Permissionless in every way


February 8, 2022

Feeling a little high minded tonight, if you catch our drift. Tune out the meditations on time, human nature, and generative ape JPGs if you must. But stay for everything important on the Internet.

Chad & El Prof


$44,312.45 | +14.71%

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$1.17 | +9.01%

$113.33 | +2.26%

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(Price changes reflect past 7 days as of 2.8.22 @ 4:20 PM EST.)

  • You might notice some adjustment, like when a foot of snow starts to melt on a sunny day and you step outside to plant some roses, only to get dumped on. Markets move up and down, sure. But zoom out far enough and it’s horizontal.

Permissionless in every way

Image: KYM

Last week, NFTs made it back into the mainstream in typically uninspiring fashion. (You know you’re in vogue when Rolling Stone is the outlet most often covering you.) Basically, alleged web3 music platform HitPiece stole a bunch of famous artists’ songs and minted them as NFTs. I say ‘alleged’ because it might’ve all just been a ploy by stilted ex indie label execs to convince industry stalwarts to go crypto native before they get screwed over by, well, crypto natives. I knew a guy in college who used the same strategy to get a job at Quicken Loans. He hacked their security to show them they weren’t secure. Days later, he was on payroll, funneling it offshore. 

This weird ouroboros of criminals corrupting corporations to force them into more corruption is nothing new, but it does feel particularly well suited to web3. We’ve spilled plenty of ink on how vulnerable crypto technology is to scams and financial theft, but we haven’t delved as deep into the intellectual property theft fucking creators equally hard. Over the weekend, creators lashed back against Gumroad — a digital marketplace for musicians, writers, et al — when they teased NFT exploration. Reason being, for as many artists as the NFT boom has turned into millionaires, there’ve been many more who had their work taken without permission, minted, and sold as a successful collection, with no mechanism for them to cash the cheque. 

Not ideal, especially for us, when our whole raison d’être is convincing creatives to adopt web3 technology. We still believe it has potential as a transparent way for creators to get paid. But the ‘secure’ and ‘permissionless’ buzzwords we’d usually include in that sales pitch have taken on different meaning as of late. When a lot of money starts flowing through anonymous platforms, it’s only natural the same old assholes will take advantage and give their cons a cool-kid-approved facelift. We’d be stupid to ignore them. Or would we?

Earlier today, I stumbled on a great conversation in the Crypto Writers Discord regarding how NFTs have changed the rules of publishing. One user was asking if there was a new standard for web3 publications. Can you reuse work across platforms? Republish a previously published piece? Mint the same thing twice? Answer is: all of the above are frowned upon, and easy, and legal to do. Just like stealing and selling someone else’s work. Permissionless means there are no rules. 

As of yet, in the web3 wild west, there is no significant regulation to speak of. Only the ones we create. And while average Twitter users, Discord channel members, or cautiously curious newsletter readers may have no formal apparatus to take action if someone breaks one, we can always fall back on our chimpanzee ancestors’ tried and true method. Ignore them. Leave them to starve in the (meta) rainforest. Kick them out of the pack. Will it get back the fortune in fake Internet money they made on the JPG they scraped off your Instagram account? Maybe not. But, online, attention is the real currency. And next time you’re voluntarily giving yours to Rolling Stone, remember. The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference. Worked for Jesus

Another great artist to rip off

Image: @jaegrahm

I write about artists from the Metro Detroit area a lot, in part because it’s a culturally rich city, in part because I’m lazy. This week, my stud is another local by the name of Jae Grahm, hailing from Pontiac. I decided to cover Jae because I’m a shameless self-promoter — of my city, my people, and my beloved Mondrian-meets-Basquiat aesthetic, which Jae has seen fit to pander to me with for most of his feed.

But, ironically, the piece that really set my heart ablaze is his latest digital animation, which places a juxtaposition between the boundless nature of the universe alongside the mundanity of a daily commute. It is ripe for Art Blocks to come along and ‘curate’ (read: plagiarize) so, in the spirit of our Spotlight, we’d like to suggest Jae go ahead and adopt web3 before web3 adopts him. 

On an unrelated note, we also want to shout out his web2 profile’s domain name, Clearly, he subscribes to the cultr_h0r school of thought: why pay $10 for a legible domain name when you could get a barely coherent jumble of characters for cents on the dollar? Check out his full collection of work and support him financially by checking out the products and prints available on said site. 

Christ. Isn’t web2 a mouthful? ‘Send me some ETH for my latest JPG, my wallet address is 0xc3aFFd0C721392B6D4D10B358B6cD97Fc19A7471’ just flows better.

TFW you realize the verse is already meta:

Image: KYM

Low rent sci fi dialogue incoming:

  • Ethereum’s developers are considering instituting ‘blob-carrying transactions’ in a ‘near future hard fork’ which apparently means the web3 equivalent of Zucc’s tearful pivot to video. Onchain layer-one transaction fees remain through the roof, and since ETH 2.0 remains a pipe dream, the founders are considering a radical restructuring of the chain’s transaction format. If you care, it’s explained well here. Personally, I just can’t get over how this all sounds like the fake scientific chatter from a Godzilla movie, but that’s just me. 
  • In five days, the #FreeAssange DAO has now raised the largest amount of any on the JuiceBox platform, beating out the National Treasure one with over 16,000eth. Should’ve known stealing the constitution could only be topped by kidnapping the president’s least favorite person. Disney (almost) predicted it.
  • Our conspiracy theory from last week just got a little less conspiratorial as the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston announced a prototype stable coin resolving test transactions in under two seconds. $BIDENBUCKS when?
  • GameStop is getting into NFTs, because life is just memes all the way down. 

'Few understand' indeed

Image: Twitter

My favorite stories to report are the Twitter fights I get into so here we are again. @JasonPLowery — Internet famous for being a member of U.S. Space Force currently pursuing a PhD from MIT in incorporating Bitcoin into the National Defense strategy, and for being followed by @3lPr0f — recently tweet a teaser of his research. TL;DR: his opinion was wrong and he should feel bad. 

His premise rests on the idea that our tangible physical assets that matter most — land, gold, oil, and equities — are protected at the cost of human lives, and that we could transfer the cost of protecting those assets from human lives to electricity, in the form of creating synthetic alternatives to represent ownership and dedicating hashing power to maintaining them. So, like, Bitcoin will end war, basically. 

I’m not exactly a crypto skeptic — I could wax poetic on the power of decentralizing the governance and availability of information as long as the bowl’s not cashed. But, while Bitcoin is many things, it is not a ‘global defense network in the cloud’. A synthetic representation of physical assets such as cryptocurrency is no different from the scrap of paper in the county courthouse showing I own my home right now. Like, if enough people with guns showed up and told me the house was theirs now, I’d probably say, yeah, it is. I’d have a record of ownership, immutable, until someone mutes it.  

The nature of ‘kinetic power projection’ — DoD speak for ‘the human predisposition toward killing people we want something from’ — isn’t going to change with new technology. Just because we now have a mechanism capable of proving ownership that transcends borders doesn’t mean people respect the ledger that keeps it.

When I pointed this out, a BTC maxi chimed in, ignoring the point I had just made, to say that Bitcoin removed the incentive to attack because there were no financial rewards for doing so. So, like, yeah, maybe someone won’t hold you up for your Meta Mask password (especially when it’s so much easier to phish it from you) but land has tangible properties that can’t be synthetically created, so no amount of hash power can protect it. Eventually, he conceded that kinetic warfare would always still exist, but also if you got robbed of your land and stranded naked at the border you could still access your wallet, which, sure? But, I assume, scant consolation, given the circumstances. And classic misdirection.

Since even his staunchest defenders eventually cede to reason, why make the claim that Bitcoin reduces ‘kinetic power projection’ in the first place? It’s clearly nonsense, and scary that guys like Jason are actively shaping policies and opinions via baseless claims… Oh. Wait. Not exactly a new phenomenon, then, is it? 


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