Hour 1 - Jeremy Kauffman (LBRY) comes on the show to discuss the decentralized digital library, a content sharing and publishing platform that is decentralized and owned by it's users
Hour 2 - Freedom's Phoenix Headline News
Hour 3 - Jeff Berwick (Anarchapulco; The Dollar Vigilante; Anarchast) on Bitcoin/Bitcoin Cash; Anarchapulco 2018
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February 9th, 2018
Declare Your Independence with Ernest Hancock
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2018-02-09 Hour 1 Jeremy Kauffman from Ernest Hancock on Vimeo.
LBRY - a content sharing and publishing platform that is decentralized and owned by it's users.
Click here to sign up: https://lbry.io/get?r=9a0f7
Jeremy is the CEO of LBRY, a digital marketplace that is decentralized and entirely controlled by it's users. Prior to LBRY, Jeremy built a software-as-a-service company that manages tens of millions of dollars for sport and activity organizations. He holds degrees in physics and computer science from RPI and has been a supporter of decentralized technology and freedom-of-information since high school.
Jeremy's previous interviews on the Declare Your Independence with Ernest Hancock Radio Show:
Jeremy Kauffman's Recent Articles...
Why Do Tech Giants Abuse Their Users?
Jeremy Kauffman • Jan 8
(Protocols Not Platforms - Part 1 of 2)
Whether it's purposefully crippling mobile experiences, hard selling upgrades and add-ons, or shuttling users to pre-selected partner companies, every major tech company seems to proactively damage user experience.
In a competitive market, this sort of customer abuse shouldn't happen. But before we get to the why, let's define the problem.
The Problem: Every large consumer internet company actively works to make a user's experience worse.
And it's not just the cable and phone companies that immediately spring to mind as monopolistic monsters engaging in this behavior - internet favorites like Reddit, Facebook, and YouTube are all guilty.
Even platforms that are ostensibly designed with the user's control and privacy in mind can end up abusing users when they're centrally controlled. WhatsApp comes to mind. WhatsApp built a huge global user base claiming to put users above advertisers. Then Facebook bought it. Now users may well have their personal phone numbers and metadata mined for Facebook's advertising algorithms.
Last week, we asked our users to send over some examples of tech companies treating their customers badly, and the response was overwhelming. Take a look at these examples from some of the most popular services and companies in use today. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of companies being actively hostile to users, as the whole list could probably fill its own book.
Tech Giants Hate You: The Proof
Facebook had (has!) a fully working, web-based version of their messaging platform.
They actively disabled on mobile to force more downloads of the app. Why would they do this? When you stay in their app ecosystem, they can extract more demographic information (location services, what other apps you're using, etc.) and ad revenue from you.
We could talk at length about Apple's hostility towards free software and the users' ability to own and control their own devices.
But let's look at the most unambiguous example possible: Apple actively slows down old phones to encourage more sales!
See this for the full details on this story.
Evidently, Reddit really wants people to use their mobile app.
Right now, it takes five clicks to view a GIF hosted on a non-Reddit site on mobile. It used to take one.
Not because there is anything wrong with the web experience, of course. But forcing people onto mobile means Reddit can collect a lot more information about you. When pushed for an answer, Reddit's response was less than impressive - they claimed that they were annoying users to test ways to deliver better user experience.
We could talk a lot about how YouTube's treatment of creators, as well as it's pro-censorship policies, constitute hostility.
But here's an even clearer example:
YouTube recently disabled all FireTV users from accessing YouTube for no reason other than to get back at Amazon. As these tech giants duke it out, YouTube is making their creators miss out on millions of views on Amazon devices.
Businesses are greedy. Is this news?
Some people may read these examples and shrug. Companies are greedy. Is it really surprising they treat users this way? And this response is partially right. Companies are greedy.
But in a competitive economy, greed is typically satisfied by making your services better, not worse. To quote a wise Scotsman, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." Your local pizzeria offers free bathrooms, delivery service, and fresh ingredients because they know it will give them a competitive edge, not because they love you. Companies know that if they make life worse for their customers, those customers will take their business elsewhere.
So the question becomes: why is this possible? Why are large tech companies able to get away with such abusive behavior?
And the answer is these platforms are not nearly as competitive as restaurants. If the pizza place jacks up prices, I go to another pizza place. When Facebook treats me like crap, I complain about it... on Facebook. But not all of our tech experiences are like this!
If we look at other aspects of the internet, it's much more like restaurants than Facebook. And that's because a lot of the tech driving the web is a protocol, not a platform. My browser can't treat me like crap, because HTTP is an open standard. Anyone else can make a browser, like anyone else can make a restaurant. The same is true for my email client or my torrent client.
The solution to this problem is to build protocols, not platforms. When we build protocols, people can leave. When we build protocols, it's the users, not the middlemen, who retain control.
Across the board, users have never been less satisfied with the systems they rely on to connect with their friends and share their creations. Centralized systems just can't provide the responsiveness and experience that users want.
But a new technology has already started to rock the foundations of those centralized systems. The innovation of blockchain is the most powerful development in over a decade in making this possible, and we'll talk about this more in Part 2.
Blockchain Is Love, Blockchain Is Life
Jeremy Kauffman • Jan 10
(Protocols Not Platforms - Part 2 of 2)
Blockchain technology currently has a hype to substance ratio rapidly approaching infinity. And as a team of people who are skeptical of 90+% of proposed blockchain uses, we're hesitant to contribute to that (ed.: wait until you see what I changed the title to).
But there's one area where we think it's plausible, if not likely, that blockchain will improve the world: the development of open standards and protocols, and consequently more user-friendly technology.
The Status Quo
In Part 1, we covered how existing tech companies demonstrate active hostility towards users. If haven't read this or are not already convinced of this problem, start here.
To recap: When a service is developed as a protocol, there is no question that the abuse potential is lower, and the long-term user-experience is better. The problem is that frequently, a protocol never gets developed at all.
The reason for that is the incentives in place. Building great technology takes time and effort, which means it takes money.
Tim Berners-Lee, who is widely credited as the father of the web, made a lot of people rich. But Tim wasn't one of them. That's because Tim created HTTP as a protocol. That meant Tim didn't own it, and Tim never profited from his amazing invention. So while protocols create better experiences, they often never get developed or deployed, because there is no funding or capital to drive the creation of them.
The What and Why Of Protocols
Just what do we mean when we say protocol? And how is it different from a platform? A platform is built on proprietary code running on servers controlled and managed by the company that created and owns the platform. It leaves the company fully in control.
Suppose I wanted to build my own interface for Facebook. Perhaps because I want actual control over what shows up on my news feed, rather than leaving it to Facebook's algorithms. Currently, it would be legally questionable for me to do this, and even it was legal, it would also be legal for Facebook to block my interface from loading "its" data.
But if Facebook was implemented as a protocol, it would be an open standard that anyone could follow. Anyone could write a Facebook view, or a Facebook app. If Facebook, Inc. wanted to start acting hostile towards its users, people would simply stop using the apps released by Facebook, Inc. and instead use ones made by other parties.
To be clear: this is possible today. It's been possible for decades. There's no technological barrier to creating a Facebook Protocol, but barriers of economics and incentives that discourage people from doing so.
Now, suppose we wanted to create Facebook Protocol in a world where blockchain exists. Let's call it PeopleChain.
PeopleChain is a blockchain database that stores the same data that Facebook would (i.e. it stores profiles, posts, user friendships, groups, etc.) But because it is a public blockchain database, no one owns it.
Anyone can access and read the data inside of it, and anyone can build services that use it (note: this doesn't imply some fully transparent version of Facebook, it would still be possible to have analogous privacy and access rules via encryption). And in addition, because it is a blockchain database, it means that it utilizes some kind of blockchain token.
This token has value in proportion to the usage and success of the network.
This is a revolution in the incentives around protocol creation.
It means that the people who discover and utilize a new protocol or network when it's just getting off the ground can reap substantial value by being there first. This solves the incentive problems around being a first-mover and softens the pain of using a service that probably won't be as feature-rich or slick as established competitors' options. It provides a source of funding for the development of the protocol. The creators can use the token to pay for the salaries and equipment required to get it started.
It also aligns incentives: the developers have incentive to make the protocol maximally successful. If they take actions that users dislike, the service can be forked, and anyone can create a new version.
For the first time ever, it's economically feasible for companies to compete to create the best technology instead of capture and then abuse their users. That's why we're building LBRY, and it's why we're open source. Anyone who's inspired to help us create a free, open internet is welcome to build apps on our protocol, or fork our project and strike out on their own if they think they can do it better than us. Real competition instead of a market in name only.
Want to join us? You can start by downloading the LBRY app, trying it out, and letting us know if you have any questions or suggestions to improve it. You can also join our chat or consider a more committed relationship. Together, we can build a better, freer internet.
Looking Back and Moving Forward: LBRY in 2017/2018
Jeremy Kauffman • Jan 31
In the blockchain space, LBRY is an anomaly.
While many blockchain companies seem to exist exclusively to convert PDF-based promises into large sums of money, the LBRY team has relentlessly focused on creating a working product that is actually used by human beings.
As a result, LBRY has one of the most advanced and usable blockchain platforms in existence. We reached a number of technical and business milestones in 2017 and expect to accomplish much more in 2018.
Here's a look at the past year as well as what's up next.
LBRY in 2017
LBRY entered 2017 with a live blockchain, a private alpha product, and just a few people working full time on the project.
Here's some of what we accomplished in 2017:
LBRY released its first stand-alone graphical app in February of 2017. This app was a closed beta (though the miner and network tools were publicly available).
The LBRY App began a public beta in August 2017. It has been downloaded over 100,000 times since then and is used by tens of thousands of users weekly.
Over 5,000 YouTubers have made their content available on LBRY, including dozens of top creators, including fantastic ones like Casually Explained, The Rubin Report, 3Blue1Brown, and NurdRage.
We launched spee.ch, a web-based way of accessing and publishing free content to the LBRY network. Over 200,000 people have already used this site and it grows more popular every day.
Around 50,000 people follow LBRY on social media, and about 10,000 regularly hang out in our online chat room. Funny story: our chat room was originally on Slack, but Slack shut us down for being too popular!
Over 150,000 pieces of content are available on the network currently, including everything from major motion pictures, crypto retirement guides, top streamers, and LBRY originals like Cop Chronicles.
Over 100 developers have contributed to the LBRY code base, over 4,000 developers follow the project, and LBRY is continually rated one of the most active projects in blockchain. For example, we're in the top 20 on CoinGecko, despite it only counting one of several core codebases!
We grew from a lean 5 employees to 14 employees on five continents.
We saved over 20,000 college lectures from the government memory hole.
We saw major press coverage from NASDAQ, VentureBeat, Fox News, RussiaToday, John Stossel, and many other outlets.
Perhaps most impressively, LBRY has accomplished all of this for approximately $600,000 and a few million LBC. We will be expanding significantly into 2018 and expect to deliver commensurate results.
LBRY in 2018
As you can see, 2017 was a good year for us. But we have ambitious plans to make 2018 a spectacular year for the LBRY app and protocol. You'll find the broad strokes of our plan below.
A. Protocol Performance & Expansion
Optimizing the performance and capabilities of the LBRY protocol has been an ongoing challenge.
In 2018, we want the LBRY protocol to work better than ever.
Expand the team of dedicated LBRY protocol developers. Join us! (Q1 2018)
Continue to obsess over making the protocol as performant and reliable as possible (All of 2018)
Explore and likely add support for resolution to other data sources, such as HTTP, BitTorrent, and/or IPFS. (Q2 2018)
Improve publisher profiles and publisher functionality (Q2 / Q3 2018)
Improve support for discovery, by adding features for tagging and categorization. (Q3 / Q4 2018)
B. Documentation & Technical Community
While it was the right call for LBRY to prioritize building over documentation in its earliest stages, the lack of a clear specification and documentation is now holding LBRY back.
Additionally, LBRY has already seen code contributions from over one hundred people. Improving the documentation and awareness of LBRY in technical communities will only improve this.
Release a technical whitepaper. (Draft by Q1 2018)
Launch lbry.tech as a technical resource, improve/revise other resources, and generally ensure the ecosystem is welcoming and easy to get started in as possible. (Q1/Q2 2018)
Formalize and build awareness in the ability for developers to contribute and receive LBC. (All of 2018)
Campaign and promote LBRY to technical communities, both online and in-person. (All of 2018)
If you want to look at all of our development and business priorities in one place, take a look at our updated roadmap.
C. User Friendliness
LBRY is already one of the most popular consumer-targeted blockchain products. However, it could be used by even more people if the product was more user-friendly, available on more platforms, and more welcoming to new users.
Release a redesigned app (Q1 2018).
Release an Android app (Alpha Q1 2018, Public Q2 2018). Join the Android notification list here.
Improve the first-run process, particularly around getting credits in the hands of new users. (All of 2018)
Continue to round out feature set (All of 2018)
Last year approximately $5-$10mm of new LBRY credits came into existence and were awarded to miners. Assuming miners are not making substantial profits, this means a similar amount of money was spent securing the LBRY blockchain.
Is this the optimal design? As we've researched and discussed blockchain economics, we've discovered the knowledge and rigor to be shockingly low. We want to improve this.
Additionally, LBRY will be less conservative with its own credits in 2018. We've built significant trust through our prudency. While we'll continue to be prudent, we can reward the community more by building more, and that means utilizing more credits.
As always, you can keep up with how we spend LBC by looking at our quarterly Credit Reports.
Consult with and consider forming a consortium or working group of security practitioners and economists. (Q2 2018)
Launch a LBRY Improvement Proposal process, by which protocol changes can be submitted and considered (Q1 2018)
Have a public conversation and discussion about blockchain economics, including incentive design and mining centralization (Q1 2018 and continuing throughout).
Move several million credits to market per quarter to further capitalize company and expand productivity (All of 2018)
E. Scaling Content
Having thousands of YouTubers adopt LBRY, including dozens of top streamers (despite the early stage of the product) shows the massive demand for content freedom.
By improving and streamlining the on-boarding and publishing process for creators, we can attract a massive amount of content.
We expect to on board more than ten times the creators we did last year and to get approximately ten million LBRY credits into the hands of creators in 2018.
Formalizing offerings to streamers. Debut new website and materials around campaign (Q1 2018).
Debut film and television content from a "Big 6" Studio.
Attend major and minor creator events, such as film festivals and conferences, continuing to establish LBRY as a viable alternative to centralized distribution (All of 2018, starting with Sundance).
F. Community Initiatives
LBRY's independent user community is one of the project's greatest strengths. We've had hundreds of interested developers contribute to the project, thousands of people hang out with us on chat and tens of thousands engage with us in social media.
We want to continue to grow the amount of people engaged and excited about content freedom.
Launch a meetup program including incentives and materials to introduce LBRY to others (Q1 2018)
Improve the ability to spread and share LBC through other media, such as Twitter, YouTube, and other social-platform-based tipping (Q2 2018)
Engage with other existing online communities and friendly projects through shared initiatives (All of 2018)
Continue to establish spee.ch as the safest/best way to quickly share images and videos (All of 2018)
Expecting the Unexpected
You can't be prepared for everything, but you can build processes and principles to figure out the right direction when you know you're headed into the unknown. The crypto space is changing rapidly, and there's no way to tell exactly what the future holds. Whatever we face, we'll maintain our open, decentralized mode of operation and commitment to our community.
We Need You To Build LBRY
Want to help LBRY build a free and open internet? Here's how:
Download the LBRY app and try it out.
If you have an idea that could make the app better (or if something breaks while you're using it!) open a new issue on Github and tell us about it.
Tell your friends and family about LBRY. With SMS Rewards verification in the newest version of the app, it's easier than ever to earn LBC which can then be used to publish, view paid content or tip your favorite creators on LBRY.