I've spent the past few days thinking about how Steem can continue to succeed. My answer is community and outreach. Steem incentivizes community building and growth. Why does this matter? I'm going to take you back to 2013, London.
Almost everybody who was anybody in Bitcoin converged at 'Bitcoin London'. An Editor with TechCrunch Europe tweeted that Bitcoin London was a “perfect storm of entrepreneurs, VCs (who stayed the whole day), Utopianists and borderline autistic super geeks.”
I’m one of the geeks. Although, there’s no way I’d call myself a “super geek.” My thing is communication. I jump in, bring people together, and solve problems. Yeah, I can be too blunt from time to time. But I’m good at bridging the gap between suits and guys like me who are serious about technology.
Geeks went to London to see what other developers were doing. To ask for help, because many of us were in our twenties and had little experience running businesses. We went to find whatever we needed. Whether it was money. Or advice regarding the byzantine maze of government regulations. Or fresh perspective on tactical decisions.
We went because techies need playdates. At home we eat, drink, and hunt for love in front of our computers. We fart at will because no one is there to object. And, yeah it’s true, we con ourselves that video Skyping is real face-to-face interaction. We went for the sensory experience of getting drunk, backslapping, and sharing awesome meals with good friends. Way different than scarfing down the usual crap alone at our desks.
Many of us went to reminisce about the old days when we, the brotherhood of geeks, the future of great things everywhere, were the only ones who understood what the fuck a cryptocurrency was. Or how to buy Bitcoins. Or where to spend them.
We went to talk strategy. Should we figure out how to comply with their crazy rules and regulations? But no matter how we split over this debate, we agreed that central banks were a problem. They were printing notes willy-nilly with no regard for tomorrow. It was up to us to give people control over their own damn money.
We went with heartfelt purpose. Because every one of us agreed with Bitcoin Jesus, otherwise known as Roger Ver. He said, “Bitcoin is the most important invention in the history of the world since the Internet.”
Roger was my first outside investor, now a great friend. When he heard about the benefits of Bitcoin—privacy, little fees, no banks to freeze accounts—he didn’t sleep for three days. He made himself sick with enthusiasm and later earned his nickname by giving away Bitcoins just to spread the word.
Bitcoiners don’t have one central leader. But Roger’s unflagging commitment defines who and what we are as a community. The month before the conference, he leased a billboard between San Francisco and San Jose, shelled out $1,500 per month for a prime location, and threw down the gauntlet. He advertised Bitcoin as the “honey badger of money.” His message: We’re here to stay.
The reference is to a loopy video that went viral on YouTube back in 2011, 66 million views and counting. The narrator, his voice a mix of sarcasm and reverence, describes the fearlessness of an animal that chases cobras into trees and devours them. Honey badger was everywhere during Bitcoin London, a constant reminder that nothing could stop us. No wonder we’re scary to people like Paul Krugman, the economist who wrote an op-ed in the New York Times entitled, “Bitcoin is evil.”
Grumpy old men don’t get us. Which is fine because nobody under twenty-five reads their columns anyway, unless there’s a link on Hacker News. They don’t come to our conventions. They don’t hear our success stories. Like when I texted Bitcoin to China because a family here in New York couldn’t rely on banks to wire money in time for an emergency operation.
It beats me why anybody thinks digital currencies are evil. Maybe it’s because of the people behind it. We’re brash. We keep weird hours. We’re intense. We get wrapped up in our work. We forget to shower, to shave, and sometimes to eat. We have a hard time communicating with people who don’t have a clue about coding.
You can think whatever you want about us. We’re good. We’re pure. We’re genuine. Or, we’re evil. We’re cultish. We’re a mob of snot-nosed kids, crude, socially unacceptable blowhards who think we know more than we know. You decide.
I went to London for one delicious, irresistible reason: These are my people.
You guys are my people.
What can we do to educate and grow the community?
(Some of the people in the top picture: Charlie Shrem, Erik Voorhees, Ira Miller, Cindy Zimmerman, Courtney Warner, Justin Blincoe, Ashe Oro, David Bailey, Roger Ver.)