In an earlier post, I noted yet another cryptocurrency with its own narrative, Educoin. The technology is pretty much identical to many other cyptocurrencies, but what is the community and surrounding narrative?
“Education” is a broad topic, and it is not obvious how a dedicated cryptocurrency is relevant.
The main exhibit is their reddit stream.
I haven’t had time to go through it in detail, but here are a few quick notes.
First, it is clear that there are several themes, loosely connected via the general idea of “crowd funding” education.
Part of the narrative comes out of a desire for more access to education, and dissatisfaction with the US student loan racket. In this story, there are students who are unable to finance their studies, and we aim to identify them and fund them person-to-person. Logically, this doesn’t require cryptocurrency at all, though it is as good a way as any to do it.
Hidden in this is the underlying assumption that conventional institutions are inadequate, and also that random crowds of strangers are a good way to identify and foster talent. Both these assumptions are shaky, to say the least.
I also don’t see how you can fund a multi-billion dollar sector of the economy on “tips”. If you want to get into the game of fixing education funding, I’d suggest a broader analysis of where education funding comes from and goes to. (Hint: human teachers need a living wage, paid in useful currency.)
A second theme is to tie cryptocurrency to MOOCs. This is an interesting combination, micropayment for microteaching! Pay only a little, and get only a little. Was this the innovation we were waiting for?
Definitely a step backwards for education funding, but it may be all we have in a few years.
A third theme is basically marketing to college students. In this story, “College students paying for stuff with EDU“. Again, cryptocurrency isn’t essential for this activity (it has been a booming business for decades), and you don’t need a dedicated coin to do it anyway–you probably want Bitcoin or Dogecoin or something generic.
I’m sure there are other concepts floating around in the loose community of Educoin (which does not seem to have a cuddly nick name or mascot yet).
The good news is that, to the degree that any of these ideas turn out to be viable, they will work as well or better with other cryptocurrencies.
So I say, “Let a thousand coins flower.” The best stories can be grafted onto the best coins in the future.