Electronic music futurist, Gramatik, released a groundbreaking song and accompanying video, highlighting the development of money. With all the trash in popular culture when it comes to cryptocurrency (drugs, terrorism, etc.), his ‘Future Crypto’ is a welcome respite. Speaking of trash, Netflix greenlights Vox’s horrible episode five in its first season of ‘Explained,’ where it falls prey to every mainstream cliché.
Gramatik Sets the Bar High with ‘Future Crypto’
Sometimes in the crypto space, there’s a tendency to make every aspect of it a goddamn joke. Jokey videos. Jokey songs. Jokey memes. Why take this stuff seriously? Isn’t it just magic internet beans! Irreverence has become tiresome. Some of us are here for the art as well as thumbing our noses at The Man. And when math is done about the world-impacting potential of decentralized, stateless cash, it does seem at times much of what is passing for humor is at least misplaced.
Enter Gramatik, electronic dance music artist, DJ. He’s bringing back a reverence, a seriousness to the project with his release of ‘Future Crypto.’ As it happens, the best way to listen is by finding able speakers, ones capable of some bass and volume. Position them stereo, if you’re able, so as to get the sound right between your eyes. Press play.
Youtube isn’t known for its audio fidelity, and in fact it can dull tracks with nuance, be they highs or lows. Gramatik has foiled that problem, as I hope you’ll hear. It’s a collab with BRANX, and the song is almost a year old. At 2:28, it’s also not going to soak up your time — it’s a perfect slot, actually. Beginning with a hard clap and thump, the dominant beat is a callback to Parliament-Funkadelic jams of yore, only slowed way down. A plodding march through commercial history is what it brings to mind, and that might be the video’s graphic influence making that connection for me now that I think about it.
Produced by Supermassive and Zach LeBeau, the graphics are stunning. The scene opens with humankind’s earliest reason to record, in written form, history: transactions. Fish for shells is the operative slide, and then the video dutifully marches off through distributed ledger evolution. In a few short seconds, the story of just who controls half of all transactions, money, weaves through medieval bouts, gold bugs, up to modern nation state crackdowns of domestic populations and worse. It shows the symbiotic relationship between technological advancement, freedom, and social control, each seemingly leading to the other.
‘Future Crypto’ is also a bit of an infomercial, a reminder of Gramatik’s initial coin offering of last year. He explains his overall motivation, “Our species is advancing. Shouldn’t our currency be doing the same? With this being the first piece of content being made since the token launch + ETH raise, I wanted to explain to my fans what Future Crypto is really about. Future Crypto is dedicated to the importance of leaving Big Business + Big Banks out of curation and creation. Cutting out the middleman. I really think Isaac Asimov said it best with ‘The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.’”
Netflix Sucks for Airing Vox’s Trashy Crypto Episode
I actually dig some of Vox’s online content, especially their viral, more topical vignettes. They’re usually thoughtful and poignant. And so it was I embraced their announcement to team with online streaming giant, Netflix, to produce a season of short takes on issues of the day. When I read cryptocurrency would be among the episodes of Explained, I was very much looking forward to what they’d deliver.
Trash. Straight trash. The great Paz Gómez of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) puts it bluntly: “Instead of addressing misconceptions and increasing public understanding, however, [Netflix and Vox] double down on the scare-mongering that has been the staple of shallow tech journalism.”
The episode goes negative, and fast. Crypto is mostly used for drugs and shadowy illegal services, Vox claims, falling into well worn canards. It “ignores the fact that the US dollar is still the preferred currency of choice for criminals. It also asserts that established services are more ‘convenient,’ even if they sometimes abuse our trust. If people were satisfied with the status quo, would they be investing so much money and effort to build alternatives? The established institutions would have nothing to fear,” Ms. Gómez rightly contends.
And while Silk Road, and other such sites, are indeed relevant to crypto’s evolution, there is a way to tell that story without appealing to the lowest common denominator, as Vox does. Ms. Gómez bristles, “The blockchain is revolutionary in deploying several mechanisms, namely game theory and algorithms—proof of work, proof of stake, and so on—to encourage network participants to behave correctly. The documentary ends with a cautionary tale about trust in technology, but millions around the world are proving that cryptocurrencies can give us back our financial independence and privacy. Isn’t that the whole point?”
What do you think about popular conceptions of crypto in the media? Let us know in the comments.
Images via the Pixabay, Gramatik, Multimedia image credit: Supermassive / Story by Zach LeBeau
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