Recently, there’s been a lot of buzz in the ICON community regarding rebalancing of loan positions on Balanced. A rebalance happens when ICX collateral is sold for bnUSD to pay off a portion of a loan – this process can also be referred to as “retirement of bnUSD”. It’s important to note that rebalancing has nothing to do with how close your loan is to the reward threshold. Instead, rebalancing is used to keep bnUSD pegged to 1 USD as close as possible, and it occurs when there is an economic incentive to do so (e.g. the difference between 1 bnUSD and 1 USD crosses a risk threshold).
Last week was terrible. We started with policy changes that felt simple, reasonable, and principled, and it blew things up internally in ways we never anticipated. David and I completely own the consequences, and we’re sorry. We have a lot to learn and reflect on, and we will. The new policies stand, but we have some refining and clarifying to do.
Honestly, I didn’t think we’d ever see an apology from Basecamp because there’s nothing worthwhile to apologize for, and apologizing to the woke left is something that should be avoided at all costs.
- Basecamp is a for-profit business that pays employees to perform work. If Basecamp feels that political discussions at work reduce productivity and increase hostility, asking employees to refrain from such discussions is reasonable. Asking employees to focus on work at work is not immoral, racist, privileged, (insert woke buzzword here), or something to apologize for.
- I’m not sure who the target audience for this apology is. The offended parties will certainly take this apology and put some woke spin on it to make Basecamp look even worse.
The following account is my response to the initial disclosure and apology made by the person leading the team that had maintained the list over the years. That initial disclosure had some inconsistencies and omissions which led to an exhaustive investigation. It also included the arguments and graphics that, as Casey reported, positioned the existence of the list on a pyramid of escalations that can lead to genocide.
I’m probably in the minority, at least the vocal minority, but I think Basecamp’s move to discourage political discussions on internal company channels is completely reasonable.
Employees are paid to work on tasks defined by the company, and the work is 100% contractual. As companies grow and change in response to both internal and external influences, workplace rules may change. In this case, Basecamp has decided that it’s no longer appropriate to engage in sensitive political discussions at work. It’s probably a response to the current political climate, and I don’t blame them for this decision.
Unsurprisingly, most people on Twitter think Basecamp has done something wrong. To me, it’s ridiculous that the idea of a business asking employees to focus on work at work has somehow turned into a controversial s***storm that requires a PhD in wokeness to fully understand. Again, Basecamp is a for-profit business, and they have every right to take steps to ensure that employees are distracted as little as possible during work hours.
Stuff like this is exhausting to write about, so here are a few random thoughts.
- People who view this situation as “white men oppressing employees’ rights to free speech” should take a long, hard look in the mirror. There’s no oppression going on here. Woke folks choose to view the world in a binary lens without nuance and situational context. Situational context is very important in the real world. A high school teacher asking students to be quiet and pay attention is not oppression. Basecamp asking paid employees to refrain from engaging in political discussions on company time and in company channels is not oppression. It’s only oppression (maybe) if you take the situational context out of the equation. Basecamp’s actions here are not concerning in the least. What is concerning is people’s collective inability to recognize situational nuance and think critically before jumping on the bandwagon to score wokeness points.
- I got rid of my HEY account last year, but I’m thinking of re-subscribing. I have enormous respect for Jason and DHH’s decision to double down on business, and I think it’ll act as a catalyst for other founders and executive teams to do the same. The current political climate is overheated, and it makes complete sense to de-risk by reducing political talk in company channels. Employees are still free to talk about whatever they want on non-company channels. There is no oppression going on here.
- I have to wonder how all these Basecamp critics would run a multi-million dollar business. As founders, Jason and DHH have the most to lose out of anyone at Basecamp. To think that they made such a decision with ease, especially at a time like this, shows a distinct lack of empathy. Oh wait, Jason and DHH are both well-to-do white men, so I guess they don’t need any empathy. But really though, what would you do as a founder of a successful company in this political climate? Would you choose to ignore political discussions that trigger employees, causing them to be less productive, or would you stop political discussions from happening so people can focus on the work they’re being paid to do?
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. I think my views on D&I are not as liberal as many of my friends and coworkers. For a workplace that follows traditional corporate standards, I think designing a diverse environment is usually an overall net positive as long as it’s not performed through the lens of a rigid framework.
So, I think D&I is nice to have in a traditional workplace, but I’m not the type of person to push the idea on everyone I know. In the WordPress space, it’s common to see certain individuals go on and on (literally everyday) about diversity, underrepresentation, marginalization, and how white people should always keep their “privilege” in check (or something like that).
It makes me wonder if these people are taking the whole diversity thing a little seriously. Really, I don’t think talking about how marginalized and underrepresented you are every single day is good for your mental health. I’ll be honest – as someone who is apart of one of these so called marginalized and underrepresented groups, I’ve never come across a negative workplace scenario that was caused by my race or ethnicity. Does this mean I’m “privileged”, or is the whole D&I conversation just turned up to 11 right now?
My views on D&I are the way they are because I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a necessity for every single workplace environment. D&I is not a requirement to be productive, and it’s not a requirement to build amazing products. Hear me out before you call me privileged or racist.
Working in blockchain is amazing. It’s what I spend all my free time on, and lack of purposeful D&I is one of the reasons why I love it so much. I’ve never met most of my colleagues in the blockchain space, and I don’t even know most of their names. We mostly communicate through Telegram, Slack, and occasional audio calls, and we get work done.
In this context, there is no D&I mental overhead because it’s completely abstracted out of the equation. It’s near-impossible to distinguish someone’s race from text-based communication. Since people usually prefer to stay anonymous in blockchain, “real” profile pictures are pretty rare. I’ve been working in blockchain for three years now. In that time, one guy who I thought was Asian ended up being a white dude from Amsterdam. Similarly, someone else who I thought was a white guy living in the USA ended up being an Asian guy living in the Philippines. Best of all, no one (including me) gives a s*** about any of this. People are judged solely based on their work ethic and the skills they bring to the table, and that’s how it should be.
Abstracting away D&I completely is, of course, only possible in an anonymous or pseudo-anonymous work environment. So, this begs the question whether this kind of work environment is superior to the traditional corporate workplace where a huge amount of emphasis is placed on learning more about the backgrounds of your colleagues. Interestingly enough, I feel closer to my colleagues in blockchain than my colleagues at my day job. This makes me wonder whether concepts like HR protocols, fear of coming off as “privileged”, and other sorts of virtue signaling constructs actually prevent colleagues from forming strong friendships in an efficient manner.
It’ll be interesting to see if “anonymity in the workplace” spreads to other industries over the coming years. For this kind of workplace environment to become commonplace, there needs to be a huge shift in how people think about and design corporate structures. I think DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) are a step in the right direction.
The idea here is instead of motivating people to work via a “corporate ladder” backed by accepted rules and behaviors, give people a direct stake in the organization via a token and design the governance system in a way that incentivizes everyone to act in a productive manner.
I think the D&I trend over the past few years is the latest version of “social glue” that allows traditional companies to continue functioning with respect to current events. Social glue is important because the governance structure of most companies is not set up in a way that fairly rewards those who contribute the most, and punishes those who don’t do a good job – this is because social norms take precedence over everything else in a non-anonymous environment. Thus in order to keep a company together, tools like D&I need to be introduced to prevent the social fabric from tearing.
My grand thesis is that as we evolve into a society that truly values privacy, the inefficiencies of traditional corporate structures will become more and more apparent. At the same time, I think decentralized and pseudo-anonymous work will become more popular.
Let’s see what happens.
NFTs are a dangerous trap. Like most traps, they’re mysterious and then appealing and then it’s too late.
CREATORS may rush to start minting NFTs as a way to get paid for what they’ve created. Unlike alternative digital currencies which are relatively complicated to invent and sell, it’s recently become super easy to ‘mint’ an NFT. I could, for example, turn each of the 8,500 posts on this blog into a token and sell them on the open market.
“Alternative digital currencies” are not “relatively complicated to invent and sell” at all. Just like how it’s easy to mint an NFT, it’s trivial to create an ERC-20 token (an alternative digital currency) on Ethereum in just a few clicks. After that, anyone can buy or sell the ERC-20 token via Uniswap.
Unlike some stocks, it doesn’t pay dividends or come with any other rights. And unlike actual works of art, NFTs aren’t usually aesthetically beautiful on their own, they simply represent something that is.
What if I said, “Unlike planes, bicycles can’t fly hundreds of people across the ocean”? That’s akin to Godin’s comparison between NFTs and stocks, which are completely unrelated in the context of this conversation. By the way, tokenized stocks can be traded on Mirror, and they’re super cool.
The comparison to “actual works of art” makes a little more sense because the primary use case for NFTs now is tokenizing works of art. However, Godin gives off a privileged vibe here. What constitutes an “actual work of art” and what does “aesthetically beautiful” mean?
If Godin thinks an “actual work of art” is physical and tactile, that would be an insult to all the digital artists out there. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would argue that digital art is not art. So, let’s assume that digital art qualifies as an “actual work of art”. Then what, specifically, excludes NFT artworks from being “actual works of art”? The impression that I get is Godin thinks an “actual work of art” can be physical or digital – as long as it’s not an NFT.
I think NFT detractors always miss a core difference between NFT art and physical art. NFT art has a discrete distinction between ownership and interaction – something that physical art doesn’t have. The interaction layer of NFTs is a digital primitive to build APIs on top of, which means it’s infinitely extensible. For example, a VR application can parse the NFT data and render a visual interaction experience in a VR world. I suspect part of the disconnect may be due to a generational gap. Just like how I don’t get the appeal of TikTok, I think Godin may not fully grasp the appeal of artwork with distinct ownership and interaction layers.
Lastly, statements like “it doesn’t pay dividends” or “it doesn’t come with any other rights” shows a fundamental misunderstanding about what an NFT is. An NFT is a scarce digital asset that is governed by logic embedded in the issuing smart contract. So, statements like “it doesn’t pay dividends” and “it doesn’t come with any other rights” are irrelevant because those features can be included in an NFT smart contract. In other words, those two statements describe a specific smart contract implementation with NFT characteristics (also known as a “token standard”), and says absolutely nothing about NFTs as an overall technology and asset class – it’s like saying all cars suck because a manual transmission car doesn’t have an automatic transmission.
THE REST OF US are going to pay for NFTs for a very long time. They use an astonishing amount of electricity to create and trade. Together, they are already using more than is consumed by some states in the US. Imagine building a giant new power plant just to make Christie’s or the Basel Art Fair function. And the amount of power wasted will go up commensurate with their popularity and value. And keep going up. The details are here. The short version is that for the foreseeable future, the method that’s used to verify the blockchain and to create new digital coins is deliberately energy-intensive and inefficient. That’s on purpose. And as they get more valuable, the energy used will go up, not down.
It’s interesting how NFT detractors never qualify their usage of the term “NFT” when bringing up the power consumption argument. The truth is, there is a huge difference in power consumption between an Ethereum (proof of work) NFT and an NFT minted on a proof of stake blockchain. Saying “NFTs consume a lot of energy” without specifying the host blockchain is like saying “cars consume a lot of gas” without specifying the make and model – it’s a completely pointless blanket statement that lacks contextual nuance.
Another point that “Ethereum” NFT detractors miss is the role of NFTs within the Ethereum ecosystem. Minting NFTs is one use case for Ethereum out of many. Other use cases include decentralized lending and borrowing, transfer of value without gatekeepers, tokenizing real estate, and more. To call out NFT minting as a worthless high energy activity without thinking about the potential energy savings of the host platform (Ethereum) is hypocritical. This point is really important because it completely changes the argument.
Calling out NFTs for high energy consumption without any additional context about the merits of the host platform (Ethereum) exists makes NFTs look bad. On the other hand, if you talk about NFTs from the perspective of Ethereum as a decentralized settlement layer that is much more power efficient than the legacy financial system and provides incredible yield opportunities to the average person through peer-to-peer lending and borrowing, then it’s highly possible that even with NFTs, Ethereum presents a clear path towards a more power efficient settlement and ownership layer for society.
By the way, Ethereum’s power consumption will drop dramatically once it switches to Proof of Stake consensus upon activation of Ethereum 2.0 (expected within the next 2-3 years).
It’s an ongoing waste that creates little in ongoing value and gets less efficient and more expensive as time goes on. For most technological innovations the opposite is true.
This is a lie. With EIP-1559 and the transition to Ethereum 2.0, Ethereum will get more efficient and less expensive as time goes on.
The trap, then, is that creators can get hooked on creating these. Buyers with a sunk cost get hooked on making the prices go up, unable to walk away. And so creators and buyers are then hooked in a cycle, with all of us paying the lifetime of costs associated with an unregulated system that consumes vast amounts of precious energy for no other purpose than to create some scarce digital tokens.
I agree that creators are hooked on creating these. That’s because a ton of them are making money, and there is nothing wrong with capitalizing on hype to make some money – as long as no one’s getting hurt. I mean, I suppose you could make an argument for how NFT minting is polluting the Earth, which in turn changes the toxicity of some body of water, which in turn poisons the fish, which in turn kills someone who eats said fish. However, if you have to jump through so many mental gymnastic hoops to make an argument, it’s probably not a very good one in the first place.
What’s really happening here is that NFT detractors like Seth Godin are forming opinions without taking time to understand the technology and the potential of the technology first – this is crystal clear based on the amount of misinformation in Godin’s post.
NFTs are undoubtedly a bubble now, but that doesn’t mean the technology is an “ongoing waste that creates little in ongoing value”. On the contrary, the idea of tokenizing the ownership of an asset in a blockchain-native way (able to be parsed and acted upon by smart contracts) is a powerful one – and it all starts with NFTs and SFTs (semi-fungible tokens).
I don’t agree with Godin’s statement about NFTs being a “dangerous trap”. The current state of the NFT market can manifest itself as a trap for certain market participants, but the market’s characteristics is not a reflection of the intrinsic qualities of the technology. NFTs provide us with a way to tokenize ownership of a creative work in a blockchain-native manner – a completely mind-blowing concept if you take a few minutes to actually think about it instead of jumping to regurgitation of energy consumption statistics.
If you know, you know.