Joining MIT

Introduction from Neha Narula, the Director of the Digital Currency Initiative:

Part of the DCI’s mission is to build cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to empower people. This means all people, not just those who might have the means to buy coins or the time and opportunity to build the technology. That’s why I’m excited to share that Rhys Lindmark is joining the DCI as the Head of Community and Long-Term Societal Impact.

Rhys has demonstrated success organizing world-class events, bringing communities together, and being, as he puts it, the important but often overlooked “glue” inside of and across organizations. He lives his values through initiatives like the CryptoPledge and spreads them through content like his podcast, Creating a Humanist Blockchain Future. The DCI is committed to making sure this technology develops thoughtfully, and Rhys is an important part of that.

Rhys is going to be working on a few new projects we’re going to share soon. See below for Rhys’s words on the transition and why he is interested in the DCI.

Welcome, Rhys!

Hello (and thanks Neha!). I’m excited to announce that I’ll be joining MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative as a Head of Community and Long-Term Societal Impact. There are two big reasons why I’m excited to work with them:

  • Value and Incentive Alignment: Working for the Commons
  • People: DCI and The Boston “Commons” Ecosystem

Value and Incentive Alignment: Working for the Commons

My mission (or “Deep Why”) is:

As the Information Revolution accelerates change, abundance, and fragility, I will help catalyze a humanity-scale phase shift towards long-term human flourishing.

It is extremely important for me to work in a place where my values and incentives are deeply aligned with this mission.

From an incentive perspective, this means that I didn’t want to work in a traditional company with profit-driven KPIs. Instead, I wanted to provide value “for the commons”, so I actively searched for a diverse set of people (60+ patrons) who would pay me for cross-project community glue work. In addition, I didn’t want to accept money from folks who were expecting “pure ROI”. Instead, I accepted money from folks with an abundant mindset who gave me money simply to “provide for the commons and long-term future”. Here’s the crazy thing—this is super similar to how the DCI (and the Media Lab) accept money. They (we!) get paid by a wide range of member companies to do “commons” work (without direct ROI for the companies) that “the market” isn’t incentivized to do.

In addition, the DCI values are co-created with their incentives. People are here to do cutting edge research, act as a neutral institution for cross-project collaboration, and generally act for the long-term public good. It was a perfect fit.

People: DCI and The Boston “Commons” Ecosystem

Here’s the other crazy thing about the DCI—it’s located at the epicenter of Boston’s “commons” ecosystem. There are other urban ecosystems around the world that aggregate a certain type of ambitious person. San Francisco: tech, LA: movies, NYC: finance, Shenzhen: manufacturing. For a while, I couldn’t find the city for “positively shaping the implications of how tech changes society”. Well it turns out, they’re in Boston!

To start, DCI has an all-star team:

Plus they have a powerful crew of (surprisingly active) advisors:

Zooming out one step, the Media Lab itself has 20+ other groups working on things like Scalable Cooperation, Ethics, and Civic Media. Then you haveHarvard’s Berkman Klein Center—an epicenter for folks who are understanding tech’s impact on society. People like: Jonathan Zittrain,Lawrence Lessig, Primavera de Filippi, Yochai Benkler, Kate Darling, andPatrick Murck. In other words, if you want to help create the Creative Commons but for blockchain-based value (instead of internet-based info), then this is a great place to be.

Finally, the Boston ecosystem has a variety of other aligned folks: Yaneer Bar-Yam for complex systems, Robert Kegan for adult development, Max Tegmark/The Future of Life Institute for Effective Altruism, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of Machine, Platform, Crowd, etc.

Being surrounded by such an aligned ecosystem makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop. A really really big candy shop where the goal is long-term human flourishing. Zooming out doesn’t diminish the DCI—it is great in and of itself. But it truly shines because it’s in a Russian Nesting Doll: DCI → Media Lab → MIT/Harvard → Commons Ecosystem. On that note: please reach out if you think you’d thrive in the team here!

We’ll say more soon on how this will translate to “actual work” :). But suffice to say, the DCI will be working more across a variety of ecosystems: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Zcash, etc. And definitely be on the lookout for MIT Bitcoin Expoand MIT Business of Blockchain in 2019. Excited to collaborate with the Boston, academic, and crypto communities (for long-term human good!).

The Transition: What Does This Mean for…

My Book?

For the last couple months, I’ve been writing a book (and have read 36 bookssince May!) on positively shaping our fragile exponential context. I’ve finished about 100 pages of the rough draft, which you can read here. Although I’d love to keep writing full-time, I’m even more excited to work full-time with the DCI. This means I’ll take a step back from daily writing and move towards more of a long-term weekend writing routine. So, instead of finishing the book in 3–6 months, expect something closer to 1–3 years.


In Dec of 2017, I “founded” and was the primary steward of #ETHCommons, a hashtag-based meme to help positively shape the culture/values of the Ethereum ecosystem. Since Dec 2017, the ETH ecosystem has made a ton of progress in creating a bottom-up SelfTax and SharedOutcomes culture with initiatives like EIP0, ECF, ETHGlobal, EF Grants, ETH Magicians, etc. It’s been awesome to see.

Now that I’ve joined the DCI, I’ll mostly be stepping back from some of my previous #ETHCommons initiatives, though (clearly) I’ll still be helping the ETH ecosystem in various ways. The (sometimes) great thing about a hashtag is that it can permissionlessly live on without its initial steward (it’s just a bunch of letters in a given order!). Expect Susan Stites to continue stewarding #ETHCommons, and for it to spontaneously appear and be remixed in a variety of places (like Lane Rettig’s talk at ETHBerlin, here!).

My Podcast?

For the last year or so, I’ve interviewed experts on how technology is changing society for my podcast, Creating a Humanist Blockchain Future. We’re not exactly sure what will happen to the show. Some options:

  • It shuts down.
  • I continue podcasting independently (clearly stating that the show does not represent DCI).
  • I transition to a DCI podcast, where the show becomes part of DCI’s media communications strategy.

We’ll see what happens! Right now I think it’ll likely continue in some capacity. Whatever happens, I want to give a huge thanks to Shapeshift for sponsoring me throughout the show’s history and to the Bitcoin Podcast Network for expanding my audience. Thank you!

My Patreon?

For the last year or so, I have funded my podcast, writing, and community work through my Patreon (and StakeTree). It’s been fascinating to experiment with new forms of P2P funding. I want to give a massive thank you to my 60+ patrons for their support (see their names at the bottom of this post!). It was because of their generosity (and abundant non-accumulation mindset) that I was able to support my basic needs and explore non-traditional work for the commons. Thank you thank you thank you.

Now that I’ll have a “real” salary, should I continue my Patreon? There are arguments on both sides, but I’ve decided to take down my Patreon (for now at least). In other words, I’m still stewarding the commons, but now I’m being funded by institutions rather than peers.

My CryptoPledge Self-Tax?

In my Patreon days, I took a CryptoPledge—to give 50% of all money I make after $4,000/month (because after that point, you don’t get happier!). Through it, I gave $3,000 to various initiatives/nonprofits (in other words, I didn’t make that much money :). I’ll definitely continue my pledge (and hope to do so the rest of my life!).

Thanks again to the DCI team for welcoming me, to my Patrons for their support, and to everyone for embracing my curiosity. Warmth, Rhys

One final thanks to my Patreon/StakeTree supporters: Collin Brown, Mike Goldin, John Desmond, Paras Chopra, Andrew Cochrane, Sandra Ro, Harry Lindmark, Jonny Dubowsky, Sam Jonas, Malcolm Ocean, Colin Wielga, Joe Urgo, Josh Nussbaum, John Lindmark, Garry Tan, Eric Tang, Jacob Zax, Doug King, Katie Powell, Mark Moore, Jonathan Isaac, Coury Ditch, Ref Lindmark, Mike Pratt, Jim Rutt, Jeff Snyder, Ryan X Charles, Chris Edmonds, Brayton Williams, Brian Crain, David Ernst, Ali Shanti, Patrick Walker, Ryan Martens, Kenji Williams, Craig Burel, Scott Levi, Matt Daley, Lawrence Lundy, Peter Rodgers, Alan Curtis, Kenzie Jacobs, James Waugh, Storecoin, Griff Green, Radar Relay, district0x, Niel de la Rouviere, Brady McKenna, and some anonymous others for supporting me on StakeTree!

Hit me up on Twitter!

Disclaimer: I own less than $5000 of any given cryptocurrency, so my monetary incentive is not too aligned with Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. :)