Some further thoughts about vision and development.
And practical aspects of this theme. Paraphrase of a chat.
(I've been busy lately. Some very large, technical essays coming up. If you've been following my references list, then you have some idea of what will be discussed. Corresponding to more formal papers that will be published. Will be serialized as several sections per post. Also science fiction coming up as well. More on that later.)
Word count: 3.500 ~ 14 PAGES | Revised: 2018.8.1
What to develop, if you can choose. The question answers itself: a vision.
Goals are too narrow. (Which is another word for risky. That's a cost. More on that later.)
Yes: a vision is the key. Exactly.
For example, see http://piumarta.com/pov/points-of-view.pdf
One of the real issues, as discussed below, is small team sizes.
Small means slow. Too slow.
Considering the way software is made today, and what are the expectations. Small is too slow.
Not that some visions cannot be made by a small team. They can.
Rather, they cannot be be made sufficiently quickly. Not for most visions.
Subvisions ... goals ... business as usual ... which can be considered as the tiniest, smallest visions ... are easier to pitch than larger visions ... They are safer.
But there comes a point. Then you are beyond that point. And then larger visions are easier to pitch than smaller visions. — They are disproportionately more worthwhile as mere work in progress. So they are worth more.
That's generally the point where macroeconomic factors, such as working, not even necessarily completing anything, in the right field, considering the right theme, clearly dominate microeconomic factors by a wide margin.
Risk is not a four letter word, said Walter Wriston.
But many think it is. And chances are you're pitching a vision of the future to those who think it is. Tough.
A test is real if it measures what it describes itself to measure. So we can say real means being as described to be [TOO39].
The real problem is: how fast can you work. (We'll talk about this below. At length.)
Bandwagon needs speed to develop. No bandwagon, no social media.
``Some things must be done quickly or not at all. If someone asks you if you love them you cannot hesitate.'' (LAW17)
True, some other things must be done slowly to be done. Yes, the probability of consecutively throwing a dart somewhere into the target from 1 meter away 1000 times consecutively is far greater than throwing it once from 1000 meters and hitting the target.
But the collection of things that must be done quickly to be done is vast.
This is one of them.
Simply because time means discounting. That means risk.
Meanwhile there is also competition ...
Somebody on news.YC asked Alan Kay about funding. (Of course they did. For example, he has a broad vision, and the question then is, did having and pitching that vision deliver him have the resources to make it happen. We learn best by the example of others. It's far less costly than learning by our own experience.)
He replied, quite correctly, no good answer. Not now, and not then.
But you need budget to attract an above threshold number of developers to make something that gets updates out fast and regularly.
It's a team sport, you can say.
We live in "now, now, now!" culture ... (The reality is: if you say you want it now, and you mean you want it now, and you need permission to get it now, the answer is most probably no. So those who are our culture are not living in reality. But what else is new ... )
Vision must be delivered vision. Else it's merely a glimmer that by contrast most reveals the darkness which actually does exist.
Funding. ... It's an open problem.
Oh, and three years is considered the cut off in finance. Three years and no huge "jump" and it's considered a write off. Always plenty of less risky alternatives.
In fact, people eat and fuck and fight and flee, things break. ... Improvement comes after survival.
Therefore survival always has customers. They're not going anywhere: that's a safe bet. ... It makes vision seem optional.
Vision is not optional. Problems must be solved. Unsolved, the standard of living declines, until living ceases. Solved, the standard of living increases. And solutions introduce new problems, more complex the earlier problems. There must always be growth. Stagnation and decline are not really options [SEI68].
But the future is the future. Improvement comes after survival. So improvement is a hard sell.
Vision won't persuade most institutional players. They are the big players.
Every vision looks the same on a spreadsheet as company that makes beer.
Only the beer guys have a product ready and cash flow now. They don't ask for anything now. Rather they have everything now. Everything else looks, in a spreadsheet, exactly the same sort of thing, but not as good. More risky. Discounted further. So it needs to be bigger. Faster. Sooner.
Look as cryptocurrencies in their nonfinancial use cases. Fact is, any chain is a convenient persistent data structure with free backing up. It scales with use. (Miners get paid, they upgrade.) They are a big deal. But vision is hard to pitch for the above reason.
Most funding, if any, behind vision comes from vehicles that are less than visionary. It comes, and it came, primarily by serendipity. It's an open problem.
VISIONS AND EXPECTATIONS
Regarding development of visions ... some thoughts ...
I like the "Bethesda" model of talking about projects.
Consider posts that look like projects as purely academic, like papers. Until a project is declared.
The best way is not to declare any expectations.
Imagine a company. They declare a future product.
Expectations set a value and this is discounted. The shares of the company gain almost at once, and over time increase in value.
The product is released. It's quite excellent. All the same company shares can drop in value. What can be the problem at this point?
Expectations, for some reason, were higher than that.
Reasons could be how the product was described and revealed before it was finished.
Especially if projects are open source and most contributers move things along as time permits. Things must move along quickly, in order to maintain interest. Better not to attract interest that will be lost.
Resources are limited.
Therefore let's be lazy. — We do what is easiest — to do the most.
Interest is more easily gained than recovered.
THE VALUE OF A VISION AND ITS DEVELOPMENT
Let's consider problems in chain valuation.
``What we're thinking about is something and minimal that can compete in the broader market. Asking the question: what is everybody else not doing that can be done fast. And get stable cash flow.''
``Couple hundred thousand daily users. Real ones. Every single one of them paid to do something. Say to interact and produce content. It's a growth loop, isn't it.''
``Look, there's a snag.''
``A snag. Let's look at a case study. Consider this chain itself.''
``I've informally showed that to institutional boys, and the response is the same. They look at it on their phones for a minute, front page, and unimpressed. So. Why?''
``It should be gaining users, for the reason you said above, correct?''
``Should be, but ... Yes ... it's not easy to use. And most prospective users go to places to interact. The competing platforms have messenger services. Dings, notifications, tabs, interaction candy. Instantly. Easily. Conveniently.''
``Good points, agreed. Indeed, Gershenfeld (if my memory is not off) argued that digital is superior to paper, but hasn't replaced it (first time in history) because not "there" yet. Not immutable. So immutable paper is a major thing, in principle. Well, that's this chain. That's big. Sure it doesn't have notifications, but it's big.''
``No, rather there are three more basic reasons.''
``One has to do with something really basic on the chain, another has to do with the nature of large investors. Third one related to the first two. Can you guess?''
``Are we talking about why blockchain versus fiat?''
``No. Most of them actually have no problems with blockchains. They pretend they do, a lot of them, typically just to buy cheaper. Get a better deal. Even though they were late to the party.''
``Problem # 1. The chain has a huge problem with onboarding. Either you pay to sign up, or wait for weeks. People today don't wait. Global village. With villagers. They don't wait. Rather they come up, and see if there's anything, and if not, they walk off.''
``So there is no instant gratification.''
``Hordes need instant, and if not that, then soon, very soon. Or else not at all. They have plenty of options. Inferior options are still opens.''
``If the system developers and participants make a faucet for accounts, to onboard the hordes, and if they make it properly instant signup with just an email, bots will sign up in mass. The bots and various scoundrels will extract all the value. But if they don't marketing doesn't work. No hordes, not social, no social media, no value.''
``There isn't enough bandwidth to onboard people unless the participants in the system who provide the underlying resources upgrade ... it's a delicate balance that ... hmm ...''
``People lose interest in a few hours, once friends convince them to join ... and if they got the idea as a whim ... not from friends ... a hard proposal.''
``Marketing currently would have to be timed with the participants in the system who provide the underlying resources adjusting account creation parameters ... But if there is value to be made ... then marketing on the chain can be done big and fast.''
``On the chain sure, but off the chain, it's very expensive.''
``What's it like now... like $0.15 and $20 worth of delegation? Those are numbers people couldn't even dream of to get people into a door anywhere else, right?''
``People have phones worth a $1000. Or rather that's what they paid for them. And half of them paid debt. They eat lunch worth $20. And half of them are in debt. So they aren't really impressed. Oh, they like it. But that's not a big deal. Below the give-a-banana threshold. Make it a hassle, and then they really don't care.''
``Moreover, the big issue is that it's manual. It's not trustless, so cannot be automated for the hordes. Too slow. Some things must be done quickly enough or not done at all. Remember ... ? Like bandwagons.''
``There are definitely some solutions to this problem ... but the ecosystem developers should be trying experiments. And they're just not. Which is a red flag. A big one. They have the stake to experiment with costlessly. (They can pull delegation in a few days when clear the account is spam ...) It's actually a common problem for most chains.''
``But let's check out Problem #2 in the valuation process. This is a big one. Most institutional investors invest in (a) the highest return discounting everything, or (b) what they can justify if it fails? It's an exam question today in business schools. The answer is taught.''
``Correct. And why?''
``Preserve their ego.''
``No, something that's more basic is the reason. What it it?''
``Well, if its not intrapersonal, inside them, it's outside them, it's extrapersonal. They have clients to make happy?''
``Correct, they are mostly employees. Not their money. Or at least they have reason to anticipate being told to leave, if they can't justify their failed investment.''
``Yes, money is a form of control ... We must decentralize ... but we must meet people where they are ... games and money.''
``I like decentralization as well, only way to solve problems. The issue of course is that most of the market is broke. So they have demand, very likely. But it's not effective. It's not effective demand. There is almost no market.''
``And unless institutional investors come in, the space may not be able to get the ball rolling to then roll by itself. And regarding the institutional investors: Problem # 1 was onboarding was broken and doesn't seem like any "quick" solution and movement to let bandwagons work. So marketing would be difficult. Overly costly at least. Problem # 2 is, for those who can invest, it's not their money. It's just not their money. Which affects how they make decisions regarding its use. And here's the question: why do they think they can't justify investing? Hint: Why did Microsoft buy GitHub for more than Youtube?''
``I'm very curious to know.''
``Accounting. Intangibles like goodwill have, for the last eighty years, often been the dominant part of valuation of a firm and its income generating units.''
``What's the problem?''
``Issue is that first of, the chain we are considering, though it's an early digital paper, a big deal, it basically fails due diligence. In this case it was the large scale early mining of stake by a few players. Yet not all were developers, unclear why they received large stake. While that was for better or for worse, in the long run, it's a huge red flag. Big outsiders don't like getting buggered by insiders. Not even potentially. And then theres' some of the content. Battles. Except now with real value. Investors check all that. They'll read everything. Rather they have people to go through it. Goodwill is low. Second the front page is what is seen with a cursory look. You know what's there ... So there does not seem much goodwill. It's the same reason why Youtube appears to game its "recommended". Random minor celebrities buying cars with pennies and flexing, without swearing ... etc ... etc ... and rubbish off tv ... ''
``Problem # 3 by the way, for completeness sake, is just that the developers who have the authority and the access to make significant changes to the platform seems to be slow ... most investors want to get things rolling fast ... six months ... pull out in under three years. Doesn't seem like that'll work in this case. So a really difficult pitch.''
``Yeah, if you're trying to get me to see the case as a slacker in the space ... For sure''
``Not just the chain in this case, most chains. Same problems, basically. This space should be thriving.''
``We're still moments after the big bang and life has yet to appear ... :wink:''
``Here's the issue. Unless the market is big enough to drive itself, institutional investors can trivially game it. Finance is not scale invariant. If a fund is interested in market Z, they come in and they come out, price doesn't swing much. Just grows a bit.''
``Now many funds are relatively larger than this entire market. They invest, and pull out by their internal policy.
What happens? Consider the value of a token from the space leader, $8k -> $20k -> $5k -> $?k. And most other players are small and leveraged. They suffer not just paper losses, but real ones. And value goes to the big investors. Who pull in and out. That's called fucking. Banging.''
``Meanwhile, to invest and stay invested, policy prevents most analysts and higher ups from investing properly, like they do with literally anything else. With just about anything else.''
``Allocation of resources was and is always a huge issue.''
``What's going on now is mostly draining value from small players to the same large players, and just by accident. Look at it this way, while small the market is just a lawn that lives until somebody, along the way to elsewhere, steps on it ... then it dies ... and that's it. Somebody bigger stepped on it. Didn't really intend to drop it, but that's what they did. And then they're gone. And the lawn is gone. Only in different senses of that word.''
``The ecosystem makers and especially the leading developers need to realize that they must be releasing something every month. Milestones. If not, then a red flag. And lack of sustained interest. The big boys aren't looking at the grass, they're walking across it back and forth, sometimes looking down.''
``The big problems aren't too hard to solve, and are not technology problems. They're business administration problems that impinge on technology. Simply due to the fact most players in the space are institutional outsiders, it seems. That's probably good, but it's a weakness.''
``The basic issue right now is getting proper development teams. To be able to release features regularly, like a proper company. That means A team, B team, team C, ... From my experience, the current teams are just too small, especially considering most developers also hold other full time jobs. At least that would at least take care of issue # 3. Meanwhile talking around regarding issue # 1. And issue # 2 is very hard to fix, if there is such an issue.''
``For sure. I see what you mean, my team is pretty much ... me.''
``We have a larger team. Several are on standby. Growing. Start big develop fast. Think before doing anything, otherwise may not be worth it. Unsustainable.''
``And working on adding a use case.''
``Good. Other than having a large market, the only way to have price stability is to have "nonfinancial" use case. Like phones, gold, cars, ... And with too much volatility, chains have issue performing their use case as money, and lose all value. (If they were able to get sufficient users for the network to percolate in the first place.) People should have a reason not to convert their token to anything else. This would also reduce any downward price pressure. System users should be able use it for goods in the ecosystem, indeed, it should itself be a first class, proper good, not just means of transacting, which is attractive not only for its eventual coupling to fiat, but independent of it.''
``Value in the form of services ... ? For instance self driving cars that you can hail by tagging one of those firms in a post. And then soon enough getting picked up by a car, such that it has a wallet. Meaning it can fund itself through upvotes based mining. Tangible reasons to keep vested sake ... not just liquid stake.''
``Good idea, things like that, definitely. And there is no shortage of investing for goods based projects, which are actual businesses, with plausible cash flow to the investors. Most investors are linked to other investors. Once one invests, the others will as well. (Amorphous blob, to some extent.) We're still brainstorming proper onboarding, for this chain and others and future ones. Let's talk later.''
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I'm a scientist who writes fantasy and science fiction under various names.
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