Crypto as Culture, Crypto as Tech

'Why' vs. 'How'

June 20, 2024


This post first appeared on Warpcast.


Eventually crypto will feel invisible—just the underlying technology powering products and services we use every day. You’re already seeing this a bit with stablecoins powering fintech apps and wallet-as-a-service providers abstracting crypto. It will be how things work.

But today, crypto is not just underlying plumbing. For lots of people building here, crypto is also why they are here.

There’s a myriad of reasons “why,” and many different cultures within crypto: the libertarian strand cares most about economic freedom; the cooperative strands cares most about equity; the cypherpunks care about censorship; the technologists care about permissionlessness; the memers care most about the lulz/profit/sticking it to the man; and the amateur airdrop farmers care about getting a piece of the action. These cultures of “why” are the dominating force driving the space forward today. 

A perennial question to keep in mind is where we are in this evolution from crypto as the “why” to crypto as the “how.” For most of the projects I work with, I still lean into crypto as the “why.” We are still in the early innings, and tapping into users’ authentic motivations is often the best strategy for building for a small but die-hard user base.

Over the years, we’ve seen mainstream culture adopt elements of crypto culture and crypto culture move closer to the mainstream. The Bitcoin ETF is a case in point example of this: the pie grows biggest when we meet somewhere in the middle.

As Steve Jobs said about the first iPhone, users’ “thumbs will learn” the new technology, and so I believe the most interesting opportunities will not abstract crypto away entirely, but focus on the most intuitive ways to make net-new, crypto-native experiences accessible.



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