Categories
Finance Startups

Day 1147 and Balkan Crypto

I’m in the Balkans for a few weeks doing some scouting and visiting with friends and colleagues. The western Balkans including Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro are known for their occasionally colorful participation in cryptocurrencies.

The region has experienced currency volatility, struggles with central banking and even in Albania a civil war stemming from a financial crisis over government Ponzi schemes.

These negative experience with currency instability, government corruption and sociopolitical unrest has led to a desire to experiment with transparency and decentralization amongst the region’s youth.

The ecosystem is host to serious projects has a talented base of engineers. Ripple is experimenting with a national stable coin in Montenegro. Zuzalu, the two-month invite-only gathering that Ethereum blockchain co-founder Vitalik Buterin led in Montenegro has been a regional hub. And it has inspired a new grants program Zu- villages that strikes me as a cross between network state and a DAO with Gitcoin.

In an editorial in Bitcoin Magazine the founder of the Belgrade Bitcoin Hub summed up the “why”

As a result of years of unfulfilled promises from regional politicians, people of the Balkans are hard to convince about the long-term benefits that can be realized by adopting Bitcoin in one’s life. A low time preference way of life to most people in this region is associated with disappointment and the lowered standards of living that have happened many times before.

Plumski founder of the Belgrade Bitcoin Hub.

Categories
Community Startups

Day 1145 and Vitality

The most gratifying part of early stage startup investing is the vitality. When you are in the mindset of optimism, all things are possible.

I first met Isaiah Taylor about a year ago. We found each other on Twitter. I cold DM’s him with “you seem interesting.” We’d hop on the phone and go through what he was working on in long strategy talks.

I think in our first conversation we spent half an hour just discussing origin stories. We’d both had strongly American west families and we were neighbors in the upper Rocky Mountains. We shared a Christian faith. I liked his style.

Those early rambling sessions when a founder is discovering their market and their unique talents is a precious time. I knew I wanted to invest in him long before Valar Atomics had come into focus.

Ambition and vision are honed over time as you broaden your horizons. It’s the most fascinating tension. The bigger you dream the more you must see your path clearly and pursue it relentlessly. Vitality begins with knowing where to apply your will.

I feel the optimism that Isiah has brought. And I admire how he has taken it to a bigger community. Watching the El Segundo community self-mythologize in real time during this weekend hackathon has been an exercise in collective application of will. Like its cousin in techno-optimism e/acc , the American dynamism “new vitalism” egregore values building for the future.

@ADoricko and @isaiah_p_taylor opening up the Gundo Defense Tech Hackathon via Rasmus

Categories
Startups

Day 1125 and Planting Seeds

I like to get to know founders over time. It’s a canonical piece of advice passed down over venture lore that one should invest in lines not dots. Consider the messenger of course.

I’m sure to founders it can feel a bit self serving of investors to want to see a lot of traction before a commitment. That’s not what I’m talking about. I think as an investor, we have an obligation get to know a founder’s character and their approach to problem solving. Especially if you believe their opportunity to be enormous.

At the earliest stage our responsibility is to assess your capacity to overcome obstacles and to improve your skill sets to match. We need to know you will grow and flourish.

Nurturing a seed is the entire metaphor behind early stage investing. A seed round is such an optimistic name. If we must extend the metaphor that we are planting seeds then the work starts before anything goes in the ground. Good soil, good weather conditions, and the right timing matter a lot.

The anxiety inducing part of this is that my approach years I take time to cultivate potential founders for years. I never quite know when someone will go up for a fundraise. I have to wait and see.

But when it does happen. It’s such a miracle. No finer feeling in the world than having cultivated the right conditions for something to grow.

Categories
Media Startups

Day 1110 and Somatic

I’m upset. I feel it in my body. Soma apparently means “body” in Latin, somatic is “of the body” so to have a response in your body is a somatic response. I’m having a somatic response.

I’ve been surprised at the emotional campaigns that have been waged against technology in the general, and artificial intelligence in the specific, as of late. But I am starting to feel the emotional weight of the collective fear and emotion in my own body. Futureshock is here and the fear mongers are here to tell you and I that we should be afraid.

This weekend there was op-ed was published in IEEE entitled Open Source Artificial Intelligence is Uniquely Dangerous.”

The o-ed was written by David Evan Harris who is a chancellor’s public scholar at UC Berkeley. He used to work a Meta on ethical AI. Now this not the opinion of IEEE which is calls itself “the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.”

You’d think that sort of mission would be a little more on board with new technologies. But maybe David is just an extreme voice. Op-Ed’s are meant to represent a variety of opinions after all.

But how should I feel about the benefits of technology when it’s presented to me like this? They used a skull to really get across the visceral fear. No friendly face to make a concession to our silly human anthropomorphic desires. Let’s scare the stupid hairless apes.

Don’t worry the government and regulations will save us from this psychedelic skull

I have an inherent skepticism when someone wants to sell me on the dangers of regular people having access to something new and potentially transformative. Why must we always default to the precautionary principle? Why is fear always our default?

I don’t want to let this sort of thing get to me. But I can see the narrative campaign being waged against artificial intelligence and the sheer volume and tenor of coverage leads me to believe that everyone is aware of its potential.

Claiming artificial intelligence is only for the knowledgeable few chosen by committee of expert sounds so sensible. But I think my body knows better. I should be upset by this.

Categories
Homesteading

Day 1109 and Cabin Fever

I hope the rest of America is enjoying the polar vortex that is bearing down on them. Our weather improved somewhat from from there last two days of -40 into the comparatively balmy -5.

I do feel a little bit stir crazy being inside for this long or maybe I’m just feeling a little crazy from pain. I’m feeling some intense pain in my spine and joints during this freeze. It’s unclear if the pain weather related but I’ve got no reason to be experiencing any kind of flare so my mind has tied them together.

I’m hoping that as the weather recedes for us on the western half of the country I’ll be ready to leap into action. I’m a bit antsy. I’ve been considering a number of moves as I have commitments to work on a number of portfolio and founder related initiatives as well as the most crucial #FreedomToCompute campaign.

I’d write more but I am not at the top of my game so I’ll dip back into reading and hope tomorrow is a good day.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 1105 and Other Writing

For as much fluidity as my daily writing habit has achieved, I can still get caught up in a synopsis. I have relieved any pressure to make a daily dispatch (which took some effort) but a quarterly or yearly one can get me to glitch. I like to add more information to my modeling like any self respecting nerd. As much as information integration looks effortless it is actually a laborious process. I read tens of thousands of words every single day.

Now I do work from a strategy. Which means I only adjust my tactics on a weekly or quarterly basis. And I will not be sped up on assessing the character of individuals or the caliber of their ideas if I can help it. When I need to move fast I have to do it within the guardrails of what I believe to be right.

And it’s important to remember that heuristics some heuristics don’t need regular updating. Moral codes shouldn’t need much updating. Maybe you believed the wrong layer of abstraction and have to change your priors to align with your moral code. That’s totally fine.

But you shouldn’t be changing around your code of ethics. That’s how you get criminals. Arbitrage is never permanent. Criminals can have a stronger moral compass than business people or religious institutions. This fucks with everyone. I cannot account for all sinners nor most demands for purity. I can however hold myself to my own standards and so should you.

I do what I can to telegraph my own belief systems and where I derived them. There are lots of signifiers I leave in my wake. I am a Christian. I am a capitalist. I am a Protestant. I believe in markets and judicial review. I believe some things are beyond market but all things are subject to forces beyond our control. That’s how I ended up picking Calvinism as a sect but it’s pretty niche.

I’ve believe luck is just opportunity meeting preparation and you can do a lot to increase opportunities and even more to increase preparation. I don’t like rentiers but I do like the bourgeoisie. Property rights are good and regulations are only as good as the people that make them. That’s why we I’d prefer we have fewer laws. We must act deference to our own failings as human but never so much that it harms our capacity to organize.

Categories
Chronicle

Day 1095 and 2023 Round Up

I’ve been sick for the last week and a half or so, so this round-up is coming on the last day of 2023.

As you may have gathered from my title schema, I have been writing every single day for 1095 straight days.

That means I’ve been doing this for three years which is a satisfying achievement. If you’d like see my favorite posts of 2021 here is a link to my first year round up. My round up for the second year of writing in 2022 was quite comprehensive as well.

Below is a list of categories that held my attention in 2023 and the posts I wrote as I tried to make sense of my rapidly changing world.

It probably tells you a lot that the largest sections are artificial intelligence, startups and community. I think this includes almost 50 posts so it’s a testament to how busy the year was that I couldn’t narrow it further. I spent time in Prague, Puerto Vallarta, New York City, Austin, Seattle, Frankfurt, Tallinn, Helsinki, and Amsterdam which is way more travel than I expected. Much of my focus was on investing work for chaotic.capital and is reflected across almost all categories.

Artificial Intelligence

Day 1078 Why We Keep Centering Ourselves

Day 1072 and Math is Leverage.

1055 and Freedom to Compute

Day 989 and Autopoeitic Ergodicity

Day 980 and Beff Jezos

Day 897 and Cruft and Email Bankruptcy

Day 826 and Alignment

Day 780 and Copernican Crisis of Meaning

Community

Day 1070 and Allocating Social Capital

Day 1055 and Shipping, Smoothing Narratives and Making Reality or Effective Acceleration Is About Choice

Day 1053 and Neo Revivalism

1033 and Agency Explosion & The Network State

Day 1025 and Petit Aristocracy

Day 978 and The Great Twitter Unfollowing

Day 932 and Schisms

Day 847 and Erasure in Crypto

Aesthetics

Day 1040 and Being First

Day 1023 and Automatic Doors

Day 1007 and Half A Decade After Premium Mediocrity

Day 961 and Repeating 2003 Aesthetics.

Day 748 and Molly Millions (William Gibson Casting Choices)

Travel

Day 1038 and Travel, Middle Markets & American Exceptionalism

Day 1030 and Helsinki

Day 1029 and Nordic Ferries

Day 1019 and Old Town Tallinn

Day 876 and Americana in Germany

Day 863 and Abstract The Pain Away

Day 749 and Beef in Prague

Economics and Politics

Day 1019 and Tallinn’s Free Enterprise & Alcohol

Day 1010 and Exogenous Shocks

Day 907 and Unaccountable Bureaucracy

Day 904 and Wardogging on Mobile Phones

Day 817 and Mourning A Bank

Day 811 and Hierarchies

Day 807 and Hyperinflation

Day 803 and Killing Strangers

Day 799 and Black Friday in Silicon Valley

Day 740 and Immigration Failures

Emotional Work

Day 1014 and A Fragile Birthday

Day 1000 and Milestones

Day 987 and Eggs

Day 902 and The Singer Lasts A Season

Day 895 and How to Stop Being An NPC

Day 845 and Fucked Fertility

Day 791 and Bathing Suits I’ve Never Worn

Day 784 and Endocrine

Day 731 and Auld Lang Syne Motherfuckas

Startups

Day 1001 and Circumstances Change

Day 970 and I’ll Be Your Publicist

Day 962 and Milestone Based Seed Rounds

Day 939 and Culture Wins Not Culture Wars

Day 906 and Resilience Tech

Day 840 and Chaos Magic

Day 783 and The Alliance (Vanity Fair Magazine coverage of chaotic.capital which is covered in two pieces on the blog)

Homestead & Montana

Day 976 and Chores

Day 969 and Hot Chicks

Day 958 and Civic Engagement

Day 940 and Buying Dishes

Day 856 and Springing Into Action

Day 766 and Weather Station

Categories
Startups

Day 1091 and Do What You Love

I am feeling relaxed. This feeling has eluded me for nearly a week as the race to Christmas holidays left me mostly feeling sick and in pain.

I was getting tension headaches from the long hours and stress of the last two months of work. In an attempt to improve my muscular skeletal compensatory issues, I triggered a “this gets worse before it gets better” healing crisis. While my C1 and C2 upper spine feels much better, every other connected system was also contorted to accommodate the problem. It’s a bit of an adjustment.

But I slept a solid ten hours last night and I managed to get several naps in the past few days. By the time I made it to my first working session today after Christmas, I was ready to enjoy my work again. There is no finer pleasure to be found in startup life than a team you enjoy working with.

I am lucky that I do what I love. It doesn’t feel much like work to help founders you admire take action. The limber approach of answering to your best judgement is a joy. A startup dynamic that’s productive can feel as if you are intaking information and updating your prior working models at a rapid clip. And if you are lucky see results from your actions. It’s invigorating

I hope I feel a bit better and more rested as the week rolls on as I’d like to do a 2023 roundup but my priorities remain the work and my health so what gets done will be ordered as such. I hope everyone has work that engages them thusly.

Categories
Biohacking Medical

Day 1084 and Tension

For the last week or two I’ve been getting tensions headaches. While I have migraines that manifest mostly around hormonal cycles, I can’t say I’ve had a tension headache before.

Migraines make me sensitive to light, sound, and smells but this new headache type was more like a pressure inside my cranium. Typical migraine medicine like Imitrax didn’t do much but neither did Advil or Tylenol. I tried caffeine to minimal effect. Exercise seemed to exacerbate the issue, especially if I was getting my heart rate up.

After discussing it with my physician I’ve got a suspicion that I’ve done something compensatory that has caused tension in my upper spine.

I have ankylosing spondylitis in my thoracic spine so it’s a decent hypothesis that to protect myself from the chronic pain there I’ve added additional pressure further up my spine. A inflammatory issue causing a complete different mechanical issue is a logical differential diagnosis.

I’ve got a couple of approaches to fixing the problem. I can get some body work done to relieve some of the pressure in my neck and shoulders with a massage, physical therapy or craniosacral therapy. I can take more magnesium as it is nature’s muscle relaxer. I also can take muscle relaxers.

I think this development is coming now as I’ve been really upping my intensity professionally this fall. I’ve traveled a lot, attended a number of conferences and meetups, and generally applied acceleration to everything in my world. It’s a good thing that Christmas is almost upon us as it seems like it could use some time away from the world. I will be turning within.

Categories
Community Finance Startups

Day 1070 and Allocating Personal Capital

As part the part of Twitter called TPOT comes into its own power the topic of resource allocation and how to route projects to sources of capital game up with Brooke Bowman of VibeCamp. It is a key question for Network State like entities that will need to navigate social ties.

I want to share how I do it as I’ve rooted some amount of capital across very different communities. I do it with some sets of intuitions I’ve gained from existing in a very powerful network of interests that are “The Silicon Diaspora” which is a syncretic coalition.

Much of it comes down to very specific context of what others are looking for in terms of outcomes. Investors with a specific thesis are much easier to work with for this reason. I try to express mine clearly at chaotic.capital and express myself actively through revealed preferences. I assume nothing is personal & everyone is working with some amount of emotional reactivity as it’s a human business.

A lot of it comes down to knowing who is a node in your network that can redirect it to someone who believes their resources can see a good return on their goals that are varying levels of abstract and personal. Skills and passions vary and this is good. It’s a mix of social capital, actual capital, and attention and it’s a giant game of inference

Some folks very good nodes and quite open to a range of different types of projects. Sometimes it’s just as simple as asking if they know someone who knows someone. I see a lot that isn’t in my own thesis but it’s in my own interest to pass it to others for whom it might be. The ecosystem approach has maximum strength when it’s played as a multi-agent pro-social game.

Also you almost never know someone’s full history so taking any reaction super personally is something I find to be too much for my own emotions. And I know a lot of history so if I can’t do it I try to make the presumption others can’t either. Be kind but clear.

That helps avoid a lot of accidental feuds that otherwise can ignite if you try to be delicate. I find transparent assessments of my own incentives goes a long way if I express it as part of my own reason for aligning. This is how I’ve worked with communities as diverse as back to the land doomers and crypto futurists to effective acceleration.

This is a fancy way of saying I don’t think “gossip” aka information sharing is actually bad but part of the empathy process of understanding what people want to work on and pay attention to in how they marshal their capital. You intake the values of your coalition and find shared ground. You keep their confidences by expressing collective goals. I try not to overweight my goals in that process. You have to do what’s right knowing outcomes are uncertain.

Showing you understand their context, their fears and their reputations concerns helps you. An act we denigrate in popular culture actually helps you to deepen the relationships as each signifier breaks down space between two people and builds trust. So don’t knock gossip. It has evolutionary, societal and individual benefit. Just remember the ultimate outcome is about bringing people closer.

Day 146 Gossip

I believe we are in an era where individuals can exercise significantly more agency because of the high leverage nature of the tools available to us. We owe much of this to information access and that is a wide coalition of people who are exercising basic freedoms to self determine because of this march of technology.

It’s my belief that freedom to compute is freedom of speech and these digital communities represent what I hope is more effective self governance through decentralization. We must build up the social trust amongst each other by showing we value each other’s interests. I believe this to be the right thing to do for each other. It’s the human thing too.