Crypto and Comedy: When Worlds Collide 🪙

How increasing memeability in crypto is critical to boost credibility and viability.

Last time I wrote a piece about formalizing the practice of play — how playfulness mixes with mindfulness to form a modern-day cocktail of wellness practices. To my pleasant surprise, a whimsical white paper on a new crypto concept dropped in early June titled “LAMP”. Naturally, my brain saw this as a sign to fall face-first into the deep depths of crypto.

But since there are more than enough commentaries that highlight the technical utility of common coins, I want to deploy a comedy-first lens as an unusual, yet viable way to navigate this murky environment.

In this makeshift teardown, I’ll be dissecting the anatomy of LAMP in graphic detail. That is, filling this evaluation with playful puns and photos of high-quality lamps and shining a light on the idea’s underlying significance. We’ll also discuss the domain of Dogecoin and a fresh framework I constructed called the meme marketing funnel.

  • The main point: technical white papers are often dry and lengthy, but this one flips the cryptographic script in a very engaging way.

  • The post-mortem: my thesis extends beyond the existence of LAMP itself and into broader applications of technological absurdism.

On the whole, I think that satirical comedy and shareable memes will continue feeding the living organism that is the contemporary cryptocurrency space for years to come. Hopefully, this playful viewpoint will be an atypical adventure for crypto connoisseurs, comedy aficionados, and non-technical pundits alike.

I imagine this piece will be the most chaotic one I will ever attempt to write in my life, but like the sensational standup superstar Steve Martin asserts:

“Chaos in the midst of chaos isn’t funny, but chaos in the midst of order is.”

Let’s start cracking this comedic code!


I. The Tokenized Theatrics of $LAMP

“Things like lamps have come to be seen as a dated, inefficient use of electricity in the face of the promising world of digital currency, and we stand on the precipice of another dark age” - LAMP Developers

As we might already expect, the LAMP white paper is structured in a very comical and unconventional way. The first seven pages comprise long excerpts of the history of fire, electricity, and computers, all extracted directly from Wikipedia. The developers took an evolutionary angle to set the scene for LAMP. In short, the cheeky chain of logic posits that:

  • Steve Jobs created lamps in 1976,

  • Pixar ramped up digital lamp production in the early 2000s,

  • Rapid progress in lamp technology hypercharged the growth in Silicon Valley, as lamp switches require Silicon

Sprinkles of subliminal lamp imagery within eras of massive technological change force us to consider the potential genius beyond the gag. If my improv training has taught me one thing about memorable performances, it’s that the gradual build-up in a scene is crucial. Any classic comedy routine is composed in “chunks”, feeding audience members seemingly disconnected bits and gags before ramping up to the hard-hitting punchlines. That’s what helps generate large-scale buy-in.

As seen above, the LAMP paper conquers this first act in spades, doubling down on its own peculiarity to keep the reader intrigued. Of course, comedy for the sake of pure shock value is not a substitute for substance. One important question that we must ask now to maximize our understanding: What are the atomic units that create LAMP, and what makes this concept so intriguing? I’ve organized my commentary through the exploration of three core principles: technology, symbolism, and linguistics.


🔆 Core Component #1: Technology

“Lamp is the kernel: the program in the system that allocates the machine's resources to other programs you run. The kernel is an essential part of an operating system, but useless by itself; it can only function in the context of a complete operating system

In the interest of keeping this post technically light but maintaining a minimum viable level of correctness, we’ll need to chat through the cast of cryptographic components. Thankfully, LAMP is framed in a way that emphasizes simplicity despite the underlying complexity. The Ethereum environment refers to the inimitable community-run operating system, the blockchain that powers its cryptocurrency (ETH). Reimagining LAMP using a classic nature metaphor, it is another tree that stems from the giant nutrient-rich forest named Ethereum.

The premise of the white paper is that the construct of LAMP is widespread, yet hidden. In other words, people just don’t realize that LAMP exists. To pull back the veil, here’s the equation describing the bilateral relationship between these variables:

Lamp = ETH + Lamp (aka “ETH/Lamp”)
Both need to coexist in a symbiotic way for the math equation to hold. Lamp: Too shady to understand, too blinding to see, too timely to scold.

On paper, the digital aspects of LAMP still seem shrouded in mystery. This is partly due to the need to dive into the source code of each block to gain deeper insights. But I think the most intriguing part about LAMP isn’t the underlying blockchain engine that powers it, but rather the choice and positioning of the object itself. A simple yet salient technology. A commonplace house appliance that we all take for granted. An antique relic that is arguably more aesthetic in style than dynamic in function.

We’ll return to this thought later, as there are potential philosophical questions around the latent value of withered technology — and how we can use this frame as a blueprint for creative reconstruction and in the simplification of abstract concepts.

🔑 Core Component #2: Symbolism

“Our platform is built upon the fundamental concept that memes will be the currency of the future… This cryptocurrency will change the landscape of the Blockchain in the same way Albert Einstein changed the landscape of lighting in homes through lamps.”

The phrase “putting lamps on the blockchain” reads as both amusing hyperbole and an unexpected aphorism about the new dominance of the distributed ledger. In dramatized speak: Everything on the blockchain, the Web3 world order. Such technical intricacy is native to these applications, so the push for the lowest common denominator of understanding is essential for mass acceptance and mass adoption.

Memes take on symbolic significance as they become the simplest currency to buy a ticket to the world of improved comprehension. Memes lower the entry barriers into sophisticated conversations. To me, the hallmark of a sustainable symbolic meme is replicable relevance: first comes laughter, then comes longevity.

Fascinatingly, the LAMP authors take the symbolism to the next level and craft a masterful metastory in the backend. Typically, the Appendix section of any literary or scientific work contains supporting evidence and secondary sources. Unsurprisingly, LAMP counters this cliché. Applying a stream of consciousness narrative, Blockchains are personified as their own living species. A series of LAMP memes are then layered throughout, building a sense of self-awareness and self-deprecation that, oddly enough, enhances the stickiness of the white paper.

Because the storytelling quality is quite indescribable, here’s a piece from one of my favourite fiction novels, Ducks, Newburyport depicting similar energy:

📣 Core Component #3: Linguistics

The denouement of the white paper is summed up by just three words:

“few understand this”

Punchy language coalesces with a cryptic undertone to produce something that virally stretches beyond LAMP itself. The use of polarizing phrases segments the population into in-groups and out-groups differentiated by level of understanding. This helps build a sub-culture where meme-fuelled tribes develop their own methods of description and communication.

Technical jargon exists in every domain, but I think crypto is one of the rare cases that encourages open participation on multiple fronts. After all, not everyone speaks in bits and bytes, but everyone can speak in memes.

Something so brain-scrambling shouldn’t elicit such enduring and memorable reactions, right? The punchline is that the added comedy layer and analogy-laced language bridges complexity with simplicity. In an increasingly information-rich world, the meme-based symbolism represented by LAMP and similar creations is the connective tissue that helps shape reality.

🔥 The Second Switch: My Extended Metaphor of Lamp

It wouldn’t be a performative piece unless I attempt to remix the beauty of LAMP into my own cybernetic Frankensteinian creation. For this exploration, we’ll need to venture in with a suspension of disbelief as we metaphorize the lamp to the max. We can structure our discussion by decomposing the elements of an everyday lamp into its literal building blocks — imagine that each part of the lamp corresponds to each layer within a blockchain.

Slapstick comedy on one hand, but sharper clarity on the other front.

  • Layer 0: The Base ≈ Ethereum: The backbone of the decentralized internet and the settlement layer for Web3. Taking the perspective of the actual appliance, Ethereum parallels the sturdy nickel-plated brass that acts as supporting infrastructure for the lamp’s light-giving ability.

  • Layer 1: The Stem ≈ Protocols: The set of rules that define how products and applications are built. These can take the form of open-source, permissionless developer platforms. Comparatively, the stem holds the lamp’s filament, as the conducting wire between the supporting base and the light generator.

  • Layer 2: The Socket ≈ DAOs: The member-owned, code-based communities that enable safe ways to collaborate and commit funds to a specific cause. Meanwhile, the socket provides the collective light source that radiates out into the air, distributing the power of lamp into many hands of a proverbial digital family.

  • Layer 3: The Shade ≈ DApps: The use of smart contracts combined with a classic frontend interface produces high-fidelity outputs like decentralized marketplaces (OpenSea) and exchanges (Uniswap). These are completely visible and tangible to the public, as is the main “interface” of the lampshade.

If we extend this metaphor to the extreme, consider the projects and applications that could launch out of a “LAMP DAO”. I’m imagining a group of tokenholders that collaborate globally to maintain the electrical grid in a fully distributed fashion. We can escalate further by tying the whimsical name to a broader cause. How about broader renewable energy projects that could make a massive difference in emerging markets, where lamps are still the primary source of power?

Forking LAMP in creative ways may be the ultimate hedge against such concepts falling out of favour into humourous obscurity.


II. The Longevity of Crypto Memeification

LAMP feels like a light dash of sugar in an evolving medley of flavours. While it signals a lighthearted addition to the fragmented crypto crusade, this form of memeification is not new news. We’re living in a world where the means of creation converge to memes of creation.

To me, the sheer unpredictability of meme-fuelled movements and a concerted refusal to conform are the most fascinating areas to probe deeper. We can assess the impact of memeification by zooming out and exploring the meme market’s underlying time series: past, present, and future.

🐶 Historical: The Domain of Doge

We can point to the birth of Dogecoin in 2013 as one key inflection point. Notorious altcoins like Doge draw their staying power from the hype cycle, including initial investor mania and a sustained cult-like fan following. Interestingly, Dogecoin’s intrinsic “value” represents a departure from the logical store of value or long-term speculation purposes, and takes its shape primarily as an online tipping mechanism for content creators. Dogecoin: a disarming look, but with some underlying bark.

The reality is that volatility reigns supreme here, making swings in public equities seem laughable. For example, it’s not uncommon to see the indexes coloured with a sea of red before completely flipping to fields of green the next day. As new waves of crypto culture are reconfigured and reimagined, the meme market morphs accordingly. Catalysts in this space no longer trace earnings reports and company announcements, but are instead characterized by content-fueled blasts. The more portable and relatable, the better.

The age-old sticky situation here is separating signal from lots of noise. For shrewd contributors who believe in the Web3 ecosystem, the million-dollar question becomes: how might we mitigate the rampant pump-and-dump mentality in this landscape and discourage bad actor behaviour? One optimal outcome would be positioning comedy as a conduit towards motivated development instead of humourous distraction.

Of course, Dogecoin is not the first meme-worthy case study and not the last. We could sit for hours to draw out all the standout memeable moments throughout the past six months and their comedic, cultural, and cryptographic impacts. For LAMP’s sake, its nuanced narrative could ladder up to a possible competitive advantage, but only if developers stay engaged to discover use cases and push protocol updates.

💡 Topical: The Meme Marketing Funnel

If we buy into the thesis that crypto is a Gen Z game, marketing magic becomes essential for capturing share-of-heart and converting bystanders into believers. Beautified branding and values-aligned storytelling rise as core components in this design space. Expressed in a recent New Yorker post about the social media stock market, Caroline Lester argues:

“Starting a cryptocurrency is a bit like starting a religion. Without large-scale buy-in, the system looks like a cult

This motivates a broader discussion about the role of memes in driving adoption gains in the crypto space. Which channels are most useful to foster buy-in at each stage of the meme-filled journey? From a psychological perspective, what actions and emotions are elicited by clever social engineering? Let’s bring in a mental model:

The meme marketing funnel takes the tried-and-true growth framework and maps out the relevancy of different distribution channels. New coin concepts are pushed through the viral vectors of YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok. This trigger initiates the process that I’ve coined meme mitosis, which is seen tangibly through the leading indicators of clips, posts, retweets, and articles. As the multiplication continues down the consideration phase, the super-spreader memes entice a subset of audiences to stake real money into these concepts. A smaller subset of folks become enamored with the technology and onboard themselves into the many high-activity, high product velocity Discord channels. The battle for share-of-mind, share-of-wallet, and share-of-voice intensifies until the ideal outcome is achieved: full emotional resonance.

Through this lens, memes are the gateway drug into greater involvement in the crypto community at large. From a classical business standpoint, the marketing promotion hooks us but the product makes us stay. Stretching the comedy analogy, we cheer for the live performance but continue following the life of the performer.

🔮 Hypothetical: The Memeification Crystal Ball

As alluded to earlier, the biggest existential risk to meme-oriented coins is being banished by the fickle fans that boosted them in the first place. An abandonment of engineering efforts would also be another nail in the coffin.

Just as a comedy venue needs bodies and laughs as the lifeblood of the show, crypto spaces need a steady stream of miners, developers, and influencers to continuously steer the narrative.

That isn’t to say that memes are only reserved for accelerating top-of-funnel engagement. CoinDesk reporters Daniel Kuhn and Benjamin Powers presented a commentary where they linked several examples to support the extensive value hypothesis for memes. As argued:

“So memes not only play a role in making things like dogecoin more popular, but also serve as shorthand communications mechanisms for traders who need to signal something quickly… there are people with familiarity in marketing that see memes as a potent way to ‘brand' crypto.

In our funnel framework, the true success metric is maximizing the probability of full conversion from a skeptic to a seeker. Memes inherently have a strong community-building function packed into their pixels. This helps tackle shiny toy syndrome and retention risks of products that bombard our newsfeeds frequently.

My prediction is that we’re going to ride the early stages of the crypto comedy S-curve for the foreseeable future, marked by increasing meme mutation and tokenholder empowerment.


III. The Lessons Learned from $LAMP

Looking at LAMP itself, the point stands that the developers took an everyday object and breathed newfound life into it. As the lengthy descriptions of fire and electricity in the white paper allude to, the architecture of the traditional lamp is ancient and archaic.

Yet there may be a broader human truth here about going "back-to-basics" to uncover hidden secrets — calling back to the idea of leveraging withered technology.

As Packy McCormick eloquently expresses in The Great Online Game, “crypto is just more fun”. I’m especially enchanted by the argument that novel crypto applications have the powerful potential to integrate values of play into the fabric of Web 3.0 and beyond. Memes provide the basic backdrop, allowing the most technical minds of the new generation to also embrace a largely upbeat, optimistic attitude while they build.

However, we still need to solve a core UX optimization problem. How can LAMP and other comedic concepts transport themselves out of abstract territory, and encourage use cases that enhance our daily lives or make digital experiences more whimsical?

Whether LAMP survives the war for consistent attention, given the daily downpour of newer protocols and projects, is a mystery. Regardless, all of this discovery work has exposed a nuclear insight: the philosophy of comedy in crypto is pervasive, anti-fragile, and perhaps most importantly, unfailingly entertaining.

From the burrows of the internet rabbit holes,

Sam

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