Intro to privacy coins w/ Snappy Snap of PIVX

 

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Cryptocurrencies come wrapped in many kinds of packaging: altcoins, memecoins, stablecoins… and of course everyone’s favorite: shitcoins. Among these potentially confusing categories you are likely to find mention of the privacy coin. What differentiates a privacy coin from the others… and what exactly are their purpose?

For today’s Crypto 101 interview we are given an overview of privacy coins from our guest Bryan (aka Snappy Snap) of the PIVX community. Understanding this subcategory of cryptocurrency is fortunately not that complicated — but the conversation did open a number of other questions about the future of the cryptosphere, the way people connect within it, and how the powers that be may impact it. Let’s dig in.

The essential feature of a privacy coin (and PIVX in particular), is to protect its users from sharing personal financial information. PIVX puts this aspect front and center with its name: Private, Instant, Verified Transaction. Detractors of cryptocurrency like to use Bitcoin’s past association with the Silk Road website and inaccurately paint it as private and anonymous… therefore ideal for illegal transactions.

Bitcoin, however, is most certainly not a privacy coin which provides this anonymity. As its blockchain is a transparent and very public transaction history. The amount of and time of Bitcoin transactions are easily viewable with the block explorer. Snappy also points out that Bitcoin provides no IP masking (which makes identifying a user even easier).

Privacy as it relates to cryptocurrencies is often painted as a negative thing, and only of interest to criminals or people who are involved in questionable activities. In actuality, privacy is the reason you have curtains on your windows and a door on the bathroom. However, there’s no digital curtain to pull over your Bitcoin transactions — your wallet address holds your transaction history and balance up for inspection by any who care to look. Whether that be a curious look or a malicious one is anyone’s guess.

In response to Bitcoin user’s vulnerability, small pockets of developers began to work on improving the privacy aspect of cryptocurrency. Most notably, the zerocoin protocol was developed as an extension of Bitcoin which provided temporarily pooling and then trading the currency for ‘zerocoins,’ which obscured their transaction history. As a cryptocurrency in its own right, Zcoin was developed from the zerocoin protocol and then fully launched in 2016. PIVX became the first proof-of-stake currency to adopt the zerocoin protocol in 2017 .

Since that time, PIVX developed itself as a currency (units of which are called Piv) which is focused on inexpensive and speedy transactions with an option for privacy. Using the zerocoin protocol, Piv are converted into zPiv, making the currency completely fungible. Following conversion, the wallet, sender and receiver information become completely private. Instead of a one-to-one swap, base denominations (units of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000) are used to further obfuscate the transactions. The cost of sending a zPiv transaction is only 0.01 piv per minted denomination.

 

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of PIVX is the community which has developed around the currency. It defines itself as a digital autonomous organization (DAO) and has no central governance authority. Instead, a system of proposals are voted on regularly by the masternode operators. Developers and promoters earn their compensation in this way. Being a proof-of-stake blockchain, PIVX allows holders of the coin to participate in staking or running a masternode as well, both which net a monthly reward for helping to secure the network.

Regarding the privacy aspect of PIVX, Snappy notes that the community is aware that there is likely to be government scrutiny on the users in an attempt to tax the income. While the currency itself can be used to thwart outside efforts to audit transactions and balances, PIVX as a whole is eager to be at the forefront of digital asset projects which will help guide the discussion that will need to occur with governments to adapt to a world in which cryptoassets are destined to become an increasing piece of domestic and global economies. I personally feel that this demonstrates tremendous foresight on the part of the PIVX community.

PIVX is an interesting project which promotes the idea of community and interdependence in a way seldom seen in other cryptocurrency projects. It is at this level of community where the models we need as a whole will develop, and it very well may be that PIVX is a top contender in setting these new standards. For the adaptation for the cryptoeconomy to develop, survive and coexist with legacy models of economic participation, privacy and fungibility will be key components which demand our attention.


Check out the interview HERE

PIVX website

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Autonio: An Algorithmic Cryptocurrency Trading App

Full disclosure: This post is an entry into a promotional bounty campaign for Autonio, and I am a NIO token holder at the time of this writing.

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Let’s make some money… right?

If you’re like me and new to the world of cryptocurrencies and digital assets, the prospect of profitable trading can be just as daunting as it is alluring. At the outset, it all sounds quite straightforward: identify a trend, calculate risk/reward, select some indicators and wait for the signals.

In practice, however, it is not so easy. Despite many hours of reading, taking notes and developing a plan I have made very few profitable trades, and many likely have had the same experience. The simple words of veteran traders ring true: this stuff isn’t easy.

Placing a buy order in a liquid market feels like being dropped into shark-infested waters. Illiquid markets are more like being picked off silently by snipers. Aribtrage is an anxiety-producing race from one exchange to another… with minimal upside. After various attempts to find a winning angle, the question remains: How will I ever turn a consistent trading profit?

It was the search for an answer to this question that led me to consider algorithmic trading, which is the use of a computer program to automate trade decisions. The program follows a set of user-defined settings to dictate when to place buy and sell orders. These applications are commonly referred to as trading bots or simply bots.

My search unfortunately led me to two disheartening facts: First, to use a trading bot you can either code them up yourself, or pay for someone else’s product. For the vast majority of us, this not even remotely feasible. Second, much of the commentary online mentions that using pre-existing trading bots is a shady prospect at best. The user experience is often reported to be confusing and you may not trade profitably enough to justify the hefty licensing fee.

Enter Autonio

I had just about written off the possibility of algorithmic trading entirely when I finally came across Autonio, which stood out to me due to a number of differences.

To begin with, it has own ERC20 token, NIO, which is used as “fuel” to activate Autonio (it is burned during this process). At a mere $50 per month (and a one-time $20 registration) it is substantially less expensive than other applications of its kind. As of the time of this writing, NIO is available on the Mercatox and IDEX exchanges.

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The circulating supply of NIO is 65,828,135 tokens, and up to 80% of the total will be burned. Should holders choose not to burn the NIO token, they will retain an asset which may appreciate as the supply diminishes. As a result, there are two potential ways to profit from the token.
Autonio also boasts 20 different technical indicators for users to employ in their trading. This greatly expands the repertoire of methods that a new trader is likely to master on their own. There are already dozens of available cryptoasset trading pairs, and the number of these are expected to grow significantly as the project continues.

Currently Autonio can be used with Bitfinex, Bitstamp, Bittrex, Kraken and QuadrigaCX exchanges, but a special collaboration to integrate Autonio with the closely-related BitShares and CryptoBridge DEX platforms is in development.

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How does it work?

Users connect the Autonio app to their exchange via the specific API associated with it. Once the registration fee and monthly subscription has been paid, the application is unlocked. Users are then able to proceed with back-testing any combination of the indicators they like, and can also live-test with real-time market conditions prior to trading real cryptocurrency. Developers of the program encourage trying a variety of indicators and settings to explore the most profitable combinations.

Autonio is currently available as a desktop application for IOS, Linux and Windows, with a mobile app for Android, too. Instructional YouTube videos created by the team give an overview of how to set it up and a review each of the indicators as well. An Autonio Traders Telegram chat also exists to discuss techniques, strategies and to get support.

In development

An algorithm marketplace is forthcoming which will provide indicator combinations with proven profit generating combinations (10% or better). In addition to the collaboration with BitShares and CryptoBridge, Autonio is purportedly working on developing its own exchange and may choose to launch another token (NIOEX) to provide discounts on trading fees and other privileges (details can be found here). Contests for the most profitable trading algorithms and other community-building events are slated for the near future as well.

Reputation

At the time of this writing, Autonio is undertaking a comprehensive promotional campaign to demonstrate that the project is legitimate and backed by a capable team, who have made themselves available for questions via a series of AMA threads in their official subReddit:

AMA #1 AMA #2 AMA #3 AMA #4 AMA #5

The website has been recently updated, and provides an abundance of information. A revised roadmap has also been released and it does appear that the team (who has faced a significant degree of doubt and frustration voiced by their Telegram community) has finally disclosed its members and is making progress on promises it has made.

Efforts to demonstrate the security of the tokens has been made as well. Being that the team tokens are locked in a multi-signature wallet (escrowed by James Drake of Embermine and Michael Morton of GNEISS) investors and users of the application can rest assured in the transparency of the team’s holdings. The Ethereum wallet which contains these NIO can be monitored HERE.

Public sentiment

While not yet the most relentlessly hyped project, there is quite a bit to indicate that many are excited about Autonio as well as the potential profitability of investment in NIO.

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The hype does not go without a bit of criticism, however. A couple of tweets point out potential risks… and does Autonio fit the definition of artificial intelligence, anyway?5NIO

Could there potentially be a risk of a backdoor attack?

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I personally have yet to try the application, but am curious to do so. I will leave it to someone with a more technical background to determine if Autonio fits the definition of AI as well as to assess any potential threat that installing the executable installation file on your computer may pose.

Bottom line

Autonio extolls the value of enabling emotional-free trading which is a source stress and costly mistakes for many. It brings tools and techniques used by professional traders to the average person, and in a much easier way than previous options. The token-as-fuel is a clever way to generate revenue and demand for the NIO token, and the team comes to the table with a working product versus a handful of promises.

Upcoming partnerships and community-building aspects suggest an enormous capacity to create connectivity within the cryptocurrency trading community overall. Although there are some potentially concerning aspects to the project (the credible yet vague threat that the platform could be an asset-depleting backdoor), the positives appear to far outweigh the negatives at this point. Time will tell, but on the whole the Autonio project looks well-suited to make an enormous splash on the crypto-trading scene.


Autonio Website HERE

Promotional Bounty Rules HERE

Telegram channel HERE

SubReddit HERE

YouTube HERE

Finding the Balance in a Decentralized P2P Sharing Economy

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It is said that with great power comes great responsibility, and this is abundantly the case regarding how the blockchain and cryptoeconomy will operate as it grows into a place within mainstream society. While this subset of the financial ecosystem is still in its infancy, those with an eye on its future have begun to think about how designing peer-to-peer (or sharing economy) services based in the blockchain will best serve the interests of both its participants and the network as a whole.

To explore this topic, Crypto-101 host Matthew Aaron invited Josh Fraser of Origin Protocol back to the podcast for a debate on the pros and cons of 3rd party intermediaries and whether their presence is beneficial, detrimental or negligible when it comes to blockchain-based/sharing economy applications. While Matthew remained unconvinced by Josh’s perspective that eliminating the intermediary in peer to peer transactions is a positive direction to take, the discussion does highlight that some deep consideration is warranted at this very early stage in blockchain’s evolution.

To take a step backward, let’s clarify what the sharing economy is. You may be unfamiliar with the term (sometimes more accurately described as the access economy) but you’re actually quite likely to have used a service based on this economic model. The sharing economy is centered around providing access to goods and services through an online access point and carried out by individuals offering up their own time and resources. If you’ve taken an Uber or Lyft, stayed in an AirBnB or had food delivered by BiteSquad, you’ve participated in the sharing economy.

The aforementioned entities, however, are still split between innovative and more traditional business practices in that they rely on the use of a third-party arbitrator, the value and utility of which is at the center of our debate. Matthew argues that the middleman entity has a stake in the arrangement and acts as a protector for the users’ interests. Its reputation (and by extension its profitability) dictates what kinds of behaviors are prohibited by users of their platform.

For example, Uber (who acts as a centralized authority in this instance) has banned users of its service for posting racist Tweets. Matthew argues that this is an acceptable approach, kind of a win-win for both the platform and its users.

Josh counters that perhaps the line in the sand between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors could gradually move and eventually encompass less overtly controversial ones. Free speech should be protected, he argues. Potentially, the solution could be settled in the marketplace when users decide to vote with their wallets, but currently this is bypassed by Uber taking a public stance to protect its bottom line.

So who arbitrates between users in a P2P environment that has no intermediary? While Josh doesn’t provide any specific examples, he remains confident that innovation and experience will shape decentralized mechanisms to protect users of sharing economy platforms.

Could the consensus of the community itself provide protection for both individual users (sovereignty) as well as the platform as a whole (reputation)? I disagree with Matthew that an intermediary is utterly necessary, but it would necessitate an aggregate of opinion from the users to serve the same function. How might this be accomplished?

A network’s reputation could potentially be safeguarded by consensus voting within the platform’s community. This got me thinking about how BitShares was designed (using Dan Larimer‘s delegated proof of stake) to validate the blockchain as well as to address the decision-making process of its overall structure.

A recent update by Vitalik Buterin, however, warns that the DPoS structure could easily lend itself to the corruption inherent in a plutocracy.

Social trust assumptions can work well in many contexts, but they are difficult to universalize; what is trusted in one country or one company or one political tribe may not be trusted in others. They are also difficult to quantify; how much money does it take to manipulate social media to favor some particular delegate in a vote? Social trust assumptions seem secure and controllable, in the sense that “people” are in charge, but in reality they can be manipulated by economic incentives in all sorts of ways.

(In fairness, here is Dan Larimer’s rebuttal to Vitalik)

The comparison here is imperfect, unfortunately, as DPoS governs a financial/operational network rather than an ethical decision-making one. What is being deemed above as “bad behavior,” is theft, which is a very clear and binary circumstance. To effectively address more nuanced human behaviors such as hate speech, bigotry or categorical exclusion the complexity of the mechanism must match that of the problem.

I’m also lead to the logical assumption that specific P2P, sharing economy networks could develop their own cultures and sets of norms, but whether they are benevolent or reprehensible is in the eye of the beholder. Individuals outside those systems could choose to participate with or boycott them accordingly, though… which leads us back to voting with our wallets.

My personal takeaway was that for Josh’s prediction to be fruitful, designers of Decentralized P2P platforms (DP2P?) will need to make a close examination of the power of incentives. Although Matthew and Josh could not arrive at a consensus in their debate, the discussion does raise some incredibly important questions: What do we want out of this new technology and how will we design it to balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the whole? How will those decision facilitate (or hinder) adoption? What’s the whole point of all this. WHEN MOON?

The one thing I do believe we can all agree upon, however, is that a lot of big changes are coming  — and those changes, while positive, will come at a cost. Exactly how we address and balance those costs will be make-or-break for both individual projects and the cryptoasset / blockchain economy as a whole. Whether or not a governance model can be developed to protect both individual sovereignty and the economic viability of a decentralized peer-to-peer sharing economy remains to be seen.


Big thanks to Josh for taking the time to be on the program again. Read More about the Origin Protocol project HERE

Listen to the debate on the Crypto101 podcast HERE

Career change? How about blockchain?

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One thing is certain, we all have to work.

Sometimes we grow weary or uninterested in what we spend the lion’s share of our hours doing, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics we’ll have ten different jobs before age forty on average. For professional roles, we can expect to change careers 5-7 times, and even more surprisingly approximately 30% of the total workforce will now change jobs every 12 months!

If you’ve been listening to the Crypto101 podcast for a while, the thought may have already occurred to you: maybe a career move to the blockchain is something I should explore. If it hasn’t until now, join Matthew Aaron for his interview with Luka Horvat — head of talent operations at Toptal. Luka’s agency specializes in connecting programmers and designers with clients searching for expertise in blockchain applications.

Currently there is a surge in the growth of blockchain companies, which Toptal indicates has resulted in a 700% increase in demand for relevant talent. The explosive growth this subset of the technology sector has experienced coincides with a massive influx of investment which supports these projects in their most nascent stages. In other words, it’s an opportune time to enter the field.

New projects are launching daily and require skilled coders to bring concepts to fruition. Just as in the early days of the internet (where people with a working knowledge of HTML were indispensable), blockchain coders have become utterly essential and in high demand.

What do you need to know to become in-demand in this field, however?

Firstly, Luka suggests that a firm grasp of coding fundamentals is necessary. There are many routes to this destination such as traditional university-based study, utilizing self-instruction via online or book-format tutorials or even YouTube videos. Next, a good understanding of distributed systems and cryptography are necessary to cement the foundation on which blockchain coding is built. The key thing to remember is that it is not the method by which this information is obtained but rather that a candidate has a firm grasp and working ability to employ it.

To move beyond the general to the specific, there are several specific blockchain programming languages to specialize in. Among the most utilized (as of the time of this writing) are Hyperledger and the smart contract language Solidity Aspiring coders would also do well to check out the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance.

When it comes to these specific areas, there are little to no formal resources to draw from — this technology is extremely new and changes so rapidly that book and course-based forms of instruction simply aren’t able to be developed quickly enough. Those wishing to get their hands dirty will spend their time more productively getting involved with communities that are actively working on projects. It may be wise to make note of the fact that most blockchain development is focused on backend services rather than user interface, and the latter could potentially be an area of particularly profitable expertise.

Luckily, the vast majority of blockchain development is open-source! Developers can be reached and collaborated with, and newcomers eager to assist are usually welcome. Telegram and Github are good resources to find community projects that are ripe for extra help.

The most important aspect in becoming employable in the blockchain field is to find one particular skill area and to become an expert in it. Projects are seeking practical, real-world solutions and functional implementations rather generalist approaches to blockchain.

Once you feel comfortable with the aforementioned, it is time to look for that potential next employer. Topal utilizes a mixture of online exams and live interviews to vet candidates and is able to match competent individuals with up-and-coming teams. Applicants should be prepared to navigate several dozen questions and to submit a final working blockchain project (your choice) to demonstrate the functional application of that skill set.

Finally, Luka astutely points out that paying attention to what large institutional entities are working on to implement blockchain technology with their existing or developing services. These are likely the best prospect for long-term employment due to longevity and resources available to them.


Thanks again to Luka at Toptal for his insights around taking those first steps toward a new career path in blockchain technology. Check out his interview with Matthew on the Crypto101 podcast HERE.

 

Trading 101

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A hallmark each Crypto101 episode has is when a question is posed to the guest: what would you say to the first-time listener – someone entirely new to cryptocurrencies? For me, personally, Carter Thomas of Coin Mastery has already spoken those first words after searching for podcasts on the topic. I was immediately hooked by his reasonable arguments, calm demeanor and most importantly – the humility that I found in the content of his podcast and YouTube videos.

For this latest episode of Crypto101, we have the distinct pleasure of speaking with Carter and getting his perspective on how to begin successfully trading cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. Carter is a California​-based entrepreneur​ and a graduate of Bowdoin College who claims past success in creating and later selling his own advertising and marketing businesses. He currently operates Blue Cloud Solutions[4]​, an online marketing service which assists clients with creating mobile apps.

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First let’s get oriented with the basics: what exactly is trading? Put most simply, trading is the process of asset appreciation over time. One item is exchanged for another with an expectation of a change in value at a later date.

First, fiat (dollars, euros, pounds) must be traded in for Bitcoin (or, if you prefer Ethereum or Litecoin) with a basic exchange such as Coinbase or Gemini (sometimes referred to as a fiat on-ramps).

Once a base cryptocurrency has been obtained you can choose to trade it back into fiat at a profit, or you can take that newly acquired cryptocurrency to another exchange where more trading pairs are available. Bittrex, Binance and Poloniex are among the most trafficked, but are only the tip of the iceberg as there are dozens upon dozens of exchanges to explore. Many traders utilize more than one exchange.

Rather than trying to time the market, Carter suggests dollar-cost-averaging in his free introductory course to buying your first cryptocurrency. At this phase, accumulation is more important than active trading. He also places a high degree of importance on framing your expectations by keeping a focus on the preservation of capital instead of chasing elusive gains (in other words, striving to keep what you already have instead of struggling for what you don’t).

A good next step is identifying if the assets you wish to trade are currently in a bull, bear or sideways moving pattern. Identifying trends on differing levels of time (hourly, weekly, monthly) is a must-need skill to begin developing if successful trades are to be made.

Trading time frames have differing levels of advantage as well as risk. Carter endorses a blend of both fundamental and technical analysis as well as monitoring market sentiment. Fundamentals of a project include whether it has a legitimate goal of solving a known problem, if its team have a success in previous projects and what progress have they made on their stated road-map.

As for technical analysis, understanding and observation of support and resistance lines are the most basic starting point for a fledgling trader. More complicated indicators such as candlestick patterns, Fibbonaci retracements and moving averages are likely best avoided until an asset’s price action history and support/resistance levels are understood.

Once you are indeed taking positions, be careful to allocate your funds in ways which don’t make you uncomfortable. If you’re continually worrying, you have definitely over-sized your position. Set rules prior to trading: cash-out some or all of your position at specific percentages (whether it works in your favor or not). If you do experience a loss, examine the fundamentals of the asset to justify whether you will continue holding through the low points.

Due to a very high degree of asset correlation, Cryptocurrency trading is generally favorable to the newcomer, but this doesn’t mean every coin will always bounce back. Use periods of price inactivity to do other things and create balance in your life (exercise, read, be creative, socialize, learn more about fundamentals or blockchain technology). Carter espouses the value of networking with other people in the cryptosphere by attending conferences and meetups, searching out chatrooms and other social media outlets as both a source to enhance his fundamental analysis of projects as well as a way to reflect and unload stress with others who enjoy (or sometimes suffer) participating with the trading process.

Follow these well-reasoned guidelines (as I have) and you’ll fare much better than you will blindly stumbling and learning from your own costly mistakes. You could certainly do a lot worse!


Listen to the Crypto101 Interview with Carter Thomas of Coin Mastery HERE

The Price of Admission

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My parents always told my siblings and I that we could be or do anything, if only we worked diligently toward our goals. We were supported unconditionally, and discipline was rendered in an authoritative fashion. Everything was firm but fair.

Out we went into the world, our expectation being that the greater forces of authority would maintain this standard of fairness. We were in control of our destiny, so long as we operated within the boundaries of the rules.

This expectation, however, proved to be unfounded. The system was not designed to benefit those who are removed from positions of privilege.

I enrolled in college directly after graduating high school, led into the corral by the expectation laid out by family, the educational system, and society at large. I lacked intrinsic motivation, however, and quickly abandoned the process. Instead, I became preoccupied with a dangerous predilection for consuming intoxicants.

Meanwhile, I secured a position in the machining trade where I worked in a filthy, noisy production environment for over 8 years. I hated it, and grew miserable. I numbed myself continually, and eventually found myself struggling with a futile effort to regain control of the direction in my life. I nearly failed entirely, having skirted death more times than I care to admit.

Fortunately, I was spared the ongoing and compounding dysfunction that substance dependence nearly always delivers. Through a concerted effort, a full recovery of my faculties was regained over the course of a handful of years. A rebirth had taken place, an alchemical conversion of pain into freedom was my claim. The old adage of the phoenix was no longer a cliche.

I made a decision to resume my studies, nearly a decade after dropping out. It was time to rebuild and get back on course – maybe the system could deliver after all.

I knew the profession I was pursuing paid little (in proportion to the always-advancing cost of education in the United States), but I had no other aptitude or interest but to pursue a graduate degree in social work.

Mindful of the cost, I worked throughout this time. I obtained an assistantship for the duration of my accelerated master’s program (netting me a stipend and my tuition costs cut in half). I practiced the values my parents had instilled: work hard and be frugal. I had to – the cost of education had been climbing steadily for years.

It was an investment in my future, but required taking on student debt (misleadingly referred to by many as good debt)Besides, what other choice did I have? To obtain a license to practice the profession, one must have the associated degree.

A second rebirth had occurred, I now no longer had to hold jobs but I could build a bonafide, professional career.

My earning capacity had increased, but the looming cloud of student loan payments encroached as well. Fortunately, I was eligible for a loan debt forgiveness program available to those who work in non-profit and governmental service sectors. If I were only to pay the income-contingent, monthly bill for 10 years, the remainder of debt would disappear.

Through a concerted effort, I payed off all other outstanding debts and planned to begin saving for a home. To accelerate my savings, I worked extra hours. Incorrectly, I assumed my student loan payments were tied to my base salary instead of my gross income. My plan fell apart when the monthly payment suddenly went up – sharply.

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As it stands today, the loan debt has 80% parity with my annual income. My monthly loan payments approach 70% parity with rent. My ability to accrue funds for a down payment is stymied.I had played the game, followed all the rules, did what was “right,” and yet here I find myself unable to pursue my current goal because of the commodification of higher education. The system had played me. I was now at its mercy.

Through the temporal displacements inherent in the commodification of debt (i.e. accelerating the repayment schedule for lenders), student loan asset-backed securities serve to reduce financial risk for private lenders, whilst relocating the social dimensions of risk onto student debtors. The neoliberal state plays an integral role in attempting to mediate, discipline, and depoliticize the social fallout involved in the relocation of risk, primarily through regulatory reforms.
Student Loans, Debtfare and the Commodification of Debt: The Politics of Securitization and the Displacement of Risk by Susanne Soederberg

Through the experiences I’ve related above, I have arrived at a belief that systems must adapt if they are to survive. The current financial and educational systems in the United States are no exception.

After becoming acquainted with digital currencies, the concept of trustlessness and the radical transformative potential of decentralization, I have come to believe that the blockchain will significantly alter (or even replace) the aforementioned dysfunctional and predatory systems. Their restriction of freedom in how individuals participate with each other on the global economic plane is unacceptable. Deeply appreciative of the revolutionary nature controlling one’s finances has, I was motivated by the shackles of my student debt to investigate how the cryptoeconomy could help me reach my goal.

I’ve begun to invest in the cryptoeconomy, which by all indication seems well-placed to usurp the stranglehold that over-content middlemen have over our finances. The corrupt connections between our federal government and financial entities are likely to wither in the dawning rays of the shared ledger. Confronted by the immutability of consensus algorithms and the nobility of trustlessness, the old system must adapt or be replaced. The blockchain forces a recognition of the rights of the many, instead of the few, and facilitates a transfer of power and choice back into the hands of common people.

A third rebirth, one into a new degree of autonomy around both yours and my economic health is taking shape.

I’m positioning myself to benefit from this economic revolution, but also committed to the idea of interdependence in the cryptoeconomy. This requires action. I have chosen to put my efforts toward learning about, participating in and educating others about blockchain technology and the cryptoeconomy. I have invested some of my meager resources into cryptoassets, but also chose to assist in eroding the footing on which corrupt middlemen stand: I’m acting as a lender in a peer-to-peer loan using ETHLend.

I have come to firmly believe that blockchain applications and cryptocurrency will empower us to transcend the antiquated practices and systems which require us to submit to unfair circumstances when the exchange of value. The writing is on the wall, it’s just a matter of time, and it is the collective action of great numbers of individuals which facilitate such momentous change.

Please join me in this endeavor. Learn something, talk to someone about it, take action. This is our time, and it is an exciting time to be alive!


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The Weird & Wonderful World of Altcoins #1

Internet culture is an enormously complex but very new phenomenon in the grand scheme of human activity. Prior to the advent of the information age, cultural activity was bound by the domains of geography, language, religion and occupational activity. A cross-pollination of these categories (accelerated by real-time interpersonal and group interaction) initiated the rapid rise of a new set of unique macro and micro online subcultures.

Use of emojis and internet slang are now commonplace, but among the most notable of the cultural artifacts produced by people interacting online is that of the internet meme.

One such meme has had a remarkable period of longevity: Pepe the Frog. He first appeared in comics by Matt Furie via Myspace​ in 2005 and has since then experienced an unparalleled number of permutations. Pepe has also represented various (even diametrically opposed) political ideologies over the subsequent years. The tug-of-war over Pepe’s representation of ideas is fraught with intrigue.

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The original Pepe

Which brings us to now, where Pepe has been essentially deified in a near-endless series of iterations, many of which have appeared in repost after repost to the extent that specific versions are widely known. This also conversely implies that some Pepes are posited as rare in comparison to their more well-known counterparts. Rare Pepes give a quick wink to the inherent irony of digital images being commonly replicated simply with save-as or copy/paste.

With the advent of blockchain technology, however, the concept of a fixed digital asset has arrived as exemplified by bitcoin, a virtual currency with a finite number of units.

It is the phenomenon of these rare Pepes fusing with the unduplicable nature of bitcoin which brings them to the level of a digital commodity​. Rare Pepes are similar to collectible trading cards​ which are produced in limited quantities to boost their desirability, but rather than producing actual physical cards the limited quantity and ownership of them is validated on the Bitcoin​ blockchain. The purchase transactions are facilitated by a specific cryptocurrency, Pepe Cash. The authenticity of each card “must be certified by the Rare Pepe Foundation,” which succeeds in being as ludicrous at it sounds.

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A rare Pepe featuring Doge

Pepe Cash’s early success builds on the legitimacy of Dogecoin​, another meme-based cryptocurrency which has successfully modeled the ability which niche online culture has in finding a real-world use case. The object of using Pepe Cash and trading/collecting rare Pepes is purely for entertainment purposes and in celebrating meme culture, yet, its rise in value has led to others investing in them speculatively for profit.

The official icon for the currency (which is also its own collectible card) depicts Pepe wearing a garish purple hat (consistent with attire synonymous with pimps) and aviator sunglasses while standing near a McMansion​ which has three Lambourghinis parked in front of it – all symbols of new and rapidly acquired wealth (a status many cryptocurrency speculators seek to achieve).​ The caption to the image reads: The Pepe Cash card is useful for buying houses, fast cars and yachts.

Pepe Cash heralds a new level of reification for internet culture. Vapid and intangible meme concepts are manifesting into our everyday lives, and this is accomplished in a truly absurd and hilarious fashion. In keeping with the long-practiced online tradition, Pepe Cash has successfully trolled the concepts of commodity, rarity and commerce itself.

Stand in awe, we’re only witnessing the cusp of dawn on the cryptosphere’s horizon.