundreds of folks in the web3 space, I’ve found that there are clear lines between sections of experienced community engineers, builders, and marketers. There are also those in roles performing dual positions, leaving many to often flail in one or more aspects of their jobs.
I’m here to consistently transform. For me. Taking control of my life. In service with others.
First, I’ve exchanged the BFF PFP many of you know me as from my socials.
I still own it, but feel it necessary for you to see me, Riley. At least until I can get my hands on a pink Zorb. 💖
The one and only continuing scout troop in web3 helps budding community builders explore their purpose. Cloud Scouts is my love, check out what we’re up to below!
However, I’m also doubling down on offering the knowledge I’ve gained over the past 18+ months in this space and web2 communities to those not yet in Cloud Scouts.
I’m offering a small suite of services to limited (web3 & web2) projects:
Community Engineering & Strategy: Crafting tailored strategies to engage, grow, and sustain vibrant online communities.
Content Writing: Short and long-form writing for your blog, newsletter, or social media.
Online Culture Consulting: Analyzing and advising on cultural dynamics within online & onchain spaces.
Collaborative Community Projects: Partnering with organizations, platforms, or individuals to curate & co-create community-driven campaigns, events, or case studies.
Speaking Engagements: Open to podcasts and very limited X Spaces.
Know someone who could use my help this month? Click through below!