My reflections on the Polkadot Blockchain Academy — Cambridge 2022

My reflections from the first ever in person blockchain training academy by the Parity team.

Ramsey Ajram (Decentration)
4 min readAug 4, 2022

I’m reflecting on this past month and how truly awesome it has been…

As a (sort of) local, I commuted from London on a daily basis. Sounds long but I enjoyed the routine, waking up before the birds, to go to Cambridge, a place that I’ve actually never been. It truly is a cerebral center, where it seems, they saved all the best architecture for, and a real pleasure to come to.

As someone who hasn’t been in academia for over 10 years, it was great to be surrounded by peers who want to hone their engineering skills and who share an enthusiasm for blockchain technology and principled design.

Took me at least 2 weeks to adjust to real world meet ups. (And I consider myself sociable).

Sometimes, contributing daily to blockchain/Web3 communities can feel like you’re living inside the computer itself. Especially when many colleagues and comrades that you work with are cloaked by their username; who I have never met IRL; and some I may never meet. And so, that will always be, this restricted throughput of context and meaning. A limited reality. Sometimes, It makes the glass screen and phone in a prison seem like a higher quality experience (not that i know it first hand). But I guess that’s a necessary trade off to pervasive access to the web right now.

In the community I contribute to, we mainly communicate via Discord/element, with some weekly calls. On reflection working in a decentralised community is a weird working reality. It is a subversive digital reality that we have found ourselves in. But it is, one way or another, a playground for emerging social technologies and systems. And by participating in a “DAO” and getting paid from a blockchain treasury as a full time job, is quite an amazing experience, and an early glimpse of the future for the larger swathe of people. And we’re right at the beginning.

But this past month, has immersed me back into the good old real world (analogue) reality, and it has definitely shown me the possibility of what it’s like to routinely share an environment together. It’s been very grounding. I’d like to work with people on a regular basis in a shared environment, preferably near to a forest and streams. You just can’t beat it. The digital metaverse will never be better than the real. And would ever we want it to be?

Self-funding self-governing communities.

I was blown away by the substrate based chains and the usability of their governance and multisigs. Because really, as a (minimal viable) decentralised organsiation, those are the main things. everything else is, or has been, secondary on a technology level.

This month has been a cathartic learning experience, and has levelled me up to be even clearer on concepts, master the basics, understand the trade-offs and principles of Blockchain’s design, and to see what’s hidden within those magical macros. “Nothing under the sleeves”.

Before this, I started by throwing myself into this substrate stuff since Feb 2021, where I grabbed as much insight breadcrumbs as i could from the teaching materials out there. Shawn Tabrizi and Josh Orndorff really helping with their videos; and Dan Shields (developer support at the time) giving you enough fuel to carry on (thank you Sacha more recently).

Then I joined Edgeware and can describe it as an “ashram for founders” and projects, to meditate on blockchain, sweep a few floors, and then when you get enlightened, you can get funding to start a project. And now, I am a “founding technical steward” of Kabocha, a parachain on Kusama.

Since last year, it was great to get my hands dirty, like a nascar driver, or a mechanic with oily broken glasses, driven by enthuasism. But this month was a deeply cathartic learning experience, and has levelled me up to master the basics even more, understand the trade-offs and the principles of design; learn from the horses mouths, and see what’s hidden within those magical macros.

I hope to see some of you not just building tools from the outside, but to join an “ashram” and participate in decentralised communities, because I think that’s the only way to have understanding of what is actually emerging, and derive some wisdom from it.

Thank you, and l hope we continue exploring together in one way or another.

And thanks to the people who organised this event, it was a great idea, and I am honoured to be part of the first cohort.




Ramsey Ajram (Decentration)

Decentralising the web. Stewarding new paradigms. Engineering and product.