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ETH Exemplified: Frameworks for Building Decentralized Communities

Adeola Ogunwole at the Community Leadership Summit #2

Adeola Ogunwole is an independent consultant specializing on blockchain and the decentralization ecosystem.

In this talk at the Community Leadership Summit #2, Adeola explains why she believes Ethereum is a good model for the future and offers a few insights on how to nurture relationships within your community.


This is the most corporate title I could probably ever come up with, but in terms of just really using Ethereum, I really wanted to answer first the question why ethereum is a good model, because as you'll probably see, I'm a consultant. I'm not working for a specific organization, and Ethereum is in terms of thinking about the future a great example of that. It's not a company, it doesn't have a project plan, doesn't have any centralized planning, it just has engaged people in a community of which I feel like I'm a member of.

Ethereum as a model of the future

Why is ethereum a good model for what we think about for the future? First and foremost, it truly is a global community. When a company says they are global, you usually still have this kind of country of origin. I’m an American and I've worked for a lot of American centric organizations and oftentimes they're like, “Oh yeah, we have a global community. We have people in Canada.”

Being a part of the Ethereum community you see that ethereum goes all the way across from Rio to Berlin to Singapore. It is a community that is actually truly decentralized and global. Another good factor in terms of Ethereum being a good model for the future is that it's young. There are very few barriers to entry. So for me as a nontechnical person to say I'm a part of this somewhat complicated technology is exciting. You can see that it is really impacting a lot of lives globally because a lot of people feel like they can be a part of ethereum without really having to ask for permission.

The third most important part about why Ethereum is the future is that it has diverse applications. I'm currently working for a university in Africa. What's exciting about that for me personally is impact. People just looking for opportunity and specifically within Ethereum it just gives people all of that opportunity. For many people Ethereum has a lot of crypto connotations and financial impact. When I go to Africa they're like, “Ah, rights, things that I just didn't have before. I now can say that I actually own the home and it's not something that is disputable because it's been in dispute for such a long period of time.” So it's exciting to have that be a part of the model in terms of Ethereum to just make this a good case for what we think about for communities and community building.

Allowing subgroups to flourish

So in terms of the three best practices around community building. The first one is around engagement, credibility, and interest. Specifically when I think about engagement within Ethereum, I think about allowing subgroups to flourish.

So again, I am not technical, but I somehow have found my way into The Fellowship of Ethereum Magicians. I'm stumbling saying it because when it comes out of my mouth, it sounds silly every single time! The whole goal behind this subgroup is thinking about the technical improvements behind and to support Ethereum’s growth [I’m taking liberties in the language for context].

For me, being a nontechnical person, it's exciting to be in that subgroup that has a very particular focus. So it's not driven by anyone. But by having these kinds of focuses and groups behind it, it helps move everything towards a broader goal.

The credibility of saying I don’t know

And then credibility and trust. A lot of people talk about being human and actually I don't like that concept, because human beings are bad. We lie to each other all the time and if we were brands and we did that, that would be awful. So when I think about it more so from that standpoint, it is this credibility of saying, “I don't know”. Ethereum is a community where there isn't a centralized organization, nobody's concerned about shareholders, stakeholders and brand reputation.

It's really easy for people to say, “I don't know, I haven't solved this yet. I don't know where this is going. We need your help. “ So even with the horrible connotations with  crypto twitter, it's just nice being a part of an element where people are readily available and having that credibility of saying, we know what we know, we know what we don't know and we're really looking for others to help.

Education trumps hype

The second point is education trumps hype. With hype comes a wave of interest, but past that wave, you really do have this kind of a suck of energy that comes in afterwards. Right now you have the crypto winter [of many tokens losing substantial value],  so value isn't there just from the financial standpoint. So what else is going to drive people?

You really need to educate people about the actual purpose of what you're trying to build. And that's hard when you don't have a singular product, but have a lot of different projects that are still building out their capabilities on top of Ethereum. They don't have anything that's in market. There's no centralized planning. Educating people again around the bigger mission behind it is really what's going to cause a lot more engagement. So for people like myself, I'm working on an education aspect within the Fellowship of Ethereum Magicians, and that gives me a lot of value because I can see a lot of applications behind this.

People will drastically realize we need to meet in person

And then last but not least, is choosing the right medium and meeting format for outcomes that you desire. I think there's a lot of hype around building online communities. I actually, this is probably my hot take, think online communities will get to a point where people drastically realize that you need to be meeting in person.

You see that in the Fellowship of Ethereum Magicians. You can have all these long diatribes on the forum where you never get to any conclusion, but if you actually want to move things forward, sitting people in a room and talking about it, is a much better format than actually trying to write about this and having a non mediated format. I think you're going to see a lot more of these person to person interactions happening in the future.

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