What happened at Gitcoin's Schelling Point event?

| 3 minutes read

I’m writing these lines with severe dark circles induced by +7h jetlag and intense crypto conference networking. Today’s my second day in Denver, and by being an early bird, I got the chance to participate in Gitcoin’s ETHDenver satellite event called “Schelling Point.” In this post, as in the one yesterday, I reflect on my experiences at the event.

I’ll start with my day’s first highlight, which was the building the event took place. Called “the Sports Castle,” and indeed seemingly passing the “castle glance,” is a building on Denver’s capitol hill that, on closer internal inspection, turns out to be a converted parking garage-made event venue.

While the first floor’s low ceiling makes for a partially awkward viewing experience of the stage, the former vehicle ramps and the building’s compactness create an interesting event vibe. Walking through cheaply assembled crypto startup booths in a former parking garage made my mind wander.

But Am I now doing architecture reviews? Yes and no. I think I want to mention the space’s feel as I found it to be comically opposed to the space’s ascribed value. I’ve overheard today that Ethereum’s chain alone harbors over $2T in assets today: And still, its community meets in an abandoned parking garage.

More importantly, though, this image of technical misappropriation, although that term may be too negatively connotated in the English language, provides an interesting segue into some conversations I overheard today: Namely that the crypto-verse and particularly Ethereum with its programmable money allows developers to create non-skeuomorphic digital experiences. So if in the real world, a parking garage can become a crypto event’s venue, why shouldn’t Bored Apes take Rolex’s place?

This idea was further underlined by the event’s participants and some conversations I had. While there’s a mutual understanding that buying digital sneakers for a metaverse pod is rather skeuomorphic, that line of thinking isn’t representative of the fact that on the metaverse, you can be anything: even a boat that chooses to wear Nike’s.

But it’s true: Within the blockchain, given our hyper normalized suffering, we’ve re-built private property laws skeumorphically. User’s don’t have to occupy the property to continue owning it; it can’t and must not be taken away forcefully. The individual and their consent ultimately determine pricing before the sale. As a Harberger maximalist, what comes to mind then is that we’ve reimplemented private property monopolies without truly ever questioning them. So indeed, it is time to dare and design non-skeuomorphism.

I, for one, appreciate the call for “getting weird(er)” [again] and the renewed commitment of the space to both empirical test and theoretically research what works. Besides that, I didn’t take much more from Vitalik’s talk. He should have mentioned, though, that what they’ve all done with shipping ETH2.0 is a great example of both empirical and theoretical work going hand-in-hand. Kudos to everyone that worked on ETH2. You’re about to make it!

Today’s event at Denver’s Sports Castle was incredibly intense and worthwhile the visit. I hate to reduce it to the following, but after two years of not making the crazy crypto conference mingling experience, I can proudly say that today, though I’m incredibly exhausted, I feel accomplished and happy for having been able to participate. This felt great!

And in case they’ve been recorded and will be released online, I can recommend the following talks:

  • Vitalik’s keynote speech on empirical and theoretical work
  • Beth Mccarthy’s “Building regenerative culture.”
  • The panel on “Regenerative Cryptoeconomics.”
  • Glen Weyl’s talk on “Plurality.”

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, consider checking out yesterday’s, too, “My First Day at BUIDLWEEK & ETHDENVER.


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