Thursday, 7 May 2015

Advice For My 22-Year-Old Self: Art Vs. Commerce

Art and commerce should absolutely mix. Art plays a critical role in global conversations. Art shapes the Why before the Why shapes the economy. But if you don't seek a purpose greater than yourself, then it is like you are scuttling your creative vision on the shore of an uninhabited isle.

where my head was at @ 22:

Monday, 10 November 2014

Money2020 Conference Recap plus Bitcoin Market Predictions for 2015

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the massive Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas, along with 7,500 financial services professionals (including 750 CEOs) and 20 Bitcoin companies. I manned the Kraken Bitcoin Exchange booth, fielding questions about digital currency, the regulatory landscape, and our professional trading platform.

A hefty price-tag on sponsorships, booths, and passes weeded out many of the startups and small businesses you might see at a more low key event. The conference felt in some ways like a venue tailored for big banks and credit card companies to gain a maximum of mindshare. I'd never felt as much like a Rebel staring down the Galactic Empire as I did representing Kraken at an event like this.

The upshot is exclusivity. I'd also never met so many CEOs, founders, CFOs, etc. all in one place, and all willing to chat with me! While most companies there will not be adding Bitcoin to their services any time soon, I can report that there is certainly a growing sense of trust in Bitcoin.

Our industry has shown great resilience over the past year. While the price of bitcoin has dipped, adoption and network activity have increased month over month. I sense that many companies who last year wouldn't have touched bitcoin with a ten-foot-pole are now considering flipping their position.

2015: My crystal ball says...

One huge change from 2013 to 2014 is that you can now buy almost anything with bitcoin from a host of online retailers. has even closed up shop stating that their mission of pressuring retailers to accept bitcoin has been accomplished. The success of B2B2C payment processors like Bitpay is a great sign of maturity and growth of the industry. However, these services are also the source of constant downward pressure on the bitcoin price.

It's fairly clear that bitcoin early adopters and investors, miners, and bitcoin entrepreneurs, have been on an extended spending spree. There must be a significant number of individuals in the community who are over-exposed to bitcoin, and who are taking the opportunity to liquidate assets by making a large amount of online purchases. This isn't something that can go on forever.

It may be too soon to tell, but price stability over the past 60 days could be suggesting that we are bucking the downtrend. Future positive industry news will inevitably continue to renew the interest of speculators, as has always been the pattern. However moving forward, I anticipate a much better balancing of the downward pressure created by retail spending.

My crystal ball gets cloudy when asked about the impacts of actions by large institutional investors...

Many investors appear to be behaving similarly to financial institutions and keeping their distance. But the stage is set. Bitcoin is on Bloomberg, the ecosystem is thriving, and price may finally be stabilizing. Attracting the attention of big mainstream players for the first time in 2015 could lead to substantial gains. If that doesn't happen, the price of bitcoin is likely to remain stable as the ecosystem continues to charge forward at its blistering pace.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco

The San Francisco food and coffeehouse scene, 90s caps, hoods, and NICE mustaches. Still groovy after all these years...

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Great Chain of Numbers by Tim Swanson

Here's a quick plug for a book that really digs into the evolution of cryptocurrency. Author Tim Swanson offers a thorough rundown of everything happening in the ecosystem, and the book contains great quotes from many professionals in the industry.

Get the details on projects like Colored Coins, Mastercoin, NXT, Ethereum, BitSharesCounterparty, Ripple, and Open-Transactions, and learn more about top companies in the industry.

I was interviewed for the book, and have some remarks published regarding where I see future opportunity in the industry.

Check it out on Amazon:

Friday, 28 February 2014

A Super-Simple Explanation of the Mt.Gox Bitcoin Fiasco

There's so much speculation and conjecture surrounding Mt.Gox that it's confusing non-bitcoiners about what really occurred. This is what happened:

1. Clients held bitcoins and cash on deposit with Mt.Gox, and used their services as a combination of a traditional bank and a currency trading platform. Mt.Gox is one of the original big names in Bitcoin and was trusted by many by default.

2. Most or all of the bitcoin on deposit with Mt.Gox was stolen. This is the equivalent of a bank's vault being emptied of its gold by criminals. This may or may not have been an inside job, and investigations are ongoing.

3. Mt.Gox is claiming bankruptcy. Since no deposit insurance exists yet for digital currencies, clients have no clear recourse.

Note: While Mt.Gox remained popular, it was known for a long time by bitcoiners that dealing with them was risky.

Moving Foward

Accountability standards in the digital currency industry will be raised significantly as a consequence of this fiasco, and the industry as a whole will no doubt be strengthened by the experience.

EDIT: Some have claimed that perhaps Mt.Gox has lost all of their bitcoin due to operational failures on the part of their technology department. In my estimation it's nearly impossible that more than a sliver of their bitcoin reserves could have possibly been lost due to a technical mistake.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Ephemeral Artcoin

This idea was also posted on the Ethereum community website here:

Art has a powerful abstract message which functions on a different level than other media or craft. We all know real art when we experience it, but we can’t always explain what makes it real. The Ephemeral Artcoin (EA) is a platform designed to spark the creation of qualitative new works of non-commercial art in the post-bitcoin digital economy. 

I've been considering since May 2013 how to design a system that could marry a cryptographic asset to an original work of art, and support the value of this asset via social consensus. I believe this idea is something new and interesting that would not have been possible before the invention of Ethereum.

The EA currency units represent past works of art if you’re looking backwards through time, and potential future works of art when looking forward through time. Ephemerals or artcoins create registered existential links between creative works of art.

The 3 pieces of The Ephemeral Artcoin

1. The Protocol 
Coin generation is hyper-inflationary and happens in the Fibonacci sequence. This sequence was chosen because it demonstrates a bridge between nature and mathematics, just as art is a bridge between the empirical and abstract aspects of our existence, and our perception. 

Minting happens based on a 100% proof-of-stake algorithm. There is a 100% premine. 64 artcoins are to be awarded to a consortium upon release of the protocol. The number 64 was chosen because it represents the codons of human DNA.

1.1 Coin Age Demurrage
The point of owning artcoins is to pay them forward. Therefore there can be no long term proof-of-stake reward for coins that have not been verified to be travelling through the economy above a minimum velocity limit. These coins instead incur demurrage. In this way the artcoin economy will scale in tandem with the success rate of its mission to spark the creation of original non-comercial true works of art.

2. The Consortium
This ad hoc organization is charged with documenting all of the works of art of the community. These may be digital, mechanical, drawings, paintings, sculptures, possibly even literary works, or open source software. The Consortium’s theme is bridges, between art and technology, the future and the past, the known and the unknown. 

A coin does not represent actual ownership of a work of art, but rather proof that it was the coin that paid for an original work of art to come into existence. The art created by the community would be featured on a public website, and records are kept by the Consortium.

The object of the EA project is to render artcoins valuable, so that artists can receive higher compensation for original works commissioned by members the community. The Consortium pledges to operate completely transparently with its finances, and to spend its coins with the explicit strategic goal of increasing humanity’s output of original creative works. 

3. The Public Website or “Oracle”
A robust media website controlled by the Consortium. It is funded via community donations of cryptographic assets, and by the increase in value of its holdings in artcoin and ether.

Why Do Ephemerals have Value? How Does the Artcoin Economy Work?
The purpose of owning an artcoin is to pay it forward to an artist as payment for the creation of an original work of art. To be in possession of an artcoin is to possess the ability to commission a work from the community of artists, or to trade this privilege.

An artcoin is like a digital version of any other collectible coin or artifact, as well as a digital representation of a separate physical or digital work. The existential relationships between artworks are experienceable on the oracle website via posts, discussions, links, and robust visualizations.

Who owns the Artwork?
The artwork created belongs to the artists, and they are free to sell their work for any price independent of the artcoin or Ethereum communities. 

Conditions for Artists
Every artist who agrees to accept an artcoin as payment for the commission of an original work is honour bound to either finish the work commissioned, or return the coin to its previous owner. The artist is also honour bound to include a signature on the artwork identifying the ID of the transaction which led to the creation of the work, and to upload a photograph or video of the work and a bit of text (which should include a description or story about the work and/or biographical information about the artist) to the oracle website.

The Mechanics of the Artcoin Economy
Through the oracle website and other portals, members of the community can request works of art (ie. “I’d like an abstract painting of Satoshi Nakamoto”). Every artist in the world will be invited to create a profile on the oracle website, and network with the community.

This project presents new ideas that could never have been attempted before Ethereum, but it is also based on proven social, technological, and economic principles. EA is a great way to bring the technology and finance communities together with many of the world’s great artistic and abstract minds. 

The long term vision for EA is to have the entire project take the form of a distributed autonomous organization. The ultimate goal is to enrich humanity’s social and intellectual capital. 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

A Band That Plays Together Stays Together

Remembering Three Years of Zouch Magazine

Three members of The Rolling Stones have been playing together for over 50 yrs
There's an old adage in rock and roll that goes something like: "A band that plays together stays together". This adage has certainly held true for me in my life, in more ways than one. Some of the bands I was in in my teens and early 20s seemed as though they might be successful. Yet in the end, all save one of these music projects crumbled without achieving anything at all. One group quit because a band member went away to college, another time we lost a jamspace, etc. The reason these projects failed was simply that we did not follow the adage. There were no dramatic breakups for me, only a series of gentle decampments mostly owing to logistical difficulties.

I've been running an online magazine called Zouch Magazine for three years, and I just now realized that the old adage has a parallel to my publishing experience. It relates to publishing in a different way. A magazine doesn't have a single sound, or a single voice, as a rock band does. We've showcased the work of literally thousands of artists and writers in various ways. Maybe there are some direct creative relationships serving as a foundation for the thing, but the front end experience is truly a mixed bag, a cascade of separate voices.

Through all of the perils that come with navigating the web media space, and the hardship that comes from working part-time on a startup that does not generate enough income to pay any salaries, Zouch has persisted. We have persisted not because all of our creative voices have continued to sing in unison, but rather, because we have continued to do the best job we can publishing content we believe in. We've halted the presses only a few times, and have resisted the temptation to leave the thing behind.

The Zouch project has legs. There are several people engaged in the day to day, and nobody wants to let go. I know that Zouch Magazine is my first true success in life, because it's been three years. After all of the hard work, we stand more popular now than we have ever been, looking forward to publishing more.