Dcentral vs. Consensus: Are institutions “frens” or enemies of crypto?

As a part of an ethnographic study on blockchain organizations, I recently attended two major conferences – Dcentral Con and Consensus – held back-to-back in Austin, Texas during a blistering heatwave. My collaborator, Johannes Lenhard, and I had conducted a handful of interviews with angel investors, founders, and venture capitalists, but we’d yet to conduct any fieldwork to observe these types of operators in the wild. Dcentral, held at Austin’s Long Center for the Performing Arts, and Consensus, held at the Austin Convention Center and other venues throughout downtown, provided the perfect opportunity. The speaker and panel topics at both conferences varied widely–from non-fungible tokens (NFTs), to the metaverse, to decentralized finance (DeFi). At both conferences an underlying debate regarding the role of established institutions repeatedly bubbled to the surface. The differences between the two conferences themselves offered a stark contrast between those who envision a new frontier of crypto cowboys dismantling existing social and economic hierarchies and those who envision that same industry gaining traction and legitimacy through collaboration with regulators and the traditional financial (aka “TradFi”) sector. 

Dcentral was populated by scrappy developers of emerging protocols, avid gamers, and advocates for edgy decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), such as Treat DAO, which allows adult content creators to sell “NSFW” (i.e., not safe for work) NFTs. Attendees at Dcentral sported promotional t-shirts and sneakers, and a few even showed up in Comic Con style garb, flaunting flowing white togas and head-to-toe blue body paint. Over the course of Dcentral,

Read more

Explore the site

More from the blog

Latest News