The Big Cypherpunk FAQ (v1.0). [Paid/Free #20]

We've hit 20 issues of our newsletter! This issue serves as an index of what we've covered so far, in an FAQ form.

Well hello there, my friends!

I wasn’t quite sure how this experiment with the newsletter would go, but it’s actually shaping up to be a decent amount of fun and moderately successful. As of this issue, we’re six months into this, and hitting a number of milestones, including a respectable number of free and premium subscriptions!

Because the bulk of you who subscribe have come along mid-journey, and the bulk of this content is designed to be evergreen, I felt like a good thing to do would be to, along the way, create some guidepost issues like this one where we take index of the topics we cover and attempt to organize them in a way that makes the content easy to find.

In the tradition of the original Cypherpunk mailing list, I’ve named this document (one that I’ll endeavor to update at regular intervals) the “Big Cypherpunk FAQ.”

To make things easier to peruse, we’ve organized the topics thematically, rather than chronologically. Every question and answer has a brief summary in this issue, as well as links to the premium and summary content for more details. Additionally, when available, there are links to the cover art NFTs (more on that in upcoming issues!).

Thanks for sticking with me on this journey so far. Here’s hoping the next 20 are just as successful!


Blockchain Bulletin

  • NFT marketplace OpenSea raises $100M and aims to become cross-chain. Giant NFT marketplace OpenSea announced this week that it raised $100 million in funding even amidst a slump in NFT markets, according to CoinDesk.

  • Polygon launches blockchain gaming and NFT studio. Ethereum infrastructure developer Polygon just spun off a blockchain gaming and NFT studio that will assist developers with transitioning their games from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, reported CoinTelegraph.

  • Amazon is hiring a digital currency and blockchain leadCNBC reported that blockchain technology is hitting the mainstream, Amazon is looking for a blockchain lead for its payment acceptance experience team.

Blockchain Behind the Scenes

  • FTX crypto exchange raises staggering $900M funding. The fifth-largest bitcoin futures exchange by volume FTX raised the biggest funding round in crypto history at $900 million from more than 60 investors.

  • JPMorgan becomes first U.S. big bank to give retail clients access to Bitcoin. All clients can now invest in bitcoin at JPMorgan as the first U.S. bank to allow even retail clients access to bitcoin-related securities upon request.


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Blockchain Bulletin

NFT marketplace OpenSea raises $100M and aims to become cross-chain

One of the largest NFT marketplaces OpenSea just raised $100 million proving that nonfungible tokens are really making hay and just became the latest crypto unicorn – meaning that it exceeded $1 billion in valuation at $1.5 billion, according to CoinDesk.

OpenSea caters to a wide variety of NFT fashions, but primarily digital artwork, even as news that the NFT market has been crashing has hit headlines. According to the marketplace, it not only has endured, its market has grown

It takes a 2.5% cut of every transaction and raised $160 million in asset sales as of June and did the same in the first half of July.

The marketplace will also be implementing NFT sales from across different blockchains, in addition to Ethereum – such as Flow and Tezos. The move, according to OpenSea’s CEO Devin Finzer, is due to high on-chain transaction fees for Ethereum and the need to branch out.

With the capability of supporting multiple blockchains, OpenSea will be able to better support low-value, high-volume projects, which could include event tickets and games.

Polygon launches blockchain gaming and NFT studio

Polygon, the Ethereum infrastructure developer, spun off a new game’s developer studio called Polygon Studios with the intent of working on blockchain gaming and producing NFTs, according to CoinTelegraph.

Polygon Studios will forge ahead along three major pillars to provide Polygon a leadership role in the decentralized gaming space, deliver a brand for Polygon as a blockchain gaming outfit in the NFT ecosystem, and give it the leverage for Web 3.0 transition.

With Polygon Gaming Studio, the company will seek to provide developers what they need to make decentralized games. And with Polygon NFT Studio, the company will give developers what they need to launch branded nonfungible tokens and brand them for their gaming enterprises.

A day later, Polygon set up a $100 million fund for blockchain gaming projects. This will most likely incubate more games to adapt their Web 2.0 games with Web 3.0 decentralized technology with Polygon’s platform.

Amazon is hiring a digital currency and blockchain lead

Amazon posted a job opportunity for a digital currency and blockchain lead showing that the company is potentially interested in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, reported CNBC.

The news comes as Amazon put up a job posting on its site that Amazon’s payment’s acceptance and experiences team is looking to hire “an experienced product leader to develop Amazon’s Digital Currency and Blockchain strategy and product roadmap.”

This person would use their knowledge of blockchain, distributed ledger technology, digital currencies, and cryptocurrencies to develop products -- potentially with Amazon’s technologies such as Amazon Web Services.

“We’re inspired by the innovation happening in the cryptocurrency space and are exploring what this could look like on Amazon,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “We believe the future will be built on new technologies that enable modern, fast, and inexpensive payments, and hope to bring that future to Amazon customers as soon as possible.”

This job posting follows other businesses showing interest in the past few months in blockchain technologies such as Apple, which posted their own job posting in May.


Blockchain Behind the Scenes

FTX crypto exchange raises staggering $900M funding

In what is the largest funding round in crypto history, the crypto exchange FTX, headed by CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, raised $900 million in Series B funding from more than 60 investors, reported CoinDesk.

FTX received its new funding round during a period of time when bitcoin saw a dip below $30,000 – although it did jump back up again this week.

The company’s CEO said that the funding will go toward new products both globally and within the U.S.

In a statement, Bankman-Fried said that going public might be in the cards but there are no “imminent plans.”

FTX launched early in 2019 and is now the fifth-biggest Bitcoin futures exchange by futures volume, according to data from Skew.com.

This continues a trend of large funding rounds going into exchanges and markets in the cryptocurrency sector. The last largest round for a crypto firm went to Circle in May for $440 million.

JPMorgan becomes first U.S. big bank to give retail clients access to Bitcoin

According to a report from Business Insider, JPMorgan just became the first big bank to give retail clients access to Bitcoin investments. This is directly in contravention to other banks who shy away from cryptocurrencies, which do not offer such investment vehicles to anyone except the ultrawealthy.

Financial advisors may not recommend the investment themselves, but they will be able to assist their clients in doing bitcoin-related trades. Advisors can purchase shares in Grayscale trusts, such as GBTC, as well as Osprey Fund’s Bitcoin Trust.

This opens up a whole new set of opportunities within the Bitcoin market that didn’t exist before in major banking and investment sector for retail clients. Up until this point, most major banks only offered these sorts of services to the ultrawealthy citing the high volatility of the cryptocurrency markets.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, is well known for his hostility towards bitcoin and cryptocurrency. In fact, in the past, he threatened to fire any employee who traded in Bitcoin, pronouncing bitcoin "a fraud." Now he says that this change reflects not a shift in his stance, but instead bowing to pressure from clients.

"I'm not a bitcoin supporter," Dimon said. "I don't care about bitcoin. I have no interest in it. On the other hand, clients are interested, and I don't tell clients what to do."


Rizzn's Big Cypherpunk FAQ, v1.0.

Key Blockchain Concepts

What is Bitcoin and Blockchain?

Bitcoin is the reference architecture of Blockchain, which is a decentralized internet protocol for mitigating or removing the requirement for trust between counterparties.  

This is a concept we build off of in every chapter, in some way, and mention in nearly every issue.

What’s a Turing-Complete Blockchain?

A Turing-Complete blockchain is a subset of blockchain with enhanced functionality allowing for some types of programmatic execution. If a standard blockchain (like Bitcoin) is a paper ledger, a Turing-Complete blockchain is like a spreadsheet, allowing for advanced functionality to occur when data is committed to the permanent ledger.

Read more in Issue 12 (Full, Summary).

What are Stablecoins?

Stablecoins are a useful device for moving more real world transactional value around without being exposed to the volatility of other deflationary cryptocurrencies. Typically they’re locked to the value of a dollar through various means, but some are tied to other asset prices, like a quantity of gold.

Read more in Issue 18 (Full, Summary).

What is an NFT?

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token, and is generally a technology for creating deeds and titles on the blockchain.

Read more in Issue 1 (Full, Summary).

Cover NFT (Rarible).

Can NFT’s help monetize media brands?

Despite cryptocurrency early on promising to solve the eternal digital problem of microtransactions, it so far has failed to do so in a way that online publications can use to paywall content effectively. This mini-whitepaper describes a scenario in which the nascent technology of NFTs could solve the broader problem of digital media monetization.

Read more in Issue 15 (Full, Summary).

What’s the promise and reality of NFTs?

While there are a great many in-market applications for NFTs, there still remains a great deal of technology maturity in this field before NFTs can truly reach their true world-changing potential.

Read more in Issue 3 (Full, Summary).

Cover NFT (Rarible).

What is a Data Oracle?

Blockchains serve as a permanent record for any data recorded there, which makes any situation where the problem is data integrity look to blockchain as a tempting solution. Data Oracles are a technique for bringing non-native data into a blockchain’s permanent record.

Read more in Issue 16 (Full, Summary).

What are Colored Coins?

Colored Coins is a concept for (and in practice diaspora of protocols) built on the Bitcoin stack for creating enhanced functionality typically only seen in Turing-Complete blockchains. 

Read more in Issue 19 (Full, Summary).

Cypherpunk Research & Editorials

Is Blockchain an inherently political technology?

The common perception is that technology is just a tool, with intent only prescribed at the point of usage. As modern tech disproves this notion, where does blockchain fit on the spectrum?

Read more in Issue 17 (Full).

What is “Cypherpunk Maximalism”?

Many of those who call themselves “bitcoiners” ascribe to a philosophy called “Bitcoin Maximalism,” but Bitcoin is a protocol and a movement that arose out of a group of technologists and anarchists who call themselves “cypherpunks.” Understanding their origins is instrumental to understanding blockchain technology’s future.

Read more in Issue 7 (Full, Summary).

What do we do about our Elon problem?

Elon Musk's "hustle" on new Democrats sees bitcoin pay the price for his companies' subsidies. Unfortunately, his disingenuous statements about cryptocurrency to his following heralded a turn of public opinion on cryptocurrency, and signalled a top for the 2021 bull run.

Read more in Issue 10 (Full, Summary).

Is crypto destroying the planet?

One of the key pillars no-coiners make against crypto is the lack 'greenness' and the potential impact it has on the climate. This is a fundamentally flawed perspective.

Read more in Issue 8 (Full, Summary).

Is MobileCoin any good?

Signal announced that they're implementing MobileCoin into the native Signal messenger experience. Is it, as it’s billed, a truly "secure and private way to transact?" Only sorta...

Read more in Issue 4 (Full, Summary).

Cover NFT (Rarible).

Interviews

Is Dogecoin having its moment (Tina Hui interview)?

Thanks in part to a perfect storm of media and celebrity investor conditions, Dogecoin has risen to never-before-seen new heights during 2021. This interview with Dogecon founder Tina Hui lends a great deal of insight into the culture and time that gave birth to the memecoin.

Read more in Issue 6 (Full, Summary).

Cover NFT (Rarible).

What’s the real story in the death of John McAfee (John Casaretto interview)?

The death of my friend and former coworker John McAfee in 2021 was widely publicized, and as I wrote this issue, I was still roiling about in my thoughts and emotions on it. I spoke with my friend, McAfee coworker, and the Security Editor from SiliconANGLE, John Casaretto to see how he was faring and what his thoughts were.

Read more in Issue #16 (Full, Summary).

What does the Texas Bitcoin Bill mean for Texas business (Lee Bratcher and Rep. Tan Parker interview)?

In 2021, Texas Legislator Tam Parker successfully lead a bipartisan effort in Texas to get regulatory clarity codified into law. The bill was later signed by Governor Greg Abbot.

Read more in Issue 12 (Full, Summary).

Key Bitcoin Concepts

What is Bitcoin Maximalism?

Perhaps the largest tribe in the world of cryptocurrency is a group of who call themselves Bitcoin Maximalists. This is an examination into the culture and tribe that spawned blockchain and gatekeep the technology to this day.

Read more in Issue 7 (Full, Summary).

Is it possible for the FBI to seize anyone’s Bitcoin?

The FBI seized a massive amount of Bitcoin this week from Russian ransomware group Darkside, but was cagey about how. The media thinks they found a backdoor. The math and physics behind Bitcoin proves otherwise.

Read more in Issue 14 (Full, Summary).

How do I use Bitcoin like money?

In 2021, El Salvador declared Bitcoin legal tende, and several Central & South American countries are following suit. What suite of tools and techniques best help a Bitcoiner actually use it like money?

Read more in Issue 13 (Full, Summary).

Does “Dollar Cost Averaging” beat the market?

When crypto markets enter a bear phase, one of the most commonly asked questions is ‘what investment strategy can help one beat market drops?’ Dollar Cost Averaging even at the top of a bull market is one such strategy that can achieve positive ROI?

Read more in Issue 11 (Full, Summary).

Could Satoshi singlehandedly tank the market?

This is a question nocoiners and haters like to ask (and maximalists hate to answer!). But even if one man could tank the market, what's more likely? Hyper-bitcoinization or collapse?

Read more in Issue 9 (Full, Summary).

How do I explain Bitcoin to my friends?

In 2021, Coinbase went publicly traded, an event that like many before it triggered the question “What the heck is Bitcoin” out of the uninitiated. For those who are tech adjacent, the Bitcoin curious always seem to aim their questions at them. What’s the best way to explain it to the newbies?

Read more in Issue 5 (Full, Summary).

Cover NFT (Rarible).