Cardano, Ethereum, Branding, McCann, centralized corporations and decentralized development

Whilst watching the McCann development bts video, I had a number of thoughts.

Cardano was referred to as a company.

Cardano’s users were referred to as consumers.

The need to unify what Cardano represents into a single symbol was voiced in the same breath as the need to give everyone a voice. These two ideas are incompatible.

The lead message, “Making The World Work Better For All”, implies there is a small group deciding how to make the world better for a non-consenting majority. It’s clear to me McCann doesn’t understand what global decentralization means. It’s not posturing. It’s not a message that gets people in the mood to consume your products. It’s not a business model. Cardano is not the next Coca-Cola, or Apple, or whatever else…

Let me paint a picture for you.

Ethereum was always meant to dissolve into a perpetually expanding infrastructure of technology. Eventually there will be no unifying brand, as that would restrict the growth of new ideas.

Individuals will spontaneously make their own short-lived brands to represent the multitude of fleeting data compositions we will generate every day. Symbol making and communication will be created from the bottom up. There will be no centralized power to “push power to the edges”. Power will grow anew FROM the edges, no pushing will be involved. Derived from the word ether, it’s clear Vitalik and its early supporters understood this inevitability. It’s the best they could do to verbalize that which can’t be verbalized. It’s a brand with an intentionally short half-life.

But what I believe Vitalik got wrong, was we do not yet live in the decentralized world required for successful decentralized development. Charles got it right when he chose to start a for profit, centralized corporation to kick-off a solid bedrock to launch from.

But for long term success, this centralization should be intentionally eroded in pace with, but not ahead of, the world’s ability to support decentralized technology. In my opinion, Cardano represents working within the limits of now, while Ethereum represents the inevitable, but not yet attained, fantasy of the future.

Cardano is the name of an individual person, a single source of ideas, centralized. In many ways this is antithetical to Ethereum. The name-brand Cardano is very much in the vein of centralized power and idea distribution. The truth is, people are not symbols, and branding is a hack for an inability to ingest, process, translate and represent all voices. That is the essence of symbol making, it’s an embrace of the inability to represent all. Decentralization is the solution to this inability. It empowers all to make their own symbols.

I was hoping we would all have a chance to make symbols to represent Cardano, but the McCann bts video made it clear that Cardano’s symbol making would be relegated to a trusted few. I do not feel listened to, and I have seen I am not alone in this. This is where I begin to worry that Cardano will fail to erode its branding over time, and may instead begin to fetishize the process of symbol making. Branding does not stem from the majority. It empowers a minority to preach at a targeted demographic. In that way, I wish Cardano could take some notes from Ethereum, and let the branding dissolve into the amorphous multitude of voices currently inhabiting the planet.

The internet is not a company. People who use the internet are not “consuming” the internet. Declaring that Cardano is a company is similarly obtuse. Charles comparing Cardano to the internet clashes with McCann’s messaging in this way.

I think many understand what I’m saying and would agree, but there are a lot of mixed messages coming from people who may have a more traditional career history, and see Cardano as their next career check mark, and are failing to fully ingest what crypto projects like Cardano and Ethereum are doing. It’s clear many underestimate the changes that are coming, and overestimate the applicability of previously learned domain expertise.

Even Charles buying an old video game IP, with plans to make his own game, is partially ignorant of how intellectual property law will evolve given the deep impact synthetic media and low cost production tools will have by obliterating the business models of large entertainment studios. They lack imagination outside their immediate area of expertise. This overconfidence can be presumptive, oppressive and suffocating to those who are more engaged, but less empowered.

In a way, I think Vitalik and Charles never stopped working together, even if they don’t speak anymore. Charles recognized what needed to happen back in 2014 to successfully build a strong foundation using the tools available to the centralized world we still live in. While Vitalik executes according to his intuition for where this is all going. I hope they, we all, can meet in the middle one day soon.

1 Like