Stagger onward rejoicing

Tag: crypto (page 1 of 1)

When I read crypto-bro stories like this one I always think of Yeats: “The rhetorician would deceive his neighbor, / The sentimentalist himself.”

free and forever

I want to write here about something I don’t understand.

My friend Robin Sloan alerted me to this post by a passionate advocate of crypto/blockchain’s power to … well, something awesome, I guess, though no matter how many times I read posts like this I can never tell exactly what is supposed to happen.

Now, that may be because writers like this fellow, Jacob, are writing for insiders – people who already know the details, who already have clear use cases in mind, who are already excited about the future of blockchain and crypto and web3. But when I ask knowledgable people about these matters, I always get pointed to posts just like this one, which are, you know, right there on the open web for all to see. So I think questions like the ones I am raising here are legitimate to raise.

So: Jacob is particularly excited about what he calls “hyperstructures”: “Crypto protocols that can run for free and forever, without maintenance, interruption or intermediaries.”

Wow, for free! But hang on a sec … Later, expanding on that definition, he says, “there is a 0% protocol wide fee and runs exactly at gas cost.” So when he says that hyperstructures can run for free, what he actually means is that no additional cost is imposed over and above the cost of making transactions, which is something that fluctuates, fairly dramatically, according to supply and demand.

But they run forever! Well … let’s look at the expanded definition of “forever”: “It runs for as long as the underlying blockchain exists.” Okay, so how long is that? “Hyperstructures … can continuously function without a maintainer or operator, and they can run for as long as the underlying blockchain is running — which can be at the very least a decade.”

So “forever” means “at least a decade” and “free” means “whatever the gas cost is when you make an exchange of any kind.”

See, this – along with the seemingly complete inability of anyone involved with this stuff to tell me one thing I could use it for – is what makes people call crypto a big con game. Maybe it isn’t! But I can’t find any of the advocates for it who can, or are willing, to explain why it’s not.