If you were to describe what crypto represents in its entirety, either to the insiders who are obsessed with it or to the “normies” looking on with wonder from the outside, you might focus on technical issues related to immutability, censorship resistance, smart contracts, decentralized exchanges and so forth. Or you might use the language of finance and “asset classes” to talk about bitcoin as “digital gold” or ether as a commodity token that runs a decentralized network.
But to capture the full picture, you’d also need to deal with all the strange, sometimes obscure, sometimes crude, occasionally funny memes that constantly course through Twitter and work their way into the crypto lexicon.
That’s important, not only because memes are integral to the crypto experience on their own, but because they are also driving some of the shifting ideas around money and finance generally. This, after all, is the era of SPACs, “stonks” and meme shares that rise because Reddit groups like WallStreetBets manage to bring the power and collective will of the mob to markets.
In many respects, that traditional world of finance is only catching up with crypto. Dogecoin, the ultimate meme token, might be hitting headlines now with its latest spectacular price rally as it is following on the heels of the WallStreetBets GameStop phenomenon. But dogecoin really precedes it, having been around since December 2013. You could argue that dogecoin is the original stonk.
This episode makes the case that if you’re going to try to understand how money is being reimagined in the new era, you need to go beyond the technology and the market dynamics and address the confusing cacophony of memes that drive the narratives around crypto.
To do that we were joined by two people who’ve inserted themselves into this grand, collective storytelling exercise with more influence than almost anyone. We talk to Nathaniel Whittemore, host of CoinDesk’s “Breakdown” podcast, and Coin Center’s Neeraj Agrawal, to discuss the importance of all this to both the outside world and the strange but fascinating subculture that has formed around the crypto community.