some links for you

i read it all so you dont have to - 4/10/20

It seems I wasn’t the only one at Coin Center thinking about decentralized contact tracing last week. My strange friend Peter wrote a blog post on the subject

At the core of existing tools for contact tracing and digital identity are centralized servers, usually in the full control of corporations or governments who could abuse the private information recorded therein. Bitcoin has proven that a peer-to-peer network can work together to record important data (who has sent or received valuable coins) without the need to trust a central server. New technologies like Zcash, Monero, and Bitcoin’s Confidential Transactions have proved that these decentralized databases can even be privacy protecting for individual users. Now it may be time to use these decentralized databases to record information essential to fighting the pandemic.

We know that getting such a system built and, even more difficult, getting buy-in from the many stakeholders of such a thing would take a huge lift. However, just as Bitcoin got more people started on thinking about the drawbacks of centralized systems, this conversation will hopefully get people wondering if there maybe could be a better way to handle identity and credentialing in some future emergency.

Here’s more reading on other approaches, from Wired: Clever Cryptography Could Protect Privacy in Covid-19 Contact-Tracing Apps

Today Apple and Google announced they are getting involved as well.


An activist posted a message that the Chinese government didn’t like in Animal Crossing

Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong democracy activist, took his protests to the game last week and on Twitter posted a screenshot of his island decorated with a banner saying: “Free Hong Kong, revolution now.”

With predictable results: 

However, since Joshua Wong’s Twitter post, searches for “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” have showed no results on Pinduoduo. On Alibaba’s Taobao, some vendors are trying to circumvent the crackdown by directing potential buyers towards listings that sell the game without using its title in the description.

You may remember that I quite liked the Minecraft Library of censored journalism. It works because many authoritarian countries haven’t banned Minecraft yet. But clearly that’s possible. 

Meanwhile, China activists also have a history of using uncensorable cryptocurrency blockchains to publish “””disruptive””” material. Now it seems a new tool will make it that much easier to post to the chain: 

Love to see that. Censors can get bent. 


This FT  headline raised my eyebrows: “China and Huawei propose reinvention of the internet.”

Concern around New IP stems from how much control governments or operators could have over IP addresses. Critics say that the new protocol would require the network to have “tracking features” responsible for authenticating and authorising new addresses being added to a network, humans at the other end, and the packets of information being sent around the web.

During its presentation at the ITU, Huawei also made it clear that New IP would have something described as a “shut up command”, where a central point in the network could effectively cut off communication to or from a particular address, according to a source who was present. He described this feature as a “fundamental departure” from the current network model which acts as an “agnostic postman that simply moves boxes around”.

So, we have better IP tracking and ”shut up command” that a central authority can send to any address on the network. And the plan has the support of Russia and Saudi Arabia. Yikes. 


Shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m not a sports guy. So Barstool has not really been on my radar. But now they are (accidentally?) building a finance vertical and the results are fascinating. 

Their daily trading livestreams, paired with the increasing accessibility of sophisticated financial instruments for my degenerate sports gambling friends, is going to be a sight to behold. 

Here’s just one of many examples: 

I am excited to see how this trend begins to take shape in casual conversations. Hopefully my friends start to build up domain expertise in random niches of the economy. That would be pretty funny. 


Some cracks are showing in Sweden’s cashless society dream. 

“What we found is the country is becoming increasingly digital and cashless without planning to do so,” said Access to Cash chair Natalie Ceeney “What we’ve found in our research is the vast majority like digital payments. They work for most of us. But there’s a small segment of society they don’t work for.”

Ceeney outlines how that segment includes people on low incomes, who feel cash gives them greater control, enabling them to prevent their remaining money being eaten by direct debits. For people living in rural areas, often the infrastructure doesn’t exist to rely on digital payments. And charities report how cash enables people who experience domestic abuse to hide money away if their abuser has taken control of their bank account.

That last sentence reminds me of this story from Afghanistan:


An FCC Commissioner wrecked a someone: 

Twitter avatar for @BrendanCarrFCCBrendan Carr @BrendanCarrFCC
Great! First, I would like to speak with Dr. AI Fen. She worked at Wuhan Central Hospital and tried to sound the alarm on the virus. Could you un-disappear her so we could speak?
nypost.com/2020/04/01/whi…

Hua Chunying 华春莹 @SpokespersonCHN

Welcome to China anytime and talk to anyone in the streets to enjoy the freedom. BTW Where is freedom & transparency when Captain Crozier was dismissed for a letter to save thousands of lives and medical workers fired for talking about working conditions? https://t.co/l95kYPzTO3

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