5 Emerging Narratives Shaping The Crypto Conversation

This article first appeared in Delphi Digital’s Macro Outlook 2019. Sign up for Delphi Insights to get access to the full report (plus a boatload of additional subscribers only research).

Like any nascent industry, one of the key features of crypto is the never-ending battle for the narrative. Narratives are both how we make sense of new phenomenon as well as attempts at self-fulfilling prophecy, designed to incept the community into seeing the world in such a way that is beneficial to one’s position. In other words, market narratives are marketing.

Understanding this does not diminish the importance of narratives…

Crypto is a battle for ideas and attention. To be successful, projects have to understand how the story they want to tell relates to the narratives driving the conversation.

When I’m not curating Long Reads Sunday or streaming or generally yammering on Twitter, I help crypto companies with communications, the outputs of which are strategic (messaging and positioning) and tactical (content production). The approach I take is something I’ve come to call “narrative marketing.” Enough people have asked me what I mean by the term that I’m writing this as a reference point.

In short, narrative marketing is an approach to communications that recognizes that no marketing happens in a vacuum. …

The threads and essays that defined a year that went from the height of mania to something much more interesting

Photo by Tom Roberts on Unsplash

Originally published on Twitter.

Long Reads Sunday #27 — Best Of 2018! Simply put, this is the best crypto content of the year — the most interesting, influential & inflammatory threads and essays. You may not agree with everything here, but you can’t ignore it. For the last time of 2018, strap in — it’s long reads time!

Much of this year was about prying ourselves from the fever dream of free money and non-dilutive capital that was the 2017 ICO frenzy. …

As Gloom Sets In, Expect Even More Competition To Explain What Happened And Where We’re Headed

Photo by Thomas Lipke on Unsplash


When I published the first Crypto Narrative Watch, I made the argument that market narratives are marketing. In other words, when we start to see a narrative emerge, our question has to be “who has incentive for this narrative to become dominant?”

Recognizing market narratives as marketing doesn’t delegitimize them, but simply means we give them less power to influence our actions by remembering that they are all someone’s attempt at self-fulfilling prophecy.

This truth is particularly relevant in the context of today’s bear market. When we last looked at narratives in August, prices had been trending down for all…

Forward to the book “Can You Describe Bitcoin? Ethereum? Blockchain?” by The Bitcoin Podcast

A few months ago, the hosts of The Bitcoin Podcast asked me to write the forward for their new book summarizing 3 years of answers to the simple sounding but often revealing question: “Can you describe <Bitcoin, crypto, Ethereum, blockchain> in 10 words of less.” The book just came out and is available on Amazon, and they’ve allowed me to republish the forward below.

Every disruptive new idea is born fighting for relevance against incredible odds. Will this germ, this spark of an idea be cast to the forgotten junk heap of history or rise ascendant? …

TL;DR: As we transition from a business paradigm of closed-door and centralized to a network paradigm of open and participatory, we’d benefit from recognizing that decision-making is an inherently political process.

An interesting thing happened yesterday. A funding announcement that might have, in other contexts, been greeted with nothing but excitement and optimism instead provoked a mixed-to-negative reaction. What’s going on?

Yesterday, Maker and A16Z announced that the firm’s new crypto arm would be buying 6% of MKR for $15m. …

Complexity theater is when the presentation of ideas is complicated in order to make those ideas seem more valid. It is not limited to the crypto space, but has wreaked a very particular havoc here. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way.

In bull markets, people spout wisdom like Oracles of Delphi and lay claim to success as though blessed by divine sight. Down markets, meanwhile, favor the critics who deftly pick apart the intrigue and excess of the previous phase.

As important as price resets are, this critical review process has an equally important role in the long…

Like any emergent phenomena, crypto is a battle ground for narratives that compete to explain what’s happening, why it’s happening, and what might happen next.

Investors invest against narratives; builders build directionally towards narratives; commentators race to associate themselves with the dominant narratives or, alternatively, to be the contrarian positioning against the conventional wisdom.

The point, of course, is that market narratives are marketing. The incentives to push a narrative can be financial, like an investor sharing a view of the world that would just so happen to benefit them if more people were to agree with them and invest accordingly. In this way, narratives are attempts at self-fulfilling prophecy. …

On this 4th of July, it’s interesting to note that one of the unique properties of blockchain projects is that the same mechanism used to propagate change can be used to disobey and declare independence from the chain. This dynamism is a feature not a bug: forks are the liberty mechanism for blockchains.

Photo by Ursula Spaulding on Unsplash

First things first. What’s a fork?

Forks are tools for changing the consensus rules of a blockchain. Mike Hearn explained this succinctly:

“A soft fork is when the rules of the…protocol change such that old nodes don’t realise the rules are different, and continue to accept blocks…

Startups pattern themselves off the capital available to them. The creativity and diversity of strategies around how crypto economies are funded is not only the first and (so far) most powerful disruption in the blockchain space, but a force that could allow true innovation in the structure and approach of crypto organizations themselves. Put differently, fundraising is crypto’s first killer app.

Photo by Jimi Filipovski on Unsplash

A common critique of the blockchain space is that is a technology without real use cases. …

Nathaniel Whittemore

Strategy & comms for crypto projects & funds. Expansive thinking welcome. http://whittemore.io/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store