I’ve been in a discovery era for the past couple of weeks, so naturally, have meditated on my early sparks of love for community building. What a weird time looking back on all those hints thinking I’d end up actually doing this for a living.
This is the story of how I innocently created and was forced to dismantle a clique. Mind you, this was before we all had cell phones, so we made up our own silly social games…
Classroom Media Distribution
Something had changed at the start of the school year. The kids were more social and more open to friendship and competition.
My friend and I decided to take advantage of this. We didn’t want to waste much ink or paper, so we only printed a few flyers around the class and passed them around on a Friday along with our weekly class newsletter printed on cheap copy paper.
We had the Internet, but instead of using Google, we used Dogpile, and instead of Photoshop, we used Corel Draw. I will never forget that hot air balloon box art.
I can’t remember what the newsletter was called, but the point is it led us to inform the class of around 60 on local, regional, and world news. It gave them an excuse to learn from their peers. We had crossword puzzles, weather, sports scores, and class updates too.
It also led us to another discovery: the power of media.
Through this outlet, I decided to scheme ways to make a few dollars. One of our mutual friends was an artist whose brother was just getting his driver’s license… this gave me an idea!
So, at a time when our little brains were still being scrambled, we used the newsletter and passed notes in class to start a new game.
We ended up starting a clique in the process…
What’s a clique?
a group of individuals who interact with one another and share similar interests rather than with others, usually seen in adolesence at school.
First, we’d sell ID cards to this club that had an illustrated avatar on the left side and information about the person on the right. Each person was given an entry to a playground game we made up.
So we had membership down and people were loving them. Next, we designed the game. I was the captain of one team, and once we found a captain for the second team, we were ready for members to choose sides. It was essentially a modified version of the game Red Rover but it had a keep-away element.
See, our Math teacher had an abundance of tape rolls from tape dispensers in her classroom for some reason… don’t ask. Anyway, we decided to take a few of them and use them in the game. So we crossed two games and made it competitive.
This was only a few years removed from the Beanie Baby craze but right before Pokemon, so we kinda knew what we were doing by making the ID cards exclusive but, of course, didn’t plan for any hurt feelings.
The game got so competitive it evolved into a clash between the two sides such that members of either side actively avoided each other.
That’s not to say cliques are bad. Actually, most aren’t and make a perfect place to find belonging for children just finding their way. I’ve been part of many cliques. There are loads of them in crypto too. But those you form and those you create lasting memories with often stick with you.
Our childhoods are filled with films and TV shows of school cliques. They’re just part of American adolescence.
Clashes, breakups, all kinds of friendship dynamics changed that year.
This lasted for weeks until…
Because it was mostly contained in class gossip, it never really made it out to the teachers, so we were fine… until news escaped outside our circles.
So yeah, we ended up getting in trouble. Not for making art in class or for making a creative playground game but for creating a clique where said art was being sold and gamified.
Told to dismantle our groups, we announced the shutdown, dissolving the game and ID cards.
Some early valuable lessons learned in building community and regulation for sure.
We had good intentions but we were literal kids, okay nerdy agile kids, and had no clue how making friends worked. We learned about game theory and urban planning from the games we played after school. Games like SimCity 2000 on the Sega Saturn.
Stories like this show how creatively children dream about social games. That experience led me to discover a lifelong passion for writing. We were free from the influence of social media, just enjoying our little bubble.
This story reminds me that I had a passion for informing people about new technology, gamification, and some form of identity mechanism early on. It shows the power of bringing people together. The early parallels to web3/NFTs are fun to consider as well.
When I’m feeling lost, I go back to origin stories like this because they remind me why I do it. At least now a lot more informed about healthy community building strategies.
Opinions on the current state of ‘Web3’
Seems lately many people have published remarks and opinion pieces on why they’re still in web3 or still building onchain despite the bear market persisting.
I have brought people together for various purposes far before I knew crypto existed. I’d be building community no matter which industry I’m in.
I choose to do these things here because I align with the values, optimism, and technology built for a new internet.
My focus on digital identity above NFTs of late isn’t completely due to the collapse of the market but a representation of my beliefs. I’ll always believe in interoperable, community-designed authenticity. That includes an equal belief in onchain art.
Right now, I’m enjoying a lot of fun stuff coming from consumer crypto and intend to implement these apps where I see alignments, like Disco Bookmarks, Mirror posts, and Zora mints. I’ve always loved the idea of smaller-scale communities, and you can take a look through previous issues of this newsletter on identity, curation, and modular communities to put that story together.
My recent bout with inner discovery stems from natural questioning of where things are headed. As a creative and community builder, it’s important for me to balance periods of discovery, learning, and execution.
So, while I’m no future teller, I am a future optimist.
I think we’ve all heard by now dozens of pieces on where web3 or NFTs went wrong from the likes of Rolling Stone this week, how projects produced little value, etc. Here’s what I’m looking forward to:
Seed Club S06: The Event (Demo Day) - Sept 28. Be there!
EIP-4844: Blobspace/Proto-Danksharding. At least 10x cheaper fees! The next Ethereum upgrade coming in a few months. Learn more from Bankless.
Google Gemini: multi-modal ChatGPT competitor. Early versions were released to companies this week.
Your weekly source for all things upcoming with our lovely Scouts. Learn more at our website!
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