“I seek to perceive, not to conceive, what is in front of me, and perception is exploration.” – Marshall McLuhan
Curatorial bodies have shaped our past, present, and future throughout time.
In recent times, the internet and its networks have been used as curatorial experiments. That’s what has made so many great Twitter accounts through the years. Lived experiences are used to curate feeds worthy of others sharing or scrolling through our profiles. We’ve done this with MySpace, Facebook, Tumblr, and many other legacy platforms (if only you could see the deranged nonsense that is my private Pinterest feed), and now for the past year and a half, I’ve personally done this form of curation on Twitter and in web3 communities.
These platforms often create a sense of belonging and community among their users. That's not to say they are always community platforms, they are social capital machines, but they do fill a specific void. In the evolving blockchain space, we fill blocks with breadcrumbs that curate community relationships onchain and offchain with people we care to see grow and collaborate with us, not against us.
Collectors, creators, artists, developers — it’s all art.
It is the art of hypercuration.
Now, in an era of interoperability, apps like Interfaced, Lens protocol, and Warpcast are made to take hypercuration wherever shared realities take our delusions. These are new infrastructure explorers that spark onchain creativity.
Today, as luxury media lives and breathes onchain (any transactions available or performed on a blockchain), hypercuration is an ever-present ecological statement made within hypercultures cultivated on or adjacent to hyperstructures.
This piece explores the realities we craft, why, and for what purpose they serve.
Curators at the edges of the internet have served to guide, filter, and artfully craft community experiences for many years. As they evolve, we examine what makes them tick.
I mean, come on, the pull this Rick Rubin book has on the Boys is insanity! Perhaps one of the greatest curators of our time asks ‘why’ creation and inspiration come to us and are manifested. Hypercuration is, therefore, open-source; this act crafts cultural onchain landmarks where stories are told, feelings are made whole, and brands are carefully crafted together.
Brilliant pieces have been written to explore these concepts I’ll expand on here. While we are still early to discover and define them, attempting to do so will spark creativity (and curiosity) for those reading these statements.
A few definitions to set the stage:
Crypto protocols that can run for free and forever, without maintenance, interruption or intermediaries.
Crypto culture that can grow freely and forever, without maintenance, interruption, or intermediaries… once it has entered the collective mind.
Steph Alinsug, founder of Vessel, states that onchain luxury media can be defined as the “next era of brand-building,” leading to a clear and apparent need for new forms of onchain curation. These new media discoveries will require new distribution methods and interfaces for which to discover them.
Context for crypto culture, crafted freely, flowing through communities that enables and enforces the interfaces through which luxury media is co-created within and on top of hyperstructures.
Purpose of Onchain Hypercuration
This piece is dedicated to all those onchain travelers who are explorers of trends and new theories and ask the question ‘why’? rather than ‘how’ something is happening. Context matters, especially when building cultures that last lifetimes.
Obsession with curating the philosophies and spiritual imaginings of onchain media is a key feature of hypercuration. Acknowledging the rapid pace at which blockchain mile markers tell the histories of transactions and the stories they weave within our cultures. When I first got into crypto, one of my slight obsessions was going down rabbit holes in my favorite artists or web3 celebrity wallets (don’t judge).
In examining who and what a hypercurator is, we need clear examples of these actions. Someone like myself and those in the few communities I’m an active contributor to are the ideal onchain explorers. We influence and signal more than just trends. We signal relevancy (or make attempts to) in a digital age where noise, namely AI content and copy/paste engagement farming for X dollars, drowns out everything in sight. We love getting beta access to the latest tools and apps for honest feedback. We are eternally curious. We are the observers and detectives.
Hypercurators are essential pieces in the intentional digital jigsaw puzzle of onchain content.
Sorting and Filtering
An abundance of onchain data availability requires an abundance of clarity to sort through the signals to discover relevancy. Not just what is trending but what is meaningful and culturally sound to contextualize, not just visualize.
(Co)nnecting and Assembling
Hypercuration is the work of the proverbial onchain production line assembling and connecting memetic icons. Co-curation across the web of memes, cultures, communities, and individuals that make them whole.
Enhancing engagement and understanding:
Take, for example, the #no-dumb-questions or #trend-spotting channel in Boys Club or any other high-signal community like RADAR. Members who respond to these questions or trend signals are the most informed users of the internet. Bringing other members into the conversation for curated learning.
(Cult)ivators of Identity
The ideal community member is not an easy role to fill, we exhibit the behaviors within any given culture, ‘why’ someone might come out of lurking and introduce themselves. This is the job of the hypercurator. To spread signals of creativity.
The traits of a hypercurator at the edges of the internet pose interesting challenges to the ways we interact with onchain media now and into the future. This is why we must work to define the community layer and its inner workings. To investigate and explore who among us is capable of being part of the editorial body of a new, more creative, networked system.
The responsibility of hypercuration is to examine and perceive, not to conceive, the cultures where we stand today on the Island of Irrelevancy and give context for what products and interfaces we explore next. This happens by taking a look through the lens of our collective rear-view mirror to seek solutions, not to create new problems to solve. Internet users do not want more problems, we have enough of those!
We do this by iterating on our current perception of community, why we are bringing new generations of digital natives together, and what media is created for them to thrive. As some have observed, in a lot of ways, the act of hypercuration is another iteration of community and brand building since there is a great deal of moderation involved.
A Possible Solution
Onchain hypercuration poses possible solutions to questions currently being asked of bright minds in the space, like Chase Chapman on her podcast On the Other Side. Chase has recently brought on legends like Jihad Esmail, LGHT, and Steph Alisung to examine media, cultures, and their impact on our shared interfaces. Hypercuration should be what eventually lifts us out of irrelevancy island like a mama cat toting around her kitten.
Reggie James / FWB FEST 2023
The advantage of hanging out with those who are essentially co-creative directors of Ethereum L2s is to experience the purest creative forms of onchain network effects. These can be individuals or entire communities. They produce highly curated, highly valuable podcasts, essays, networks, events, and Tweets. This all goes well beyond the vibe economy of the past few years, which is literally underground right now.
As Reggie so graciously states in this FWB FEST talk, “Technology has lost its ability to speak about itself,” and I believe it is our job to facilitate that conversation. For example, talking directly to founders and builders 1:1 to really nail down why exactly their passion is, the problem it solves, and why they are crafting technology the way they are.
Not simply in a superficial capacity on Twitter/X that usually leads nowhere. Those conversations are nice but often distract from the necessary work required to create change.
One possible solution is to truly co-build brands together in deep partnership with the communities and people we care so deeply about. Yes, we can absolutely build our own products, but taking the time to facilitate with others and spend meaningful time with them is the nature of hypercuration. To tell our stories with one another as human interfaces for new digital (and yes, AI-enabled) experiences to emerge.
Partnerships in brand building have broken and financialized the system we care so deeply about. Points, leaderboards, loyalty, these things all provide data points for metrics that look pretty on paper but often aren't what truly build a sense of belonging.
We simply haven’t put in the effort in many places because a vocal, wealth-driven few choose to build problems to fix manufactured solutions and hope for a return without providing sufficient value or culture.
It is more worth it to create and curate visions together than to double the work, double the marketing, double the communities, and double the noise for everyone to interact with.
The nature of hypercuration is and should be multi-player.
Ultimately, hypercuration facilitates a rebirth, and that takes time.
We aren't meant to be comfortable at the edges of technology and culture. Working together to curate deeper connections is the answer.
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