This essay is going to weave a story of three distinct moments where exposure to blockchain technology changed my life. These experiences ultimately led to the birth of a new service that will be launching key features on the RChain network this December.
Moment One — the Ethereum Crowdsale
I’d first heard of Bitcoin around 2012, but my blockchain journey didn’t begin in earnest until the summer of 2014, when the Ethereum crowd funding sale was launched.
It was like a lightning bolt into my nervous system. It was the first of three fundamental “blockchain moments” when everything in my life changed.
I hadn’t felt such an intense wave of inspiration since New Years Day 1997, when I’d had my first life-changing vision of the internet as it is today. That spark of insight led to a fulfilling career as a web developer, but after spending 17 years building hundreds of websites, things started looking a bit stark… as evidenced by hyper-centralization, major corporate control over most Internet traffic, and a switch from active co-creation to passive consumption.
But seeing that pitch for Ethereum gave me immense hope that a toolkit might be forming. New technologies could help us course correct — not just steer away from a world that was getting increasingly dystopian, but possibly even lead us in a new direction. Possibilities of fulfilling even greater promises than anyone had previously imagined for the net were forming.
Fall 2014 and the Ethereum crowd sale concluded, and it was clear that we weren’t going to get there overnight. The lighting bolt of inspiration hadn’t gone away, but it felt like it had to go into cold storage for a bit.
Moment Two — Vinay Gupta
Flash forward to February 2015, when I found myself sitting in on a lecture from Vinay Gupta at Transmediale in Berlin. If seeing the Ethereum crowd sale was an sharp, instant blast of electricity, then hearing Vinay speak was like being hooked up into a wall socket where the intensity of energy gradually dials up for two hours.
Several fundamentally separate threads of creative and intellectual pursuit converged in my head during that lecture. While weaving that tale would take at least a few chapters of a book, what’s relevant is that from that moment on, I knew I was going to do something interesting with this new blockchain tool.
Grand visions erupted in my head over the course of the next month and after some very critical feedback from a close friend, the idea of something simple emerged… a music streaming service on blockchain.
One thing became quickly apparent as I dove head first into this new music startup called Resonate — that decentralized technology without decentralized ownership is ultimately meaningless.
The simple solution? The co-operative. No other existing business structure mirrors blockchain tech like the co-operative does. It allows for collective ownership, democratic governance and participation, as well as a core mission based on social justice and equality. Distributed power for distributed technology.
It has taken two very intense years to develop the complete scope of Resonate as a service, build up a base of support among various music and developer communities, and chart a distinct course for integrating blockchain tech into the fabric of this new ecosystem. A modest crowd-sale at the end of 2016 led to a basic music player, and the co-op was officially formed in May of 2017.
Moment Three — Greg Meredith
May 2017 proved to be a pivotal month, for it was during an unexpected trip to New York that I randomly bumped into Greg Meredith, the founder of RChain.
I’d known for years who he was, having followed with cautious skepticism the previous incarnation of Greg’s vision in Synereo. And there he was, standing alone, scanning his phone at a Token Summit after-party. After a quick introduction, we decided to meet up again for a longer discussion.
That meeting happened in Berlin two months later, leading to my third, massive “blockchain moment” — a two hour conversation about RChain’s technology (the Rho calculus), its relationship to nature, and the impact music has on shifting cultural landscapes.
While my previous two “moments” had been electric blasts of inspiration, this conversation with Greg had an altogether different quality.
If seeing the Ethereum pitch was like a lightning bolt, and hearing Vinay was like being connected to a wall socket gradually increasing in intensity, then this conversation with Greg was like that moment when everything goes quiet.
The natural world always knows when something big is about to hit… earthquakes, tsunamis and the like. When the animals and birds go for high ground, you can be assured that something is coming. This chat with Meredith had that quality — an awareness that you’re at one of those apex moments when everything is about to shift, and you know the world will never be the same again.
My understanding of blockchain has always been intuitive. As a web technologist, I had never really surpassed CSS mastery, and there was no way I could technically evaluate what I had now committed my life to. So while I’d never be able to understand the math behind RChain’s core architecture, there was one thing I knew had to be true — that if anything in blockchain was to scale, it would have to mirror natural systems, rather than strictly human forms.
And that was one of the key threads of that life-changing conversation with Greg Meredith — that blockchain could emulate nature, providing a nearly infinite ability to replicate and support life. Having long observed nature as the ultimate Abundance Generator, I was woozy with the visions stirring in my head. If Greg’s perspective of blockchain as an emulator for natural systems felt like a solid anchor into the earth, then his passion for both music and co-operatives was like a warm wind to lift us to unknown heights. Here was somebody in blockchain that I really wanted to work with!
In that initial two hour chat (which stimulated a series of always stimulating weekly calls) Greg pledged to support Resonate so we could build out the service on the RChain platform. In March of 2018, that promise came to fruition via Reflective Ventures, and to say that things would never be the same is something of an understatement.
The process of going from years of sporadic volunteer support to being empowered to hire 20 dedicated team members has been nothing short of breathtaking. A quick visit to our blog reveals a small sample of what we’ve been able to accomplish these past five months. But given all that we’ve currently published about our plans, I can assure everyone that this is only the beginning.
I’m convinced the world is about to be hit by a tsunami of RChain-powered change when the system goes live in December 2018. While some might see this force of nature act in a disruptive fashion, it feels much more like a wave of creative, rather than destructive, change.
Resonate and our partners in a new music ecosystem will be riding that wave. And being a music service means we’ll be serving up countless surf anthems as we see where this amazing technology and community carries us. 2019 is sure to be a wild ride!
If you’re planning to visit the RChain Developers conference in Berlin, please make sure to find a Resonate staff member and say hello — we can’t wait to meet more members of the community in what is effectively our backyard!