Blockchain technology has spawned not only a new industry but also a set of subcultures within the cryptocurrency space. While these cultures have certain attributes in common, each group has its own individual characteristics that differentiate them from one another. This article is an anthropological overview by an author with absolutely no knowledge of anthropology. It can be used as a guide to those like herself who may inadvertently find themselves engulfed in a foreign culture, having mistaken one group for the other.
This article was inspired following an incident in which the author was abducted by friendly but obstinate SSID community members in Austria, absconded to Prague and forced to author a quasi-academic paper. Following that experience, the author concluded that if she could be a pseudo-authority on digital identity, nothing was stopping her from writing a pseudo-anthropological study.
This article uses the terms blockchain industry/cryptocurrency industry as a convention to describe the industry that has arisen around distributed computing and decentralization. Some of these communities do not strictly use a blockchain or cryptocurrency but are associated with the technological decentralization movement.
The cultures I explore in this article are:
- Identity Warriors
Unlike many cultures, which have grown organically in certain locations, the blockchain cultures were created by the natural gravitation of individuals to groups of like-minded and like-acting humans. Some of the attributes they have in common is that they are predominantly male, educated, and European or North American populations. Each group speaks a slightly different version of techno-jargon, detailed further below.
It is impossible to distinguish these subcultures by attire or other outward behavioral traits. Rather, one must be attentive to the content of their conversation in order to determine the group affinities. Individuals may bridge two or more groups, but certain groups have almost no overlap. However, adversarial groups do tolerate one another’s presence and enjoy heated debates after which each debater asserts he has won and not one member of the audience has changed their mind.