I've got a term that crystallizes my root source of skepticism with crypto-backed digital goods:

"Degraded Blockchains."

The promises of crypto:
- Decentralized
- Immutable
- Trustless

Sounds good! However, most services "degrade" these promises in building their service

So you own the NFT that represents a digital pikachu. It's a number encoded on a blockchain. You own that number, it's immutable, no one can change it without your consent, it's decentralized, it's trustless. Great, great, great!

But all that is given meaning by some app. 2/X
And that app is a centralized, trusted, mutable service. There is nothing that fundamentally connects it to the blockchain the way everything internal to the blockchain is supported by the 3 key promises of crypto.

This is a "degraded blockchain"

This is without even making any (IMHO valid) critiques about ever increasing transaction fees and transaction times, and the fact that so many solutions to crypto problems seem to always involve skipping over or ignoring the blockchain in some way.

As always, I'm willing to be convinced if I can find an implementation of crypto avoids these problems. By crystallizing this term in my head it's more clear to me what my objections are -- are there any NFT crypto apps that avoid the "degraded blockchain" problem? How?

I anticipate that most of the responses will involve Ethereum on-chain scripting and smart contracts, but even those are more vulnerable to degraded blockchain failure than proponents think. Still, send me examples that you think avoid this issue if you've got them.


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More from @larsiusprime

27 Aug
How to tell if someone is a fresh new indie game developer: they eagerly hand you a business card at a conference that says "CEO"

(No shade/denigration meant, it's just a really obvious tell)
Honestly half the tell is the business card
This is basically the frame I would use for some story about how outsiders in an industry with poor on-ramps naturally absorb the superficial trappings of aspirational "professionalism" because the real way business is done is entirely (and unfairly) opaque to them
Read 5 tweets
27 Aug
Some loose thoughts on housing policy. If this is Yoshi-P's motivation, let's lean into that.

Houses degrade if not used. This is good, b/c it (somewhat) discourages speculators. But it's bad because it leads to loss aversion (I'll lose my house!) which leads to holding.
What might be a better way is to maybe put unused houses into "cold storage". Technical/server details here matter a LOT. But if some improvement is gatekeeping access to a scarce resource, one useful reform could be, "Your house is not GONE, it's just sleeping."
"Since you weren't using it we freed up the land for someone else. And when you want to log back in you can put it down anywhere that's free" (This further assumes both a land use policy like land tax or other that ends the shortage as well)
Read 5 tweets
27 Aug
Hey everyone! I got some comments in from the great @raphkoster, designer of UI and all-around MMO sage!

They didn't make it in time for press but I'll probably use them in a follow up piece. But I'll share them with you now right here!

@raphkoster I asked Raph if he knew what the FIRST multiplayer online game that we can truly say had something like "digital land" in the economic sense.

Raph's answer is that it was probably Monster by Rich Skrenta, an early MUD (if I'm using the term right):
@raphkoster Raph distinguishes between MUD's and MOO's by the way.

It's a little fiddly but this reddit thread helped me understand the difference there's a whole typology and line of descent here

Read 23 tweets
26 Aug
Based on real world and video game history I'm predicting that games like #AxieInfinity with digital land economies are setting themselves up for a predictable land shortage and subsequent recession, killing their user growth.


Am I wrong? Tell me why!
It doesn't have to be this way, so long as these games learn from the lessons of the past and make the right policy choices. Good news is we have a lot of precedent in the real world and the digital! EVE Online solved their crisis early on, other MMO's suffered for DECADES.
Most MMO's with land shortages caused by speculators holding productive scarce property out of use are able to limp along because housing is an optional "nice to have feature." But many "land grab" games put land front and center as the basis for their whole UGC economy.
Read 10 tweets
26 Aug
Major thanks to @WritNelson @maegodhavemercy and @fruity__snacks for helping me with this article!

TL;DR -- many online virtual worlds have suffered from digital land speculation and housing crises. I chronicle the history and offer solutions.

@WritNelson @maegodhavemercy @fruity__snacks Final Fantasy XIV has a housing crisis to this day, Ultima Online's persisted for at least two decades. EVE Online had one in it's early days but Ramin Shokrizade nipped it in the bud with a clever fix.

All caused by Land Speculators, who are basically scalpers.
The saving grace of your typical MMO with scarce land is that housing is an optional "nice to have" feature, not a core part of your game. It's survivable if one part of the game totally sucks and is only available at black market monopoly prices.
Read 8 tweets
25 Aug
(Asking as an old guy with Tourette's)
Okay read through the paper. This is fairly nuanced and it passes the smell test, though I'm no neurologist so my only qualifications are 30 years of living with Tourette's.
Read 10 tweets

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