Blockchain, Crypto, NFTs etc

This is a public Zettelkasten overview (see FAQ) on the blockchain and adjacent concepts.

Created 12/11/2021. Last updated: 20/11/2021.

A long overdue overview, just getting started. Stimulus: the idea of managing the MyHub data union and associated services using a DAO and utility token. Currently I'm curating a few articles every day, then summarising the most interesting ones here every week (cf progressive summarisation).

Related ideas not in this Overview: decentralised, p2p.

Best primers

Bitcoin/Blockchain

How to explain Bitcoin to your grandmother :

  • banks are simply "intermediaries that 'keep score' of e-money" by maintaining a time-stamped ledger.
  • "we have to trust in the banking system in order to trust in the money." Bitcoin is a decentralised intermediary that we don't have to trust: people can't copy/paste bitcoin.
  • Everyone has a Public Key, linked to bitcoins. To send someone bitcoins, I broadcast to the Bitcoin network: "I am Public Key M; I wish to transfer X Bitcoin to Public Key N. Please check and record it on the ledger",
  • that ledger is "the Blockchain... a computer file that gets constantly updated, and it is held on the computers of everyone in the Bitcoin network... built and maintained by ... Miners", who (competitively) earn bitcoins in return for validating and recording transactions. So Bitcoin is "a currency that grows in the process of people trying to maintain its integrity".
  • Recording to the blockchain "makes the transaction real... coins [exist] in the historical record of the blockchain... a collaboratively-built knowledge bank ... All I have on my computer is a public key which says that I am the rightful owner to a part of that history" - so dont lose access to your Key!

DAOs

" a new kind of leaderless crypto-club... group chats with bank accounts... Web3 kids trying to tear down the old social hierarchy, only to replace it with a new, tokenized one where they were on top" - Crypto Is Cool. Now Get on the Yacht

Ethereum is a platform and a programming language ... to build and publish next-generation distributed applications.... Ethereum can be used to codify, decentralize, secure and trade just about anything... Ethereum borrows the concept of decentralized consensus that makes bitcoin so resilient, yet makes it trivial to build on its foundation
- Introducing ethereum
Based on charters taking the form of code on a peer-to-peer network, these are entities that could automate many of the tasks of a conventional organization with varying levels of human input.
- Code your own utopia: Meet Ethereum, bitcoin’€™s most ambitious successor
remove management from the equation ... encode the mission statement into code... an inviolable contract that generates revenue, pays people to perform some function, and finds hardware for itself to run on
- Bootstrapping A Decentralized Autonomous Corporation: Part I
"there’s no shortage of startups, projects, and developers trying to apply the blockchain concept to everything... because it gives the tech industry another bite at a long-coveted apple: decentralization."
- Can an Arcane Crypto Ledger Replace Uber, Spotify and AirBnB?

Identity

Blockchain + private key cryptography allow for “self-sovereignly”: full possession of digital assets without having to trust a third party. Wallets can be multi-signature: have as owners multiple keys (incl. other wallets), & require multiple key signatures to confirm a transaction. They allow cooperatives to hold resources in common, and liquid democracy (through delegation). Multi-sig accounts = operating system for DAOs, presuppose groups or identity collections as their primary unit -> composable identity. Web 3.0 accounts will underpin #metaverse interoperability: provide wallets, identity, login functions and in-game inventories (holding assets, including identities), complete with cross-platform narratives & reputations. Inventories can be cooperatively shared - Inventories, Not Identities

AI/DAOs

blockchains encourage data sharing among traditional silos, if there is enough up-front benefit ... AI with blockchains unlock the possibility for AI DAOs - an AI that owns itself... can accumulate wealth, that you can’t shut off... an AGI-style control system running on a decentralized processing & storage substrate. Its feedback loop continues on its own, taking inputs, updating its state, actuating outputs, with the resources to do so continually... AI gets its missing link: resources. DAO gets its missing link: autonomous decision-making.
-
Blockchains for Artificial Intelligence

NFTs

"Scarcity — the quality that gives offline art its value — was hard to replicate online. An NFT is a digital collectible item stamped with a unique bit of code that serves as a permanent record of its authenticity and is stored on a blockchain... can be bought and sold ... can’t be deleted or counterfeited. That makes it useful for artists... to create limited edition digital goods... Creators can even attach a royalty agreement to their NFTs, entitling them to a cut of the profits every time their assets are resold".
- Buy This Column on the Blockchain!

Longer history: The Untold Story of the NFT Boom

Application examples

Media/journalism/publishing/art

Media: early resources - some quotes:

Brave, the blockchain-based browser initiative that raised $35 million in an ICO earlier this year, is making its first major move to build an ecosystem that rewards publishers in a new kind of way.
- Blockchain browser Brave makes push to reward content makers
Po.et is a shared, open-source universal ledger designed to track ownership, attribution and the marketplace flow of the world’s creative assets
- The Next Platform for Media and Makers (seems dead)
A new report ... concludes that “protecting the future of speech online involves ... experiments in decentralization... an ecosystem of competing publishing platforms, diverse in governance strategies, interoperable and connected by a diversity of federated clients.”
- Platforms wield a worrying amount of power over news and information. Can a more decentralized web help?

Civil:

An ecosystem of micropayments... the holy grail for online journalism... Blockchain technology can create both chains of authenticity and a level of security... a new blockchain-based platform called Civil... cryptocurrency token... tempt readers to invest directly in the journalism being done by ... newsrooms under their umbrella... Token holders will be able to vote on or challenge proposals, making the platform effectively a... community of active stakeholders participating in decisions.
- What Could Blockchain Do for Journalism?
an ad-free publishing economy on Civil’s Ethereum-based platform... accountable to its readers ... impervious to the interests and agendas of advertisers or other intermediaries or “influencers” ... Readers, and readers alone, provide our community, our platform, and the funding ... Commenters can earn tips on the Civil platform, so there will be a point to being smart and careful about what you write... Imagine adding information to a news story you’re interested in, and not just getting thumbs up or ‘likes’ for it, but getting paid for it
- Why does journalism need blockchain technology?

Art:

The same arguments regarding scarcity and digital that apply to media, above, also apply to digital art, with artists getting a share of resale, creating a perpetual revenue stream for successful artists and their descendants. But artists push things further than turning a newspaper column into a NFT: "The Fingerprints DAO collection is composed of NFTs that revolutionized the use of smart contracts as art" - including art which is created algorithmically, using the minting tmestamp among other datapoints as an input, and which can evolve over time.

Interesting #defi play by investors who bought 20 of beeple's "Everyday" NFT pieces for $2.2m, built virtual 3D museum galleries to display them, created 10 million B20 tokens, each representing a fractional ownership of the nfts: 10% went to the museum artists, 2% to Beeple, they kept 50% and put some up for sale. B2O peaked at $27m.

Games

OP Arcadeis a HTML5 game platform, with tournament competitions, to which game developers contribute games which are transformed into fractionalized NFTs. Buyers collect them to co-own games. Players can play for free (?) - via the DAO, "game owners make proposals, vote for game updates, fund additional development". Overall, a community: "players, game owners and developers working together to shape the future of their collectively owned games."

Social media / Fediverse

The model proposed in Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech (Nov. 2020) puts content moderation at the network edge, not the platform-owned centre. This edge could be the servers running the protocol according to rules the server owners' set up (classical fediverse model); the users themselves (fiddling with client preferences), and/or third parties, where users "subscribe to moderation filters or even add-on services ... let a million content moderation systems approach the same ... content—each taking an entirely different approach—and see which ones work best " (cf the "market of competing indicators" in We need a credibility indicator marketplace to fight disinformation, May 2018).

As for user dataprivacy: "just as the filtering decisions could move to the end users would simply build their own “data stores” [and] "offer up their data in exchange for access or deals" - cf Solid. And now add in cryptocurrency-based equity: the more you use, the greater your share of "the value of the overall network... As more people use the protocol [it] increases in value... an organization in charge of the protocol retains some percentage of the currency while distributing the rest".

Blockchains and tokens provide two crucial puzzle pieces for .. the decentralized internet... Blockchains ... allow many different people to ... agree upon information without having to trust each other... Tokens, meanwhile, enable incentives across national and company lines... to create private economies around open platforms...
- Centralized vs Decentralized — The Internet of the Past, Present and Future

Politics/Society

Crypto-anarchists are mostly computer-hacking, anti-state libertarians ... believe that digital technology, provided citizens are able to use encryption themselves, is the route to a stateless paradise... build software – think of it as political computer code – that can protect us online... Most of us chase their latest shiny toys and have no real understanding of what we’re doing... an entire nation could one day be provided online via an uncontrollable, uncensorable digital network, where groups of citizens could club together to privately commission public services.
- Forget far-right populism – crypto-anarchists are the new masters

Industry & services

each ride becomes cheaper if the vehicles are autonomous rather than owned and run by major corporations... We can program it to ... make it the most moral, socially minded capitalist possible...it would not be self-aware... But they would be programmed to seek self-improvement in order to avoid becoming obsolete... hire human programmers to tweak their code... cars could club together with any surplus earnings they had to pay factories to build more of them... the new car would compete ... but would begin by giving a proportion of its profits to its parents."
-Could driverless cars own themselves?

Finance: DeFi

Decentralised Finance: DeFi.

Ohm is a crypto reserve currency. Owners set policy via the OlympusDao. Ohm tokens are backed by a treasury of other cyrptocurrencies. The DAO mints & sells more to increase supply if the value of ohm rises above the treasury value, and buys back and burns Ohm if its value drops. Hence a stable floating value which never dips below the value of the backed assets in the treasury. It also buys bonds for its treasury in return for ohm at a discounted price.

Tools and platforms

Urbit looks like a fascinating platform to build myhub on: “an open-source decentralized internet project... at its most basic level, an Urbit is a super-private (virtual) computer, combined with an ID, which is connected peer-to-peer with other Urbit computers
- urbit.org/blog/urbit-for-normies.

Stuff I (Really) like

Here are the latest 9 resources I've Highlighted about Blockchain, Crypto, NFTs etc. There's more reading over here.

Inventories, Not Identities. Why multisigs are the future of online… | by Kei Kreutler | Gnosis
blog.gnosis.pm
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The Identity Stack ... Traditional online bank accounts represent balances as numbers stored in a centralized database... requires placing trust in a banking institution. Blockchain protocols plus private key cryptography ...introduce ... full possession of digital assets, without having to trust a third party. Hence the terms “self-custodial” or …

The NFT Gold Rush: How Cryptoartists Kick-Started a Boom - The New York Times
www.nytimes.com
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NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, represent a unique relationship between owner, artist and art. They are "digital files created using blockchain computer code... essentially impossible to duplicate" and so can be owned & resold, like any work of art. Anyone can download a copy of the art, but the NFT is unique. Noone cares if the art i…

18/11/2021
Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech | Knight First Amendment Institute
knightcolumbia.org
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Given the myriad problems posed by social media platforms - content moderation, disinformation, censorship, privacy, anti-trust - this article "proposes an entirely different approach... that enables more free speech, while minimizing ... trolling, hateful speech, and large-scale disinformation efforts... also might help users ... regain cont…

Disinformation Wars – Foreign Policy – Medium
medium.com
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The EU’s measures are still designed to target the disinformation of yesterday rather than that of tomorrow... should focus on the coming wave of disruptive technologies... four emerging threats in particular: the democratization of artificial intelligence, the evolution of social networks, the rise of decentralized applications, and the “back en…

The Next Platform for Media and Makers – Poet Blog
blog.po.et
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Po.et is a shared, open-source universal ledger designed to track ownership, attribution and the marketplace flow of the world’s creative assets through a never-before-imagined chain of value... a better model for the media ecosystem... where creators are paid for what they can do instead of what is required of them by an old and broken paradigm..…

Regulation as a Platform - Data61
www.data61.csiro.au
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regulation needn’t be such a compliance burden... an opportunity - how can we sustain a sophisticated and modern regulatory system, and at the same time manage complexity for end users?... re-imagining regulation as an open platform, based on digital logic... supports a future ecosystem of digital regulation tools and services... working with gov…

Blockchain browser Brave makes push to reward content makers
techcrunch.com
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an ecosystem that rewards publishers in a new kind of way... to disrupt the current financial norms of online publishing... reward users for browsing the web... make advertising less intrusive and more relevant... let readers ... ‘tip’ websites that they visit based on time spent on the site.

13/12/2017
Platforms wield a worrying amount of power over news and information. Can a more decentralized web help? » Nieman Journalism Lab
www.niemanlab.org

platforms like Facebook have ... amassed unprecedented gatekeeping powers ... Can new decentralized systems with no single point of control... be a remedy? A new report ... concludes that “protecting the future of speech online involves not only these ambitious experiments in decentralization, but the cultivation of an ecosystem of competing publi…

Liquid Democracy: True Democracy for the 21st Century
medium.com
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Voters can either vote directly on issues, or they can delegate their voting power to delegates (i.e. representatives) who vote on their behalf. Delegation can be domain specific, which means that voters can delegate their voting power to different experts in different domains... If trust is broken ... the voter can simply revoke the delegation ..…

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