Bylines

Coindesk, After the Twitter Hack, We Need a User-Owned Internet More Than Ever (July 2020)
A follow-up to the social platforms as property article from June, in light of the devastating Twitter hack on July 15. My pitch for a move to decentralized alternatives.

The hack plainly illuminates issues that cryptocurrency and Web 3.0 enthusiasts have been raising for years. “Trusted third parties are security holes” isn’t just a slogan; it’s a concept that millions of people will have intuitively grasped for the first time yesterday. 

Coindesk, Version Control Can Help the Media Win Back Reader Trust (July 2020)
My argument that the press should commit to their article contents, rather than arbitrarily changing it post-publication, which is often done covertly. Using public blockchains like Bitcoin as cloud notaries is an obvious and simple solution here. I also timestamp the article using OpenTimeStamps as a simple proof of concept.

Coindesk, Where the NY Fed ‘Bitcoin Is Not New’ Blog Goes Wrong (June 2020)
My response to a NY Fed blog alleging that Bitcoin should be considered a fiat currency, with a Latin lesson and an etymological exploration thrown in.

Coindesk, Your Property Rights Should Extend to Social Media (June 2020)
My contention that, despite what the ToS’ say, users should actually lay claim to their digital property on internet platforms, under the Lockean theory.

Users cannot easily extricate their social graphs and followers should they choose to leave; they find themselves deprived of their commercially and socially valuable property at a moment’s notice with no recourse and they cannot influence decision-making. To make a political analogy, virtually all of these digital worlds operate as pre-democratic feudal regimes, with every participant a digital serf who tills the land at the pleasure and discretion of a capricious feudal lord.

Coindesk, The Neil Ferguson Affair Shows the Limits of Science During COVID-19 (June 2020)
What the rise and fall of British epidemiologist Neil Ferguson tells us about the risks of demanding excess precision from fuzzy scientific disciplines.

Coindesk, The Last Word on Bitcoin’s Energy Consumption (May 2020)
I lay out my thoughts on the Bitcoin energy debate, surfacing sometimes overlooked issues.

Imagine a topographic map of the world, with local electricity costs as the variable determining the peaks and troughs. Adding Bitcoin to the mix is like pouring a glass of water over the 3D map – it settles in the troughs, smoothing them out. As Bitcoin is a global buyer of energy at a fixed price, it makes sense for miners with very cheap energy to sell some to the protocol. […] Bitcoin thrives on the margins, where energy is lost or curtailed.

Bankless, Crypto-fiat: Mutualistic or Parasitic? (May 2020)
I interrogate whether the rise of stablecoins on public blockchains is hostile to the security model of these chains, and present data demonstrating the ‘dollarization’ of Ethereum.

American Mind, Après Le Déluge, Bitcoin (Apr. 2020)
How our financial infrastructure, from the global to the local level, is hopelessly politicized, and why we deserve apolitical alternatives.

One way to look at it is to understand the appeal of Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency industry more broadly as a reaction to the clear degeneration of the current financial system. Of course there is a monetary component to Bitcoin’s specific allure: imposing a rigid monetary policy, and creating a free market for the issuance of new units, such that no government can perform seigniorage. This gets the headlines. However, catalyzed by and building on Bitcoin’s success is a broader phenomenon: the buildout of politically neutral payments and settlement infrastructure.

Coindesk, How Blockchains Become Great Big Garbage Patches for Data (Apr. 2020)
Why the much-touted arbitrary data storage use case for public blockchains leads to one of two undesirable outcomes.

Coindesk, Bailouts Don’t Save the Economy. They Prop Up Companies That Should Be Allowed to Fail (Apr. 2020)
Why the massive post-Covid bailouts are fundamentally bad for the economy, by forestalling necessary failure that would allow the economy to refresh itself.

Coindesk, Corporate America Knows the Bailout Is Baked In (Apr. 2020)
How bailouts reward excessive risk-taking and punish prudent businesses.

If you eliminate the negative consequences of risk taking, you reward these risk-seeking entities. Now the calculus is different. The companies taking on leverage and refusing to buy insurance (in the form of capital retained on the balance sheet) outperform in the short andlong term, as the government writes them a gigantic free put option in the form of a bailout. The message is very clear: failure and risk taking is rewarded and encouraged.

Coindesk, Crypto Progressives Become Conservative With Their Own Chains (Mar. 2020)
Why crypto-progressivism is incoherent.

Coindesk, How to Stop the Next Quadriga: Make Exchanges Prove Their Reserves (Mar. 2020)
Why Bitcoin custodial institutions should take advantage of Bitcoin’s fantastic auditability properties and institute Proof of Reserves protocols.

Costly verification leads to concentration. The more expensive it is to verify the integrity of a monetary good, the more taking delivery of it is difficult for smaller holders, and the more it lends itself towards capture.

Coindesk, Policymakers Shouldn’t Fear Digital Money: So Far It’s Maintaining the Dollar’s Status (Feb. 2020)
Why stablecoins may end up being a powerful vector of dollarization, and why US policymakers should embrace this trend.

Far from compromising the dollar’s mighty advantage internationally, cryptocurrency, and the infrastructure built to support it, may well entrench its position.

Bankless, A crypto banking reality check (Jan. 2020)
I present data on how much BTC and ETH are held in a custodial setting, and investigate the depository assurances of investors holding funds on crypto exchanges.

The Block, What 2019 meant for crypto and what 2020 might bring (Dec. 2019)
A retrospective on 2019 and predictions for 2020 in the crypto industry.

The Pomp Letter, My On-Chain Data Story (Dec. 2019)
In Pomp’s newsletter, I describe how I was inspired to build Coin Metrics and why I find on-chain data so compelling.

Token Daily, On Labels: A Critical Look at Blockchain Discourse (Jul. 2018)
I issue a critique of popular linguistic tropes used in the blockchain industry.