While I can’t tell you the exact moment I decided to take on the challenge of communicating the values of blockchain to regular folk, what I can tell you is that my concerns run deep, never more than now in 2020.
Working in communications the entire objective is the transfer of informative and sometimes entertaining ideas from one mind to another, in the corporate world that mostly means transmitting “my product rocks, you should own it ” this is pretty straight forward when you have a clear target for the message. If you sell walking sticks, it’s very obvious who would benefit from one, if you sell ideologies on the other hand, then you’re entering a much more competitive playing field, an area of corporate communications that makes companies sound more like politicians trying to win votes rather than sell you a product.
Here is where the challenge lies, working with a blockchain oriented solution the dilemma everyday is staying sane in the knowledge that you’re trying to communicate and thus sell a vision of a future not yet realised. This is exactly what politicians do and possibly why so many non-career politicians often come from the corporate world, they had to become expert shamans capable of selling ideas to everyone and their vision to anyone.
When I began my own journey into blockchain land I felt I was lucky, I was taken by the hand by an exceptional educator – Andreas Antonopolous. The University of Nicosia provided a course which was straightforward, complex at times but well rounded, allowing anyone with the willingness to commit to gather a deeper understanding of digital currencies. This was done simply and elegantly in a free 12 week MOOC titled An Introduction to Digital Currencies.
I recall how I felt about blockchain before taking that course, I recall thinking that I had already done an immense amount of reading on the subject and had come to a crossroads, either I jump on board or move on with my life, (at this point i had already become somewhat of a convert) but I needed to understand the very fabric of how a blockchain functions, having zero computer science comprehension i dived in to the free course and told myself to keep an open mind.
I bring up this moment because i was thinking in terms of applying communications strategies in a blockchain startup everyday that I woke up, I had to justify why blockchain was superior and here to stay, and I had to do that in a way that is not immediately appreciated or even comprehensible, just like a politician might do.
I am not talking about selling blockchain to developers, they are mostly convinced by now; to sell to devs now is more a matter of their choice preference. I am referring to entrepreneurs, those people that are going to build the future companies that will keep folk earning and looking after their families, too many of these people continue to choose to build on regular typically american-centric centralized platforms.
These entrepreneurial builders and those users that shall inhabit these applications into the future are the target I’d like to reach with the good message of blockchain, I have been doing that for a little over five years as best I know how, by using the ‘show don’t tell’ approach.
Around the same time i took the online course at the University of Nicosia i started to teach myself videography and video production and i needed subject matter. My newly held belief in blockchain gave me that subject matter and as I wished to start communicating the potential value of blockchain to the masses, I took my camera and mic and I headed into the city to interview blockchain startups, and began to try to show regular folk what was happening.
That was in 2014 when I started my blog: bitjoin.me, fast forward to 2017 and I had the pleasure of interviewing Andreas Antonopolous; my excellent tutor that had set me on the path towards blockchain realization. He had agreed to meet me in Stockholm and take an interview. I was super stoked.
After interviewing numerous blockchain startups, developers and entrepreneurs I did not turn my little blog into a media empire, nor did I become a leading journalist in the space, no. I decided I had to build a blockchain startup myself; and boy was that a hell of a ride, but i’ll save that story for another time.
I want to stick to the problem I’ve spent countless hours thinking on; how to convince the masses blockchain is the future and that they should look more closely. Moreover, how to convince them of this value when all they see and hear from the media they consume is statistics related to the price of a coin that may or may not represent an intrinsic value.
The answer I am becoming convinced of is that of a religious one. With mainstream religions most newcomers are born into it, with others converting and some forced, with blockchain there is no legacy, only 11 years of messy conversation and a smorgasbord of altcoins, leaving the good preaching having to be done by Twitter Shamans, corporate FinTech types and weird people with no authority like myself.
The analogy with politicians and religious groups is a good one in my opinion, the Shaman persona encapsulates the blockchain thought leader CEO character, but for most regular people it often comes across as just that – hokus pokus bull shit.
In an industry that growingly takes itself way too seriously thanks to the migration of the FinTech crowd and capital into the blockchain space, it is my opinion that we are missing a great opportunity as a still new and fairly fresh industry; to attract new young talent away from their traditional path in to technological jobs, and in to jobs where the very ideas around employment and corporate structures are being upgraded.
My latest efforts to reach these young (and old) recruits is to produce a documentary film, a film that will build an enormous entertaining bridge between both those working in the blockchain industry, and the masses still standing at the gates to the fortress we have unwittingly built using speculative double-speak and bedtime with Fintech.
I am an optimist in the morning, a sceptic by afternoon and a pessimist by night, running these three emotional positions balance me out and it is at the 5am mark i often have my most clearest actionable thoughts, the thought i had this morning is what prompted me to start writing this article which i intend to send to Coindesk as a guest piece.
After reading their requirements for guest piece articles they instruct you to provide something new, and something that the entire industry can benefit or learn from, i think i now have ticked all the boxes. So here goes:
If you want to attract absolute no-coiners to blockchain, the universal solution to doing so is humour mixed with education at an 80/20 split in favour of humour. While i did not know this when i wrote the script for The Fakefluncer, it has become clear now that the value on satirising an industry, especially one like blockchain that often takes itself so seriously and ‘SO’ money, is that if you place it lower in comparison to the viewer. You empower the viewer by ridiculing the subject matter, allowing the viewer to become closer to the subject.
There are a few examples of humour in blockchain films but most are dead serious and quite dark, those with comedy elements are often narrowly premised primarily on a shitcoin project or something related to wealth and money, with The Fakefluencer film I’d like to tackle the more concrete problems we are all waking up to in our globalised economy. Something that on the surface seems dull, complex and boring too many, I believe can be exploited for laughs and that’s exactly what I plan to do with The Fakefluencer film.
The fakefluencer film puts the audience in the driver’s seat via protagonist Tom Gillespie, an ex-currency trader trying to make it as a Australian TV celebrity. When he gets swindled out of a substantial amount of money by a fake crypto influencer, he decides to make an investigative documentary to find out who the fraudster really is.
His investigation takes him on a wild ride into the influencer economy with cryptocurrency influencers at the forefront, commencing in Australia his investigation eventually lands him in Sweden where he interviews several crypto natives that show him the crypto economy is not so different from the global economy we all inhabit.
The Fakefluencer film is set to premiere on April 2nd 2021, and you can reserve a ticket to the premier as well as go behind the scenes of the production right now by visiting: https://www.thefakefluencer.com/freeticket
Producer – Bitjoin Studios