The world of crypto has certainly seen better days. According to the Washington Post, some describe the collapse as a crypto winter that could lead to a potential ice age. As the article suggests, the collapse, although severe, has managed to avoid majorly disrupting the overall financial markets to a large-scale effect.
To the cautious optimists, even those that lost significant gains, the crypto winter could represent part of the evolutionary cycle of a nascent technology working through adjustments. According to Nasdaq News and Insights, “The underlying technology of cryptocurrencies, blockchain, can still be of benefit outside the cryptocurrency market. The two are often linked together, but blockchain can serve its purpose in various industries other than the crypto market.”
A greater understanding of blockchain technology is still in its infancy. A recent Gartner poll shows that only 2% of higher education institutions embrace blockchain learning, with another 18% considering it. However, parents of college-aged adults with knowledge of blockchain seem more eager to see it adopted into the curriculum. A poll conducted by Coin Telegraph insists 64% of blockchain-versed parents want it taught in school.
For Web3 advocate and CEO of Lunar Digital Assets, a boutique marketing and incubation firm for Web3 startups, Roc Zacharias, more focus should be placed on the interest in blockchain technologies for students and society. “More young people are launching blockchain-based startups than ever before, and many more are signing up for third-party educational courses on the technology. So the interest and the audience is obviously there,” he says.
This reporter connected with Roc Zacharias to examine the current environment affecting blockchain technologies and efforts to increase understanding of blockchain learning inside the educational space.
Rod Berger: Can you share a little about yourself and your background in the world of blockchain?
Roc Zacharias: I started with digital currencies before they even existed. As a teenager, I was selling assets I collected in games to industry legends like Brock Pierce long before bitcoin was even invented.
During the early days of crypto evolution, I was a pre-med student in college, but I eventually dropped out when I realized how big cryptocurrencies and blockchains would become. I instantly knew that my destiny lay there and not in medicine.
I am currently fulfilling my calling by leading one of the most well-reputed marketing agencies in the blockchain space. I am also a co-founder of QuickSwap, Polygon’s largest decentralized exchange, and a core team member and advisor for Dogechain.
I spend most of my time researching the latest trends in Web3 or advising blockchain startups and projects.
Berger: Describe Lunar Digital Assets (LDA). What you do as a company, your ideal clients, and the impact it has in the space.
Zacharias: The best way to describe LDA is as a boutique marketing and incubation agency. We work primarily with crypto startups who have already formed their development team, started their project’s construction, and are looking for some guidance and marketing to fulfill their full potential. We offer professional advice, technical support, marketing materials, social media management, and Web3-focused PR, among other services our clients request.
Berger: There are a growing number of universities across the globe providing curriculum in blockchain, including the University of California Berkeley, the University of Zurich, MIT, Stanford, and Oxford, to name a few. Based on your knowledge of the space, is it wise for educational institutions to adopt blockchain-based education considering the current instabilities in the blockchain and crypto space?
Zacharias: The world should be paying more attention to blockchain and the Web3 revolution than they currently are. Educational systems are a great way to mainstream understanding. Blockchain as a technology is more than just cryptocurrencies. It’s a technology that is here to stay. It may be futuristic and revolutionary, but it is also involved in solving many real-world problems today.
Berger: There are those who believe that the language of Web3 and blockchain preclude trust from forming between consumers and the industry. BlockchainEdu provides education for multiple audiences to combat the issue. Deloitte also provides education on the nuances of blockchain and digital assets for market newcomers. How should consumers look at educating themselves on the nuances of Web3 technologies and associated currencies, and does the influx of education indicate overarching adoption?
Zacharias: You’re right. It is a very nuanced conversation and should be examined multi-dimensionally. For instance, the approach to blockchain and crypto education should be balanced. Cryptocurrencies are still undergoing an evolution that every new technology goes through.
The curriculums should study blockchain as an emerging technology and explore its pros and cons and current and potential utility. By all means, this conversation should be happening in academia.
Berger: You speak a lot about the enthusiasm for blockchain and cryptocurrencies in the marketplace. However, numerous instances of people getting burned by crypto projects and blockchain startups with fantastic marketing setups have ruined the investment of so many to the tune of $2 trillion in losses.
How do you approach marketing and ensure that the startups you advise are different from that, and doesn’t this environment play into the skepticism of educational institutions? Are there advantages to creating low-risk opportunities to learn about crypto and Web3, like CoinMarketCap’s “learn crypto, earn crypto” approach?
Zacharias: Like every emerging technology, there are fears, skepticism, and of course, many failures from different startups. With every failure, some knowledge is added to the existing body of knowledge. It’s how the industry evolves. We find better ways of delivering our offerings and safeguarding our customers’ investments. This is an argument for more education, not less.
Some paint crypto marketing as this evil thing that works against the people, but that isn’t the case when done carefully. At LDA, we don’t just create viral campaigns designed to pump tokens’ prices. Instead, we carefully strategize with teams to build out “tokenomics” and products that provide real utility.
Berger: I’m glad you brought up “tokenomics.” Josh Weiss (Director) and Zoha Salman (research assistant) at the Office of Innovation and Technology at Stanford Graduate School of Education believe, in part, “A new community of technologists and educators will need to rise to the challenge to design a layered and adaptive system of rewards and strategies — a concept referred to by blockchain enthusiasts as “tokenomics.” Do you see this community as responsible for the future of Web3 and building trust among supporters and pundits alike?
Zacharias: I believe blockchain is the future, so everything about it is exciting, and I agree that we all play a role and responsibility in being good stewards. Part of that responsibility also lies in designing and developing future opportunities.
I’m proud of everything we’ve worked on, but as the co-founder of QuickSwap, I’m biased. QuickSwap is only two years old, and we’ve done so much with very little. As a community-governed project with over 96% of the token’s supply distributed to the community, we took no seed funds and built it on our own backs. We maintained dominance on Polygon even when big competitors came in.
When UniSwap launched their V3 on Polygon, they took volume dominance. However, now that we’ve acquired an exclusive license to operate Algebra’s concentrated liquidity model and started our own V3, we expect to take that back too.
We’ve also launched a Gaming Hub with VersaGames so all of Polygon’s gamers can come together and discover new games in one place. When I look back at everything we’ve accomplished in only two years, I look forward to how far we can take this.
The current frigid environment inside crypto isn’t doing any favors for advancing blockchain adoption inside the educational community. Yet, as referenced in EdTech Magazine, higher education environments are finding blockchain technologies useful in record-keeping efforts and distributed ledger technology. Even the American Council of Education (ACE) reports ongoing initiatives in blockchain technology advancement.
When it comes to learning itself, although only 2% of institutions have adopted some form of blockchain-based education in their curriculums, many of that small group are leading institutions and Ivy League schools. Perhaps this interest by leading institutions indicates an openness to blockchain learning that is growing in acceptance.
Crypto may continually look for its footing, yet the underlying blockchain technology appears to be advancing nonetheless. To some, like Roc Zacharias, Web3 represents the future that will go through the ebbs and flows of new technology evolutions and education of the emerging space matters.
Inevitably, learning institutions will remain cautious of what programs they offer, and technologies attached to speculative markets will require careful approaches. As Cornell University states, “Its [blockchain] applications go far beyond financial transactions. Companies in every industry are just now beginning to understand how to apply blockchain-based solutions to solve business problems.”
A thoughtful, nuanced approach to learning appears necessary for younger generations to advance into the startup world driven by newer technologies. An education steeped in measured steps can further the understanding of the pros and cons of a changing landscape that best prepares for the realities of the road ahead.
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.