A twice-weekly email with links to articles I find worth reading and sometimes a little commentary.
Here is the latest issue, published on February 23, 2021.
A new episode of Worker & Parasite, my book discussion podcast with Stably, is out now. In this episode we discuss The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations by Christopher Lasch. Next time we'll discuss Self-Portrait in Black and White: Family, Fatherhood, and Rethinking Race by Thomas Chatterton Williams. Listen and subscribe here.
Here's some stuff I found worth reading. I wish I didn't have to say it, but inclusion here is not an endorsement.
LinkedIn’s Alternate Universe / every.to
Clubhouse’s Inevitability / stratechery.com
When you think about the Twitter-driven shake-out of blogging this evolution makes sense: Twitter captured the long-tail of blogs, in the process dramatically expanding the market for publishing text, but that by definition meant that the blogs that remained popular had readers that would jump through hoops — or at least click a link — to consume their content. It makes sense that the most sustainable way for those bloggers to pay the bills was by directly charging their readers, who already had demonstrated an above-average interest in their content.
My personal bet is that podcasts will follow a similar path.
The key for Clubhouse will be in honing its algorithms so that every time a listener opens the app they are presented with a conversation that is interesting to them. This is the other area where podcasts miss the mark: it is amazing to have so much choice, but all too often that choice is paralyzing; sometimes — a lot of times! — users just want to scroll their Twitter feed instead of reading a long blog post, or click through Stories or swipe TikToks, and Clubhouse is poised to provide the same mindless escapism for background audio.
Can Governments Stop Bitcoin? / quillette.com
There is an enormous amount of speculation on the Internet about how Bitcoin might be attacked, but few stop to think about why it hasn’t already been destroyed. The answer is that there are political and economic incentives for more and more people to push the system forward and strengthen its security, and strong political, economic, and technical disincentives that discourage attacks.
Satoshi's anonymous Twitter account / offthetrack.substack.com
The language is identical between Satoshi’s email to Wei Dai, and what this anonymous Twitter account tweeted out two weeks later, and what Satoshi announced in the mailing list. There was nobody else tweeting about Bitcoin in Jan 2009 except for Hal Finney, and this other Twitter account. Based on all of this, this is good enough for me to feel quite confident that this indeed was Satoshi’s original anonymous Twitter account.
Prediction Markets: Tales from the Election / vitalik.ca
I decided to make an experiment on the blockchain that I helped to create: I bought $2,000 worth of NTRUMP (tokens that pay $1 if Trump loses) on Augur. Little did I know then that my position would eventually increase to $308,249, earning me a profit of over $56,803, and that I would make all of these remaining bets, against willing counterparties, after Trump had already lost the election. What would transpire over the next two months would prove to be a fascinating case study in social psychology, expertise, arbitrage, and the limits of market efficiency, with important ramifications to anyone who is deeply interested in the possibilities of economic institution design.
This reminds me I need to go collect on my $100 bet against Andrew Yang on PredictIt.
Before I went in, I had four main hypotheses about why so few others were buying up dollars for 85 cents
It’s funny to me that the fact that these markets are illegal in the U.S. (where one would expect the most knowledgeable persons on the election to be) does not cross Vitalik’s mind as a serious possibility.