The warring states of cryptocurrency

Leo Zhang

By Leo Zhang

"Opinion is like a pendulum and obeys the same law. If it goes past the centre of gravity on one side, it must go a like distance on the other; and it is only after a certain time that it finds the true point at which it can remain at rest."

--Arthur Schopenhauer

Cryptocurrency forums are confusing places for investors. Darling groups like Bitmain and ConsenSys are alternately celebrated and vilified. Thesis statements that seemed prescient a year ago (such as Fat Protocols, or Crypto-Asset Valuation) are now being roundly dismissed. What accounts for the conflicting narratives?

The grassroots nature of this market makes trusted voices hard to find. It is no secret that under the umbrella of the "decentralization's" grand vision, many camps have sprung up, often at odds aginst each other, and with unclear motivations. Such tribalist behavior exists on almost all levels of abstraction: crypto-maximalists vs. no-coiners, Bitcoin maximalists vs. multi-coiners, Bitcoin Core vs. Bitcoin Cash; even within the fragile ecosystem of Bitcoin Cash community there is balkanization at work at odds.

Some of the feuds are rooted in technological implementations; some others are just ideological zealotry. The direct consequence is an over-whelming amount of noise, which further increases the frictions between the warring camps. The constituents of both camps have turned the rivalry into a team sport, trying to capitalize on the most effective and the cheapest weapon they can yield -- social media attention. In the all-time classic "Anatomy of Power", economist John Kenneth Galbraith describes the use of personality as a source of power:

"In the modern community the most important association of personality has now become this connection with conditioned power. The effective personality wins submission by persuation -- by cultivating belief, by 'exercising leadership.'"

In cryptocurrency markets, where brands aren't well-established, cults of personality are used to maintain illusions of technical expertise, deep empathy for the masses, or just to hold the attention of retail investors. There are many variations on these tactics, but the root meta-game these "politicians" play can be summarized with the tweet below:

In the grand scheme of things, cryptocurrency markets are still a small fraction of economic activity. In a macro environment where emerging markets can sink into hell within weeks, the fractal-like camps in crypto can also vaporize or redirect their narratives overnight, to suit their needs. For investors and analysts, it is critical to ask: "why am I seeing this now?".

We can't all be friends: crypto and the psychology of mass movements
(Tony Sheng)

"Conflict is organized around tribes. People form tribes around projects (like Bitcoin, XRP), people (like Vitalik, Justin Sun), and theses and beliefs (like Fat Protocols, Fat Moneys, Crypto is rat poison). Oftentimes, individuals are members of multiple related tribes."

Technical Updates

The anatomy of anonymity: how Dandelion could make bitcoin more private
(Bitcoin Magazine, by Colin Harper)

"To achieve this, Dandelion sends the transaction on a random path through a variable number of nodes before the transaction is diffused across the whole network. The random pathway is known as the stem phase of the protocol, as transactions relayed in the stage are shared only between one another, transmitting from one node to the next. The diffusion phase is known as the 'fluff phase,' as the transaction is broadcasted to multiple nodes to be spread across the network (visually and in effect, both of these processes replicate a Dandelion’s anatomy, hence the terminology)."

Ethereum's next upgrade could be the $29 billion blockchain's biggest test yet
(CoinDesk, by Rachel Rose O'Leary)

"However, miners are warning that too great a decrease in profits will reduce the security of the network, effectively forcing miners to secure other cryptocurrencies. (Concerns are especially great for GPU miners, which are now currently competing with ASICs, machines specialized for cryptocurrency mining and little else)."

lolMiner 0.43 AMD and Nvidia OpenCL Multi Equihash GPU Miner
(Crypto Mining Blog)

"The main feature of the latest version is the addition of support for the 192.7 algorithm used by oins such as Zero (ZER) and SafeCash (SCASH), there are of course multiple fixes and improvements applied as well. You can find the full changelog of the lolMiner 0.43 below. The lolMiner 0.43 is a closed source miner available wih binary only releases for Windows and Linux."

An FPGA industry veteran's view of future
(SemiWiki, by Tom Simon)

"According to Manoj, the other factor leading to the increased usage of FPGAs is the enormous mask costs for advanced nodes such as 16nm and beyond. It’s not unusual for a mask set to costs upwards of $10M. These higher costs are pushing system designers to build fewer, but more generally applicable, ASICs. Adding programmability to an ASIC through embedded FPGA is an ideal way to accomplish this."

News & Commentary

Decoder: What is Tether? Will it bring Bitcoin down?
(Breaker, by David Z.Morris)

"The knock-on effects of that sort of run could be far worse than the $2.7 billion lost by holders of worthless Tether. Because Tether at once is a haven and a transaction mediator for active traders in other tokens, its collapse would likely slow those markets’ practical functioning, trigger blindside margin calls for exposed investors, and generate a broader wave of uncertainty and fear. That fallout would quite likely impact the price of even stalwart tokens like bitcoin and Ethereum."

Why traditional VCs are ill-equipped to participate in cryptocurrency

Near $1B are currently on the move from a Silkroad related wallet

Near $1B are currently on the move from a Silkroad related wallet from r/Bitcoin

The U.S. is experiencing a dangerous corporate debt bubble
(Forbes, by Jesse Colombo)

"Ultra-low corporate bond yields have encouraged U.S. public corporations to borrow heavily in the bond market after the Great Recession. Total outstanding non-financial corporate debt has increased by over $2.5 trillion or 40% since its 2008 high, which was already a dangerously high level in its own right."