Monday, October 10, 2016

Diary: blockchain + becoming a hipster

As mentioned in my previous post, I started reading the above thinking it would explain about Bitcoin, Ethereum and the blockchain. Sadly, I was mistaken. It's a business book with the same airy hand-waving that you get in popular science books 'explaining' quantum mechanics to the unwashed.

I decided I had to read this first (always O'Reilly!).

Amazon link

So far it's excellent although conceptually deep. You need to know about public key cryptography, digital signatures and hashing as prerequisites; I read with Wikipedia open on my other screen-based device (Base58? Remind me).

When I'm done with Mr Antonopoulos I'll return to Mr Mougayar.

Update: here's my "Mastering Bitcoin" review.

Bitcoin and similar have something else in common with quantum mechanics. Many people have a vague semi-familiarity with both topics (shared ledger, peer-to-peer; probabilities, collapse-of-the-wave-function-whatever-that-is) but to get to a proper understanding takes really significant hard work and the assimilation of a number of difficult intermediary concepts.

Finally, the student does 'get it':

"Finally I understand how [the blockchain; quantum mechanics] really works!"

And then they find they can't explain it to anyone who hasn't shared their arduous journey.


A Mummer's Farce

Could someone explain why BBC and ITV news presenters are using their facial expressions, tone of voice and body language to indicate the authorised emotional reaction to news items?
  • "Donald Trump said ..." - the face contorts into refined distaste; 
  • "Refugees in 'The Jungle', Calais ..." - the face beams as if an indulgent relative; 
  • "Britain has just won another Gold medal at ..." - official joy, rejoice!
I'm sick of this manipulative, insinuating nonsense; you?


"The hipster subculture is composed of affluent or middle class youth who reside primarily in gentrifying neighborhoods. It is broadly associated with indie and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility, vintage and thrift store-bought clothing, generally progressive political views, organic and artisanal foods, and alternative lifestyles. The subculture typically consists of white millennials living in urban areas."
I'm considering becoming a hipster. I already have the physique I think (do you like the new exercise bike?).

Amazon link

The concept of 'hipster' is an example of what Wittgenstein called a 'language game'. There is no one set of necessary and sufficient defining conditions: you don't need to have your slim jeans rolled up or to wear a plaid shirt - although these things help. Nor do you need a beard (though that certainly helps!) or serve in an artisanal cafe, or be fascinated by all things wood.

Somehow I have to stop being my father: green Gore Tex anorak, beige trousers, dad-trainers (above). I won't get everything right: I can't imagine doing the rounds of the charity shops.

I think my lunge for full hipsterdom may start at a large Bristol department store.


  1. The bitcoin area also uses the surprisingly geometric elliptic curve theory.

    1. ... explained (at a high level) in the "Mastering Bitcoin" book. I was just reading about it.


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