A very clear look at the current banking system, and how bitcoin fits into the model.
Twitter went mad last week because somebody had transferred almost $150m in a single Bitcoin transaction. This tweet was typical:
There was much comment about how expensive or difficult this would have been in the regular banking system – and this could well be true. But it also highlighted another point: in my expecience, almost nobody actually understands how payment systems work. That is: if you “wire” funds to a supplier or “make a payment” to a friend, how does the money get from your account to theirs?
In this article, I hope to change this situation by giving a very simple, but hopefully not oversimplified, survey of the landscape.
First, let’s establish some common ground
Perhaps the most important thing we need to realise about bank deposits is that they are liabilities…
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a back-office-as-service that puts moms to work.
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with?”
― Lance Armstrong, It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life
Shakespeare’s Henry V is surprisingly well suited for the spirit of entrepreneurship as well.
Context: a friend recently posted on Facebook, expressing the hardship of entrepreneurship with a mimosa metaphor.
When you stare into the bottomless mimosa, sometimes the bottomless mimosa stares back at you.
I decided to change the speech as a response, and was surprised at how well it turned out (changes in bold).
WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in the Valley
That write no code to-day!
KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to fail, we are enow
To be a statistic in Kauffman’s survey this year; and if to succeed,
The fewer men, the greater share of stock.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet ownership,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from SV.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an investment
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through our team of developers,
That he which hath no stomach to stay to the end,
Let him depart; his termination-contract shall be fulfilled,
And fare for taxi put into his man-bag;
We would not fail in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to fail with us.
This month is call’d the month of Crispian.
He that continues to work this month, and is able to payoff his mortgage,
Will stand a tip-toe when this month is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall survive this month, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours at the finest restaurants,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he open his cupboards and show his medical records,
And say “These wounds I had eating ramen and coding on Crispian’s month.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Elon of SpaceX, Larry and Sergey of Google,
Jobs and Wozniak, Allen and Gates-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that puts his livelihood at stake with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
(written on a bus, trying to get to Brown during Hurricane Irene).
Riding through New York at the wee hours of the morning, the faint edge where black earth met black sky is slowly turning red, like a wound. Above, in the slowly distinguishable sky, there are colors of blue and blue-green; bruises preparing for the raw maw that will eventually leap over the horizon.
We drive towards the brighest part of it all. The sky gleams pregnant orange, and I turn off my seat lamp to hold my breath, waiting for the golden yolk. New York, new yolk. Driving due east to the shore, the way is now again clear; there are a thousand ways to Providence, we will get there yet.
Bringing People together –
Innocolous as this sounds, I think that there is something really profound going on here- namely that as the internet connects everyone from different parts of the world, the scale length of the system is going to increase and some really funky things is going to happen.
Larry Summers –
Education as insurance to prevent falling through the cracks
Education as tournament – if you don’t go to a good school your diploma = dunce hat
Education as a merchant –
Education as learning.