What is Ethereum and Why Does it Matter for Creators?

This is the fourth installment in an ongoing series breaking down innovations in Web3 for creators and why it matters to writers, course creators, coaches, consultants, and anyone looking to create value on the internet.

Today, I'd like to discuss a topic that you often comes up in association with Bitcoin, Web3, or the blockchain: Ethereum.

My goal is that hopefully once you've read this article, you'll have a high-level grasp of the historical background of Ethereum, and how it came to be (enough to sound reasonably intelligent to your peers). You'll be able to start thinking creatively about how Ethereum factors in to the future of online business, and building community.

So without further adieu ...

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is a platform created in 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine. Its goal is to become "the world computer." It is the second most popular cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin, however it’s as a platform for decentralized applications that Ethereum really stands out.

To understand Ethereum at a high level, it's important to give definition to 4 concepts:

What is Ether?

Ether is the currency used within the Ethereum network. It's also referred to as ETH because it's the symbol for ether. If you're familiar with Bitcoin, think of ether as the equivalent of bitcoin.

What is Gas?

Gas is the price of using the Ethereum network. Think of gas as a kind of toll fee. The more transactions you make, the higher the cost will be. When we talk about transaction fees, we are talking about gas.

What are Smart Contracts?

Smart contracts are programs that run on top of the Ethereum network. They can perform actions based on events triggered by other smart contracts. Smart contracts are what makes the Ethereum network so powerful, as they have many different real-world applications while remaining immutable and transparent (removing the need of middlemen).

What is a Dapp?

Decentralized apps (dapp) are software applications built on top of the Ethereum Network. These dapps are typically written in the programming language Solidity. As of December 2021, there were over 3,500 dapps on the Ethereum network, and this number continues to grow rapidly.

Ethereum is the first truly decentralized application platform.

This means that no single entity controls the network. No one person or company owns the Ethereum network. Instead, every node runs the same program. And because there is no central authority, the network is more secure than many other forms of technology.

This makes it possible for individuals and organizations to build new kinds of products and services. For example, imagine if you could pay for things using a digital identity instead of credit cards.

Or what if you could use a decentralized app to help manage your personal finances?

In addition, Ethereum provides a way for people to make money by sharing their computing power. In return, they get paid in Ether, a token that powers the entire Ethereum network.

Now that we have a bit of background and overview on Ethereum, and its capacity to power decentralized apps, let's talk about why this matters to creators.

Why is Ethereum Relevant to Your Online Business?

Many of the same reasons Bitcoin is relevant are mirrored with Ethereum, however I believe the most significant use case for Ethereum as it relates to the creator economy in 2022 is centered around how it enables the buying and selling of NFT's.

NFTs are non-fungible tokens. This means that each token represents something unique and permanent that is stored on the Blockchain. There are other platforms upon which to "mint" your NFT, however Ethereum continues to lead the way in terms of popularity and adoption in 2022.

Here are 4 interesting projects within the creator economy that are already successfully integrating NFT's into their business strategy and community adoption models:

1. The Creator Economy Expo Event Tickets

The Creator Economy Expo (CEX) helps creators build viable digital businesses. Their mission is to help bring the brightest minds and most vibrant voices that help content creators develop into successful entrepreneurs who build profitable digital businesses.

The Creator Economy Expo has minted 100 "Never-Ending Tickets" on the Ethereum Blockchain. While anyone can purchase a standard ticket to their annual conference, never-ending ticket holders get lifetime admission to all future events, as well as VIP access to each expo. They also gain access to a private Discord community exclusive to ticket holders.

2. Death Row Records NFT

Music NFT's are a fast-growing sub-category and use case within the broader ecosystem. In early February of 2022, Snoop Dogg announced that he had acquired Death Row Records and intends to make it a NFT-based music label. His goal is to be the first major label to fully embrace the Metaverse.

Here's an example of a recently released commemoration with the Yacht Club, where Snoop has released mixtapes for purchase exclusively as NFTs. There's also a "real-world" tie-in to Ape Fest NYC, happening on June 22nd 2022, however the details of what that actually means for NFT holders has yet to be shared.

Check it out on OpenSea, the most well-known marketplace for NFT's on the Ethereum blockchain.

3. The Invisible College Monetizes Access to a Learning Dao

The Invisible College is a learning DAO that gives you the skills, network, and opportunities to make an impact in Web3. They just completed a public mint where they offered 10,000 "decentraliens" as a store of value. Each individual piece of NFT art entitles holders to access the school, where they can attend weekly live events, and explore new topics, protocols, and projects alongside fellow community members.

The Invisible College is an example of a NFT-based project, however it's not based on the Ethereum Network. Instead, they chose to use the Solana blockchain, based on its reputation for being more environmentally friendly, and having lower gas fees. I chose to share it here on this list, because it's a great example of a blockchain enabled use case for creators that could be launched on any blockchain network (including Ethereum).

One of the issues right now with Ethereum due to it's popularity is that it costs quite a bit to complete any transaction. This is why many developers have begun to investigate other blockchain platforms. That being said - Ethereum has been hard at work on their eth 2.0 technology which promises lower fees and better energy consumption.

Once improved, Ethereum's carbon footprint will be 99.95% better, making it more energy efficient than many existing industries. (ethereum.org)

4. Cabin DAO - The World's First Decentralized City

Cabin DAO is building a decentralized city on top of the Ethereum blockchain. It’s built by creators, for creators. In order to do so, they 're using a combination of smart contracts, and the Ethereum blockchain.

As a member of the DAO, you can contribute in many ways. Their first cabin location is about 45-minutes outside of Austin on a 28-acre property. They regularly gather members for "builder weekends" which feel similar to a habitat for humanity event where individuals can participate in building out the property infrastructure. As of early 2022, the DAO covers flights and accommodations for individuals who would like to contribute to the project as a builder.

If you'd like to visit the property to stay, or for a writer's retreat, they offer a NFT pass that will allow you to make use of their 3 bedroom, 2-bath cabin with over 1,250 square feet of indoor living space, and some beautiful outdoor gathering spaces as well.

I haven't had a chance to experience this project directly, but next time I get get down to Austin, I'd love to drop in and learn more about what is being created by this organization, and their future plans.

In closing, it is my hope that this essay has armed you with a basic understanding of Ethereum, and lit up your creative thinking around possibilities for using this technology to support your meaningful work in the world.

It's a vast, deep topic, but fortunately there are many resources for furthering your education.

How to learn more about Ethereum:

Introduction to Ethereum, Ether, and Gas

What is Ethereum 2.0 (via The Street)

Interested in continuing to learn more about Web3 and Crypto topics that relate to running an online business as a coach, consultant, or course creator?

check out these additional links:

Looking to explore this exciting world of blockchain and Web3 in a deeper way, but not quite sure where to start?

I highly recommend joining The Invisible College.  The Invisible College is a learning DAO that gives you the skills, network, and opportunities to make an impact.

The Invisible College is a school owned by the students where you can learn, build, and create in this exciting new world of Web3.

Joining this organization has been the best decision I've made this year so far for my growth and learning, and I'm excited to see how the organization evolves.

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