Who am I?

This workshop

The markdown file with all of this info we’ll be talking about is available at

In this workshop, let’s get acquainted with the different components of the crypto / web3 stack and the current state of blockchain technology by using some tools from the Ethereum ecosystem.

Any questions?

Feel free to interrupt me at any time. Freeform / real-time questions work best for me.

Or if you’re feeling shy, we can crowdsource questions online. Go to and enter the event code #northwestern-crypto. I’ll check for the most upvoted questions every 10 min. or so.

What to expect

  1. Set up a wallet

  2. Get test ether

  3. Explore the blockchain

  4. Gas

  5. Unique tokens

  6. Other dapps

    1. DAOs

    2. Burner wallets

    3. TCRs

    4. DeFi

    5. Marketplaces

    6. Prediction markets

  7. Stablecoins

  8. Room for improvement

  9. Nodes / clients

  10. Developing smart contracts

    1. ERC standards

    2. OpenZeppelin

  11. Why is this important

  12. Privacy

// TODO: Add the links to the rest of the sections

{ Stop and prompt people to vote }

Set up a wallet

While there are lots of choices for wallets, it will be the simplest if you all use MetaMask for today.

I’ll send you all testnet ETH shortly using the Gnosis Safe (a different Ethereum wallet with a pretty cool UX).

There are lots of other great alternatives that we won’t have time to try out today: Argent, BRD, Coinbase Wallet, Status, Trust, and Balance.

Get test Ether

{ Walk around the room scanning QR codes to send ETH on the Rinkeby testnet }

Explore the blockchain

Here are some easier-to-use but (for now) less fully featured alternatives to Etherscan:

Via a UI

Others include Google’s BigQuery dataset for Ethereum, ethplorer,, dappboard, trivial, Elementus, and Dappradar.



{ Talk a bit about how gas is used with Ethereum }

But it’s not just about money…

Unique tokens

Unique tokens are also known as NFTs or digital collectibles.

{ Optional: Purchase a digital collectible and exchanging it with other classmates. }

Other dapps


{ Set up an Aragon DAO for the group }

Here’s the DAO we set up for the group during the workshop:

Note: You should be logged into the MetaMask browser extension and load this page on a PC in order for it to show up properly.

Burner wallets

{ Play with xdai to show how burner wallets and meta-transactions can be used to onboard new users into the ecosystem without gas.}

Likely follow-up questions:

Other links:


// Skip for now, but happy to field questions via if people are interested.

Prediction markets


// Optional: Obtaining a stablecoin such as DAI through the MKR contract and transacting it between each other.

Room for improvement

{ Discuss which tools so far have room for improvement }

We’ll have an open discussion of observations about the state of the tooling the students used, what was missing, what could be done better, etc. This will give students an understanding of how young this ecosystem is and what they could do to push it forward.

Nodes / clients

We will then show the students a geth node: a client that helps to run the Ethereum blockchain, and how it is able to accept transactions and advance the state of the chain.

{ Perhaps also discuss Parity, [Mustekala](, [Nimbus](, etc. }

Developing smart contracts

We’ll introduce the students to the Truffle framework for developing smart contracts.

ERC standards

ERC standards like ERC20 for tokens (like DAI, the Aragon token, etc.) and ERC721 (like Cryptokitties, Decentraland, etc.) for collectibles (things we covered above).

“Application-level standards and conventions, including contract standards such as token standards (ERC20), name registries (ERC137), URI schemes (ERC681), library/package formats (EIP190), and wallet formats (EIP85).”



OpenZeppelin is a library for inheriting from and extending existing smart contract logic.

Why is this important

  1. Twitter thread with a historical perspective on governance by Naval Ravikant
  2. AI -> tyranny, blockchain -> democracy
  3. The Truth Machine
  4. Social justice
  5. Podcast episode about why decentralization matters
  6. Toy markets
  7. Zero platform risk -> the great unbundling of front end and back end (and of individual front end features). Users get “right to exit” meaning that they can elect to use alternative clients without losing all of their data and the network effect of the platform, and the tech tycoons of the future can’t prevent them from doing so.


If time allows, we will discuss privacy and how other blockchains incorporate it as a first-tier feature. We’ll also discuss how private technologies like zero-knowledge proofs could be introduced to the Ethereum blockchain in the future.