Web3 is escapism. It is a virtual land of meta clout, fake money, and billionaire anthropomorphized monkeys. To put it lightly, you’re probably not coming to us for the hard news.
But, since last Thursday, there’s been exactly one important thing on the Internet. And the impact of a short, balding white guy’s limp, swinging dick is being felt everywhere, even on the blockchain.
Luckily, it’s not 1941 anymore, and democracy can now be defended from the comfort of your crypto wallet. So, for those of us fortunate enough to not border a cripplingly insecure mass murderer, here’s a crash course on waging war3.
Chad & El Prof
(Price changes reflect past 7 days as of 3.1.22 @ 4:20 PM EST.)
- Crypto markets have shown a surprise recovery in the wake of a surprise war, perhaps because we now have the use cases to show it’s one of the sole lines of defense for citizens across the globe.
- And, if we do see our diamond hands revert to coal while we patiently dread the specter of $4.00 gallons of oil, just remember: the ruble has it worse.
Decidedly non-Russian bots
It’s hard to tell if we’re nearing the apocalyptic end times described in every ancient text, or just a really bad bout of Boomers going through the world’s deadliest later-life crisis. As you H0Rs know, we like to keep things vague and convoluted to ensure no one knows where we stand on any issue. But there’s no nuance to see here, just an aggressive dictator super violating the sovereignty of another nation. So, today, we’re shining our spotlight on the hackers fighting back — which, turns out, could be you.
HackenProof is a bug bounty service, and friend of the newsletter, whose purpose is to provide ethical hacking services to businesses and brands. It’s basically the very online equivalent of banks hiring safe crackers and check forgers to identify points of failure in the existing system in order to make them stronger.
As of last week, the Ukrainian-based business has leveraged their defensive capabilities to launch an offensive on Russian propaganda sites. So, what does it mean to launch a cyber-attack? To start, they’ve raised an army of decidedly non-Russian bots to overload Kremlin servers — an unqualified success in the short term. But bot-swarming can be expensive and easy to defend against, which is where the HackenProof team comes in. Cyber-attacks also rely on identifying exploits, which means inspecting all available public code related to the digital property and seeing if you can use its functions in ways other than intended, hoping to cause the systems to bug-out and go offline like a corrupt video game cartridge.
While cyber warfare has its limitations in the face of kinetic warfare, it serves a crucial purpose here, as Russian-sponsored media outlets spread disinformation to their own citizens, gaslighting them into believing that this invasion of Ukraine is actually a response to Western aggression. With the looming possibility of nuclear consequences, the hope is to force the soldiers from Russia and Belarus, with their fingers on the big red button, to face the facts — peace and sovereignty are the desired outcome, not mutually assured destruction.
If you, too, are interested in averting nuclear war, you can run an app node to help overload these Russian websites yourself, using Disbalancer, another Ukrainian cybersecurity firm. The size of the attack vector is crucial, so the more contributors, the higher likelihood of success. I’m running it myself as I type, so it’s certified n00b friendly. But if you need extra hand holding, here’s an IRL friendly resource website detailing actionable ways for foreigners to support Ukraine.
If we make it through our latest self-inflicted stab at rapture, remember the heroes at HackenProof, who can help protect your business the same way they are working to protect an entire nation. In the meantime?
SPONSORED BY YOU
…and we’re talking about world change, not our silly little newsletter.
We urge you to donate whatever you can afford in cryptocurrency to Ukraine.
- BTC – 357a3So9CbsNfBBgFYACGvxxS6tMaDoa1P
- ETH – 0x165CD37b4C644C2921454429E7F9358d18A45e14
- USDT (trc20) – TEFccmfQ38cZS1DTZVhsxKVDckA8Y6VfCy
- BTC — 3Km7c28kAd7h8qTaP6ogkUimnv7Eeawbzr
- ETH — 0x3f757112C7C49F1dA874CfCe2eCE60354D61d434
- USDT (trc20) — TRDpNH2jrSQ2TAZoaRZZLB4KjXgSVmXbuv
Or support Unchain Ukraine for civilians’ basic needs.
Now, they have proven themselves to be more than just a trend, with a floor price sitting comfortably above 3eth, even as the bear market continues to roar. Also, they have proven themselves not to be, as I posited, the ‘brainchild of some coordinated VC-funded guerilla marketing campaign […] designed to tap the wallets of a bunch of deprived gambling addicts desperate for another fix while hodling more rapidly deflating fake money than they know what to do with.’ The entire Goblintown team self-doxxed this morning, revealing themselves to be… some people.
Yes, the big reveal, delivered via tweet, was that there was no one of note behind the Goblintown project. No a16z plants, no famous rugpullers ducking behind anonymity, not Yuga Labs as was widely rumored initially. Just a collective of creatives, building an immersive experience, not just for hodlers, but for anyone and everyone.
Per the doxx video, the ‘no utility’ thing turns out to be less of a meme and more of a mission statement. They are also opposed to roadmaps — because they are transparently building as they go — or Discords — because ‘Goblintown is open to all’. In fact, they are focused on creating something more akin to performance art and/or group therapy than any sort of NFT-powered community or investment opp. Their stated goal is simply to ‘spread happiness in the face of adversity’ and ’cause mischief on the blockchain’, at which it’s safe to say they’ve already succeeded in spades. (And, serendipitously, as of today, it happens to align perfectly with our own.)
Unlike a similar twist in a Star Wars movie that shall not be named, degens received this news with open, non-sexist, non-racist arms. Goblintown, already hailed as a milestone of marketing in the NFT space, is now for many the gold standard in terms of transparency and authenticity. Even I am inclined to agree. If blue chip NFT projects are going to be light on utility anyway, they may as well make a thing of it. And one more immersive, inclusive community spreading humor and good vibes on the internet is worth cheering on no matter what. Now let’s just pray they don’t roll out the mystery box airdrops and retcon the whole thing.
Militancy industrial complex
I always thought real artists (the old-world fiat money laundering types, at least) move in silence, reaching the public eye only when a piece sells for a record price. Something about prestige, exclusivity, mystique — dying notions in the age of transparency. Then, today, while seeking a Ukrainian artist to highlight in this column, I stumbled across Stepan Ryabchenko, who, with a mere 3k followers to his name, has been featured internationally in galleries as large as Saatchi & Saatchi. Apparently, Internet clout isn’t all we H0Rs believe it to be.
Stepan, turns out, renders both old and new styles of fine art impeccably. He sold his first and only NFT on the member-curated platform Foundation for an entire ETH. But it appears to have been a one-off experiment, fitting with the wide variety of forms he creates in. Traversing his Instagram feed is like bouncing around a random image generator, featuring everything from a corrupted take on Mondrian to steel obelisks shaped like the pile of half-finished books precariously balanced on my desk corner to architectural concepts quite literally elevating our own color scheme.
But above all (and fitting with the reason we’ve adopted a different one for today) Stepan embodies the proud Eastern European tradition of protest as art. The image pictured above was a proposed military structure, designed by Stepan in 2010 and shared again 4 days ago, with the caption: ‘You can show the authorities, it makes sense to finally pay attention.’ Surrounded by sheep, it stands now as a poignant monument to Ukrainians of the past and present, fighting for their voices to be heard, and as a reminder to the artists of the future: never be too silent.
The blockchain has become a proxy battleground in the Russo-Ukrainian War. As the latest in a line of suffocating sanctions, NATO recently halted Russian access to SWIFT, the society responsible for facilitating most international banking — so, essentially, the bogeyman responsible for billionaire tax evasion or the shadow government puppet masters’ dark money pools, depending on which side of the political spectrum you fall. It seems a simple, logical move. But it also created a layered gameboard of incentives, reflecting not only the conflict between the international actors in play, but the one faced by the web3 world at large.
With the ruble mutilated, cryptocurrency presents an obvious out for Putin, as a censorship-resistant option to circumvent the West’s economic warfare. In response, the White House is putting pressure on crypto exchanges to cut off accounts tied to sanctioned parties. Meanwhile, Ukraine increasingly relies on token donations to fund its defense, and would perhaps be impacted the most, should the crypto market respond in unexpected ways to these impending shifts. These are all complex use cases, difficult to either criticize or champion.
Cutting off all access to wealth for a man who surely intends to use it for personal gain, if not unspeakable violence, is obviously a desired outcome, yet equal access to financial resources is the key selling point of web3 technology for many. Crypto exchanges working in tandem with the government to limit individuals’ usage is crucial to the efficacy of our current foreign policy but sets a dangerous precedent moving forward. And making tangible contributions to innocent civilians under attack should be a priority for all Americans, but the technological capability to crowdfund a war should raise questions, as well.
Without clear, objective conclusions, I’d argue it’s more useful to consider these parties’ goals in the context of web3 as a whole. Frustrated with the status quo, a community rallied around a disruptive technology — the blockchain — hoping to change things for the better. By and large, they’ve been drowned out by those exploiting the technology, or silenced by those benefiting from the way things were. But, in the face of staggering opposition, principled voices persist. Those are the voices we intend to platform every week, and we’ve ensured we project today.
Point being, for parties like the White House and the Kremlin, their attitude toward the blockchain was predetermined. Whether in war or peace, when it comes to a new variable in the game of power, they’ll seek, respectively, control or manipulation. Meanwhile, the parties motivated by the forces at the source of our humanity — loyalty, preservation, freedom, peace — make at times messy but always innovative and progressive use of the technology. And they will be rewarded by history for it. We’re seeing it today in Ukraine’s Spartan resistance. We’ll see it tomorrow by those of you who believe, and do, the same.
We’re aware of the imbalance in dedicating all our attention to European sinistrés when war crimes abound in Ethiopia, Yemen’s facing the worst civilian crisis in the current world climate, and citizens in terrorist-controlled Afghanistan are resorting to selling their own kidneys to ward off famine. We also understand the telling reasons Western media outlets — ourselves included — have covered one but not the others.
It is an oversight we will remedy in the future. We’ve been in contact with the minds behind a crypto-funded water tank campaign in Yemen, currently designing a transparent platform for equitable donations to countries in need. We intend to share it, as well as other actionable ways to support the whole of our global community, as soon as they are available to the public.
The world we’ve made in our own image is often ugly. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes seeing ourselves reflected in it to remind us of this fact. Fortunately, that reminder can also be a motivator. The world looks this way because we made it so. The only way to change that is to make a change ourselves.