About Editor

Articles posted under editor are either administrative articles, such as roundups, or one-off posts by guest bloggers.

The Ominouslier Roar of the Bitcoin Wave

This post is co-authored by Artem and Venkat

We have been annoyed with the state of blockchain visualizations. On the one extreme, we have the crappy not-even-wrong images of piles of gold coins to represent cryptocurrencies (there are much better visual metaphors you could use). On the other extreme we have stock-market type visualizations designed for salivating traders. It is actually remarkably hard to find good visualizations of the blockchain qua blockchain. Block explorers only give you a lost-in-the-weeds view at individual block and transaction levels.  There is no good, visual, empirically grounded thing you can point to when normies ask you what is this blockchain thing? So we made a video visualizing and audiolizing (there appears to be no auditory equivalent to visualize) the bitcoin blockchain.

In the wave animation above, the x axis is the block number, and the y axis is the amount in unspent outputs at that block location at a given time. One bar represents 300 blocks, and one frame of the video represents a 300-block increase in block height. We also treated the evolving wave as a sound spectrum to create the accompanying audio track. It sounds like a primordial slow roar. Watch with the sound on to hear it.

The wave basically represents value on the blockchain moving forward in time, as transactions move balances from older to newer blocks. “Bitcoins” are actually just moving balances.

This video was the result of a recent straggling chat over several days in the #blockchain channel of the ribbonfarm slack, between Artem and Venkat, with Sarah and Joe joining in occasionally (yes, there is a ribbonfarm slack, and yes, there is a #blockchain channel in it). Editing out several arguments over technical details and idle digressions into how to make your own MRI machines, speculations about an AI that collects all the bitcoin to gain control over humanity, arguments about whether Hedy Lamar was a geek or a nerd, and various other critically urgent and important topics, the conversation went as follows.

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Semi-Annual Roundup 2017

We’re halfway through 2017. Time for a roundup going into the July 4th weekend. Here are the posts published in the first half of the year, organized by author. We had 39 posts by 21 authors if I’m counting correctly (every post under guest is a distinct one-off author; contributors get a byline starting with their second post).

As you’ve probably guessed, we’ve made this a year of scaling, and are making a valiant attempt to hit a 2 posts/week tempo while also significantly expanding our network of writers. At 39 posts in 26 weeks, we are at roughly 1.5 posts/week.

  1. Cannon Balls, Plate Tectonics, and Invisible Elephants (1/12/2017) by Hal Morris
  2. A Brief History of Existential Terror (2/28/2017) by Taylor Pearson
  3. There are bots. Look around. (5/23/2017) by Renee DiResta
  4. Entrepreneurship is Metaphysical Labor (4/18/2017) by Joseph Kelly
  5. The Strategy of No Strategy (2/23/2017) by Adam Elkus
  6. Arguing About How the World Should Burn (5/16/2017) by Sonya Mann
  7. Sanity on the Weird Timeline (3/14/2017) by Sonya Mann
  8. The Antiheroine Unveiled (1/19/2017) by Sonya Mann
  9. Zorba, Spock, or Voldemort? (4/11/2017) by Contributor
  10. “Another Green World” (3/9/2017) by Contributor
  11. Rolling Your Own Culture and (Not) Finding Community (1/10/2017) by Contributor
  12. How to Dress for the Game of Life (1/17/2017) by Contributor
  13. One Sacred Trick for Moral Regeneration (2/9/2017) by Contributor
  14. Unbuilding the Wall (2/16/2017) by Contributor
  15. Caring and Reality (2/14/2017) by Contributor
  16. Lies, Caffeinated Lies, and Operating Systems (1/24/2017) by Contributor
  17. Shift Register Code Breaking Out of the Echo Chamber (2/7/2017) by Contributor
  18. Games, Videogames, and the Dionysian Society (1/26/2017) by Contributor
  19. How I Hired Your Mother (6/15/2017) by Carlos Bueno
  20. Cloud Viruses in the Invisible Republic (4/4/2017) by Carlos Bueno
  21. A Priest, a Guru, and a Nerd-King Walk Into a Conference Room… (5/9/2017) by Carlos Bueno
  22. Y Tribenator (5/30/2017) by Carlos Bueno
  23. Prescientific Organizational Theory (2/21/2017) by David Manheim
  24. The Throughput of Learning (1/31/2017) by Tiago Forte
  25. Fluid Rigor (5/4/2017) by Sarah Perry
  26. Why Books Are Fake (6/1/2017) by Sarah Perry
  27. Idiots Scaring Themselves in the Dark (4/13/2017) by Sarah Perry
  28. The Limits of Epistemic Hygiene (3/2/2017) by Sarah Perry
  29. After Temporality (2/2/2017) by Sarah Perry
  30. Tendrils of Mess in our Brains (1/5/2017) by Sarah Perry
  31. Thingness and Thereness (6/6/2017) by Venkatesh Rao
  32. Ten Years of Refactoring (6/13/2017) by Venkatesh Rao
  33. Been There, Done That (6/27/2017) by Venkatesh Rao
  34. Blockchains Never Forget (5/25/2017) by Venkatesh Rao
  35. One Weird Longform Trick…on the Blockchain! (4/25/2017) by Venkatesh Rao
  36. Nobody Expects The Mongolian Earthship (3/30/2017) by Venkatesh Rao
  37. Bourbon Crossing (3/23/2017) by Venkatesh Rao
  38. The Winter King of the Internet (3/21/2017) by Venkatesh Rao
  39. Sulking Through a Subprime Presidency (3/7/2017) by Venkatesh Rao
  40. Semi-Annual Roundup 2017 (6/29/2017) by Editor

Complete 2016 Roundup

Here’s the complete roundup for 2016. I’ve changed the format this year and have grouped the roundup by author and medium, to help you discover some of our new contributors and experimental content more easily. We had 8 new contributors, 3 returning contributors, and 2 regulars (Sarah and me) all together contributing 57 posts, of which 42 were longform, and 15 were  other media: audio (1), video (4), cartoons (6) and slide decks (4). It was a satisfying growth year, topping half a million visitors for the first time, and growing by between 25-33% depending on which metric you like.

screenshot-2016-12-30-09-35-56

Other highlights this year: a new high-watermark viral hit post that beat the Gervais Principle in single-day traffic, Artem vs. Predator, the first ever ribbonfarm longform blogging course (you’ll see the output in the next 2 months), and the first year when I was not the biggest longform contributor on the site (Sarah Perry had 12 posts, I had 11, not counting my experimental non-longform posts). I did, however, set a new ribbonfarm record for length: King Ruinous and the City of Darkness weighed in at over 14,000 words, nearly twice the previous record of around 8000.

The ribbonfarm map also evolved this year, and acquired a video tour, in Trace of the Weirding. If you’re new to ribbonfarm, this video and map might be helpful as a general overview of what we’re about.

New readers (here is the new readers start page) this year might also want to check out the 2015 roundup2014 roundup and 2013 roundup. If you want to do some binge reading further back into the archives, there is a page for the Rust Age (2007-12) with both curated selections and complete roundups for 2007-12.

Anyhow, click on with the roundup.

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Weird Crowds, Weird Planet

Here’s the pre-read for the third and fourth sessions of Refactor Camp.

For our session tomorrow, Tuesday the 26th on The Weird State of the Crowd, we are running a bit behind, so have a partial pre-read for you in the form of  this short summary document on Elias Canetti’s Crowds and Power. The session will be led by Renee DiResta and Megan Lubaszka. I’ll add the summary deck, which will also cover Eric Hoffer’s, The True Believerto this post, once I have it. Apologies for the delay.

Update: the slides are in!

And for our final session on Thursday the 28th, which will attempt pull it all together via the capstone theme, Weird State of the Planet, here is the slide deck. This session will be led by Jordan Peacock and Sam Penrose.

Screenshot 2016-07-25 21.29.21

The Weird State of Capitalism

This is the slide-deck for the second session of Refactor Camp 2016, on Thursday the 21th. If you’re attending, please make sure to carve out at least 45 minutes beforehand to review this. This session will be led by Mick Costigan. The deck is on Google Docs and you’re invited to add comments to it.

 

Screenshot 2016-07-20 09.41.45

The Weird State of the State

This is the slide-deck for the first session of Refactor Camp 2016, on Tuesday the 19th. If you’re attending, please make sure to carve out at least 45 minutes beforehand to review this.

Refactor Camp 2016: Weird Political Economy

Since 2012, we’ve been holding Refactor Camp as an annual offline event in the Bay Area. This year, we’re trying a new format. Refactor Camp 2016 will be an online-only event, in the form of four 2-hour evening sessions, spread over the last 2 weeks of July. You can register here. We will be using the Zoom videoconference system, which has a limit of 50 participants.

The theme this year is Weird Political Economy (tagline is inspired by this great post). Over four sessions, each structured as a short introductory talk (~30 minutes) followed by a discussion (~90 minutes) we will cover four major themes. All 4 sessions will be 8:00 to 10:00 PM US Pacific Time, on the listed dates.

Screenshot 2016-07-05 15.52.57

Session #1: Tue July 19: The Weird State of the State (Venkatesh Rao)
Session #2: Thu July 21: The Weird State of Capitalism (Mick Costigan)
Session #3: Tue July 26: The Weird State of the Crowd (Megan Lubaszka and Renee DiResta)
Session #4: Thursday July 28: The Weird State of the Earth (Jordan Peacock and Sam Penrose)

The idea is to have well-prepped discussions about the general sense that “things are getting weird” in global affairs with a meaningfully broad/rich context. Are we really not in Kansas anymore, or do we just lack the context to grok the patterns in things going on right now? Is it time to apply the principle, “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”? Hopefully we’ll generate some interesting, situated thinking.

The four session topics: state, capitalism, crowds, and earth, will hopefully serve as four good overlapping global canvasses for discussion.

A slide deck overview of the theme will be posted a few days before each session, as required pre-read. The idea is for ALL participants to actually review these pre-read decks (should take maybe 30min each) so we can have a discussion where everybody is better prepared than usual in these sorts of symposia.

If you are interested in doing reading beyond these upcoming decks, here are some anchor references the session leaders will be using.  Though session leaders will be drawing on multiple sources, and we expect many participants will be coming from other perspectives, these should give you an idea of the level of discussion we’re hoping to hit.