My Understanding of Cryptocurrency

I am not an expert. I am using this space, my personal blog to help me understand cryptocurrency from various sources. These have been mostly international. This is not investment advice.

Each cryptocurrency is a project that solves a certain problem. Bitcoin tries to transfer value from one individual/organisation to another without the need for an intermediary. Ethereum tries to use the blockchain to build applications. Some of these applications are famous for supporting applications like NFT. Other, some other so called alt coins try to solve specific issues based on Bitcoin and Ethereum by tweaking some of the underlying mechanisms. As an example, Basic Attention Token (BAT) try to provide a part of the value companies make by monetizing people’s attention.

When I invest money in any cryptocurrency, I look at it as investing in the project. Just like you would donate to an open source project or pay for subscription. I put in money that I do not mind losing.

The utility of the blockchain and the value of the cryptocurrency are intertwined. Higher the utility of the blockchain, more the value of cryptocurrency, leading to improvements in cryptographic security, leading in turn to more utility of the blockchain. In addition to this fundamental value of the cryptocurrency, there is speculation on the price which also affects the value of the blockchain.

Bitcoin has such a high value because it is believed that the longer a blockchain has existed, better is the security and the more valuable it is. Like wine.

The world of cryptocurrency uses memes to communicate and help others understand the projects and speculate on its value.

There are efforts to use some stock market techniques to understand the speculative aspects of the cryptocurrency. There are aspects of utility of the blockchain which also affect the price of the cryptocurrency and hence may not be fully applicable.

These are some of the threads that I have in mind with respect to cryptocurrency.

My Clubhouse Experience

I’ve been spending the last few days on Clubhouse after the app became available on Android. I usually listen to YouTube videos and podcasts. These have two or three people listening at a time. Clubhouse helped me listen to multiple people.

The cultural zeitgeist of the times point towards many Malayalis thronging to Clubhouse. There were a lot more rooms with people talking in Malayalam than English. I started listening to these conversations on Clubhouse. It felt great to listen to others talking in your language.

I found the Malayalee Club, Barcamp Kerala club, Kerala Ohari Vipani (Kerala Stock Exchange) club and even a few car enthusiasts.

Clubhouse only has audio. There is no chat option. Hence, I’ve seen everything from Instagram DMs, WhatsApp groups and Telegram chats being used to share links and pics that people were not able to share on Clubhouse itself. But, I saw people doing their best to not have to use these other platforms. Clubhouse could make content accessible to a group of people who cannot read the written word.

I’ve seen my own behavior mirror my behavior offline and other online fora. I’m mostly a lurker and a listener. In the first week or so, I spent close to 18-20 hours. It helped that D was away at her parent’s place. When she got back, I limited it to working hours. I have seen people use music during working hours but I feel listening to people who talk helps me better than music does.

I guess listening people talk gives me the experience of being in office. You catch snippets of what people say. It gives me a connect unlike anything I have experienced. It helps me focus on work better.

There are a lot of music related rooms which has people playing many kinds of music (lo-fi is the most popular) and has people singing if that is the kind of thing you are into.

Things are not all that rosy, though. Being on Clubhouse has destroyed all of my other information consumption patterns. I had stopped going on Twitter, listening to podcasts and reading my books. I am slowly getting back on track. But, the going has been slow and hard.

Malayalam YouTube channel recommendations

I wrote a Twitter thread last night about the Malayalam language YouTube channels I discovered over the last month. As I kept watching these videos, YouTube’s algorithm started surfacing more Malayalam content for me after a week. The English captioning for Malayalam video is currently awful. This list is expanded and includes more channels that I follow.

MalluTraveller

I started following MalluTraveller following his video from the COVID-19 ward in Kannur. He had passed through Iran on his Kerala to Europe tour and was hence denied visa to travel to Georgia. He was stuck in Azerbaijan. When he managed to return to Kannur, he continued posting to his vlog which I think showed people the level of preparedness in Kerala to face the pandemic.

MasterPiece Live

They are two people who go around interviewing other Malayalam YouTube creators on their channel. I am not sure what’s with the name. I like them more for surfacing other YouTubers than for their content.

M4 Tech

This channel is a DIY channel and is more Kerala centric with some the ideas that they build. I found them via a YouTube reaction video. I think you will be blown away by the energy of the guy presenting. There are two of them here too. They are friends and not brothers.

Strell in Malayalam

He is always in a helmet. He talks about bike riding, learning to ride a bike, bike maintenance, and moto vlogs on his channel. His videos are very safety oriented.

V K Adarsh

I used to follow Adarsh on Twitter. He created a YouTube channel recently and his explanation of loan products for entrepreneurs and business people is great. One of his recent explainers was on the moratorium provided by the RBI due to the lockdown.

MommaCool

I started following this channel for parenting advise but the channel recently did a lot of content on development milestones for children and good books to get your child as per age. The channel talks about baby care, parenting and pregnancy.

Ratheesh R Menon

He does video with tech tips and app reviews on his channel. My wife used to follow him on Facebook where he provides tips like how to find hidden cameras in hotel rooms etc.

Happy Life TV

This is a channel that talks of family, parenting, personality and sex. My wife and I used to follow this channel for his talks related to family. His point of view is conservative but practical.

Blog Anniversary

WordPress.com notified me today morning that it’s been 14 years since I joined WordPress.com.

I used to blog on Blogger since 2004. I have lost some of the older posts I wrote. I have tried recovering some of the blog posts using Internet Archive. However, the earliest post that I could recover are from 2006.

I moved to WordPress from Blogger after finding it on a Tibetan blog talking about alternatives to Blogger which had just become a Google owned service. I have since used Drupal, Tumblr, Vox, LiveJournal, self-hosted WordPress, Posterous, Write.as and many more platforms that I hope to play around with to power my blogging.

Static generated websites are my latest fascination. Static generated websites provide you with a stack of HTML files that you can upload to your server. They are considered to be better as they don’t depend on the existence of blogging platforms. They generate HTML files which you can write in case these companies shut down. They are also considered more secure as databases are not involved in generating the website that you see on the browser.

That said, WordPress now powers 36% of the internet. That statistic is increasing day by day.

It’s certainly been a long journey. There have been long stretches with no blog posts. There have been stretches with more than a blog post a day. After a lot of nagging, I finally got my wife to write her first blog post.

The Phone in our Pockets

My wife has accused me of being addicted to the mobile phone. She, therefore, ensures that our daughter watches YouTube videos via Chromecast on the television. She is determined to make sure she doesn’t get hooked to mobile phones early on in life. It’s inevitable I say, but she’s fighting to keep this menace away from her daughter as long as she can.

Photo by Magnus Mueller on Pexels.com

My search to quit this addiction, online has led me to various resources. There was writing by Seth Godin, Cal Newport, Brett McKay and Ryan Holiday that contributed to ideas. There is also a r/nosurf sub-Reddit that addresses this issue.

I tried deleting the applications from my phone – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I didn’t stay off these for long, ending up installing them again almost instantaneously.

Before, I share my reading about this topic, let me share my current status. I have switched off all notifications except for phone and SMS. I have removed Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram from my phone. I access them only on my laptop at home. I was able to hold this for about a week now.

I was listening to Peter Attia’s podcast, The Drive with Ryan Holiday today. Holiday, answering a question on how the connected life has affected our life, says that we reached a right about place in 2010 and then went overboard. He says that there was a time when we used social media just enough and then went over. Attia likens it to a tuning issue that went to the max setting after passing the optimum level. The max setting makes sense for some people but not for all the people in the world.

Further along the podcast, he talks about he keeps his smart phone in the other room and does not pick it up until almost after lunch. It makes for productive mornings and he lets people know that phone, SMS and email are the best way to reach him. Just earlier, he has read a comprehensive blog post about spending less time on the phone. Following one of the suggestions there, I am planning to move both of our smart phones out of our bedroom tonight.

Seth Godin also wrote a blog post today about that thing in your pocket that has an infinite options that are much better than what you’re doing right now. The idea is to prioritize what you have to do right now.

I have written earlier on the blog here about Cal Newport’s work on how social media has been designed to be addictive here. Brett McKay had called to build a Social Internet instead of being addicted to Social Media. Om Malik called for a decade of self-control. So, I’ve started on my own little journey. What about you?

Postcards from Nowhere

Postcards from Nowhere is a travel podcast from the IVM Podcasts network. Unlike the other podcasts, it is hosted by 1 person – Utsav Mamoria.

He talks about slow travel while exploring culture, history, people and food. The episodes I have loved so far are on Kerala’s kalaripayattu, couch surfing and happiness.

The other personal takeaway is realising a good time length for for my under-production space podcast. I think that a 7-10 minute episode might be a good time length for a single person talking about space stuff. I have found no long-form single-person talking podcast entertaining so far.

Larry and Sergey

Nicholas Carr writes on his blog, Rough Type:

They were prophets, Larry and Sergey. When, in their famous 1998 grad-school paper “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine,” they introduced Google to the world, they warned that if the search engine were ever to leave the “academic realm” and become a business, it would be corrupted. It would become “a black art” and “be advertising oriented.” That’s exactly what happened — not just to Google but to the internet as a whole. The white-robed wizards of Silicon Valley now ply the black arts of algorithmic witchcraft for power and money. They wanted most of all to be Gandalf, but they became Saruman.

Nicholas Carr, Larry and Sergey: a valediction, Rough Type

Via Om. Om describes Carr as a Google nemesis. We need more nemesis’. Larry Page and Sergey Brin recently stepped down from Alphabet,the company that owned Google.

Share: How Social Media Hacked Civic Conversation

I’ve written here earlier about Cal Newport and his book, Digital Minimalism. The book calls for lower if not zero use of social media. In the post, he shares an article published in The Atlantic, titled, “The Dark Psychology of Social Networks.” by Jonathan Haidt and Tobias Rose-Stockwell.

Whereas Newport suggests zero to no social media use, Haidt and Rose-Stockwell call for regulation on the part of social media companies. Newport thinks this is highly unlikely as this implies a direct hit at their bottom line.

I love this particular paragraph from Newport’s blog post that succintly summarises Digital Minalism on how social media design changed and how it affects our response:

In Digital Minimalism, I argued that our relationship with social media was transformed when the major platforms updated their designs to make these services less about checking on other peoples’ status, and more about checking incoming “social approval indicators,” which arrive in the form of likes, retweets, shares, hearts, streaks and tags.

Cal Newport, How Social Media Hacked Civic Conversation

Read the blog post and follow his blog if #nosurf is something you enjoy reading about and then go ahead and read the article by Jonathan Haidt and Tobias Rose-Stockwell on The Atlantic.