Ok, so we were invited, which doesn't quite count as crashing, and the bombs dropped were made of pure knowledge and vibes, but the event wasn't the usual Web3 or Blockchain conference filled with true believers who pitch their tents in the same rabbit hole each night.
Media Party is the flagship event put on by Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires, one of the more ambitious and impressive chapters of the Hacks/Hackers network that brings togethers coders, builders, designers and technologists with product people, writers, journalists and others from the media world.
JournoDAO was invited to give a keynote and workshop on Web3 at the tenth annual Media Party at Ciudad Cultural Konex in central Buenos Aires last week, with the generous support of the International Center for Journalists and Decentraland.
I accepted the invitation and a painful travel itinerary including two overnight trans-equatorial red eye flights in the span of five days. It would be the first time JournoDAO was setting out to spread our message to a room that wasn't almost entirely filled with people who walk in the path of the DAO or have already traded the traditional corporate ball and chain for full-time blockchain.
It is not lost on me that with the specter of a crypto winter looming, I left the literal warmth of my high desert home and comfort of calls with cheery collaborators to head for the southern hemisphere literally already in the depths of winter and where cultural and language barriers could make it impossible for our message of decentralizing an ossifying media superstructure to break through.
The trip was a leap of faith in a world that has increasingly been eating faith for breakfast.
But I was given confidence it would pay off by a few things I knew before this trip: Buenos Aires is the most dynamic and forward-thinking city I know of in Latin America, and the people of Argentina are second-to-none when it comes to gregarious hospitality and squeezing every drop of sweetness out of life. Who else would just say eff it and call their media infrastructure conference a Party? (True anecdote: Saturday night's closing Tango party was set to run from 11:00 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. but so many visiting foreigners complained it was way past their bedtimes that it was moved up to 10 p.m. )
Our hosts lived up to their reputation and I did not regret making the leap of faith over the equator.
Within minutes of the opening Media Fair on Wednesday where JournoDAO was invited to set up an informational booth, someone approached and said they had been attending our events on Twitter Spaces and discussing the ideas she heard with her colleagues at a media org in Buenos Aires. And would I like to meet those colleagues right now? Of course I would.
I strained to not become emotional when the very next person who approached came up to me and said, "Hello, I am in JournoDAO." This was a University student in Buenos Aires who has apparently been lurking in our Discord server for a while taking it all in.
We are crawling out of the rabbit holes to expose the message to daylight and it is germinating in response.
These conversations, both with the curious and the familiar, continued for nearly two hours. They spilled out into the courtyard, where I met others from places like Uruguay working on shockingly similar projects to bring Web3 tools and projects to traditional media outlets.
The following day our keynote talked about four ways Web3 can revitalize journalism, from providing new economic models for media and blockchain tools for journalists to improve their transparency game, to straight-up buying a few papers to prove the concepts out IRL. We highlighted partners we've been working with already, like Photure, Unlock Protocol, Diamond DAO and Factland.
The presentation was in the primetime slot after Chris Moran from the Guardian, but before lunch on Friday and was translated into Spanish in real time for people in attendance.
As I hit the food trucks downstairs after the talk, I was immediately approached by a few savvy Argentine developer types who had someone Web3 ideas of their own... or Web2 concepts that they were beginning to think might be more at home in Web3. It was truly inspiring and humbling. There is so much work to do, but the well of energy to tap for attacking this potential seems even more bottomless.
Next up was my Web3 Basics workshop Friday afternoon. My Media Party friends told me that the workshop had been moved to a larger space to accommodate the demand. Indeed, our group of folks eager to see a Metamask at work filled up the space. We covered the basics of blockchain, fungible and non-fungible tokens, bridges, and walked through the process of minting a writing NFT using Mirror.
Technical difficulties snafu'd my attempts to distribute some MPARTY22 tokens I had minted in advance, but they eventually got to their recipients later on. There was a clear diversity of experience in the room, from bewildered noobs to some clear NFT degens. But all of the interest was earnest, engaged and quite excited in a few cases.
I also had one good conversation about some of the skepticism towards Web3 that was cut a little short, but it seems there may be an opportunity to continue that dialogue at our next scheduled appearance, at the Online News Association conference in September.
TL;DR - Curiosity and excitement for what we're building is real outside of our loud little echo chamber. There remains plenty of work to do to finely hone our message and vision, but the hunger for alternatives is reaching starvation level.
Geographic, cultural and language barriers are less material than you might think. In fact, we in Web3 are more well equipped to cross them. The message of decentralization can sound technical at first with its many syllables, but it is in fact more universal than we might think. Universal and timely.
Winter is not just coming. Winter is here. We are not just planting for spring, we are nudging the sun itself out of its entrenched place at the center of everything and asking it to step aside. We offer a million points of light and a broader universe of potential. It sounds grandiose and crazy, but perhaps you've noticed these are times of unparalleled crazy.
See you in Los Angeles (and look for us at MCON in Denver next week)!