Towards content-producing decentralized autonomous organisations.

Imagine if you could build a Tumblr that runs itself and pays the people that write blogs on it? The bigger the site becomes, the more worth your contributions become. It also means no ads need to be run on the site.

This is the concept of a content-producing decentralized autonomous organisation (CPDAO). The Cypherfunks was an early attempt at that (which we are still busy with), but I believe the parts can be improved to more succinctly introduce feedback loops. I’ve spoken to various people (The Cypherfunks, guys from Ethereum and Wendell from Humint), and have put together some thoughts on how this could work. There is still a part or 2 missing, but I feel if I write this up, and get more minds onto this, we move towards making CPDAOs. Organic, emergent networks that don’t require a central entity to run and pays out the whole ecosystem, instead of one company that captures all the value.

The basic features of a CPDAO is that it should host the content, distribute it and incentivise people to contribute to it. CPDAO’s content is dependent on how the tech is set up & how the network expects to interact with the content. In other words, different CPDAO’s could eventually be built for various content. A group of people making music together (The Cypherfunks) or people working together on a blogging network (ala decentralized Tumblr). A blockchain (not necessarily, it could work with something like Ethereum hypothetically) along with a token forms the core of the system. The token serves several purposes: as quantification of the network (like Bitcoin), payment to keep it running and is required to add content to the CPDAO. Additionally, a “voting” system seems like it is required to incentivise content that isn’t bullshit.

So. I’ve thought 2 ways this could possibly work. I hit a technical roadbloack, so I’m not even sure if it is possible. I need to do more research, but hopefully if someone more technical reads it they can add their ideas.

Version 1 (New coins go to hosters of popular content).

The important part of a CPDAO is: who gets the new coins? And how can you do it cryptographically unbreakable? In version 1, the new coins go proportionally to the hosters of popular content. You become a hoster, by voting for the content you like. Voting for content is a tip to the content-producer. By tipping, the software takes the content and you help store & serve it from your computer (as a usual p2p network).

This means. If you tip the right content (content you think is good and popular for the network), you host & store it. If you serve the most content, you get the biggest reward (from the issuance). This means: Content-producers gets rewarded through tips as the “hosters” want to make money as well. The hosters thus play the role of curators as well: hoping to find good content to host, as serving the most popular content, nets the biggest rewards. Becoming a larger hoster (hoping to get more new coins), involves finding new content, tipping said content-producers, and growing the content you host.

The technical problem here, and I need to read up on how things like Ethereum’s Swarm, MaidSafe, Filecoin, Storj, etc reward storage hosters. If it is simply by size, then it becomes a bit more of a difficult feedback loop. As you can see, this technical part is still hazy. But if you can cryptographically issue new coins proportionally to people that host the most popular content, and they can only get new content to host by paying content-producers, it feels like it is getting closer.


- BuzzFeed, race to the bottom, Upworthy-style. What’s considered “good” for the CPDAO, might not be the most “popular”. A meme CPDAO might work with this version.

- If you have a lot of money, you can tip all content, and overpower the network by hosting most of the content.


So, to divorce the form of content (size, amount, etc) from the equation, I thought up a second way.

Version 2 (New coins go to voters).

This version works by hopefully employing a modified form of proof of stake. Some parts work similarly to above.

If you like content, you tip it (giving content-producers money). That tx then gets a special tag (it’s a special form of transaction). The tag is based on a specific address you own. You still then duplicate the content to your local drive to host and distribute. Instead of somehow being paid proportionally to how much content you serve, instead that special transaction becomes a record of a tip. Over time, each tip has a chance to solve a block (and like proof-of-stake, it accumulates over time). If those special tx solve it, then at that point, you still have to prove you host the file. If you don’t host the file anymore, that special tx you’ve done won’t be able to solve a block anymore. That’s the premise.

However, again, I’m not sure if that is possible. I’m thinking hash challenges could work, but hash challenges won’t be verifiable by the rest of the network. Or maybe it is possible?


So based on the above 2 versions, the basic formation of a CPDAO is as follows:

- New coins are issued to content hosters & curators.

- New users discover content of the CPDAO and want to to be a part of it.

- Content-producers buy coins to post new content to the CPDAO (hosting it themselves first). Content grows.

- Content hosters & curators can get new coins if they tip content-producers. Because when they tip, they agree to host the content.

- Go back to the top.

So, as you can see. The following incentives need to be created:

- Content relevant to the CPDAO, because hosters/curators that tip content that don’t fit the paradigm, won’t get more coins (this works better with v1 than v2). But not perfect yet. It still seems possible to create a scenario where people “attack” the network by tipping blog posts containing “aaaaaaaaaaaaaa”. To mitigate around this, a tip could be turned into a “follow”, so if you do try to game it by tipping purposefully poor quality content, your stream will be full of shit. It won’t stop it, but I don’t think the point will be to stop garbage, rather like in Bitcoin, make it so that there’s spam control. This where the purpose of requiring the coin to add content comes from. But guessing what that fee should be is difficult. You want it to be high enough so that people don’t spam blogs such as “aaaaaaaaaa”.

- Content is hosted &distributed through the p2p network. This incentivised by new coin issuance in the blockchain.

Other possible problems: If content-producers get rewarded through votes, there is possibly manipulation possible. Stealing content and passing off as your own becomes an incentive. Don’t think reputation has to be dragged into a CPDAO, but perhaps it must, to make sure people don’t steal content?

So, theoretically, the feedback loops seem to work okay (can need some refinement). It’s just solving the problem of proving that hosting/curation worked of content that fits the paradigm of the CPDAO.

Perhaps it won’t be so farfetched to think that one day in the future we will all live alongside “CPDAO”s and working with them will be our “keep” (perhaps “keep” is an outdated word in this context). Bitcoin is already a DAO and absorbing loads of talent & mindshare from all over the world.


So, I recently found that Filecoin does proof-of-storage through hash challenges. However, more exciting is proof-of-custody that uses both private key + storage elements. So technically, it *does* seem like it is possible. If you are interested in working on this, find me on Twitter (@simondlr)

An intro to DNSChain: Low-trust access to definitive data sources.

I recently discovered DNSChain. It seems a bit more complicated than it really is, so I’ll try and explain what it is & why it is a novel solution to resolving DNS.

The (simplified) “old” model:

When you type in “” into your browser, it queries the root DNS and “cascades” down the hierarchy to find who owns “” and then returns the IP address.

This systems requires trusted 3rd parties during the process on several levels. The first is: institutions such as ICANN are responsible for maintaing the root ledgers. Secondly, DNS can be “spoofed”, in other words, someone could intercept the request to the authoritative servers and give the browser the wrong results. In other words, if not properly secured, typing in might give you a completely different IP. That’s why companies like Thawte & Verisign came along. They became “certificate authorities”, another 3rd party responsible for maintaining this infrastructure. A certificate authority (in simple terms), is responsible for making sure that if you type in tumblr, that you actually *are* receiving traffic from Tumblr.

It’s not too secure. A CA has been compromised in the past, in which case although everything “looks” secure, traffic could be redirected or intercepted.

Now, this is simplified way of how it works, but what’s important here: 1) DNS is currently 3rd-party based hierarchical system that 2) has security holes from the fact that we need to trust a set of 3rd-parties to act in authoritative manner to keep us secure.

Famously, Zooko’s triangle explains the problem with this: Decentralized, secure & human-readable. Pick 2. You can’t have all 3.

DNSChain model:

Namecoin is a blockchain that allows key-value storage. It’s been used to store identities (onename) or domains (.bit). It defies Zooko’s triangle.

Namecoin is decentralized (it’s a blockchain), it’s “secure” (or at least more secure and will get more secure into the future than current DNS infrastructure) and allows human-readable domain names that ends in the .bit extension. So you if have the appropriate measures set up (adding proxies or additional DNS server to resolve to), you can view .bit domains.

Currently it is a bit cumbersome. There’s currently no incentive really for the average web user to add the features. The other problem with this is, is the same problem that plagued the original DNS setup. If you have a proxy or different IP set up to view .bit domains, how do you know someone isn’t serving you the wrong IP addresses? You have to maintain your own Namecoin to check, which is cumbersome.

So: DNSChain comes along and allows an HTTP & DNS interface to the Namecoin blockchain (or any other blockchain you’d want). Additionally, each DNSChain server signs (upcoming feature) traffic it sends, so you can verify along with its fingerprint that it DID come from that DNSChain server.

In other words, instead of someone else running a proxy or a DNS server, DNSChain makes it easy for anyone set up a DNS resolver for data in the blockchain (if you add a DNSChain server you trust to your computer’s DNS settings). So, if I type in <domain>.bit, it will check with your DNS settings, find one that resolves .bit. This is of course a DNSChain server you trust. Since you trust that DNSChain data, you know, along with proper verification that the IP address is the correct one.

The great thing about this, is that because the datastore is decentralized (unlike the current authoritative infrastructure), there’s no real limit to how many DNSChain server can be run. Ideally, you’ll only need 1 DNSChain server for yourself, as that is the one you’ll trust the most. However, it doesn’t seem reasonable to expect every web user to have their own DNSChain server set up. It’s too complicated. So, the middle ground is to have a user add either a friend’s DNSChain server, or a more public one. But to forego the need for 7 billion DNSChain servers, the middle ground to me seems like having a set of many (don’t think you need a lot) DNSChain servers whom you trust (but not entirely). So if you have a friend’s DNSChain server, but you know he is a shit sys-admin, then it might be compromised. So, just to be safe, you have an additional DNSChain server of your other friend. Having 2 means you can “cross-check”, in the scenario that you don’t really trust either of them 100%.

So IF you worry that one of your DNSChain server could get compromised, or its Namecoin data could get sybil attacked, you need to simply add more DNSChain servers you trust. I’m not entirely sure if this is possible, but you could additionally (with a small overhead) add a *trust* probability to the data. In other words, when querying a .bit it checks ALL your DNSChain connections. If 99% of them return the same IP, you are pretty sure that’s the legit one.

The beauty of the DNSChain system is that also works for *other* data as well, not just IP data. Services like onename store BTC payment information.

However, currently for services to use onename in their products, they need to have the overhead of maintaining their own namecoin blockchain so they can check the data. However, if I visit a site that uses onename, there’s no way for me to easily to verify that they went direct to the source or through other services (such as block explorers). Additionally, even IF they did go direct to the source, there could be malicious extensions or MITM attacks that alters the payment address.

So as a way for your browser to verify that the address you see (that has been retrieved from onename) IS the address in the actual Namecoin blockchain, it needs to in a secure & low overhead manner query the Namecoin blockchain. So now, you can simply add, say 5 DNSChain servers you trust to get back results from all 5 to make sure that any address information ARE correct.

You don’t need DNSChain (you could simply find several namecoin exposed IP’s), but DNSChain helps in that it exposes it more easily (it comes with a HTTP resolver too) and signs the traffic.

So what we now need is a browser extension that maintains a public list of all DNSChain servers, and maintains the security of the network (throw out DNSChain servers that reply with fraudulent data). This list, like Bitcoin’s seed lists, develops a trust percentage over time so that we always have a pretty decent snapshot of data in the Namecoin blockchain. Of course, if you ever think that’s a bad idea, you can just always run your own DNSChain server. ;)

The end-goal however is to have a DNSChain server in every home (synced up to a relevant decentralized data-store)… Perhaps on the router?

I think DNSChain is such a quick, easy & novel way to secure a lot about the internet and that is relatively simple to implement. Bravo.

P.S. It’s important to note that DNSChain can be implemented with any type of decentralized data-store. It doesn’t have to be Namecoin. It could be other chains, such as NXT, or Ethereum contracts.

Here’s a video showingcasing DNSChain & OkTurtles project.

Thanks to Greg (@taoeffect) from DNSChain for fact-checking and reading through this before posting!


As with anything creative, sometimes things don’t work out. We’ve had some product vision differences with Cheers [easily tip musicians] that unfortunately didn’t resolve itself.

Justin & I have decided to each take different approaches to this problem of tipping creators. Over time, since I first mailed Justin & Rich, my thoughts around it have changed a lot, and for some reason (as I’ve discovered when thinking about problems), is there are sometimes even more problems deeper down that first need to be solved [it’s like I can’t get out of academic thinking since I finished last year. ;)].

The first alpha part of Enkore will launch in the next week or so. It won’t be the tipping service, but it will enable people to more easily tip or pay anyone in the world (without middlemen). This backbone will form a core of Enkore that will be small at first, but hopefully over time extend to be the ONLY backbone. You will see what I mean when it goes live. Enkore will essentially be 2 parts, both independent, but feeding into each other. It answers the question: how do you reward creators in a world where everyone will have instant p2p payments in the next 10 years?

At the end of the day, if I don’t succeed in helping creators, then I hope Justin succeeds, because then the world will be better off for it!

Check out Enkore & Huzzah.

Follow @enkoreco & sign up to the mailing list on the site.

Thoughts on Ethereum.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

Mihai Alisie (from Ethereum) nails it with post: dreaming with open minds. Lots of awesome nuggets in that post.

Back in December when I was researching personal coin ideas, just like Vitalik, I discovered that, at that stage, doing any kind of colored coin system on the Bitcoin blockchain will be possible, but very, very ‘hack’-y. I even came up with an overly complicated decentralized altcoin process (that probably has millions of holes). It was spammy and didn’t really feel like it would fit. And the odd combination of having to keep normal btc to transfer colored coins. It’s messy.

I was glad to discover that Vitalik started Ethereum: solving exactly those problems. And it is on the surface, a simple proposition: move the ‘unit of account’ to a processing unit. Ether, is the ‘gas’ to process multitude of smart contracts.

In Bitcoin’s case, the ‘transaction fee’ was what was paid to change state of the currency unit, processing a relatively simple contract on the ledger.

In Ethereum, this contract can become much more complex and a lot more can be changed in the state besides a “currency unit”. But now, a transaction fee in the case of Bitcoin won’t suffice [pay per kb], as more complex contracts would not match linearly with increase in size. And thus, ‘ether’ is used to process these contracts and state changes.

If you are up for some reading on this fine Thursday, do read the white paper:


The potential this has is immense. I’m especially looking forward to working on decentralized reputation systems (so you could hopefully tap it more easily into systems such as OpenBazaar), and again working on personal coins.

But, that’s probably just low hanging fruit with Ethereum. I’m so so excited about what will happen, and what will be created. Here’s even a basic experiment in defining art with a dash of behavioural economics in a contract (by Rob Myers): Because why not?

The jury is still out on the economics of this system [including the concept of a pre-sale of ether]. But to able to figure it out is a really, really difficult problem.

At the end of the day, I take my hat off to the Ethereum guys. I like supporting people who create, and are passionate about what they are creating. Doing something so monumental is no easy task. There’s technical, economical, cryptographic & legal problems, and then you have to deal with the haters as well [don’t be a hater, be a creator].

As humanity, we are paving our way to defeating the entropy of large social systems, and whether Ethereum fails or succeeds, it’s a historical step.

I bought some ether so I can do some cool contracts when it launches and saying thanks to the hard-working team for doing epic shit. Not much, as I need to still bootstrap this new company I’m busy with. ;)

The blueprints for a decentralized Uber.


Uber recently received $1.2 Billion in investment at a $17 Billion valuation. Kudos to them. Fundamentally, they provide a great service. They could become much bigger, filling into the niche of every “transport as a service”. If so, $17 billion is still low. Even though it is only just 4 years old, it already claims huge revenue.

It comes down to our revenue numbers, the growth of those numbers and our business model itself. … The [numbers] are incredibly compelling.

But. And here’s a thought experiment… We have a company in the business of market-making: matching up people to transport. They provide additional services that make it a more compelling experience: a reputation system for drivers, decent cars, vehicle tracking & instant payment through an app.

Like Michael Arrington states in this 2010 post about Uber, it solves the following annoyances:

In my order, that’s flagging one down, finding the cash to pay, and being in a sometimes disgusting car.

It brings the hallmarks of the ‘sharing economy’ to the transport industry: identity/reputation systems, and ease of transferring value. The same with Airbnb. Bringing in an ID/reputation system with the ease of value transfer. Apartment/home rentals abroad were often confusing & unorganised.

Fundamentally though, the services these companies provide alleviate some of the inefficiencies in bringing it all together: tying in reputation to a specific subset of a market (past time/space constraints), being a trusted brand & being the payment processor. Rightfully so, they take a cut for their services.

On a smaller scale, you wouldn’t require a third party, as the market would be efficient enough. There’s enough trust between participants so that people would be content to use normal means of “market making”. Take the example of a small seaside town. If you have friends that want to come visit you over the holidays, local knowledge, know-how and connection to the locals in the area is enough to find out who has a place free for your friends to come and stay. Once the scale becomes larger, and larger, these efficiencies become too large, and internet-scale services such as Airbnb & Uber are required.

So, what it it comes down to: when the scale becomes larger, we need third parties such as Airbnb & Uber to help us in market making… and we pay them for it.

There thus exists a hole in the market. An internet-scale decentralized, reputation-based marketplace (for everything). Immense costs will be cut. A more globally efficient market.

Ever since, I heard Mike Hearn talk about the possibility of a “TradeNet” (slides), I’ve been keeping an eye on this problem. A decentralized marketplace for everything (including machines posting jobs for machines). I’ve been slowly educating myself in the esoteric parts of how such a system could function, reading up things like Kademlia DHTs. By no means am I equipped yet to understand how it would work technically, but thankfully there’s people considerably smarter than I am!

And it is coming. It’s called OpenBazaar. OpenBazaar is a fork of DarkMarket. DarkMarket’s slant is decidedly more political. I’m much more a fan of the neutral-sounding OpenBazaar. It’s not just about being to sell anything, it’s also about solving efficiencies in global scale market making. It’s not just about being to able sell drugs. The media already looks at DarkMarket like it is only for that.

Brian Hoffman, current lead dev on the project, puts it succinctly:

“The goal is not to make it simple to find drugs or guns. Period. I am not spending my time contributing to something to help others buy drugs, I’m trying to help sellers save money on transaction and payment processing costs, and open up new customer bases. There’s a lot more here than drug or gun sales.”


In short, it is a p2p market. Cut one part of the hydra off, and it remains alive. It will have secure p2p merchants, anonymous rating systems & 3rd-party arbitration.

Without going into too technical detail, it will hopefully be possible for someone to build a global reputation for a specific market need (driving people around), and won’t require a third-party to bring it together.

A decentralized Uber could thus use OpenBazaar as its “back-end”, and then someone would build the additional features such as tracking of taxis. Others could use the same back-end and innovate. It could all be open-source too.

Of course, this would be simplifying parts of the process, and perhaps it wouldn’t necessarily be as close to Uber, but it is definitely possible, and it is definitely coming. If market efficiencies make it better for the driver and the passenger: cost cutting & saving on fees, it could be adopted like wildfire. It could also mean that markets could become more efficient. Uber’s top-down “surge pricing” might not be the most efficient.

It’s going to create rippling ramifications in the political/legal sphere. Uber & Airbnb are already bashing against them. But what will happen when all this gets decentralized? And what happens when not only humans start using this OpenBazaar, but autonomous agents as well [self-driving cars picking up packages and delivering them]? Also, imagine a permissionless, global marketplace? “Permissionless innovation” is a buzz-word, but seriously, imagine the possibilities?

All I know is, it will most likely create a world that will be more cost effective, and bring people closer. And that’s an experiment worth trying. Now, I just need to copy myself, so I can work on more of these awesome projects!


Systems, trust and the blockchain.

(Some background music for this post. Click play).

For my masters degree that I finished last year, I decided to research something that’s always interested me: group dynamics (and specifically the concept of ‘critical mass’). I wanted to know what happens with groups of people, as they grow larger. I ended up finding a niche in this, but it still came from a curiosity in terms of how humanity functions together.

I’m particularly fascinated by the research of the Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist that correlated the size of the prefrontal cortex in relation to size of groups in primates.

What he discovered (and it’s just a well substantiated hypothesis) is that the size of the prefrontal cortex does in fact correlate to larger group sizes. Later on, he went on and postulated the idea of the “social brain hypothesis”. There is safety in numbers, and the primates that managed to be able to group together in larger numbers, survived. One of our greatest assets is the extent of social capability.

In a sort of fibonacci manner, these groups extend in size by increasingly larger factors. Here’s an in-depth post on it looking deeper into these delineations. 

This picture says a lot:


Have you ever been to a social gathering, where there is 5-7 people? Everyone has fun together, but once you add the 8th person, it’s too much and the conversations splinter.

You’ll also agree that that you probably have 5-7 really close friends/family. Then after that it starts branching into close acquaintances (and friends you don’t see often), up to about 50 people. Then it goes onwards until 150, which according to Dunbar is the limit of people with which we can have “stable” relationships with.

Each new delineation means a new kind of relationship. In humanity’s history we’ve consistently found ways to extends these groupings. With each new technology (as part of our system), as individuals we’ve managed to collectively put faith in it so that we can function better together: the sum is greater than the parts.

If you look at innovations such as agriculture, sewage systems, rail, cars, internet, etc. Each time we can let go of some “trust” in others, but put faith in the “technology” so we can ALL be better off. If we are only primates in the wild, we required the trust of others in the group: which limits us to 150. But NOW, we don’t. We can arbitrate the trust through the extra pillars in our systems.

Now we manage to collectively hold faith in systems such as democracy, capitalism, policing, nation states, etc to able to function at “higher levels” of organization.

I mean. If you think about it. Isn’t it a bit weird that another individual has the authority to lock you away? Or isn’t it weird that we stop for red robots, which is just a red light? Isn’t it weird, that on some pieces of land I can walk freely, but then suddenly walk into artificial boundaries? We, however agree to work with this, because for the most part, it enables other things. We are all cogs in an increasingly larger machine (not implying the negative connotation here): allowing us to enjoy things like Game of Thrones thousands of kilometres away, allowing us to enjoy the Internet, communicating with fascinating stranger in different countries.

It’s a growing, complex system. The parts become larger, creating smaller autonomous pockets within the larger whole. Currently the escape velocity of these systems seem to get stuck at nation states. We’ve tried creating systems of international (and wordly) agreement, but it still sometimes fails. We unfortunately must still have  an hegemony to act as the world’s “police” (aka USA). Nations (*cough* Russia) continuously test their geopolitical influence, and international agreements often fizzle out.

The benefit of the Internet has made nation states more intertwined, which is good. We seem to move towards the right path.

Now: if you catch where I’m heading towards. In terms of humanity, trust and systems, technology enables us to trust the people less, because we can put trust in the system. As time went on, we put more and more trust in the “black box” of the systems we’ve created. To use a crude example, I can swipe my credit card at a shop in Amsterdam, and everything *should* be okay, because we can put trust in the systems behind it. I don’t have to worry that the waitress behind the desk has any incentive to suddenly whip out a knife and kill me for my clothes. I don’t know her… from anywhere. But I don’t need to. And that’s the beauty of the wonderful systems we’ve created. Some are still flawed, but we’ve managed to do a really great job so far, thanks to our prefrontal cortex.

We understand the concept of “police”, blackboxing it in our minds, that allows us to go along with the collective “illusion” that another individual can lock us away.

To sum up thus far: better systems require less trust -> enabling us to achieve more. (I generally don’t need to worry that my chair that’s keeping me steady is going to break). In the center of this is technology/innovation. In terms of complexity theory: it’s the rock solid foundation that allows creativity and innovation to exist at the “edge of chaos”.

Now comes the most fucking mind-blowing part: the next step. The almost perfect trust-less system. A cryptocurrency’s blockchain.

Humanity, in the guise of a group of people (or individual) created Bitcoin: Satoshi Nakamoto. A system that propels humanity aeons ahead. Through clever exploitation of numbers, verifiable by the laws of the universe we inhabit, we can establish consensus. Just think about it: a verifiably secure, global, nearly instant public ledger. That’s unfathomable.

The blockchain becomes the foundation for a system in which humanity can organise in a much larger fashion: continuing our walk to trump Dunbar’s Number.

Think of it as a pillar - a strut - propping up humanity. A “large city” attracting people from neighbouring towns. A star, attracting celestial bodies to form a solar system. The blockchain’s “systemic gravity” is incredibly strong.

Like agriculture, sewage systems, the automobile, the pc & the internet, we’ve reached a new substrate in complex systems that will help us withstand the entropy of large social systems.

It’s going to a really awesome decade or 2 ahead.

Update on TwimeMachine.

I put TwimeMachine up for sale end of last year. There were some offers, but none that was what I wanted.

It is still for sale. I will put this up for a week or two. If there is no willing buyer, I will move to Flippa and sell it there.

Here are updates to the stats:

Get in touch:

P.S. Due to my liking to the cryptocurrency community (and ease of use of transferring value), if paid through Bitcoin, I will take off %5 of the price.

Currency as language.

On this wonderful journey of cryptocurrencies, I explained why in the next decade there will be a currency for everything (even people).

One of the rising protagonists of the cryptocurrency movement is Andreas Antonopoulos. He shares my vision of a world where there will be thousands of currencies. He has a knack for distilling some of the concepts into succinct terms. During the recent Coinsummit conference, he mentioned this future again and used a term that so aptly describes what is going to happen.

Currency will become a language.

Because (soon) anyone can create a currency that is instantly global and more to secure to counterfeiting than any other form of money we’ve seen. And when this happens, people will have free choice to affiliate their monetary value to any community they wish.

When you are faced with an option to use equally secure forms of money with equal monetary value, you are going to use the one that speaks to you: that represents the ideas you want to affiliate with. For example: let’s say there is a currency for death-metal fans & a currency for jazz fans. If you had the option to (without financial risk*) to use one that speaks to you (jazz), you’ll use that one. It becomes a vote for that community. It is the glue & lifeblood that builds a foundation for those networks of value. I like putting it in terms of this other post I made about music & people’s disdain for when artists go mainstream. The “law of hipster connection” states: 

The more obscure and deeper down the rabbit hole of music you go, the deeper and more intimate connections between individuals become.

Replace “music” with any “meme” (in the Dawkins sense of the word). I use art as an explanation as well.

Understanding others through a cultural meme is sort like a proof-of-work for connection. If I like something, and someone else likes it as well, it speaks to what has happened in our life and the roads we unknowingly shared to be able to come together and appreciate that meme (note. Again, I’m using meme in the correct way here, not referring to funny internet jokes).

This week, through serendipity of the internet, Marc, a musician from Johannesburg called me to explain just how excited he is about “The Cypherfunks" (internet band & cryptocurrency community). It is inevitable then that barriers of trust are completely destroyed, because we both "get" it. It is a wonderful feeling.

And so, currencies will become languages: indirect votes of the community you affiliate with. If I use Dogecoin, it represents the welcome, light-hearted and charitable community we’ve come to know and love. If I use FUNK, it represents the community of musicians coming together to make music with others across the world. The currency becomes loaded with meaning, and that meaning speaks.

And that is so exciting. So incredibly exciting. It speaks to people in terms of agency & in terms of connection. The great inventions of the world bring us closer, because deep down, one of our greatest desires is to rally against this shell that is our body. We touch. We talk. We fall in love so that the barrier between us and others fall down. And that makes these experiments all the more worthwhile.


*Just a note on financial risk. Of course, if we assume a very liquid world containing various networked currencies, there’s going to be some risk in holding a currency. The natural order of things is for communities to arise and die, but sometimes your propensity of risk is to not necessarily want to be financially involved. There are however ways to mitigate this, and it is already becoming possible. An example is Coinbase’s (apparently) upcoming feature that when people spend their Bitcoin, it immediately transfers your dollars in your Bank account (through ACH) to Bitcoin and pays with that (or replenishes it, straight afterwards). This means. When faced with a situation to pay for something, you can choose a currency, as long as it is immediately exchanged into the other. For those with less propensity of risk , they can keep their currency in a system that is currently more stable, and then when paying, it becomes a vote for a more specific community. Paying with Bitcoin through Coinbase using this method is a vote for Bitcoin: a community that represents this potential. In the future, it could even be from Bitcoin -> other currency networks.

A blockchain as host for a decentralized virtual/augmented reality.

So. Now that Facebook has acquired Oculus, there’s talk (on the Oculus) sub-reddit about metaverses. Facebook could make & build a metaverse. And they suspect that, of course, there will be multiple metaverses created by different companies. However, we stare slap-bang right into a problem of ownership & centralization… Something humanity has managed to solve in the form of… a blockchain.

Bitcoin is a shared ledger, currently used for currency. But that shared ledger technology can be used for almost anything. The incentive of the “tokens” used in it, should just be aligned with incentives to keep the blockchain alive. So, an example of this is Namecoin: a tool store decentralized dns. But which has also now been used to create a decentralized directory of people:

Now. Thinking about virtual (& augmented reality for example), there WILL be incentives to create a metaverse not controlled by a central authority (such as Facebook). We’ll want to create objects in these spaces that are decentralized, and we have the technology to do so. Pure virtual reality might be some time off (as it is perhaps a bit more complex), but let’s look at augmented reality. If I place an augmented chocolate on the ground in front of my house, and someone else walks by with their (say Google Glass), they will need to be able to see it. So a bare minimum, this is already possible. You create a key-value system, similar to Namecoin, but call it AugmentedCoin. Similarly, you need AugCoins to store the coordinates of these virtual objects. The extra part is the reference to how this augmented object acts in the augmented space [if the reference is missing, it disappears?].

The beauty of this system too, is that proof-of-work can act as spam control. In order words, you can’t just place a shitload of bananas all over the meta-layer [over earth]. The basic form is that transaction fees limit continuous placing of objects. But you could also add another layer, where the higher fee becomes the first object (form of proof-of-sacrfice)?

Anyway. Just some quick thoughts. I do however think this is inevitable. It might some time to eke out the details (economics & technology), but it is entirely possible. If it can be decentralized, it WILL be decentralized.