Community Layer Spotlight 5: Adrienne Shulman

Community Layer Spotlight 5: Adrienne Shulman

December 8, 2023

As the Internet expands, the social layer is one of the more vibrant for building community on the web. The Community Layer and thousands of web3 users are now exploring ‘decentralized social media,’ or DeSo, distinguished by connected crypto wallets of users with permissionless access to these novel protocols.

Decentralized social protocols like Farcaster are created to allow what is called ‘sufficient decentralization’ for less central control over a network by a single entity. Sufficient decentralization is defined as allowing two or more users to find each other and communicate, even if the rest of the network wants to prevent it. This definition comes from Varun Srinivasan, co-founder of Farcaster, our focus for this article.

The Farcaster protocol, by design, has many applications plugging into its ecosystem. The main app for Farcaster is called Warpcast. While other apps like Aburra, an audio-first social app (think decentralized Twitter/X Spaces), and Launchcaster, a Product Hunt-like marketplace for exploring Farcaster apps, offer ways for Farcaster users to plug and play their way through the ecosystem with one login to many apps.

Adrienne Shulman is one of the more prominent community builders in the Farcaster ecosystem. In her time exploring the decentralized social media space, Adrienne has been curious about how leaders can better serve and impact women's lives in the web3 space. All while engaging with any and everyone contributing to the protocol’s growth. In our chat, we looked at how a DevOps background has helped her connect with the Farcaster community of builders.

Adrienne serves as Channel Lead for the FarcastHER channel on Warpcast and co-host of GM Farcaster with Nounish Prof, a news podcast that runs three times a week. We discussed how she came to learn of decentralized social networks and how becoming a community builder has influenced her relationship with social media.

DevOps Culture Meets Web3

A very important thing for new and old community builders to grasp when it comes to building decentralized networks is tenure and experience. In this space, there’s no one to give you permission to build, no apps or managers controlling what you can do or how to do it. This is the meaning of permissionless creativity. No matter what you’ve achieved leading up to connecting with web3 builders and explorers, learning to utilize your best skills makes a community professional special. While it is helpful to understand how one has impacted communities in the past, it is not entirely critical to have been a “community builder” by profession before entering the crypto space.

This is because embodying the community builder role relies on so many various leadership abilities. For Adrienne, this came with an extensive career in DevOps. For those reading unaware of what DevOps is, you’ll see the similarities here:

DevOps combines cultural philosophies, technical practices, and tools that foster integration, collaboration, communication, and automation between technology operations and software development teams to improve the quality and speed of software delivery.

Anyone in the community profession understands just how important integration, collaboration, communication, and automation are to all aspects of fostering a thriving community. DevOps professionals build bridges between teams to enhance end-customer experience. See the similarities to web3 communities now?

Making an Impact

As Adrienne grew into her career, she naturally moved toward management roles and saw the disconnect from previous aspects of her responsibilities. The lack of coding in these management careers left a hole that could be filled by being an instructor at Girls Who Code, an organization founded by Reshma Saujani, where she could help girls find an interest in coding.

In speaking with Adrienne, this desire for impact weaved its way through our conversation in many different ways, one being a need for additional career autonomy after 20 years in tech. Explaining that “the DevOps movement is all about empowerment, web3 is all about empowerment. Empowerment meaning permissionless, and as an individual you have the ability to, without relying on other people, make an impact.”

This led her to leave a career where she had time and space to thrive and use those experiences to build a company for herself in 2022. This, in turn, opened the door for further exploration when she found crypto and web3. It gave her an outlet to connect through scenius, a term coined by Brian Eno she often uses to describe the Farcaster experience.

For people like Adrienne, one of the great unlocks of being in spaces like this after a life in corporate environments and office work is the ability to open up new creative paths. The Farcaster community specifically offers many outlets we got into that have fostered a deep love for this level of creativity you don’t see in other industries. Being closer to and on the ground level with builders of all skill levels and creators who are able to make the most magical art come to life through code.

Community Design for Curious Minds

As we've all seen, a community builder’s influence comes from all over the place. Adrienne became interested in blockchains and NFTs two years ago, with her first NFT being a Crypto Coven. Like many women in the web3 space, our first experiences with NFTs were the PFP craze of late 2021.

However, the second community she joined really sparked ah-ha moments with the Philosophical Foxes community by Mario Gabriele, who is also the founder of The Generalist. This community gave her a space to explore the Seven Maxims of the Philosophical Foxes, which continue to be her guiding light when interacting with the Farcaster community and FarcastHER channel.

These Seven Maxims are:

  • Philosophy Not Floor: the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom over floor prices
  • Heed Mengzi: Humans are by nature good
  • Popper’s Paradox: Intolerance of intolerance
  • Master the Long Spoon: Helping one another rather than extracting from them
  • Play the Infinite Game: Creating long-term value
  • Civis Vulpes Sum: Strength to citizenship, having each other’s backs
  • DJ Mandelbrot: Using PFP art in personal and creative ways

So when Dan Ramero, founder of Farcaster, introduced the concept of decentralized channels in Warpcast in June 2023, a few of the first were NBA, Purple, and BuilderDAO. However, over time, others were requested. As Adrienne became increasingly invested in the Farcaster ecosystem, she was up for the challenge when equipped with these values and previous experience in DevOps.

FarcastHER and the Future of Decentralized Media

More Farcaster channels were implemented by minting an NFT on Zora, then added into the ecosystem, and as more women joined this decentralized social protocol, it became apparent there was a need for a women-led channel.

FarcastHER Channel Official NFT 

Thus, FarcastHER was born from a “cast” (think Tweet/post) made by Ted, another prominent user on Farcaster. In August 2023, this cast requested a /chicks channel that was eventually aptly named FarcastHER, a space where women and femmes can post their thoughts to each other. Dan had seen Adrienne’s activity on the protocol level and her interest in impacting the quality of users casting their thoughts. He reached out to gauge her interest in leading the channel’s growth. Adrienne is focused on “paying it forward, increasing the breadth of casters who feel comfortable sharing,” leading to more active participants and online event attendees. In the first few months of activity, the FarcastHER channel has seen a steady climb to 100 active contributors every two weeks and multiple virtual channel meetups.

Like many community leads, in the channel's early days Adrienne used growth tactics like casting a lot herself to encourage more people to participate. This worked well as more people began to share their wins, ask for advice, and help hold each other accountable. These are things women are great at doing no matter which community they’re part of.

Adrienne’s short-term goal for the FarcastHER channel is to craft a meaningful identity for the community, a mission that guides participants, and to foster balance when it comes to interacting with social media.

As for outside of the FarcastHER channel, she’s been exploring onchain media by practicing her podcasting skills. Three times a week, co-hosting the GM Farcaster podcast with Nounish Prof, who we interviewed earlier in the Community Layer series, has been a creative outlet for her. The thing about being deeply entrenched in a network of builders and creatives is there’s always a flow of news to report on. For just 21 minutes, the two of them have educated, entertained, and uploaded podcasts as NFTs for listeners to collect, garnering a loving audience for bite-sized weekly news.

Concluding Thoughts from Adrienne

The ways in which creatives and thinkers find themselves in community with others, especially on social media, are entirely magical at times. When we least expect it, we are thrust into a vast sea of characters ready to learn from and with us. With the power of permissionless access and freedom to transact on multiple layers of financial, novel experiments create opportunities for connection that are often surprising.

From speaking with Adrienne, the path to being seen as or acting as a community builder isn’t always as clear cut as when we first embark. We’ll need many adventurers in our group to travel with us, and that’s exactly how she’s found ways to remain optimistic about the future of media and social behaviors onchain.

If you’d like to connect with Adrienne, she can be found on Farcaster here. And if you’re a woman interested in decentralized social media, breaking away from places like Twitter/X and Instagram, definitely check out the FarcastHER channel on the Warpcast app, available on Android or iOS, for new friends and resources.

Meet the writer

Riley is an online and onchain community builder. She's facilitated online connections since 2012 in areas like gaming, fashion, and education and has been actively building in web3 since 2021 to take identity, governance, and marketing to their intentional, values-driven next levels at the edges of the web.
Riley Blackwell
Founder, Cloud Scouts, freelance community strategist, and writer.
Riley enjoys talking to builders of all stages about identity and community in web3 and spends her free time watching sci-fi films and learn