Dave Kim

004 - Anthro, Metaverses, and Fireflies

Hey Friends,

Welcome to a whole month of the newsletter!

I caught up with a buddy of mine last week, and we had a good laugh about this newsletter. Yes, this newsletter is definitely wide-ranging (some may say it is super random), but it’s also working.

By putting together this newsletter over the last four weeks, I’ve definitely noticed a pattern emerging, both in terms of where my attention naturally goes and what I find super exciting. I’m interested in the Crypto for Good space, and I’ll be dedicating more thought into exploring that space with you all.

Ok, let’s jump in!

1/ Circle is going public via SPAC, valuing the company at $4.5 billion.

2/ As I mentioned earlier, I think there’s an incredible opportunity for anthropologists to study the crypto space right now. (And if a graduate program is reading this and wants to bring me on as a PhD student, well, let’s chat! 🙂). I’m reading Gillian Tett’s Anthro-Vision right now, and she describes three concepts from anthropology that might be extremely useful for crypto communities.

One is the concept of habitus: the idea that we are all creatures of our social and physical patterns. The second is sense-making. The third is about how narratives are created, whether through myth, movies, or the media. She goes on to explain why rituals, symbols, and space are so fundamental in our ability to understand ourselves and the world around us.

If you hop onto Discord (example of space) and join any of the latest crypto-related servers, you’ll quickly recognize patterns, behaviors, memes, and shared humor that collectively work together to create what Clifford Geertz would call a “web of meaning.”

As DAOs navigate the edges of what it means to be a part of the in-group vs. out-group, an anthropological perspective may offer an interesting lens.

3/ Once you start going down the crypto rabbit hole, you’ll inevitably touch upon the concept of metaverses. (OMG, digital world building! Where are you, anthroplogists?!). Check out this primer to go deeper into the topic.

4/ And once you’re in it, read more about why metaverses are somewhat boring and how the barriers to play and experimentation are too high right now.

5/ This past week, one of my tweets caused my phone to buzz all day.

After playing around with Axie Infinity, I get the allure of the play-to-earn model, even if the current implications of it create some expensive barriers to entry (see previous note), resulting in some creative work-arounds (see Axie’s scholarship model). Check out this documentary that explores how people are earning more than the minimum wage by playing this game. 🤯

6/ And here’s a sharp left turn.

A few weeks ago, we had a virtual event with Amanda Nguyen from Rise as part of the good work sponsored by the Gates Asians in Philanthropy employee resource group. We were lucky to learn more about her and her work, and it was a fun surprise to see her in this video. If you want to learn more about the Asian American experience, I’d check it out. Actually, go and check it out. You won’t be sorry.

7/ I love the idea of super teams, and I’ve tried to build the concept into FSP’s work on cash-in cash-out networks. It’s easier to grasp how individuals can form super teams, but I’m curious to see how different organizations can effectively do this too.

8/ Super teams –> ability to swarm intelligently around a topic –> fireflies? Ok, perhaps a stretch, but I thought this article on how fireflies can sync their flashes to be fascinating. And besides, Elle loves fireflies.

9/ Ok, how about this then? Let’s go from fireflies to collective effervescence.

“Collective effervescence is the synchrony you feel when you slide into rhythm with strangers on a dance floor, colleagues in a brainstorming session, cousins at a religious service or teammates on a soccer field.”

10/ Check out https://deadstartuptoys.com/ if you want to go down memory lane. I definitely thought that the cooler was going to be so epic. Ah well.

Best,
Dave