As crypto winter settles in, there is growing competition to define the narrative within and across cryptoassets. How do we deal with the same, repeated arguments from Bitcoin skeptics? Do we believe that Ethereum will ever recover? Will crypto be an anti-authoritarian force or a tool for state power? This LRS seemed to be all about these narratives.
Meanwhile, in Ethereum land it was: conversations about incentives
; the possibilities of non-money
blockchain applications; dueling views
of the strength of the non-price fundamentals; and even an argument that EOS was the best thing
that happened to Ethereum all year (despite EOS getting its very own death spiral
To me, all of this narrative competition brings up a more important underlying question, which is: why are we here in the first place?
One of the most interesting answers to that question, in my estimation, is the quest to drive crypto away from a tool for state power and towards its potential for individual liberty.
This is by no means a foregone conclusion, exemplified in reports this week of Venezuela paying pensions in Petros
instead of bolivares, and China thinking ahead to opportunities to surveil
citizens through their transactions in a post-cash world. Efforts like the Venezuela airdrop and Coinbase’s GiveCrypto plan announced
this week are directionally correct
and deserve more consideration, critique
and collaboration to live up to their full potential. Happy Long Reads.
1/ Long Reads Sunday #25. Crypto winter is settling in thick and cold and this week, it’s all about competition for the narrative. How to address Bitcoin skeptics? Can Ethereum recover? Is crypto a tool for freedom, state power, or both? And WTF is 2019 going to be? Buckle up!
2/ Let’s start with one of the most important threads you’ll read this bear market. @PeterMcCormack tells the tale of turning $32k to $1.2m and back to zero. In a week when so much is about narrative and spin, the unvarnished realness here is a breath of fresh air. https://twitter.com/PeterMcCormack/status/1073196778705559553
4/ Okay okay, now that you’ve recovered from that, let’s get back to Bitcoin. There was actually quite a bit this week. @Delphi_Digital released its first “State of Bitcoin” report, arguing that BTC’s great potential revolves in part on providing a check on government currencies https://twitter.com/Delphi_Digital/status/1072248573180420096
6/ As prices across the industry fall, crypto skeptics are predictably piling on. In this thread, @danheld takes on the most common critiques - from volatility to manipulation to everyone’s seasonal favorite energy consumption https://twitter.com/danheld/status/1072973302505779200
8/ For people who are interested in numbers over narratives, the fine folks at @coinmetrics have added Realized Cap - first presented by @nic__carter at #BH2018, as well as Realized Value-Market Value ratio, introduced by @kenoshaking and @MustStopMurad https://coinmetrics.io/realized-capitalization/
9/ One of the questions that can give those learning about Bitcoin pause has to do with control - specifically who controls Bitcoin core? In this piece, @lopp takes on exactly that question and reiterates why it’s so hard to bring a traditional organization perspective to BTC https://medium.com/@lopp/who-controls-bitcoin-core-c55c0af91b8a
11/ Many of the hopes of market recovery are caught up in the potential approval of a Bitcoin ETF. The SEC recently made the final delay possible on the most promising proposal from VanEck/SolidX. In this thread @jchervinsky gives his outlook for the decision https://twitter.com/jchervinsky/status/1072216015801585664
12/ Of course, Bitcoin isn’t the only crypto seeing a battle for the narrative. In part because of how the ERC20 standard enabled the ICO craze, Ethereum has been under intense scrutiny all year. In this thread, though, @econoar explores how it could unlock new incentive structures https://twitter.com/econoar/status/1073301950249132032
16/ @Crypto_Macro has a different take on the fundamentals of Ethereum, arguing that for investors considering getting back in, they have to ask themselves first, will ICOs make a comeback (and how) and second, is there a new wave of Ethereum-based Dapps on the way? https://twitter.com/Crypto_Macro/status/1073982137127370752
17/ @KyleSamani takes the Ethereum conversation in a different direction, arguing that the best thing to happen to it this year was the emergence of EOS as a viable competitor - putting pressure on the Ethereum community to evolve and ship more quickly. https://twitter.com/KyleSamani/status/1071929542024015873
18/ EOS wasn’t immune to its own set of narratives this week either. In fact, it joined Bitcoin mining and Ethereum ICO project withdrawals in the “death spiral” narrative club. With no difficulty adjustment equivalent in PoS systems, it’s possible that this one may be a little more on the nose. https://twitter.com/coreyj_miller/status/1072543116522065920
19/ Maybe the most important narrative to pick up steam this week was ICO refunds. When the Basis stablecoin project announced it would be shutting down and returning funds to investors, it set off a wave of speculation about whether this would be the fate of every ICO project. https://twitter.com/jchervinsky/status/1073722759765741568
20/ Especially as we consider the possibility that nearly every project that raised through an ICO could be wiped from existence through settlements, lawsuits, and simple social pressure, it’s worth asking ourselves: what’s the fucking point?
21/ One raison d’être that I find particularly compelling is the idea that cryptocurrencies can represent economic opportunity for those underserved by today’s institutions. This speech from @astrange, for examples, argues why its too expensive to be poor. https://twitter.com/astrange/status/1072196406536851456
22/ Even more than just providing resources for the underserved, however, crypto can provide a bulwark against tyranny. I’ve been glad to see more and more in the crypto thought space from @gladstein of @hrf, including this interview on @WhatBitcoinDid https://twitter.com/PeterMcCormack/status/1073572785182687234
23/ Crypto as an anti-authoritarian force is not something we can take for granted. In fact, there is evidence of the opposite, as states recognize it creates opportunities for control. See, for example, the Venezuelan government shifting pension payments from bolivares to Petros https://twitter.com/alegw/status/1072907558908821505
24/ Indeed, State Power Crypto is sadly poised to be a major narrative in the coming years, as states begin to recognize that cash is the most anonymous currency there is, and a digital central bank currency creates incredible opportunities to monitor citizens https://twitter.com/Melt_Dem/status/1073568904839118849
27/ There is some concern that Venezuela has been reduced to a virtue meme or marketing campaign. Critique matters, esp. when it comes to global impact. I will say, however, that this space is already ahead of the curve compared to most industries by giving money directly rather than loading up shitty foundations. https://bitcoinist.com/coinbase-zcash-airdrop-venezuela/
28/ @nic__carter goes further in exploring just how tricky it is to figure out how to bring crypto to the places that could stand to benefit the most from it. Again, having spent a big chunk of my life in the impact world, these are the types of conversations we need to be having https://twitter.com/nic__carter/status/1072323585933484032
29/ All of that said, we should also keep in mind, it’s not just the developing world who are at edge with the relationship of money and power. @hasufl surfaced this interview with a Yellow Vest in France about money and sovereignty.
30/ The point is this: there will never be a better moment than today to deciding why we’re involved in this industry and with this technology, and what type of world we want to leverage it to build. https://twitter.com/nlw/status/1072334561600782337