Play to Earn
Yesterday, I talked about DAOs as a new and interesting use case of the blockchain. Another one of those new uses cases is play to earn video games.
When I first heard about this concept, it sounded to good to be true. How does it work?
Free to Play (F2P) games like Fortnite make billions on just cosmetic items. Though you can purchase these items, they are owned by Epic games and have no value outside of the game.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) allow gamers to have ownership over in-game items like cards, cosmetic items, or virtual real estate. As the gamer continues to play the game, they participate in this in-game economy and create more value for other players and the developers. This value is rewarded through in-game assets ranging from cryptocurrencies to NFTs. Which can then be converted into fiat currency on a third party platform.
 What’s the Play to Earn Business Model
 Your next paid job might be playing a video game
Learning About DAOs
New technologies mean completely new way of doing things. And a new way of doing things require a different mindset. This is what excites me about crypto technologies. One such example is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), a use case of the blockchain.
The most famous example of a DAO occurred in 2016 when hackers stole around 3.6 million Ether (ETH) from The DAO, a crowdfunded venture capital fund. At the time of the hack, the stolen Ether was worth $50 million USD. But now with Ether trading at $2331 USD, the hack would be worth $8.4 billion dollars.
The Ethereum Core Team lead by Vitalik Buterin sprung into action. The core team had the option of forking the entire Ethereum blockchain. Here, everything would be exactly the same, except the hack never happened. There was now two options:
- Keep things as is and don’t resolve the hack.
- Migrate to this forked version of Ethereum. One of the principles of crypto and blockchain applications is decentralization meaning no one entity has control over the application. This goes against that principle.
The core team decided to resolve this using a DAO, instead of the core team deciding they let the people vote on this decision. The community concluded that forking Ethereum was the way to go.
What is a DAO?
A Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is a new way of governing a group of people with shared beliefs on the blockchain.
Why is it useful?
Transparent. All information about the company, including all transactions are publicly available on the blockchain. This reduces corruption and censorship.
Consensus. Instead of Boards of Directors and Executives making decisions on behalf of the stakeholders, the decisions are made by the stakeholders themselves depending on how much of a stake they have in that organization.
For example, the publishing platform Medium, a private company, makes big decision through it’s BoD and Executive team. Once the darling of the publishing world, Medium has made questionable product decisions driving many of its users off the platform. Perhaps in the future, the users themselves can voice their opinions on these major product decisions through a DAO.
 A Beginner’s Guide to DAOs - Linda Xie
 The Dao of DAOs - Not Boring
Philippines First Gold
Filipino weightlifter, Hidilyn Diaz, made history as the first filipino to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
I couldn’t help but feel emotional watching her win. The Philippines is not a rich country by any means. The Filipino government didn’t bother to sponsor her either, she had to raise money on her own. I can only imagine the pain, the sacrifice, and the work it took to stand on top of that podium.
Especially when there is no precedent - no filipino athlete has won a gold medal - being the first breaks the ceiling open and inspires the next generation of filipinos to chase their dreams.
Things I Enjoyed Recently (7.27.2021)
- Progressive Decentralization - Jesse Walden
- Edward Snowden: The Untold Story - WIRED Magazaine
- The Beginning of Infinity - Naval
- State of Exception - Jasmine Sun
- Anthony Bourdain on the Journey
Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.
PRISM is a government surveillance program that gives the National Security Agency (NSA) access to data from users of major internet services like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. It’s stated that the NSA has direct access to these tech companies’ US servers, but both the tech companies and government officials claim that the data is only collected with court approval.
In an interview with WIRED magazine, Edward Snowden, the contractor that leaked these documents expressed his concern over this surveillence:
Another troubling discovery was a document from NSA director Keith Alexander that showed the NSA was spying on the pornography-viewing habits of political radicals. The memo suggested that the agency could use these “personal vulnerabilities” to destroy the reputations of government critics who were not in fact accused of plotting terrorism. The document then went on to list six people as future potential targets.
Nullius In Verba
Nullius in verba, the motto of the Royal Society of London, is a latin phrase meaning “take nobody’s word for it”.
Writing taught me that I’m the easiest person to fool. Time and time again, I’ll try writing about a subject like economics or science and a few words in, I’ll figure out that I have no idea what I’m talking about. It taught me that many ideas, information, and mental models are taken second hand from conversations or content.
Understanding that I’m the easiest person to fool makes me skeptical of what people say especially if they have no experience or domain expertise. If one of my software engineering friends talks about physics, I’m taking their word with a grain of salt.
Even if the person has experience and they’re talking about their field of expertise, still take their word with a grain of salt. Even the smartest among us get proven wrong.
This Summer my friends and I decided to live in Montreal and one of the first things I noticed was the language. Whenever I visit a local cafe, grocery store, or restaurant, they’ll greet me with “Bonjour” or “ca va bien”. Eavesdrop on a conversation on the street, and you’ll likely hear french as well.
When I got my earlobes pierced, the man that was piercing my ears didn’t speak a lick of English. There was a language barrier between us.
In Quebec, it’s mandatory to speak french first at retail stores. Speaking french first is a way of preserving culture. Unless these precautions are made, each successive generation, especially in Montreal, will slowly become gentrified.
Before we needed credentials, we needed connections, we needed to please the gatekeepers.
Now, many things are permissionless.
You don’t need anyone’s permission to build an audience.
You don’t need anyone’s permission to start a blog.
You don’t need anyone’s permission to build that business you always dreamed of.
The only person you need permission from is yourself.
In 2013, Edward Snowden made headlines worldwide when he blew the whistle on the National Security Agency (NSA) revealing the extent of their surveillence efforts. In short, the US government is spying on its people.
Today, I started reading Snowden’s memoir, Permenant Record. I was still in high school at the time that Snowden leaked this information to the press. Even now, I can’t comprehend the amount of courage it took to expose the truth. This means having the US government as your enemy while also endangering the lives of those you love.
As I read his memoir, I’m curious to learn more about the impact of this leak but also his decision behind it.
Small Changes Up Close, Big Changes From Afar
Growing a tree is honest work. First, I dig a hole in the earth, then I sow the seed in a bed of soil and then bury it. Everyday, I water the seed. Little by little, the seed starts to sprout. The tree slowly takes form. The sprout turns into a stem, the stem forks into branches, and the branches grow leaves.
Everyday, before watering my tree, I look at it, I observe, I try to see the growth but small changes are hard to spot. But when I zoom out, and reflect on when my tree was just a seedling, I realize just how much it has grown.
We see our friends and family, our kids, and ourselves everyday, and small changes are hard to spot. It’s only when we zoom out, that we realize just how much has changed.
Reading the News
Growing up, my only source of news was our local news channel, CP24. This was the default channel that was always on our TV. That and the six o’clock news on CTV.
After leaving home for university, I don’t really consume the news. I didn’t feel like anything was missing nor was I missing out. Yes, I may be uninformed but like any decision there are tradeoffs, and being uninformed is one of them.
Now, my news consumption consists of Twitter, email newsletters, and conversations with friends. Through those channels, I’ll stay up to date on major events.
I had a conversation on reading the news with one of my friends, Jihii. She’s researched and explored the topic of news consumption extensively and she got me questioning my relationship with the news. I think it’s time for me to reassess my news consumption habits.
Today, I learned about Oliva Rodrigo (I’m listening to SOUR as I write this) and found out that she’s the sixth most streamed artist on Spotify worldwide. I asked my roommates if they heard of her, they all said yes. Damn, am I really that out of touch with the current generation, I said to myself. It made me feel old.
The first time I felt old was when I saw my cousin playing Roblox and Fortnite, two games that were quite different from the Halo and Call of Duty type games I was used to.
Then it happened with Tiktok.
Then again today with Olivia Rodrigo.
Perhaps this is what it feels like to be old…
A friend of mine asked me the other day, “How does one feel comfortable in their own skin?” I thought to myself, what a great question. I’ve thought about this topic before but this was the first time I was asked it.
When I get asked a question like this, one that I haven’t heard of before or I don’t know the answer to, I get excited. I get excited because it’s a learning opportunity. It’s a learning opportunity that will take me a step closer to the truth.
I find that some of the most brilliant people I know are truth seekers, and similarily, they get just as excited when they asked unique questions.
From Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) to George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair), many authors took up pseudonyms in the past. Now, Pseudonyms are making a comeback.
You don’t have to be a whistleblower or a contrarian in order to write under a pen name. I’ve long thought of writing under a pseudonym myself. Here are a few benefits to writing pseudonymously:
Seperating your art from your identity.
When I first started writing, I was terrified of putting myself out there. I was constantly thinking about what others thought about me and my work.
Any writer or artists knows that one of the most difficult aspects of creating art is putting yourself out there. Creating a pseudonym seperates your personal identity from your art. Daniel Handler didn’t write a Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket did.
Protecting Your Personal Identity
Cancel culture has threatened free speech and the idea meritocracy, two essential ingredients to a healthy democracy. But it’s fringe ideas that change the world. Writing pseudonmously allows you to express your ideas without economic repercussions such as getting cancelled or getting fired.
Virgil Abloh, former Creative Director at Louis Vuitton and Founder of Off-White announced that he’ll be designing virtual clothes.
While this sounds a bit absurb at first, keep in mind that games like Fortnite makes more than a billion dollars a year selling strictly cosmetic items.
As the Metaverse grows bigger and bigger, our online identities are evolving. It reminds me of Miis from the Nintendo Wii. I’d create these Miis or avatars to represent me in video games or I can interact with my friends Miis.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this idea of an online avatar gains traction. And if it does, a second order effect would be online marketplaces selling virtual clothes.
Choosing Our Communities
Lots can be said about a community based on what’s important to them.
Some communities value internships, others value building things, while some value relationships.
Once you’re in these communities, it’s like getting trapped in a whirlpool, you can try to swim out but it’s inevitable. Most will get sucked in but the allure of prestige and social status.
Joining a community that doesn’t align with your values is an energy suck. But joinng a community that does feels magical.
We have agency over what communities we choose to join, but much less agency when we’re apart of that community.
Seeing Others For Who They Are
At a previous internship, we had a catering service that served us lunch a few times a week. One day, as I was lining up for lunch, I started talking with one of the servers. After chatting for a few minutes I invited him out for some tea so we can talk some more. During our chat, he told me he appreciated that I saw past his uniform and treated him as an equal.
I get this compliment often. But it was something I had to work on.
Now, it doesn’t matter to me if someone has crazy credentials. It doesn’t matter if they’ve committed crimes in the past. It doesn’t matter to me how much money they make or if they’re CEO of a large company. I try not to see people and judge. I try to see them for who they are now.
That’s how I want others to see me, and that’s how I aim to see others.
How do I do this?
The answer is simple.
When I’m talking to someone, I’m present.
That’s my secret.
One of my readers made an interesting comment about how he reads my blog in the bathroom.
In turns out, there’s a term for this called Bathroom Reading. A book series called Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader was created around this idea.
This comment helped me realize that my favorite newsletters are bathroom reads. This is clarifying especially when it comes to how I write my own newsletter.
Enjoying My Food
A friend of mine commented that I’m easily impressed when it comes to food. Someone would think that this Mexican restaurant is alright, while I would think it’s amazing. This is especially true this past Summer. My roommates and I would indulge once a week where one person would make a home cooked meal for all of us.
Maybe I’m not alone in the sense that I get impressed easily with food, nonetheless here are a few observations:
Eating for sustenance. During the weekdays, I eat the same staple meal repeatedly. Some protein, usually chicken breast. Some vegetable, usually the frozen mixed vegetable packs at the grocery store. And some carb, usually rice. I’ll change up each component ocassionally, maybe changing the protein for sausage, or the carb for some pasta. In short, on weekdays I eat for sustenance rather than taste. This means that when we go out to eat or someone cooks something at home, it tastes so much better relative to what I usually eat.
Eating mindfully. Especially when I’m eating out or at a dinner party, I try to be present. I’m not on my phone. I’m not thinking about the assignment due tomorrow. Being present means I can fully experience the moment, the company, and the food.
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