Discover more from DT Journal
The Art of Long Term Thinking in Crypto
We may need collective therapy
One of the main issues in the crypto space is the extremely short term vision of many participants. I would even include myself in that.
Fortunes are made — and lost — almost overnight. Today’s hype is tomorrow’s FUD, we seem to be in an inescapable dopamine fueled rollercoaster.
This is detrimental to crypto/web3 achieving its true potential.
The potential of being an alternative, open financial system. Of banking the unbanked. Of giving the power over data back to users.
While most of us recognize that the ultimate aspirations of the space are only going to be realized in the long term, the early liquidity and the excessive focus on trading makes the whole space extremely short term oriented. Even more than the traditional tech startup space.
Of all the criticism the mainstream media and TradFi have to offer us, our short term vision is the one I agree most.
Would be nice to create a sense of long term. Maybe crypto art can help us.
We need collective therapy
From the Book “Art as Therapy”
There is widespread agreement that art is ‘very important’ – but it can be remarkably hard to say quite why. Yet if art is to enjoy its privileges, it has to be able to demonstrate its relevance in understandable ways to the widest possible audience.
The purpose of this book is to introduce a new method of interpreting art: art as a form of therapy. It’s the authors’ contention that certain art works provide powerful solutions to our problems, but that in order for this potential to be released, the audience’s attention has to be directed towards it in a new way (which they demonstrate), rather than towards the more normal historical or stylistic concerns with which art books and museum captions are traditionally associated.
In this book, the authors suggest that we seek to create “an agenda for art” — a way to prompt artist to create art that addresses the biggest concerns and needs of our society.
The Catholic Church used to create a certain agenda for art, by commissioning religious artwork depicting key moments of the Christian faith, moral lessons and imagery of a certain ideal or goal for their community.
The same happened to Communist states, so this is not something exclusive to religions.
Luckily we now live in a liberal, secular society, where the state or the religion are no longer imposing a vision onto individuals. But what we ended up missing in the way is the idea of a certain goal or “agenda” for art.
Our liberal, secular society can (and should) also commission and incentivize certain themes to be explored by artists, but themes that are our desirable societal goals, attending to the individual needs to reduce anxiety, seek love and, as I suggest here foster long term thinking.
The Big Here and the Long Now
The Foundation of the Long Now is building a clock that will last 10,000 years and is famously funded by Jeff Bezos. The idea is to foster long term thinking.
This is how the clock currently stands:
The essay “The Big Here and The Long Now” by Brian Eno, named the foundation and explains the concept. See an excerpt below.
It was 1978. I was new to New York. A rich acquaintance had invited me to a housewarming party, and, as my cabdriver wound his way down increasingly potholed and dingy streets, I began wondering whether he'd got the address right. Finally he stopped at the doorway of a gloomy, unwelcoming industrial building. Two winos were crumpled on the steps, oblivious. There was no other sign of life in the whole street.
"I think you may have made a mistake", I ventured.
But he hadn't. My friend's voice called "Top Floor!" when I rang the bell, and I thought - knowing her sense of humour - "Oh this is going to be some kind of joke!" I was all ready to laugh. The elevator creaked and clanked slowly upwards, and I stepped out - into a multi-million dollar palace. The contrast with the rest of the building and the street outside couldn't have been starker.
I just didn't understand. Why would anyone spend so much money building a place like that in a neighbourhood like this? Later I got into conversation with the hostess. "Do you like it here?" I asked. "It's the best place I've ever lived", she replied. "But I mean, you know, is it an interesting neighbourhood?" "Oh, the neighbourhood? Well that's outside!" she laughed.
The incident stuck in my mind. How could you live so blind to your surroundings? How could you not think of where I live as including at least some of the space outside your four walls, some of the bits you couldn't lock up behind you? I felt this was something particular to New York: I called it "The Small Here". I realised that, like most Europeans, I was used to living in a bigger Here.
I noticed that this very local attitude to space in New York paralleled a similarly limited attitude to time. Everything was exciting, fast, current, and temporary. Enormous buildings came and went, careers rose and crashed in weeks. You rarely got the feeling that anyone had the time to think two years ahead, let alone ten or a hundred. Everyone seemed to be passing through. It was undeniably lively, but the downside was that it seemed selfish, irresponsible and randomly dangerous. I came to think of this as "The Short Now", and this suggested the possibility of its opposite - "The Long Now".
One of the advantages of crypto is that we mostly live in the big here. No other space thinks globally so early.
While we have failed so far to be inclusive, to bank the unbanked and to create monetary technology that levels the playing field across the developing and the developed world, the goal is always there, one way or the other. What we need is to think about the long now.
A call to crypto artists
I’m proposing for Fingerprints DAO, other DAOs I’m involved and collectors to help make this mentality shift by commissioning, incentivizing or giving a platform for art that embodies this agenda.
This could be financial help, but my intuition is that most artists won’t necessarily need this financial incentive — and we’re not in a space that lacks on ways to monetize and finance projects, quite the contrary. What many artists need is a prompt.
What I’ve been feeling we’re lacking is the enthusiasm of a community promoting and getting excited about a collective north star.
This can take multiple forms, and is not really restricted to one particular genre of artwork. Whatever medium or genre the artist think it’s going to be more impactful in achieving the goal.
It’s an open ended request for proposals from artists. Can you make an artwork that either embodies long term thinking or creates a longer term perspective on the viewer, collector or both?
What would be our answer to the clock of the long now? What would be the digital, more artistic version of the clock of the long now?
Bitcoin has emissions programmed until 2140 (but inflation gets very close to zero in 2041) and embodies an idea of replacing a 5000-year metallic monetary technology, and eventually fiat money itself.
It chose to scale in a deliberately slow and cautious fashion to achieve this goal.
Ethereum chose to trade off some of the simplicity for a bit more speed in development, but still aims to create a platform that allows code to live forever (or at least forever-ish).
If we are able to build base layers with longer term thinking, I’m convinced that it’s possible to also create applications, markets and a crypto community that fosters long term thinking. This is the only way we’re truly going to fulfill the original vision.
Collective therapy is what our space needs. Crypto art can show its utility by changing our perspective. This is one of the powers Art has.
Let’s seize it.