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Long Reads Sunday - Issue #24

There’s no doubt about it: with each week that goes by, crypto winter feels a little more ominous.  T
Long Reads Sunday - Issue #24
By Nathaniel Whittemore • Issue #24 • View online
There’s no doubt about it: with each week that goes by, crypto winter feels a little more ominous. 
This week, it was horrendous price action, plus high-profile layoffs at ConsenSys, plus something I can only refer to as competitive pessimism - the phenomenon where, in bad markets, people establish their intellectual bonafides by being even more gloomy than the next person. 
There is no denying that we’re in a hard time. But I can’t help but be more interested in the all of the projects, people and ideas that just keep marching on. This week, we saw:
In short, yeah, it’s a bit dreary out there. But get passed the price action - and past the to-be-expected-but-still-kinda-annoying attempts to look smart by predicting the most doom, and there are some pretty amazing things happening.
Happy Long Reads 
Long Reads Sunday #24. Crypto winter feels more ominous this week. Maybe it’s still sinking prices, or the competitive pessimism to predict how low they’ll go. Maybe it’s the specter of seething global discontent spilling out on the Champs d’Elyse. Should we just throw in the towel? Of course not. Coffee. Thread. Go.
2/ Let’s start with the undeniable harbinger of gloom that is the recent price action. Buzz, your Bitcoin prices. Woof! Vindicated bear @MustStopMurad gives his interpretation: while @kenoshaking suggests that the bottom isn’t in, but we’re close:
3/ Then again, increasingly we’re not talking about crypto prices in a vacuum, but wondering what, if anything, they’re telling us about a macro market shift away from risk, as @_jillruth explores
4/ @Zooko takes a look at 3 different narratives surrounding the down market, including the “waiting for the next bull run,” “tulip/bubble” explanations, and “Dotcom winter,” and adds a new one about uncaptured potential and the possibility that crypto is relegated to enthusiasts and tinkerers
5/ For those who want to add a little data to their analysis, @coindesk published the most recent in their quarterly report series, including a big section of participant surveys and opinions at the end
6/ Of course, the crypto winter narrative isn’t just being driven by feels. ConsenSys announced that it would be laying off 13% of its staff. This may be one of the first but will not be the last major crypto downsizing.
7/ Questions around ConsenSys have bolstered the Ethereum skepticism narrative that became more prominent in the late summer/early fall. Whether one agrees with its tone or conclusions, this piece from Forbes is an interesting look into an attempt to reimagine how organizations work.
8/ Ethereum isn’t the only project with questions. When @coinbase announced a slate of new tokens it was considering for listing (and then 4 that would be coming online immediately), the reaction was much more skeptical than in the past.
9/ Yet if the overall vibe has been a little bit like when people try to call a funeral a celebration of life, peeling back the ennui reveals some interesting developments. @zhusu has been tracking @AmunAG’s Swiss etp as an indicator of new money, for example
10/ Speaking of new investor interest, @bitwiseinvest announced two new beta funds for BTC and ETH this week, driven reportedly by demand spurred by anticipated 2019 developments like the upcoming launch of Bakkt
11/ And in the realm of positive developments, the CFTC actually *lost* a big case in which it had accused crypto trading firm of market manipulation. As @katherinykwu points out, it’s a reminder that regulatory bodies don’t make the law and can be beat in court.
12/ Many projects as well have been doing their part to keep the whole train moving. 0x launched 0x Instant, promoting @AntonioMJuliano to do a deep dive on the actual state of open DEXs today.
13/ On the topic of alternative exchange models, one project generating serious buzz is @uniswap, that provides a sort of set-it-and-forget-it liquidity with no listing fee and no native token. @scalarcapital’s @cyounessi1 provides a great writeup:
14/ The Ethereum scaling conversation got some interesting new inputs. @Muneeb published a peer review of Ethereum’s recent CBC Casper paper and @VitalikButerin released his own explainer as well.
15/ If these conversations feel prohibitively complex you’re not alone. @glenweyl flagged his concern about the complexity, generating a conversation with folks like @Steven_McKie and Vitalik trying to simplify and provide some clarity
16/ One interesting subplot in today’s market Ethereum story has to do with the amount of ETH bottled in Maker CDPs, and the potential impact on price they create. @hasufl has been chronicling this
17/ Speaking of @hasufl, he just released the second part of his “Skeptic’s Guide To Bitcoin,” this time focusing on the social contract - the layer of rules that define the expectations for participants in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Really great stuff.
18/ One inevitable part of any bear market is a reconsideration of what got us here. In that light, @PeterMcCormack provides this full throated argument, based on learning from 54 guests on @WhatBitcoinDid rather than an a priori opinion, for why Bitcoin should and will remain the epicenter of the space.
19/ @gaborgurbacs also took a step away from the doom and gloom to kick off this thread about the market developments that have helped Bitcoin mature over the last several years.
20/ @CoinSharesCo followed up their recent report on Bitcoin mining (that, among other things, rejected the ‘mining death spiral’ idea) with this follow up that articulates their refutation of the environmentalist critique of PoW mining
21/ @Arjunblj also put his own kibosh on the death spiral narrative with his first new op-ed for @TheBlock__ - then followed that up with this extremely skeptical take on EOS. Excited for more of these op-eds from Arjun.
22/ @BitcoinMagazine announced that it would be returning to its roots to focus primarily on the Bitcoin ecosystem rather than the broader world of blockchain, and @AaronvanW wrote this great piece on the major technology developments of the past year
23/ One of the most exciting tech developments in Bitcoin from the past year is obviously the development of the Lightning network. @LucasNuzzi recapped that excitement and argues how well positioning (lightning) is to capture real economic value in 2019
24/ Speaking of economic value, in response to the reduction of the “generalized mining” concept to simply a way to make more money in a bad market, @lwsnbaker goes *off* and argues that the real point is the new economics of participation and the end of extraction
25/ To dive even deeper into a specific example in the emergent generalized mining space, check out @visionhill_ case study of fund mining in @LivepeerOrg
26/ Another theme that has been capturing a growing share of market attention is governance. In this post on @TokenDaily, @chrisamccoy argues 1) why governance is surging as a topic; and 2) what challenges different current governance models face chrisamccoy
27/ @Obstropolos brought his skeptical eye to this massive look at governance, exploring the specific emergent models of networks and highlighting key challenges of token or stake-based voting systems
28/ One of the issues with token-based blockchain governance structures that reward plutocracy is they create momentum for inevitable recentralization of power. @ali01 wrote an interesting piece on “the Four Horsemen of Centralization”
29/ The governance conversation matters in part because it is at the heart of the possibility of re-designing our social coordinating structures. It’s hard to watch global protests like those in France and not feel like something in those structures today is broken
30/ So with that, let’s wrap with this phenomenal interview with @gladstein for @EpsilonTheory about crypto, bitcoin, and anti-authoritarian technology.
31/ So, in summary…yeah, it’s a bit dreary out there. But get passed the price action - and past the to-be-expected-but-still-kinda-annoying attempts to look smart by predicting the most doom, and there are some pretty amazing things happening. 
32/ Thanks as always for reading! Happy long reads.  


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Nathaniel Whittemore

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