My Journey into Ethereum

In this post, I want to share my journey into the rabbit hole of blockchains and how I became rooted in the Ethereum ecosystem. I hope you enjoy it, don’t make the mistakes I’ve made and find value in this post. :)

Intro to Ethereum:

Ethereum is a global, decentralized network of nodes (currently over 9 million), which together form a so-called blockchain. Every node maintains a copy of everything happening on the network. Unlike the Bitcoin blockchain, Ethereum’s Virtual Machine (EVM) can run and execute code known as smart contracts, earning it the nickname "world computer". Users around the world can create a wallet, which is like an account on your computer, that comes with two keys: a private one for accessing the wallet and a public one for interacting with others. Because only you have access to your data with your private key, you have full control over it, and by Ethereum’s interoperable nature, you can take it everywhere with you. Interactions on Ethereum require $ETH, Ethereum's native token. $ETH is used for paying transaction fees, known as Gas Fees, which are distributed to validators who maintain the network. In 2022, Ethereum successfully upgraded to a Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, eliminating its reliance on miners and thus becoming carbon-neutral while also adding deflationary asset characteristics to $ETH. Every decision about the network gets discussed in forums and is made democratically by voting on proposals called Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs).

Good to Know:

Since getting my first PC at age 13, I began creating content on the internet, like YouTube videos and designs for streamers, among other things. I was always eager to learn something new. However, I never earned money because I didn't have a bank account, and those who paid with Paysafecard often scammed me. The first money I earned was in USDC. I worked for a DAO for one and a half years and am still excited about the project and in contact with them.

Where It Started for Me:

It all started in 2021 with the hype around NFTs and DeFi. Many people hated it and many overhyped it. Often, people speak negatively about something based on hearsay rather than informed research. When I heard the hype and hate about NFTs, instead of hating them or hyping them, I dove deep down the ‘rabbit hole,’ watched tons of videos, joined Discord channels, and started to understand what this technology could enable for the internet. When I turned 18, I immediately set up a bank account at a local bank and deposited all the money I had saved and received on my 18th birthday. It didn’t take long before all that money went into Coinbase during the bull market in the summer of 2021. I entered right at the highs and saw how the market crashed. But at this point, I was so into the space, I joined Telegram groups and discovered ROI (return on investment) dApps. These websites were basically Ponzi schemes that onboarded people with YouTube videos and then got drained after 1 week. So, at eighteen, still attending school, I gambled with my birthday money in the evenings. These dApps raised 3 million in three nights and got drained a few days later. I deposited all my money into several different dApps on Avalanche, Fantom, and Polygon. At some point, I was on the verge of losing everything, but one dApp gave me some hope. I still remember sitting in a biology lesson, secretly updating the website on my phone, hoping I could withdraw my money and profits before it was all gone. They were moving tens of thousands of dollars every hour, but on the screen, it was all just numbers. A few hours before there was not much money left in the smart contract, the developers announced in the Telegram group that the website Front-End was shut down and claimed they got hacked. Many lost their deposits, but when I was finally able to withdraw, I went on Etherscan, searched for the contract, connected my wallet, and called the withdraw function. I got all my money out and took my profits. Not because I was lucky, but because I created the conditions for luck by learning how blockchains work and understanding that smart contract code is immutable. However, after this event, I swore to myself that I would never gamble again. And I also realized that some people in the space are ruthless, greedy, and scammers. But the underlying technology works. Like any other technology, it can cause harm in the wrong hands, but the technology itself is neutral.

What Made Me Stay:

After this experience, I wanted to learn, build a skill, and do real work. I thought the one thing incredibly lacking in Web3 was the UX (user experience). So, with the money I had left, I attended an online course on Coursera by Google about UX Design. I did everything after school, feeling that what I was learning was truly valuable and applicable in practice. I learned a lot about design thinking, digital products, and user experience. My final project was a Mobile-App prototype for a Decentralized Identity Wallet, which would allow users to hold a digital identity on-chain and verify they’re human on the internet. When I completed the course and earned my certificate, I searched for a job in the crypto space. At that time, the market was drained because the hype was pretty much over. The only people left were builders and those participating in governance, mostly in DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations/internet communities with a shared wallet/treasury that holds money which community members vote on how to use). I discovered CityDAO and got excited about the project. Their website at that time was pretty basic, but they raised 9 million anyway. On Dework, they had posted some bounties, and one was about redesigning their website using Webflow (a no-code website builder tool). I built my portfolio with Webflow, including a case study mentioning my ID Wallet project “Prive Wallet”. I included that as a reference in the application, and a few days later, a guy named Casey reached out to me on Discord. I hopped on a quick call with him, and I got accepted. Since then, we've had a meeting every week on Tuesday, where everyone shared what they were working on. At this time, I also graduated high school. On our graduation trip to Vienna, Austria, I was building a mega menu and blog for the website, sitting in an IKEA every day, eating 1€ vegan hot dogs, and earning 1000$ in USDC in the evenings.

at IKEA building the CityDAO Website
at IKEA building the CityDAO Website

On the train trip back to Germany, I listened to one of the greatest books, “The Infinite Machine” while everyone else was sleeping. I was wearing short clothes because I had no more space in my backpack that’s why I couldn’t sleep the entire trip. But this was probably one of the best times of my life. I gained a lot of self-esteem during this time. I also got deeply involved in DAO Governance structures. People discussed topics daily in a forum, and after agreeing on a certain action the DAO should take, they created a proposal, and the community voted on it. I truly believe that this is how every kind of money management should work: family bank accounts, associations, non-profits, companies, and even entire countries or a global network. In 2022, Balaji Srinivasan published his book and concept of a Network State, which mentioned CityDAO on the website. This resulted in more participants from around the world like Singapore, Nigeria, and digital nomads. After 1 and a half years, people became more inactive, and I also had a full-time job now at a local news company. At night and on weekends, I learned coding and worked on my projects like a Donation dApp, file storage on Arweave, and a concept for decentralized news media. Unfortunately, I did not manage to turn them into usable products. But I learned so much, which kept me in the space and made me even more convinced that this will be the future of the Internet. I understand the underlying technology and see how it’s becoming more advanced and easier to interact with.

Where It’s Going:

Ethereum is a world computer. A global state machine that could keep track of everything happening online and in the physical world, without being controlled by a central party, enabling the initial vision of the internet. It’s an ecosystem like an infinite garden where everyone can grow and participate. It’s a network where true sovereignty is valued, and users are in control and owners of their data, able to add provenance to the data they create on the network. I believe as AI accelerates the world's productivity, Ethereum will ensure that the growth and value created are distributed among its network citizens. We just need to make sure that it all happens on Ethereum and no longer in private companies with private shareholders and controlled by a few decision-makers.

A few things that are currently evolving and should inspire you to come on-chain:

  • Decentralized social media offers benefits traditional social media platforms can’t provide

  • Artists realize that they can add provenance to their digital work in the age of AI, and that they can finally have true ownership over their work

  • The human verification problem will help prevent fake news and manipulation, unlocking new kinds of possibilities in governance mechanisms and potentially enabling a better, more efficient form of democracy globally

Finally, here are some amazing illustrations from that always inspire me, and I hope you enjoy them too.

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