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Insert your own “SELLcius” joke here

Welp, we’re having another banner week in the crypto world, huh?

These are links I’ve been picking up over the past month or two. They go up to the Luna “we have a token that will always be worth US$1 because of Algorithms(TM), what could go wrong?” crash, but nothing yet from the Celsius “we are not a bank, because banks are Bad and we are Good, so we don’t need all those silly regulations that banks have to follow, and oops now we’re freezing everyone’s ability to withdraw your tokens” crash.

The first Patreon Creator Census has a lot of broad strokes you probably could’ve guessed, but it’s nice to see the specifics broken down. Especially when they break stuff out by “what field is the creator in?”

Creators overwhelmingly hate crypto, btw. Patreon tries to downplay it by breaking out the fields that hate it least…but that also reveals that visual artists hate it the most. You know, the field where crypto has made the biggest and hardest pitch for how useful it is? Second-most hate comes from the writers (the fields where the journalists are), and third-most comes from the game developers (the field where crypto has made the second-biggest push).

“As talk of “the metaverse” grows, and people float [NFT] theories about owning items and cosmetic skins and being able to take between games, interest in what that means practically for gamers has lead to a wild array of theories, but they’re largely pushed by people who know nothing about game development. So, as a developer, it falls to people like me who live and work in these spaces to share our knowledge.” (Link is just one article, but the whole blog is worth a read.)

[US] Political donations from the sector surged to more than $26 million during 2021 and the first three months of this year. That influx of cash is outpacing spending by internet giants, drug makers and the defense industry — providing a fresh pool of financing for candidates heading into November’s congressional elections.”

Ms. Blackburn consolidated many Bitcoin addresses, which might have seemed to represent many miners, into few. She pieced together a catalog of agents and concluded that, in those first two years, 64 key players — some of whom were the community’s “founders,” as the researchers called them — mined most of the Bitcoin that existed at the time.”

“All [interviewees] had similar testimonials about putting their faith in an asset they thought was stable and losing everything. Muhammad, a 30-year-old from Egypt, said that he learned about Luna from YouTubers who said that it would reach $1,000. He bought 1,000 tokens at $88. One token is now currently worth less than $0.0002.

“[The article] uncritically repeated many questionable or entirely fallacious arguments from cryptocurrency advocates, and it appears that no experts on the topic were consulted, or even anyone with a less-than-rosy view on crypto. This is grossly irresponsible. Here, a group of around fifteen cryptocurrency researchers and critics have done what the New York Times apparently won’t.”

The blockchain arena sure is having a week, huh?

I had this interrogation of Kickstarter’s empty “blockchain proposal” written and on the desk of the Beat’s editors back in March. Was starting to worry that it wouldn’t feel timely, as the publication date got farther and farther away from news like “the Kickstarter CEO has resigned to spend more time with his family.”

And then it ended up getting published within days of “the third-biggest stablecoin goes ker-splat, setting off a rolling chain of destruction in every protocol and/or exchange that leaned on it.” (The power of decentralization, folks!)

There’s always something.

Older Kickstarter news/polling/snark:

“I have no assurances from the people who want to use it on Kickstarter that protocols are in place to protect the users. My biggest concern is I have interacted with Kickstarter three times now – sent emails and had meetings and stuff – requesting clarification of intent and a roadmap, and I have never gotten one, which makes me question the wisdom of the entire venture.”

Will you buy comics on Kickstarter if they go through with their blockchain plans?” Twitter poll, closed with 4500+ votes.

In many ways, Kickstarter’s weird crypto project — and the blockchain aspirations other aging web 2.0 companies are pushing on us right now — are kind of like watching a middle-aged man buy a boat. He doesn’t need to buy a boat. His life will be significantly more complicated, and likely worse, after he buys the boat. But he has somehow convinced himself that he needs to buy this boat because he has done the math and realized he is going to die soon and he thinks the boat will fix this.”

General blockchain criticism/snark:

“It turns out, businesses already use computer programs a lot. DAOs don’t bring anything to the table. So a lot of it is excuses to do things you can already do, and just say, ‘Oh, it’s a DAO. That means it’s crypto, and it’s magical, so if you don’t understand why our idea sounds so stupid, it’s because it’s very complicated and you need to think about it more.’” (Video with David Gerard, who literally wrote the book on crypto failings. Multiple books, in fact.)

“One of the most infamous examples of a game incorporating an early form of a play-to-earn system was Diablo III’s auction house, where players could buy and sell weapons and items for real money. […] But Blizzard’s experiment in monetizing scarcity was a disaster.”

“The biggest [lie] is “this incentivizes green power.” Which it does in the same way that a whole bunch of random shootings would incentivize bulletproof vests.”

This video has my new favorite example of crypto fans using The Most Elaborate Possible Technical Terms for the most absurdly mundane things: “It’s called loading. You’ve described how loading works.

Excellent deployment of quotation marks: “‘Hacker’ Steals NFTs ‘Worth’ Millions From Opensea Users.

Excellent Onion headlines: “Man Who Lost Everything In Crypto Just Wishes Several Thousand More People Had Warned Him

ScamCoin investors are shocked to learn they trusted their money to notorious con artist Jonathan ScamCoin

Title grabbed from The Onion’s lists of biggest crypto heists of all time.

As of this writing, Coinopsy has records of 2,403 “dead” cryptocurrencies, compared to a whopping 414 that are still kicking.

In May, the Federal Trade Commission reported that consumers had lost more than $80 million on crypto scams between October 2020 and March 2021 — more than ten times the amount lost during the same period the previous year, $2 million of which was lost to scammers impersonating Elon Musk.”

Gaming company co-founder on why companies like Steam have stopped trying to work with crypto: “the vast majority of those transactions, for whatever reason, were fraudulent, where people were repudiating transactions or using illegal sources of funds and things like that. And that’s just out of control, right? You want that number, realistically, in a couple of percent, not half of all transactions turning out to be fraudulent transactions. Similarly, with the actors that are currently in this NFT space, they’re just not people you really are wanting to be doing business with. ”

Some crypto miners and traders “are attempting to take advantage of a controversial tax incentive in Republicans’ 2017 major tax legislation — specifically, by investing in “opportunity zones,” which were sold as a plan to buoy the poorest American neighborhoods but have evolved into a way for wealthy investors to funnel billions in untaxed profits into virtually any venture they choose.

As of Feb. 8 roughly 55% of Bitcoin investors were underwater, according to cryptocurrency investment firm 21Shares. That’s actually an improvement from several weeks ago, when Bitcoin was trading about $35,000. At that time, more than two out of every three Bitcoin investors were in the red.”

Crypto Critics’ Corner constantly has conversations about crypto so smart and technical and well-informed, I can barely keep up, and it’s an absolute pleasure to listen to. Recently a guest went “the value of Bitcoin is usually given in US$, but we should give it in Tether” and I was all…listen, I could not possibly have connected those dots myself, but know juuuust enough to grasp why it’s a Big Deal. I’m hanging on by my fingertips and it’s great.

Dispatches from Balloonville

Title inspired by my new favorite player in the NFT Space:

Screw it, I like the Balloonville people. So few in the Crypto Space will openly embrace the true meaning and spirit of “unregulated trustless marketplace that anyone can participate in.” Looking forward to their next project, “Bored Rug Club”, followed by the pixelated “CryptoScammers.”

Screenshot of balloon picrew characters
Who could have expected that this would pop??

More NFT rubbernecking:

“On February 9, 2021, an unidentified scammer used a phishing attack to steal dozens of NFTs from individual wallets. [..] In total, the scammer netted over 1100 Eth (~$3 million) from the attack. The phishing attack used a legitimate Opensea buy order.” So why call it “stealing” or “scamming”? It’s a valid blockchain transaction! Everything is fine.

[NFT sales data] do not show the democratization of wealth thanks to a technological revolution. They show an acutely minuscule number of artists making a vast amount of wealth off a small number of sales while the majority of artists are being sold a dream of immense profit that is horrifically exaggerated. Hiding this information is manipulative, predatory, and harmful, and these NFT sites have a responsibility to surface all this information transparently. Not a single one has.”

“If you have access to a free trial of some chart-making software, you can even begin to make a corkboard map of this emerging web of ownership, business relationships, and incredibly bad art.

Other blockchain-based definitely-legitimate-and-not-a-scam rubbernecking:

Often used as a way to distribute free NFTs for giveaways and other promotional campaigns, there is nothing stopping someone from airdropping NFTs with abusive content—doxing, revenge porn, child sexual abuse imagery, threats, etc.—into someone’s wallet. […] And even if someone hides or burns an NFT of this sort, the transaction and its contents remain immutably on the blockchain for anyone to see.” A quick overview of blockchain-based abuses we should be worried about.

The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) has called for regulations of cryptocurrency-related platforms after one of sport’s biggest cryptocurrency-brands has gone into liquidation. The Times has reported that fan engagement platform, IQONIQ, has collapsed in Monaco, which has potentially left thousands of supporters in possession of Fan Tokens ‘worth almost nothing’.” Ah, the wonderful applications of crypto in sports.

Two lists: falsehoods [about crypto and blockchain] that nobody who is interested in the world as it really is should ever repeat, at least not without heavy qualification; the second a list of truths and rules of thumb about cryptocurrency and blockchain that have been demonstrated repeatedly (often for many years) but escape notice far too often.”

Evangelists reinventing stuff that already exists:

Why not compare Bitcoin to other networks? “Bitcoin is the Apple eWorld of money!” The original electronic walled garden, that turned out to be too expensive and not very interesting. Or compare it to other technologies — “Bitcoin is the Ford Pinto gas tank of money!” Which it frequently demonstrates.”

I have been exploring Active Worlds for several days. It is a sort of internet archaeologist heaven, where player-created structures stretch out for what can seem like hundreds of virtual miles. There are many worlds to explore — all of which are anything but active — but this main one, AW, has been running since the mid 90s.” So we’ve had what they’re calling “the ~metaverse~” for almost 30 years now.

Git was released in 2005 and was based on work going back to the late 1990s; Merkle trees were invented in 1979. The good bits of blockchain are not original, and the original bits of blockchain turn out not to be much good.”

Blockchain is a hexagon in search of a problem

There’s been an absolute deluge of Blockchain Space Nonsense news in the past couple of weeks. If you, like me, can’t get enough of it, Web 3 Is Going Just Great is a great source to quench your thirst.

But if not — indulge me for a minute while I sift out some highlights, at least?

Everyone and their dog has been sharing this video, but I’ll share it again. It’s good. Not just about NFTs, it covers all kinds of Hot Topics in crypto discourse right now.

I started watching it thinking “I’ve rubbernecked SO MANY terrible details about these already, more than enough to fill a multi-hour video, there’s no way it’ll also have new-to-me info that makes them worse.” Spoiler alert: it had new-to-me info that makes them worse.

They don’t understand…ANYTHING about the ecosystems they’re trying to disrupt. They only know that these are things that can be conceptualized as valuable.”

The Spice Must…wait what

So a group called “SpiceDAO” pooled a bunch of money in order to buy a rare copy of Jodorosky’s Dune — basically, a long pitch for this guy’s proposed adaptation of Dune. They paid ten times the estimated value at auction, apparently totally convinced that “buying a book” and “buying the adaptation rights” were the same thing.

(A DAO is like a co-op, but to join or vote on anything, you need to buy into the org’s crypto token. These folks also seem to believe “we’re voting on a blockchain!” bypasses any requirements for laws, rules, obligations, paperwork, or, like…basic planning.)

The first half of this Twitch stream has a great time exploring the legal faceplants, but if that doesn’t sound delightful by itself, skip to about 50 minutes in. See, when the DAO was thwarted in their plans to adapt Dune, they commissioned a derivative-but-legally-not-Dune script to film instead. The stream does a Dramatic Reading. Of the whole thing.

I don’t remember the last time I laughed this hard.

“I appreciate the boldness of charting a course utterly unconfined by professional advice or basic subject matter knowledge

No F@$king Thankses

By mainstream standards, these are not actually popular, it’s just that, right now, they’re loud: “only 400,000 wallets have ever interacted with an NFT, and far less actually own an NFT right now. The FOMO they’re creating to try and scam you out of your money, and the talk about how everyone uses/is abt to use nfts is all an objective lie. It’s all astroturfing.”

A token-trading front-end website called LooksRare turned out to have almost 90% of its trading volume generated by people selling tokens back and forth between their own wallets.

Twitter announced a new “connect your account to an NFT and we’ll make a Special Exclusive hexagon-shaped profile picture out of it” feature. People immediately started dunking on it by uploading pfp images that they cropped into hexagon shape on their own, for free. Here’s made a transparent template to help you nail the exact right type of hexagon, indistinguishable from the Special Exclusive ones.

(…at least, unless you zoom way, way in. Then you might realize it displays as 2 pixels shorter. Shhh.)

In news that will surprise exactly 0% of digital artists, a whopping over-80% of “created free” NFTs on the token-trading front-end website OpenSea get caught as art theft, spam, or other kinds of fraud.

Note: “free” here means “we haven’t actually minted the token yet.” All they did was create an entry on their plain old Web 2.0 product database. It’s not until a token gets purchased that they’ll actually create it (and at this point, somebody has to pay for it). Sites like OpenSea make a point of Actually Touching A Blockchain as little as humanly possible. If you think this might cause some exploitable security problems…congrats, you’ve put more thought into it than any of the people driving this train.

“DeviantArt has issued 80,000 alerts since August 2021, doubling from October to November, then increasing by 300 percent from November to mid-December.”

As of this writing, DeviantArt has caught 3 thefts from my gallery, and I’m sure there’s more to come. To be clear, thieves will steal your art from any website — DA is just the only site that makes the effort of tracking them down for you.

“you claim to place such moral stock in “artists getting paid” yet do not subscribe to my patreon, curious

Where Do We Crowdfund Now

My impression of what happened in the Kickstarter Management office back in December is just a guess, but it’s looking more and more plausible by the minute.

Their promise of “we’ll totally have actual details about our Mystery Blockchain Project in the next few weeks” has officially been replaced with “there’s not a definitive timeline for details about our Mystery Blockchain Project.”

Not in a public news post or anything, that’s just what Support is telling people who email with questions. (This isn’t the fault of individual Support staffers — they haven’t been given any info either. Kiiiinda seems like the Board is happy to use their staff as human shields, here.)

But, good news:

TopatoCo — which I have been pronouncing wrong all this time, it rhymes with “potato” — launched a beta-testing project for their own crowdfunding system. They’ve been a reliable player in the “fulfillment of webcomic merchandise” field for years; they have the credibility to start a crowdfunding platform from scratch and get the comics community on board.

So does Iron Circus Comix. Which hasn’t gone public with a platform yet, but they’re beta-testing one behind-the-scenes, and are setting up to launch a campaign on it some time in February. Unlike the “white paper in January!” promise, this one I actually trust.

Zoop is a comics-crowdfunding platform that’s been fully functional since mid-2021, it’s just been invite-only…until now. They kicked off 2022 by starting to take project submissions, and they’re actively developing the site to expand their capacity and support even more.

Keep an eye on all three of these! I know I am.