Media

People Are Good! - HexTalk Presentation

This is the written version of the speech I delivered at the first ever HEX Conference (HexChange) on January, 7th, 2021

To view or listen to my HexTalk, please click the link, or keep reading below 

Additionally, after talking to HEX's founder Richard Heart, I've made a few changes or additions to the text of this talk to further emphasize my support for HEX compared to some of the other projects I mentioned in the speech. I've surrounded additions in *asterisks*

 

When I was a college student, I did my fieldwork in the Middle East, documenting rogue implementations of sharia law. I embarked on this particular endeavor for a few reasons:

  1. It was easy to get funding for research pertaining to Islamic practices and people

  2. It challenged my “western” conceptual framework of reality

  3. I wanted to understand what societal conditions would need to be met for a group of people to justify violent punishment (and in some cases even death) for those who violated their collective sense of order

The time that I spent in Iran and in the UAE informed my understanding of a people whose epistemology was so different from the one to which I was accustomed that there’s no way I could have learned what I did without actually living among the people who practiced it. As my time in the Middle East drew to a close and rumor spread that I’d soon be leaving, numerous people came up to me and said, “when you go back to America, please tell them: Iranian government is bad, but Iranian people are good”. I responded “same”. Those words and the experiences I had abroad stayed with me and they shaped everything that was to come

Back in the US, I fought with my chair and the committee members of my board incessantly about the direction my dissertation was taking. Eventually, I dropped out of my PhD program in favor of pursuing a less-stressful career path far away from academia. I started doing retail arbitrage instead. A few years went by, and my past caught up with me in a new form: cryptocurrency

A guy who I was dating would not shut up about bitcoin and more specifically about ethereum. Not only did he believe this investment would make him rich in a very short timespan, but he also fervently believed that the technology these cryptocurrencies were built on would change the world. His passion and conviction were contagious. I began to learn about the bigger picture surrounding the whole cryptocurrency movement, and it tied to a lot of the work I had done earlier in my academic career. After a few months of investigating, I came to the conclusion that I should invest in ethereum too. I thought that staking would be implemented later that year {cough, in 2017} or early the next, and ethereum could serve as passive income for me and potentially as a realistic solution for the UBI problem humanity faces. *Today, I believe HEX is more likely to offer that solution for several reasons* 

I invested my life savings, which wasn’t much, but it was everything I had. I convinced my mom, her boyfriend, my sister, her husband, my grandma, every one of my friends who I could get to listen, and complete strangers to buy small amounts of crypto. And then, I revisited some of my old colleagues from the university to see what they thought about this socio-political-economic movement that was taking people from rags to riches (and sometimes back again) in very short timespans. Their responses were varied. Many of them had no interest in anything I was talking about since I’d abandoned academia. Many thought I had become involved with some strange cult. But there was one who always understood that I saw things differently and encouraged me to press on, no matter what he or anyone else thought

Doctor Abdullahi Gallab is a Sudanese freedom fighter and revolutionary turned journalist and sociologist. I owe him an immense debt of gratitude because it was through conversing with him about the groups I saw forming within cryptocurrency that I was able to formulate my original research questions. From afar at first, I watched as members of different crypto tribes formed their collective identities. Bitcoiners, maxis, ethereans, XRP army, and the list keeps going – each group had unique characteristics that carried onto individual members at least to some degree. The more isolated and excluded from the whole a crypto tribe was, the more hostile and maximalish were its individual members

In early 2019, I began contributing to the cryptosphere full-time, when I took a freelance journalist position with a popular crypto news media outlet. Now at that time, the biggest story in cryptocurrency was the most recent hardfork of bitcoin cash, which was BSV. I noticed the media outlet that I was writing for – along with every other crypto media outlet – was bashing the newly minted BSV, primarily for one reason: They hated its founder. I had to talk to him and to the whole community about the trends I’d been noticing and see what they thought about how it applied to their tribe. I proposed the idea that I interview Wright to my editors and they agreed. So I reached out to Wright, who also agreed. It was during the research for this piece that I first came across Richard Heart, but more on that later. So, CSW & I went back and forth a couple of times, and then, I flew to Canada to attend the CoinGeek conference there and see with my own eyes what was going on in this crypto “cult” community. Before I left, my editors, Jameson Lopp, and a number of other big name crypto celebs encouraged me not to go. They told me I shouldn’t give the time of day or media attention to that "scammer", which of course, only made me want to go more

After meeting BSV tribe, I went to another conference in town where I met Kenn Bosak. When I told him where I’d just been, he had the sourest look on his face, and then I outlined my anthropological interest in cryptocurrency and tribalism. So I think that may be the reason why for this past year he’s tolerated my sometimes not so subtle references to HEX, and is now a new member of this community who we’re so glad to have onboard. Anyway, the next day at the Crypto Chicks conference, which is led by Vitalik Buterin’s mom, I had a completely different experience than I had the day prior. People were welcoming and I didn’t feel like an outsider. And on that day, I realized that the people at the BSV conference the day prior were probably nicer to me than people would have been to them at CryptoChicks, and so I told Vitalik’s mom (not knowing it was her)

Iranian Government is bad, Iranian people are good

Anyway, it was this draw to study whichever tribes I thought were most marginalized that first led to my interest in HEX. So I asked Richard Heart to come talk to me about his experiences with crypto tribalism both as a former maximalist and now as a maximalist’s target, and he ignored me, and I kinda moved on to something else. I should thank my friends Amiris Brown and RG3 – for bringing me back into HEX to continue my studies. So when I got to HEX, I started looking for one thing: why were people calling it a scam? And I went back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t find a good reason that stood up under critical scrutiny. And still, I didn’t own any because I didn’t want my judgement to be compromised by the token’s rapidly-rising value. I began to hear and see hexagons everywhere. I dreamt of HEX. Like Ethereum before it, I woke up in the night knowing I should buy some, but unlike ETH this time I was burdened by the inherited tribalism I’d picked up while studying it and by the fear that if I went any further with my support of HEX, I would alienate much of the following I’d worked so hard to build

Over time, of course, things changed. Eventually Richard agreed to let me interview him. I also ended up acquiring some HEX for a TikTok I made and shortly after that, I bought in some more. But it wasn’t easy to overcome those hurdles of being shunned for liking a token that a vast majority disliked without ever having done their own research. *It's worthwhile to note, that unlike many of the other coins and tokens I've researched as a result of my crypto tribalism studies, I put my own money into HEX after learning about it. That's saying something for me: I think HEX has real long-term potential for so many things beyond number go up* 

All communities in which there are elements of maximalism dislike discussions about tribalism. After all, groups that are marginalized need to form collectives to give themselves the strength to continue. Banding together makes people stronger. So it’s no surprise there are elements of maximalism in HEX. Sometimes Hexicans get mad at me because I talk about tribalism too much – in their opinion, but what those who find my academic interest in this crypto-sociological study boring don’t understand is that the reason I think tribalism is a problem in crypto isn’t because I want to disparage collectivism. It’s because when groups close themselves to the whole, we all miss out, and in this case anti-HEX sentiments cost a lot of people a lot of money, and they cost a lot of people friends and business relationships as well. I remarked earlier about the numerous times I feared Kenn Bosak would block me, and while he never pushed that button, many others did. That’s really a shame because not only does it end sometimes long-standing relationships, it also closes the door for collaboration between groups and that’s something that I think is sorely lacking – not only in cryptocurrency but in the world at large. For me personally, it’s a problem because when doors close that limits the scope of my research, and while some may think it silly, it means something to me, and I need your continued support to further advance it

Today, I’m a proud Hexican and a member of the 5555 club, but I never forget

Iranian government is bad; Iranian people are good

Those who reiterated this statement were clearly aware of the growing animosity between our nations, and they wanted American people to know that their beef was with the government not the people of Iran. That’s important because what it means is that war hurts people, not institutions. And while the statement isn’t a perfect fit for HEX & Hexicans, I think there’s still a valuable lesson in there for all of us

Make love, not war. Hopefully, HEX's founder Richard HEART will agree 

You all are great, thanks for your time. I’m Nicole, aka NrdGrl007 (no vowels), and thanks for listening to my HEXTalk

If you'd like to support my work, you can donate here, at cointr.ee/NrdGrl007, or my ETH address is: 0x9B93132ABDbD092c6c813ceBCc979c89412E1172

To learn more about HEX and how it's smart contract works, please view my article: "The Layperson's Guide to the HEX Smart Contract" right here on Publish0x 

Additionally, if you'd like to see me write about something specific, please let me know. I am happy to write about various crypto projects and am not limited in scope to HEX, ETH, etc. I'll write about anything, including non-crypto so drop recommendations if you like 

 
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