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Long Reads Sunday - Issue #31

The recurring theme that shaped this week was the phase shifts of the culture, geopolitical and finan
Long Reads Sunday - Issue #31
By Nathaniel Whittemore • Issue #31 • View online
The recurring theme that shaped this week was the phase shifts of the culture, geopolitical and financial landscape that set the cause and context for crypto.
There was, for example, the US’s disavowal of Venezuela’s Maduro and recognition of opposition leader Guaido. Recent months have seen much about the possible role of crypto in Venezuela, and the political instability set off a wave of content about how Bitcoin is being used and what the crypto people should be doing now
There were some interesting global regulatory developments, with the UK’s securities regulator releasing guidance at odds with the SEC’s “decentralization test.” This caused some to comment about how providing regulatory clarity can actually allow certain nation states to attract crypto business. An example of this in the news this week was the Republic of Georgia’s work with Bitfury. 
Another frame setting force for crypto is the surveillance potential enabled by technology platforms. In that context, reports that Facebook will be moving Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram to a common infrastructure set off alarm bells for some. I also wrote a thread exploring the current state of crypto-driven alternatives to the major social networks, asking whether anything had a chance to reach some sort of network effect escape velocity. 
Of course, not everything was macro. There was some heated debate about “crypto law” and whether we should always be aiming for social trust minimization. A study around Ripple’s circulating supply suggested that XRP’s market cap may be overstated by some $6 billion. And a tokenization experiment in a sub-reddit got everyone talking about the value of online reputation. 
Twas an interesting week. Happy Long Reads-NLW
Long Reads Sunday #31. You know, at first this week seemed boring. Then tokenized donuts took over a community, Messari went to war with the XRP army, Venezuela’s oppo leader was recognized by the US, and everyone on CT started yelling about “crypto law.” Hooch ya ☕ its LRS! 👇
2/ It’s Sunday morning, so let’s talk donuts. Long story short, it was an accidental experiment in tokenized online reputation, that ended up showing off DEXes, deploying a Harberger Tax and highlighting some challenges with holdings-based governance
3/ @brian_armstrong even chimed in, so I think we can safely assume $DONUT is coming to @Coinbase. In all seriousness though, I think Brian connecting the dots between Donuts and a larger shift in attention economies is right on.
And hey, speaking of governance, @VladZamfir got literally all of crypto flapping with his post advocating for a “a new crypto legal system.” I think Kyle’s distillation of the piece “why we should be able to change the thing” is the closest to a TL;DR I saw.
5/ @VitalikButerin joined the conversation, with (to me) his most important argument being that there is only so much to debate without defining examples of (to use @KyleSamani’s language) “what things should we be able to change”? 
6/ The best counterpoint I read came from @lex_node, who both reaffirmed the idea of social-trust-minimization-via-blockchain and also made the point that different blockchains can deploy different approaches and leave it to people and markets to decide what’s best
7/ I tend to think we’re going to see different approaches to governance more actively compete for people’s devotion. Don’t like the politics of this chain? Well we’ve got a different politics over here. Then again, in this fun hot takes thread @wheatpond calls BS
8/ Speaking of @wheatpond, his partner at Primitive Ventures @doveywan wrote this super interesting thread about how changes in China’s tax system might impact crypto and other assets as capital flees.
9/ While China’s tax system might create incentives to put money into crypto, other nation states are experimenting with special economic zones to attract crypto business. @hasufl highlights an NYTimes story on Georgia (the country) working to enable mining.
10/ The UK was also in the news with regard to crypto policies. The country’s securities regulator the FCA wrote a piece of guidance rejecting the SEC’s “decentralization test.” @msantoriESQ with the recap and @PatBerarducci adds thoughts here
11/ @katherineykwu meanwhile took the FCA conversation in a different direction, pointing out that countries can and are wading into crypto by providing guidance that is easier to navigate than the US
12/ Part of what makes crypto so hard to regulate is how many different things are meant by the moniker. @_jillruth kicked up a great conversation about how many different types of assets “crypto” really includes
13/ @_jillruth has also been doing an awesome job of surfacing a ton of high signal content around Venezuela, where this week @jguaido was named interim president (and quickly recognized by the US. Background: What Crypto Can Do by @criptodiana
14/ I also highly recommend a re-watch of @Codiox livestream about Venezuela, hyperinflation, and how people are using Bitcoin.
15/ Another key theme from this week was surveillance and the power of social networks. @matthew_d_green noticed a report that WhatsApp, Insta and Messenger would be moving to an integrated infrastructure
16/ @SarahJamieLewis put the implications of the news more bluntly: “they will build the largest surveillance system ever conceived and will sell it under the banner of consumer encryption.”
17/ WhatsApp also made news on a report that it would limit the number of times a user could forward a message to 5. @antoniogm provides a historical perspective on why this is unlikely to have the intended consequence
18/ If the conversation about the impact of social networks on society is growing, what’s less clear is alternatives. In this thread, I look at the state of crypto-powered alternative social networks. Do any of them have a chance?
19/ As you can see, this week got decidedly unboxing. A few more good ones before we wrap. @danheld riffed on the market narratives are marketing idea and asked what happens when narratives can no longer co-exist.
20/ With so much attention on @grinmw in the last few weeks, it’s a nice shift to explore some of the privacy technology poised to come to Bitcoin itself. Check out @AaronvanW’s piece on Taproot for @bitcoinmagazine
21/ There was some great content over in the world of #DeFi, as well. First, check out this piece by @mikejcasey about how proof of stake could lead to crypto banking and why we might want to think twice about that
22/ @jmonegro and @cburniske published their investment thesis around Maker this week. Read the thesis here or check out this thread on Maker adoption ($200m in loans in Y1!)
23/ @ByteSizeCapital has been crushing the thread game lately, and this post mortem on the 2017-2018 ICO cycle is no exception
24/ Speaking of ICOs - one of @ConsenSysAndrew predictions in this 2019 prediction piece I had missed before is that “The end of token fever will lead to better tokens.” Read the rest for what’s a generally bullish take on the year ahead
25/ The Bank of International Settlements wrote an essay critiquing Bitcoin proof of work, arguing that it can’t secure itself without the block rewards. @lawmaster does a great job with the summary overview here
26/ If questions surrounding Bitcoin security in the context of a post-block reward world is of interest, @TheBlock__’s @teo_leibowitz gives it a substantial treatment here 
27/ Of course, I have to mention the huge research report from @MessariCrypto that suggests XRP’s market cap could be overstated by more than $6B, and which is bringing up a larger conversation about circulating supply
28/ Finally, in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, I end with this powerful story of data, conviction and heroism.
29/ Happy Long Reads! To get these via email, subscribe here:


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Nathaniel Whittemore

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