Karen Cohen and Anouk Pinchetti LIVE at BLOCKConscious Summit 2018, on Crypto Clothesline Podcast
In the long-awaited final episode of our series of interviews recorded live at BlockConscious in Brisbane, we get to air our mums-in-blockchain conversation with Karen Cohen, then representing Blockchain Centre as general manager, now Director of Block Consulting Group, Victorian President of ADCA, Secretary for Blockchain Australia, and co-organiser of Women in Blockchain Melbourne.
BLOCKConscious Summit 2018
Crypto Clothesline podcast was invited to participate as a key media partner in the BlockConscious event held in Brisbane’s “Crypto Valley” – Fortitude Valley.
We got to meet and interview a plethora of interesting actors in the Australian and international blockchain scene, inviting each of them to come ‘chat on the couches’ as the only place we could record interviews was at the end of a long corridor…
Karen was one of the wonderful women we met there, forging a friendship and professional partnership spanning kilometres between the Australian cities of Melbourne (where Karen’s based) to Brisbane and Perth on the opposite coast.
Karen’s Passionate About Helping Businesses Realise Their Ideas
Straightforward questions lead to clear outcomes:
- How to incorporate blockchain technology into the model?
- How to bring the theory into practice by sourcing support not only with the technical/coding aspects, but also networking – finding your tribe in like-minded circles?
- Sourcing the other players you need on your team in order to ensure your message, and therefore your product and/or your service, reaches the ears of the people who want to know about it and who will pay you for it!
“It’s about bringing blockchain technology to life. It’s all about speaking to everybody who’s interested in the space… people just want to come and they want to talk about when it comes to presentations, they want to come to one-on-ones and want to launch their product on the blockchain. They want to talk about their idea… I’m looking at the case studies and making them real and really helping them get there and helping them also to get funding.
The teams, cutting-edge technologies, are interesting but you have to sell it, you have to sell your idea and until you sell your idea, it’s not going to come to mass adoption.”
Business needs creatives: writers, copywriters, marketers, graphic designers, artists and ideas people as well as the techies and the entrepreneurs and the financiers.
Creatives are the interface between technology and mass adoption.
“Until people can use it because someone has bought the idea and monetised it, made it, whether it’s monetisation or made it accessible to people, then it’s just going to stay a great idea, isn’t it?”
Community, Community, Community
The challenge is that the blockchain/ crypto start-up world doesn’t necessarily have so much money and so a lot of the time they’ll just say, I’ll flick you some tokens to manage my Telegram group or to do some marketing for me.
Those tokens are a bit like promises… if you believe in the project and you know that you might not get paid, you take the tokens and you agree to be in an advisory role in this space. It’s a bit of a barter system, but it might not attract the professionalism that you would have had if you had the big budgets to make clear decisions.
“And this is one of the few spaces where it’s like, well actually it does seem like absolutely anything is possible.”
“There’s something about the blockchain community that is different and it is about hopes and dreams and connecting on a different level. Um, I’ve only been in a year, but I’ve never been anything in the it. It’s very fertile. It’s energy, it’s positivity.”
Re-Imagining the Future – Utopia or Dystopia?
In the popular BlockConscious panel, Re-imagining the Future moderated by JP Parker, there was a variety of representation of ideas, from academia to legals to psychology, blockchain developers to entrepreneurs, parents to privacy advocates. The sheer positioning of the differing opinions made for a very stimulating discussion. Each of us addressing from our own perspectives the aspects of blockchain technology and consciousness that affect us all.
Karen Cohen: Block Consulting Group
John Flood: Professor of Law & Society at Griffith University
Abheeti Kathryn Pass: Co-founder of Crypto Clothesline, WhereToShopWithCrypto, Women in Blockchain Perth
Lucas Cullen: Blockchain Developer (need to add more?)
Joshua Marriage: Privacy Advocate at Cloak Coin
“We’ve got these amazing technologies, what are the people doing and what are the choices we’re making as consumers every day that’re going to make difference to this world?”
In terms of the utopian aspects discussed, the idea that assuming Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies grow and help early adopters create some financial freedom in life, we could see ourselves returning to a simpler, more connected human form of relating. A world with less rush and more yes, less stress and more depth. Loneliness is currently a thriving industry on the planet.
“I think it was Dr. Prash who mentioned the fact that we’re actually returning to some really indigenous cultural values [which] could be bringing us back to simplicity.
Connection time together because we’ve all got the cash to live… we’ve all got the resources to live without having to work such long hours… I think that’s also part of the community. This is this access to potentially such an amazing growth so that we can actually sit back, relax and not have to worry about making money to pay the rent and, and, and the community can take care of each other… and take care of our kids.”
Lucas Cullen was quick to temper this optimism with the dry fact that, without effective tech that actually works, then all of this discussion was just more crypto pie in the sky…
Joshua Marriage discussed in the panel, the abuse of individuals by organisations in terms of Big Data sharing, surveillance and the invasion of our privacy:
“What really was interesting for me was about the choices we’re making about our ID and how we’re creating these really public profiles to Facebook and Twitter and Insta, and all these things that we’re on… but I’m creating profiles for my kids and I sort of wonder, in 15 years’ time when they’re saying:
Mum, what did you do? You sold my privacy and I wasn’t even involved in those choices!
“That’s brought a lot of consciousness to me as a mum and as somebody who is really addicted to social media…”
We established that as parents, we need to support our children in the education around privacy and protection of our personal data, much like we had to learn as teenagers about the perils of drugs and other social challenges. Sometimes you need to screw up in order to learn the lesson, but that guidance in using common sense (which isn’t always that common) and giving our children the tools they need to safely navigate these waters, is empowering and necessary. We’re certainly not going to be able to ensure they avoid social media, it’s here to stay and is firmly entrenched in our collective social conditioning.
“It always comes back to awareness. It always comes back to actually knowing what the hell you’re doing.
It’s the people that have to change the choices and how we use the technology.”
The Choice to Include Women
In the run-up to BLOCKConscious, there were apparently a number of prominent women who refused to participate in the Summit due to the low, (or the then non-existent) numbers of women being represented.
We at the Clothesline jumped in and said, “Yes we’d love to come!” because we felt it paramount to spearhead that representation and to bring on board as many other powerful women as we could, in order to create a movement of “women to the front”: our favourite hashtag.
Karen commented that she was influenced to come due to our enthusiasm, and also JP Parker became connected to the community as well.
“But also choice, and this has been a contentious issue with the actual BLOCKConscious Summit, was the choice to actually remember to include women and it was a really interesting one because people, we were getting approached, there’s not very many women presenting there. And it was like, yeah, let’s go forth and actually make that, bring that to people’s awareness, bring it to consciousness…”
It’s Not Always a Picnic for Women in Blockchain
Karen is organiser of Women in Blockchain Melbourne, and hosts events for all people with the view to making this information accessible especially to women, where no questions are too simple or ‘too dumb’. It’s all about encouraging other women to join in.
Karen tells me when she recently dared to question some of the Crypto Australia Facebook group administrators about criticism for an upcoming event, she was branded a scammer and told she was a shit-kicker on Blockchain Australia’s board. Her morals were compared to a rapist’s and the group moderators did not shut it down.
Karen is a woman who, having entered the blockchain space in Australia, has become passionate about ensuring that women are part of this growth and that they have an active and a responsible voice in the community. With all the practical skills to get a start-up business from Whoa! to Go, she’s the lady you want to connect with to learn more about how blockchain can be implemented in your business, and also for education and inclusion in Melbourne Meetups.
Find out more:
Karen Cohen LinkedIn
Anouk Pinchetti LinkedIn