In 2021, more than 50 million Americans left their jobs.
It has become painstakingly clear that our current models of work are not fulfilling or effective for the modern-day laborer. In the past, such rigid structures may have been justifiable – corporate structures reduced the friction and transaction costs of contracting individual work on the free market. However, while such sentiment may have been plausible in the early 20th century, new technology has and will continue to transform how we think about work and coordination (ie: cloud computing!).
Crypto is a prime example of a technology accelerating the future of work. Crypto has already proven to be powerful tool for finance, but it also has allowed the creation of new tools for governance and coordination:
Amidst what seems like an explosion of new DAOs, many decentralized communities emerge as high-growth cities, each with its own goals, structures, economies, and cultural forces that pull visitors in. What also rises with the rapid experimentation is the rise of new labor markets; as people flood into these new cities, we ask—how can we ensure that as we grow, we are cultivating these new digital cities with thoughtfulness and care?
Every city has a school. Crypto, Culture, & Society is one that asks fundamental questions and creates nuanced discourse around what our digital future could look like. To have a collective of scholars, researchers, and learners deeply understand, capture, analyze, critique, and create alongside us is not only paramount to the growth and direction of Web3 but vital to the inclusivity and intellectual vibrance of the space. Most importantly, educational spaces and communities such as this one are the ones who onboard the citizens of the future, and Station is honored to provide Crypto, Culture, & Society the rails to do so.
Station’s mission is to make working for passion accessible to everyone online, regardless of who, and where you are.
One of the most critical components of working for passion is the people. Every great community leader knows that culture is the aggregate of the people in a network. Corporations have entrusted employees as oracles of talent through the process of referrals. Over the past decade, about 30% of new hires in organizations have come from employee referrals. The gaming company Valve goes as far as encouraging every employee to put “finding great people” as their most important job.
However, the traditional hiring process as we know it no longer aligns well with the workflow of increasingly community-driven organizations and digitally-native work, where execution ability and people-orientation matter way more than institutional affiliations and overly-theoretical credentials. To quote a hiring manager of one of the most prominent infrastructure protocols in the space: “I read around 2% of the Linkedin and Email inbound I get. I spend most of my time checking Twitter DMs, who follow them, and look at their blog or Github repo.”
“Real Talk” is an experimental series of raw, unfiltered, unedited exchange between friends over the span of a month.
There’re way too many presumptions in the space and not enough conversations. The two friends — who also happen to be writers and founders — came together on one of the last days of 2021 to have a conversation.
In his seminal 1937 essay, The Nature of the Firm, economist Ronald Coase explained why companies exist—to reduce the friction and transaction costs of contracting individual work on the free market. While perhaps a truth of the past, traditional corporations with bloated management and poor incentives for employees and users no longer effectively create value. Rather than focusing on practicing the craft at hand, tremendous energy is wasted optimizing for zero-sum games of equity vesting, salary negotiation, and organizational politics.
We've seen a collective stirring around redefining work through the creator economy and platform economy, which offer individuals the flexibility and autonomy to discover demand for their gifts. The last generation of innovation in platforms accelerated the inevitable rise of a globally distributed workforce. Companies now recognize that, without a steep increase in transaction or bureaucracy costs, they can flexibly scale up or down throughput through a new class of labor—freelancers.
On the one hand, the silhouette of a self-deterministic, dream-bearing, free-roaming, modern-age worker emerges as an aspiration. Ironically, these workers are also often the most alienated from the fruits of their labor. The dichotomy between 'us' and 'them' is stark. The product sees an absence of credit or attribution to freelancers at an organizational level. While their work may have persisted in sustaining the essence of a product, their very own identity as a contributor is abstracted away by the company.
Many recognize this stark reality despite the compelling narratives around the future of work. While freelancing offers the flexibility in individual lifestyle, individuals may not feel incentivized to invest in the long-term success of the collective. Traditional companies, with rigid hierarchies but abundant resources, make competing for attention internally exhausting for all participants.
“We expect too much of new buildings, and too little of ourselves.”
― Jane Jacobs, The Death, and Life of Great American Cities
One does not call oneself a proper New Yorker if one hasn’t complained about the subway. That citizens endure such agony only reveals how indispensable this infrastructure is. A New Yorker’s life is spent “in transit,” rushing up the stairs to the station platform, getting on and off and to transfer, and feeling relief as the train rumbles over impossible social distances.
It's difficult to discern whether the New York Magazine's piercing cover is mockery, sarcasm, or genuine excitement about the future. DeFi summer. NBA Top Shot. Social tokens to bet on celebrities early. The dazzling velocity with which the words "crypto", "DeFi" and "NFT" get appended to our everyday life has made an indelible mark on everyone's mind.