awarm.spacenewsletter | fast | slow

Retreating to values

This is going to be a bit of a short one as we (the hyperlink team) just got back from our first retreat, and I am pooped.

One of the things you talk about during a retreat is values. What are the things you think are important, in how you work, what you do.

In the past, my values were expressed through the technology I used. The fathom project was intertwined, from the start, with Ethereum, and peer-to-peer technology more broadly.

During one night of the retreat I was explaining why that choice made sense at the time. I had a vision for an educational system rooted in both individual agency and collaboration and interdependency. A postive-sum replacement for the zero-sum, competitive educational system we have today. Ethereum was a practical choice to implement such a system, but it also shared many of the same values.

Ethereum enables an open, exensible computing environment, where infrastructure can be built and leveraged by individuals, to achieve social outcomes. It accomplishes this through cryptography and consensus systems. It's technology remains mindblowing to me to this day.

But, as Bryan Cantrill talks about values shift. When I look at the Ethereum community today, it's not entirely clear if the same values that drew me to it are still held.

The prevailing narrative today is DeFi, decentralized finance, which thus far is proving to be as opaque and divorced from reality as it's centralized predecesor's worst forms. It, like the ICO craze, is a zero-sum game.

Of course, these things ebb and flow. The Ethereum community is not one static thing, and one of the most amazing things about it is it's carrying capacity for plurality. DeFi is only really possible because of the openness and extensibility of Ethereum smart contracts ("money legos"), and the pro-social work of many who have been inching towards the realization of their values for years.

Ultimately what directs the values of Ethereum is less the underlying technology (though that definitely has a significant impact!) but the people who beleive in it, and who see something of it in the future, and build it.

With hyperlink, I think our values are expressed in a diversity of ways. Our technology is pretty boring, but it works, and it let's us very quickly build features people care about. Our ~vibe~, as expressed through the images and words, communicates it as well.

But the way I'm most proud of and excited by is the people. Both of my co-founders are absolutely incredible and I'm thankful to be working with them every day. They push our values forward in ways I couldn't even start to. And the course creators who launched courses in our first batch are all so cool. Every time we run a meta course I'm surprised and delighted by the diversity of people excited to dive into subjects they care about and make learning happen.

Obviously I can't let go of the technology that excites me either. And there's a lot of our values that aren't expressed yet in anything we build. But with people this good, I'm sure we're heading in the right direction.