December 14th, 2021

The reason on-chain SVGs matter is not why most people think. It's not just that they live on-chain with no dependencies, or that they have stronger guarantees of being around for a long time.

On-chain SVGs matter because an on-chain render function makes an NFT dynamic. Not in the sense that the asset itself contains animations, but rather - an on-chain render function can make the same item appear differently over time. The same way javascript turned websites from read-only documents into interactive ones, on-chain SVGs turn NFTs from static assets into living digital objects.

An item whose render function generates an SVG each time it's called doesn't need to return the same thing every time. The NFT itself can read any on-chain data and use it to decide how it should appear to its owner in the moment. It can look up relevant state changes, user actions, and external activity, and then display them either as literal information or as abstract visual characteristics. This allows the NFT to provide much stronger affordances to its holder as to its functional purpose.

This kind of dynamicism is really what makes on-chain SVGs so important. They take seriously the idea that NFTs are not just static media, but living digital objects we can use for all kinds of things online. As more people learn to build digital objects in this way, we'll accelerate towards a world where our understanding of NFTs today looks as outdated as the web before javascript.

August 28th, 2021

The Internet is now a place where everyone has an inventory.

NFTs mean that for the first time, we have something like digital objects on the Internet. The importance of this change goes way beyond the kinds of things that are currently popular in the crypto space. It’s not contained to art markets, collectibles, or even gaming. The existence of programmable, interoperable digital objects will fundamentally change the logic of the Internet.

It’s true that many digital objects will be purely cosmetic, like a rare avatar or piece of art you can display within different applications. But if digital objects are as versatile as physical objects (how many different things can “objects” do?), many NFTs will provide functional benefits to their owners. Digital items will move with their owners across the Internet and allow them to perform special actions across independent pieces of software.

As the implications of this reorganize how people use the Internet, many valuable companies will be created and destroyed. This doesn’t mean companies need to “get into NFTs” by selling digital collectibles or buying them. It means they need to build their companies on a mental model of the Internet that acknowledges all of the second order effects of digital objects.

August 10th, 2021

Full effort > full time

June 9th, 2021

The concept of yield farming has reorganized the DeFi landscape. When you deposit money into a protocol, you can earn some tokens or funds the longer your money is there.

DeFi protocols aggressively compete with each other to offer users the most bang for their buck. Often, users choose where to deposit funds based on a combination of where they can get the highest yield and where they can earn the tokens they care most about.

Will crypto governance reach a similar state?

As UNI and COMP token prices have increased, the price of meaningful participation in governance decisions has already risen far beyond the reach of most individuals. I believe we're heading towards a future where participants in crypto governance will congregate together to control larger amounts of votes as a group, rather than directly participating as individuals.

April 24th, 2021

I'm using Mirror to auction the third piece in my Stem copy series, based on David Rudnick's Stem series. For every Stem that David has published, I've produced a copy in Paint on my computer. This is piece 3/4 in that series, and the only one currently for sale. You can see David's original here:


When David's Stem I was originally released, @milkshapes minted "Saved," a screenshot of the piece.

April 9th, 2021

Speaks for itself.

March 25th, 2021

I'm slightly adjusting an email response I wrote earlier this week and posting it here. This was a relatively quick one, which I don't usually do, so I apologize for sloppier writing than usual.

I thought this tweet by Reggie was to the point, and maybe the whole thread is interesting to peek at.

Basically, NFTs are about proven ownership of something digital, and what that unlocks for the owner. Right now, we're in a phase where the main thing people "unlock" by owning an NFT is simply the clout or recognition of ownership. So everyone is scrambling to figure out what it might be valuable to own from this point of view: art, tweets, essays, etc. (and who knows, maybe a lot of that is actually right).

My main point is: I think where things will get interesting is when ownership of an NFT unlocks abilities besides just recognition or resale value to the owner. Of course, recognition and resale value will always be part of owning an NFT, but I don't think it's the full picture.

February 16th, 2021

In tech, we're constantly framing early stage companies around the search for product-market fit. But entering a time where individual creators are viewed as businesses of their own, I've been thinking about the reverse: "BusinessModel-Content Fit."

We're all familiar with the quote "First we shape our tools, thereafter they shape us," often misattributed to Marshall McLuhan. It's true that with work of any kind, the tools available to us influence the work we create. It follows that in times where nearly every interaction is financialized to some degree, this effect is less about tools and more about business models.

I noted this in the announcement of the $ESSAY crowdfund last month:

When the only tool around for getting paid to write is a newsletter publisher, it's no wonder we see more and more newsletters, and less of everything else.

January 28th, 2021

A new experiment begins today: using crypto to crowdfund the next essay I'm writing, titled Scissor Labels.

Instead of publishing my work for free, or putting it behind a paywall, I'm doing something in between: raising funds to produce a new essay in exchange for ownership of the work. This will allow me to devote my full time to writing the piece, while allowing it to exist as a public good for anyone to read. The crowdfund is now live, and will stay open for one week, or until the cap is hit.

January 26th, 2021

We live in an age of constant narrative conflict. But today, not every battle is legible to the untrained observer. While some grifts are plainly perpetrated by would-be thought leaders, other battles for narrative control are hiding in plain sight, happening under the guise of intellectual debate. When these battles go unrecognized for what they are, even the best among us fall victim to meaningless conversations that waste the time of those involved. In this piece, I introduce the concept of "scissor labels," why they foment controversy, and how they're different from other linguistic debates. I then suggest how to engage with this phenomenon with a more fruitful, future-oriented mindset.

What the fuck is Hyperpop?

A specific shape of online debate caught my attention in 2020. As I've reflected on the past year, I've realized that this pattern is happening frequently but is rarely understood.

January 26th, 2021

I'm really excited to be trying something new this week: using crypto to crowdfund the next essay I'm writing, titled 'Scissor Labels.'

Instead of publishing my work for free, or putting it behind a paywall, I'm doing something in between: raising funds to produce a new essay in exchange for ownership of the work. This will allow me to devote my full time to writing the piece, while allowing it to exist as a public good for anyone to read.

Below is Mirror's new Crowdfunding Block, which contains everything you need to know about backing this project. The crowdfund will go live on Thursday, January 28th at 12pm PT.