Black Pen. Red Pen.

There are a few productivity tools I keep within arms reach at all times.

They’re on my desks at work and at home, in my backpack, in my car’s console.

Pink sticky notes. Field Notes notebooks. An Action Method project book.

And Pilot G2-10 pens.

Two colors: a black pen and a red pen.

The black pen brings new ideas into the world.

The red pen strikes things out of existence.

Addition. Subtraction.

Creation. Deletion.

Black pen. Red pen.

In startups and in building products, you need both.

A black pen brings the ability to experiment and the courage to try new things.

Black pens are for adding new material to your workbench; fastening new features to a product or platform and delivering new value to users.

I sketch, notate, and dream on paper with the black pen.

New ideas, scratchpad notes, and wireframes come out of the black pen’s tip.

A red pen, on the other hand, allows you to exercise restraint, removing things that don’t work.

I print out Figma files and mark them up in red. I strike through ideas and wireframes in red.

Red pens are for the discipline of deletion, whittling away all that’s not useful. Use data and feedback to remove the things that simply don’t work.

Like the proverbial shoulder angel and devil, the black pen and the red pen are constantly at odds with each other, vying for prominence and influence.

And in this balance, there’s value to be found.

Creativity and constraint.

Black pen. Red pen.

November 18, 2022 startups leadership product development productivity

Digital Ownership

For a recap on what web3 is, check out this link.

As I’ve written before, crypto at its core is not financial. It’s economic. It allows for the transfer of value.

The most valuable things in the world are not financial.

Time. Attention. Relationship. Identity. Culture.

Cryptographic technologies and web3 allow for these things to be owned, traded, earned, and allocated.

The primary way that these things (and financial assets as well, for what it’s worth) are owned, traded, earned, and allocated are via smart contracts: programs and applications that are executed on blockchains like Ethereum that have a computing layer (in this case, the EVM or Ethereum Virtual Machine).

NFTs, tokens, and DAOs are all smart contracts that can encode not only digital ownership and belonging, but also rights and royalties.

Smart contracts allow for true digital ownership of any arbitrary data to be encoded for public consumption.

Smart contracts essentially embody Lawrence Lessin’s code is law” assertion in 2000 - they are not only the legislation” of the digital sphere, but they also are self-enforcing. There is no authoritarian regime or agency responsible for making sure that digital laws are followed.

So how does getting paid for ownership work (namely royalties)?

ERC-2981 is the Ethereum standard for encoding NFT royalties into Ethereum-based smart contracts.

And it seems to work: Ethereum is responsible for over $1.8 billion in NFT royalties to date.

But there’s a secret in the industry…by and large, royalties are not enforced at the smart contract layer.

Sure, there’s a minor problem with ERC-2981 as a standard”: it’s an opt-in standard, as it must be in a decentralized, cooperation-based environment like blockchain development.

But namely, the issue here is the incentive structure for marketplaces: they need to attract sellers, and sellers will prefer zero-to-low royalties.

And the marketplaces have to enforce royalty payouts according to the published standard.

But they largely don’t. They implement their own.

This means that there are multiple standards” for royalty payments in NFT contracts.

To date, the power rests with the marketplaces, not the creators or even contract developers.

Marketplaces have to agree to, adhere to, and enforce the standards…but the incentives aren’t there.

The state of royalties in the year 2022? Royalties are still fairly centralized in the hands of the marketplaces and the market-builders.

Code is not yet law.

Want to enjoy the ride? Help us build Bunches!

Give us some feedback on our TestFlight.

Disclaimer: as always, this space is moving extraordinarily fast, and the information contained in this post may be rendered outdated within hours of its posting. Definitely do your own research…but also feel free to follow and ping me on Twitter, Farcaster, or LinkedIn. Happy to chat!

November 2, 2022 web3 crypto

What is web3?

Note: On October 4th, Bunches is partnering with a number of other organizations here in the state of Tennessee to kickoff an event series targeted around educating hobbyists and professionals alike on the ins and outs of building in blockchain. I have the honor and pleasure of emceeing the event, and would love to see you out! RSVP here.

Crypto, at its foundation, is not financial.

Crypto’s core nature is economic.

This distinction is nuanced…but important.

Economics is the study of how value is produced, consumed, and moved in the world, primarily via goods and services. Finance is derived from economics, as financial instruments and markets are very efficient ways of moving and storing economic value.

Cryptography, particularly when combined with decentralized blockchains, allows for the digital ownership and transference of value.

Cryptocurrencies are a clear example of this: they allow for the digital transfer of liquid financial value. The DeFi (or decentralized finance) industry is another example within the category of digital financial value”.

Some of the most valuable things in the world aren’t financial in nature: time, attention, relationship, identity.

But these things are still owned, traded, earned, and allocated.

While not financial, these things — time, identity, attention, etc. — are economic in nature.

The systems and technologies that allow these instruments” to be owned, earned, and traded are collectively web3.

These systems and technologies include protocols that provide identity on top of a public key (Lens, ENS, etc.), protocols that provide for community or communication (like Farcaster or XMTP), or apps that combine all of the above (like Bunches).

Cryptocurrencies and DeFi offer benefits like moving and growing wealth without the oversight of centralized institutions like state treasuries or banks, web3 offers benefits like building an audience or communicating with another without the oversight of centralized institutions like Big Tech™’s Meta or Google.

web3 brings a lot of value to our digital world, in ways that we haven’t seen before.

The biggest value-add in my opinion?

Censorship resistance.

This not only guarantees everyone’s voice, but provides job security to digital creators.

No more building an audience over the course of years only to have it yanked from you by the YouTubes, Instagrams, and Twitters of the world.

No more wondering if you’re going to be demonetized for talking about firearms, or Trump, or cannabis, or universal basic income.

No more tiptoeing around the topics you want to discuss, how you want to discuss them.

Now…some people believe that web3 will replace or supplant the existing World Wide Web as the dominant way that people interact with one another digitally.

I disagree.

web3 is complementary to the existing web, adding functionality and optionality that didn’t exist before.

The existing web isn’t going anywhere for a while.

But this new, upgraded web is going to be a lot of fun for quite some time.

Want to enjoy the ride? Help us build Bunches!

Give us some feedback on our TestFlight.

Disclaimer: this is an attempt to define web3, a nefariously nebulous term. As such, this attempt falls short in a couple of ways, but it’s a good starting point for folks trying to understand the difference between crypto”, defi”, and web3”.

September 29, 2022 web3 crypto

Thoughts on Farcaster

My Twitter account is old enough to drive.

Granted, it’s just a learner’s permit, but still.

That’s older than most web3 founders. (I kid, I kid.)

I remember when Twitter users were called Tweeple. And we had Tweetups. And the ecosystem was open. And the API was useful. And builders were aplenty. And Tweetie, TweetBird, and TweetDeck were independent clients that we all loved and used. The value-over-vanity mindset.

And the momentum. The joy. The this-is-special feeling.

And that exact feeling that is now gone from Twitter…I get from the Farcaster community.

I didn’t get it from Clubhouse.

I didn’t get it from Paparazzi.

I don’t get it from BeReal.

It’s obvious to me that they’re proverbial pan flashes.

But I see it in Farcaster…and that’s what worries me.

If we’ve collectively been just looking for a Twitter replacement, why didn’t anyone jump ship to or Mastodon? (answer: tech personalities aren’t on Mastodon), but another question surfaces: what’s to prevent Farcaster-as-Twitter from inheriting the same problems of scale? The spam, the clowns, the trolls, the dilution of signal, the increase of noise.

Of course, these are concerns that have been brought up before, and ones that I know both Dan and Varun are well-aware of as thoughtful builders in the space…but it honestly doesn’t matter.

I’m not worried about Farcaster even if/when the purple app does inherit these problems. Why?

Because the real power of Farcaster isn’t as a decentralized Twitter clone app; the real power is the protocol.

Don’t get me wrong: the purple app is crucial to seeding the network and showing what can be done with it. But the most exciting thing about Farcaster are the apps that haven’t been built yet. With every micro-app launch, we get a closer glimpse of what’s possible.

From @greg’s SearchCaster, to Farcaster News from @kn, to Perl from @ace and @peterkim, it’s cool to see other folks building on top of the content generated by casts.

But we’ve yet to see new and interesting ways to generate casts.

Here’s an interesting thought to ponder: to date, we’ve really only seen the purple app broadcast casts to the network. Other broadcast apps will come.

I’m fascinated by the idea that casts !== tweets.

What else can they be? Insta posts? Public community messages? News bulletins?

I believe that Farcaster’s longevity will be defined not by the purple app, but by the community’s ability to utilize the protocol in new, interesting, and valuable ways: both consumption and production.

Twitter has long been a platform looking for a product.

I truly believe that the product whiplash within their API ecosystem has done more damage to their reach than not having an edit button or spam accounts or clear censorship policies.

So why has Twitter not focused on building a platform and instead looking to build a product?

Frankly: they’ve had to. Because Twitter is a Web 2.0 business and needs to make money from productization.

Twitter is a platform without a product.

Farcaster’s different.

Since the protocol is the main thing, Farcaster is a platform as a product, which is very different.

And that’s why I’m not worried about the purple app at scale. Because there will be other apps that use the protocol in new and interesting ways. The blue app. The green app. The yellow app. The orange app.

The pink app.

September 26, 2022 farcaster twitter social media