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Becoming a Writer, Crypto Choke Points, & Passing the Ball (Reading/Study Notes 6.7.18)

Resource: The Day You Became A Better Writer


Simplicity and persuasiveness go hand in hand. People will understand you better if you’re clear and direct.

Using extra words don’t add as much value as you think.

Use the first sentence to capture your audience’s attention.

One thought per sentence. Follow that guideline wherever possible. Readers get lost when you pack too many different thoughts in a sentence.

You can afford to eliminate more words than you think.

You can eliminate more words than you think.

Eliminate more words.

What’s your point? Be sure to say it.


“Business writing is about clarity and persuasion. The main technique is keeping things simple. Simple writing is persuasive. A good argument in five sentences will sway more people than a brilliant argument in a hundred sentences. Don’t fight it.”

“Simple means getting rid of extra words. Don’t write, “He was very happy” when you can write “He was happy.” You think the word “very” adds something. It doesn’t. Prune your sentences.”

“Your first sentence needs to grab the reader.”

“Write short sentences. Avoid putting multiple thoughts in one sentence. Readers aren’t as smart as you’d think.”

“Learn how brains organize ideas. Readers comprehend “the boy hit the ball” quicker than “the ball was hit by the boy.” Both sentences mean the same, but it’s easier to imagine the object (the boy) before the action (the hitting). All brains work that way. (Notice I didn’t say, “That is the way all brains work”?)”

Resource: The Five Keys to Crypto Evolution


The crypto bubble is a good thing because brought the media circus to an end and it enable the community of geeks to get back to work at helping it evolve.

Centralized authorities have the power to create lots of inconveniences for cryptos, but they can’t win because they rely on the same old tools and strategies. Like the Neanderthals, they are bigger and stronger but they have the weakness of being unable to change.

Crypto has many choke points — spots where it’s vulnerable to attack, manipulation, regulatory restriction — that delay mainstream adoption. The two man choke points are with mining and exchanges. Mining is too inefficient, drains our natural resources, and is vulnerable to central attack when done on a large scale as we see with mining farms. Exchanges are very susceptible to government regulation. Additionally, exchanges are grounded in older web technology that makes them vulnerable to hacking. We need decentralized exchanges.

We need to gamify the distribution of money. We know how to create money in a decentralized way, but we’re still relying on the old delivery mechanisms.

Crypto needs killer apps. People don’t care enough about privacy and security until it’s taken away or strongly threatened. We need to draw them in with valuable and user-friendly apps.


“So the doomsayers were right all along. Crypto was nothing but a bubble and it finally burst. Good. Maybe you’re surprised to hear that coming from me, someone who’s dedicated more than a few words to the power of crypto to change the world. Did I suddenly have a change of heart? Did I jump on the Paul Krugman bandwagon and finally realize that Bitcoin is evil? Did I join the naysayers who laugh with glee every time the price drops and arrogantly shout that Bitcoin is going to zero? Nope. I say good because the circus has finally left town. The cameras have packed up and gone home. The reporters are losing interest. The story is finished. And now the crypto community can get back to doing the hard work of building the future in peace and quiet.”

“For years, Bitcoin was nothing but Internet geek money and something to laugh at, but when Bitcoin’s price rocketed higher and higher, it suddenly became something else entirely: A threat. Bitcoin’s furious rise scared the hell out of banks and governments everywhere. Banks saw their business models crumbling as programmable money took the world by storm and governments feared they might lose their iron-fisted control of the money supply. Authoritarian regimes raced to crush it. Regulators came out in force. The press unleashed a torrent of articles filled with fear, uncertainty and doubt.”

“When centralized powers feel like they’re under attack they lash out in fear and rage. They respond with a hundred times the firepower. There’s no way to win that fight head on. In a stand up fight, firepower always wins. But now Bitcoin doesn’t have to win. It can go back to flying under the radar, laughed at and mocked, nothing but a toy for nerds, its critics confident it’s going straight to zero. The powers that be can rest easy. Just like the Neanderthals who once beat back a horde of invading Homo Sapiens in the Levant, they can cheer and feel safe again. They can sleep soundly in their caves, knowing the threat has passed. They can keep using their stone and wood tools and not worry about those strange iron tools the foreign invaders had with them. Bitcoin has a huge opportunity. It lost the first battle but it survived. Now it can retreat and regroup. Most importantly it can evolve. There’s an old Chinese proverb: 韬光养晦. Hide your light, nourish in darkness.”

“You can’t fight the future. During the Edo period of feudal Japan, the Shogun managed to keep guns off the island for a hundred years. But eventually gun beats sword. And things move much faster now. Evolution quickens with each revolution. The hunter gatherer period lasted for almost two million years, but the agricultural revolution lasted for only twelve thousand before the scientific revolution exploded onto the scene five hundred years ago and remade the very fabric of society once again. Change is speeding up, not slowing down. Any attempt to stop it is just stacking sandbags against a tsunami.”

“The new super Sapiens quickly overran them and in no time the Neanderthals were extinct. The same fate awaits the institutions of today. They’re big and powerful and violent but they move in static patterns. They can’t or won’t evolve. The strength of crypto is its immense versatility and with just a few genetic mutations crypto will change the face of money and power forever.”

“The scaling problem in crypto is well known and engineers are already hard at work. We already know how to scale distributed, centralized systems. We’ve been working on that problem for decades, starting with data centers and moving to cloud infrastructures, but decentralized systems are still incredibly new and the subject of PhD level research. If you think scaling boils down to big blocks alone then you haven’t looked deeply enough. Traditional cloud systems scale linearly. If you add more servers, you add more capacity. A properly designed cloud system can continue to grow almost indefinitely as you plug systems into the fabric. Netflix continues to add capacity even as more and more people stream movies on a nightly basis. It’s surprising to many newcomers in crypto that no matter how many servers you add you don’t get more capacity, you just get more security. That’s a problem but it’s already changing, as new architectures evolve. We want scalability and security.”

“There are two major centralized choke points in crypto today: Exchanges & Mining. Crypto architects need to work to destroy both of these paradigms as fast as possible.

“Exchanges are the second choke point. They’re a target for overly zealous and reactionary regulators and hackers. As the main bridge between the old financial system and the new they’ve grown in power but they’re incredibly vulnerable to legal and technological attacks. We need decentralized exchanges now. But even decentralized exchanges are started by people and often need web infrastructure to run which makes them vulnerable as we saw with the Ether Delta hack. Even if you can’t hack the blockchain the exchanges are still dependent on fragile web technology that advanced persistent threats have hammered on for a decade, hoarding vulnerabilities that they never report. Web technology is a patchwork of secure and insecure frameworks and it’s nothing but a house of cards.”

“We have to move beyond web technology for good. The answer is atomic swaps. We need a universal coin swap protocol. After that trading coins becomes as simple as monitoring aggregated price streams and sending a transaction from your wallet.”

“Crypto is programmable money. We need to program every aspect of it to design away the Confused Deputy problem for good. Every action in today’s financial world from trading, to escrow, to inheritance of assets should happen right in the program itself without the need for “trusted” third parties”

“Today’s cryptos missed a golden opportunity. They figured out how to print money without a central authority but they used the same old distribution method that we have today, top down. The fastest and most liquid way to bootstrap a new economic ecosystem is to change the way we distribute money. Just like we get coins in video games for doing all kinds of actions we could be distributing coins at the moment of creation for chatting and posting stories and all the other things we love on social media.”

“We’re both selfish and selfless. Any system that addresses only one side of the coin is permanently broken.”

“Gamifying the delivery of money is distributing the money at the point of creation to people instead of to banks and in no way does it imply a perfectly equal distribution or that people can’t start businesses, trade and do everything else to make more money.”

“We’re talking about programmable money delivered directly to people for beneficial actions on the network. That’s not a model that exists in history. It has no parallel. It’s never been tried anywhere, ever. It’s a revolutionary model that fits no previous idea.”

“Once people can live off crypto with no reason to touch the dirty paper of the old world we’ve got a totally new way of doing business that becomes quickly unstoppable. Why? Because dependencies create choke points. Right now crypto is totally dependent on the current monetary system. If you still have to earn enough in fiat to buy a car, or you have to convert your crypto to fiat to buy that car you have a choke point. But if you can earn enough through playing the economic game of life made literal with programmable coins then you can survive and thrive off crypto alone, which means all those choke points are rendered totally irrelevant.

“If we don’t have to convert fiat to crypto we don’t have to play by the old rules at all. It will be a parallel economic operating system for the whole planet. And that’s how money and people get truly free forever.”

“Nobody cares about infrastructure. They care about the apps that run on top of that infrastructure. We need killer apps.”

“Programmable money isn’t enough. We need the interface to that money. As soon as regular folks have an amazingly beautiful application that’s functionally identical to the centralized apps they’re used to, while also delivering incredible new features they didn’t know they needed, it’s game over. Regular folks don’t care about privacy and security until it’s ripped away from them by force in war or depression. Instead the killer crypto app will just have to gift them privacy and security without them even knowing it’s build right in.”

Resource: Get off the critical path


Know when the ball is in your hands and what you’re expected to do with. Always be ready to receive it. When the ball isn’t in your hands, be ready to support the path it’s on and the people who are passing it.

Questions for contemplation — What does this mean for my work? Is there ever a time when the ball is more in my hands that others? More in the hands of others than me? How so? In what way? What would it mean to support those who have the ball in their hands apart from just staying out of the way?


“Imagine a circle of ten kids, passing the ball from one to another. What you do when you don’t have the ball doesn’t have much impact on how fast the ball moves around. But during the moments when the ball is yours, every second you spend is a second added to the route. That route is called the critical path. It’s the irreducible schedule, the sum total of all the required steps.”

If you work on a team, part of your job is to know where the critical path is, and to know when you’re on it. The rest of your day is devoted to helping those that are on the path or getting ready for your turn.”

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