Longtime listeners likely know about my newsletter which is called The Crowd, or Just Another Crowd if you want to be super proper about it. I started it in 2013 when my friend John Bracken said something like “Hey Sean, is there some place you keep track of all the different and interesting things you talk about on Twitter?” There wasn’t, and until then I hadn’t considered that anyone would want such a thing because I talk about a lot of weirdly different things all the time. Until then I’d assumed that the technology people who followed me only cared about the technology stuff I was talking about and was annoyed by everything else, and that the art people who followed me only cared about the art stuff that I was talking about and was annoyed by everything else, and the music people who followed me only cared about the music stuff I was talking about and was annoyed by everything else, etc. You get the idea. It hadn’t occurred to me that technology people might be interested in art stuff, and music people might want to hear about tech stuff. Or that anyone simply thought “I never know what Sean is talking about, or is going to talk about, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be interesting.” Turns out a lot of people thought that. Anyway, this newsletter became a place where I could stream of consciousness ramble about things that happened to catch my attention. No set schedule or topic or length. Over the years I’ve wrestled with that myself wondering if I should make it more focused to better market it to a wider audience and I’ve always come back to “fuck that” and realizing the value of it is that it’s a group of people who are open to lots of topics, not always ones they agree with or care about but they trust me to point them in interesting directions, or provide a point of view they hadn’t considered. I myself like things like that, and I’m glad the newsletter has found people with similar thinking.
Anyway, over the last 8 years I’ve sent more than 250 emails to that list and I think subscribers would agree no topic has been off limits. Which makes it that much more amusing when someone rage quits because I said something they disagree with, or ventured into a topic they are uncomfortable with. I like that it’s kind of become its own filter in some ways.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about social tokens, and I say that knowing half the people reading this will be nodding and the other half will be WTFing. Social Tokens are kind of currency, but social rather than financial. More about reputation, membership or standing within a community, less about money as we normally think of it. While there’s lot of ways this can be used, what I’m most interested in is a token that, by holding it, grants you access to a community or represents your support of that community. Which you could buy (boring) or earn (interesting!) by engaging in actions connected to or endorsed by or in support of said community. Friends With Benefits is a good example of some of this and a perfect example is that in order to get access to the FWB Discord server you have to own a certain amount of $FWB tokens – which you can buy, earn, or be given. Inside the discord, everyone knows if you are there you are either financially supporting the community or you’ve done something that another community member found valuable. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s interesting and we’re all still learning as we go. I’m talking to other people about what they might do with their own social token and as I have a bad (or good) habit of using myself a guinea pig I started wondering about how I might use them as well. Which of course makes me wonder what my community is? And that of course leads me to my newsletter.
So with that in mind, I’ve gone ahead an issued $CROWD tokens. Or $CROWD coins if you prefer. $CROWD is a standard ERC20 token. I’ve minted these on Matic which is Layer 2 sidechain of Ethereum. Again, that either made perfect sense to you or left you scratching your head. Both reactions are perfectly acceptable. Ethereum is one of the big two cryptocurrencies but it’s currently having scaling problems and there are a number of solutions, layers built on top if it, to address those. Matic is one of those solutions. What this tends to mean is that to use it you have to jump through a few hoops. Which is a small price to pay for getting to play with some awesome stuff. I’ll talk about how and why I did this in a moment, but first I need to address those hoops. Matic is also Proof of Stake rather than Proof of Work which means it uses considerably less energy than Layer 1 Ethereum.
***Warning: I’m about to get step by step technical. If you already know or don’t care about just skip down a bit.
If you have received or are hoping to receive some $CROWD, you’ll need to do a few things to interact with it. There are many ways to do that, this is one of them. If you don’t already have the Metamask extension installed you’ll want to install it set that up following the instructions it provides. Metamask is a browser based Ethereum wallet that will let you interact with any number of Web3 applications, as well as receive Ethereum based tokens like $ETH or $CROWD. Out of the box Metamask will default to using the Ethereum Mainnet and will allow you to switch to a few different testnets. But we want Matic Mainnet which we’ll need to add by hand. Luckily that’s fairly simple to do by following the instructions provided here. But briefly, click on the Metamask Icon in your browser, click where it says “Ethereum Mainnet” and then in the dropdown menu select the bottom option “Custom RPC” which will open up a form that you’ll fill in like so:
Network Name: Matic Mainnet
New RPC URL: https://rpc-mainnet.maticvigil.com/
Chain ID: 137
Currency Symbol: MATIC
Block Explorer URL: https://explorer.matic.network/
Once you add that network you’ll probably see “Matic Mainnet” where it used to say “Ethereum Mainnet” which is good, however you’ll want to remember to switch back to “Ethereum Mainnet” later when you are done playing around on Matic. But while you are on Matic, you’ll need to do one more thing to see the $CROWD that you may or may not have already received. Click on the Metamask icon once again and scroll down under the “Assets” tab at the very bottom you’ll see an option to “Add Token” – click that. Again you’ll be presented with a form, though you only need to fill out the first field, the rest will then auto-populate:
Token Contract Address: 0x4744fE720055cC2f794b48993F1BA57F07F962E8
Click next and then add/save that and you are golden. Your Metamask now knows to look on the Matic Network for a token called $CROWD. If you have some already, you’ll see it listed under your assets. If you don’t and you want some, now is a good time to remember that I named this token after my newsletter.
Hey Sean! How the crap did you make your own social token?
I used a service called Coinvise. It was limited, but fast and easy and free. If you have an account there you can follow me. This is not the only way to do it of course. You could also write your own contract using this wizard provided by Open Zeppelin. That option is feature packed and super customizable and after many many many hours of fucking with it I couldn’t get it to validate. I’m sure someone much smarter than me would have no problem. That’s also free. There are other paid services that will do it for you that have different options at different price points, but obviously I considered all of these options and decided Coinvise was the way to go. For me. For my purposed. YMMV.
Hey Sean! Why the crap did you make your own social token?
For fun? Look, I’ll be honest – I rarely have any idea why I’m doing things, but often figure that out along the way. I think this moment, right now, on the web is more exciting and has more potential than anything I’ve seen since the late 90’s. I feel like we have a chance to correct a lot of the mistakes that were made during Web 2.0 and I think social tokens will play a roll in that. What roll exactly remains to be seen. If you own some $CROWD right now that’s basically bragging rights and not much else, it means you know me and I gave you some. In the near future it might give you access to special channels on my Discord server. The NFT Marketplace OpenSea now supports Matic, so in theory I could sell some NFT’s there and only accept $CROWD as payment. There could be special websites that you can only get into if you are holding $CROWD. Before too long it could mean someone else gave you some for some other reason. The potential uses are limitless and I’m just starting to explore and experiment with it. If you’ve made it this far, that’s probably why you are here too. I think this is going to be fun, and thanks for being part of The Crowd.