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    A founder’s farewell cryptocurrencies osdev person urbit.org
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    Urbit’s innovations have stood in the dark shadow of moldbug’s neofeudalist writings. Every time Urbit comes up in conversations among crypto people here in Berlin, someone in the group says “but have you looked at what Curtis wants the world to look like?” and then the subject changes.

    I think it’s good for the project that people can say “yeah but he’s gone now, what do you think about the ___ mechanism?” since there are some interesting ideas to examine in there. They built everything from scratch. A VM, a language, a filesystem, etc etc etc…

    But still, this is kind of like if Terry had stepped away from TempleOS.

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      The whole concept as I understand it seems pretty interesting, but come on - the entire ecosystem of Urbit is still absurd. Hoon, the weird new pronunciation scheme you have to learn, the obtuse naming schemes…

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        I found the weird names annoying as well, but Curtis does come up with a valid reason for this, in that everything gets rewritten and refactored multiple times, so “…it lets the hard problem of naming get solved later, and hence better.” As the system gets more mature, and actually usable, it would be nice if they came up with some meaningful names for the bigger components (e.g. rename Ford to Build System). He also admits his biggest mistake was assigning 1 to false and 0 to true. I’m sure this was a result of his habitual contrariness.

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          I’m sure this was a result of his habitual contrariness.

          Or perhaps cognitive contamination from /bin/sh.

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        Every time Urbit comes up in conversations among crypto people here in Berlin, someone in the group says “but have you looked at what Curtis wants the world to look like?” and then the subject changes.

        And I find this quite baffling. It’s deeply disappointing that people whom I respect default to this gossip-driven analysis instead, that a project as ambitious and worthy as Urbit gets buried in “foogate” style rumors.

        Urbit is fascinating. It is the only project I know of designed to address distributed problems (viz. community moderation, censorship, identity, ownership) from an incentive-based approach instead of the typical GNU-style “sheer will and religion” approach.

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          Since Curtis apparently wants the world to be in a certain manner and more or less spun up his own world in Urbit, maybe it’s prudent to consider what Curtis’ opinions on things are before adopting the project that likely embodies them?

          I’m not sure myself, but in a project like this, it may be hard to meaningfully separate creator and creation - even after the creator left (as the fundamental architecture is still shaped in his image).

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            I think the new primer https://urbit.org/primer/ makes a good case that there is nothing actually feudal about Urbit in practical terms. Once you own a planet, the personal level of Urbit entity, you are free to have its traffic routed by any star, the network routing level, that will accept you. This could be a problem it Facebook or some government buys up every star in the system, which is unlikely for the foreseeable future.

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              Once you own a planet

              Of which there will be - by design (“Any reputation system needs scarcity of identity.”) - fewer than there are people on this planet right now (4 billion in total). Given how these systems work, it will be interesting to reclaim “lost” ones, reducing supply even further over time.

              Will everybody else be a sharecropper? Or will they have to spin up their own network?

              Now these identities can be subpartitioned (“moons”, again 2^32, and they’re bound to their “planet”), but if global network size doesn’t matter, why setup such limits in the first place? This isn’t the 1970’s anymore (as they correctly state in their marketing material).

              This could be a problem it Facebook or some government buys up every star in the system

              They merely need to control the galaxies: “The galaxies form a senate which updates the logic of the Ethereum land registry by majority vote”. The platform doesn’t seem to design elections for this “senate” into the platform.

              “Tlon remains the guardian of the urbit.org galaxies. We have always wanted the address space to be widely distributed.” - address space, yes. But Tlon owns the right to repartition the entire platform as they “bought back” galaxies. Even if you “own” a planet, that’s only one of Tlon’s decisions away from not being yours anymore.

              Since control over your data is bound to a planet, which is contingent of (at some point) a galaxy “sponsoring” you, and they can make up all the rules, it looks like just the same kind of sharecropping to me as any of the big vendor-lock platforms that make up the modern internet. Just with more obscure ownership.

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                and they can make up all the rules

                This is just dishonest. The “rules” are voted on by a senate, the same way the rules of the internet are voted on by the IEEE currently.

                Tlon owns the right to repartition the entire platform as they “bought back” galaxies. Even if you “own” a planet, that’s only one of Tlon’s decisions away from not being yours anymore.

                False. Owning Urbit addresses is like owning a bitcoin wallet. Tlon can’t take it away from you any more than Satoshi can.

                (edit:)

                if global network size doesn’t matter, why setup such limits in the first place?

                Global network size does matter, as you quoted, “Any reputation system needs scarcity of identity.” It seems to me like you are giving Urbit a bad-faith reading. If you try a good-faith reading, try the “principle of charity”, you might find that you agree with Urbit more than you realize.

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                  The “rules” are voted on by a senate

                  Who or what makes up the senate? I quoted the part of their marketing material already and to me it looks like absolute rule by whoever controls a majority of galaxy nodes, so 129 hosts. The rules they vote on make up the “land registry”, from which, apparently, everything else is derived.

                  “Any reputation system needs scarcity of identity”

                  Yes, I quoted that.

                  But how is a reputation system relevant to what you can or cannot do to your append-only data log? I prefer scuttlebutts solution to approximately the same problem: you keep your log, I keep my log, and if I decide to trust you, I also look at your log (and parse the bits you decide to share with me by giving me the keys).

                  No need for reputation except the reputation that already exists in the real world, that makes me decide whether to trust you.

                  [edit to add: the Urbit folks claim elsewhere that galaxies and stars are entirely meaningless, but since they’ve been made part of the fabric that makes up the platform, by having them spawn each other and planets, they can’t be that meaningless. Otherwise, why add them in the first place?]

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                    Who or what makes up the senate?

                    Galaxy owners. See the bottom of https://urbit.org/primer for the distribution. I don’t think anyone really knows exactly how this will work yet, the owners are pretty well distributed with nobody owning 51% of the address space.

                    But how is a reputation system relevant to what you can or cannot do to your append-only data log?

                    It’s not. A reputation system is relevant to how valuable my Urbit is. If I start spamming people with my planet, then the star that is my supervisor can stop sending me packets. I could move to another star, but if my reputation gets bad enough, nobody will want to send/receive my packets, and my Urbit will become worthless, I wouldn’t even be able to resell it. This is not the case with e.g. email addresses, which spammers can create ad infinitum. That is the only reason for the scarcity of addresses.

                    Re: the append log, only I can write to that, no different than scuttlebutt.

                    Also, nobody claimed galaxies and stars are meaningless; they are network infrastructure responsible for routing packets. They are arbitrary in that a planet doesn’t really care which star it’s getting packets from, just like you don’t care which AWS data center is serving you a website.

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            Paraphrasing a comment I made about Jordan Peterson’s work - learning Urbit and the weird way it is structured is a significant time investment. A simple heuristic to determine whether something is worth your time is to check what the creator of this thing is like.

            In the case of JP, my impression is unfortunately only 3rd hand.

            In the case of Jarvin, or rather his alter ego Mencius Moldbug, I have read some primary material, such as the following blog post:

            https://www.unqualified-reservations.org/2013/01/how-bitcoin-dies/

            Imagine that the BTC/USD market is perfectly liquid with no exchange overhead. Imagine also that there are two types of BTC users: Jews, who speculate (holding BTC long-term with the expectation that it will appreciate against USD); and Aryans, who only trade (and sweep all BTC balances into USD at the end of every day). These are simplifications, of course—but edifying ones.

            Jarvin was (in my imperfect recollection) criticized for the use of these terms, and (again, iirc) replied that he was only being “provocative”. Fair enough, I’m sure Jarvin (and people of his ilk) have plenty of experience in discussing whether what they’re writing is only provocative or if they’re genuinely anti-Semitic (Jarvin identifies as a Jew, I believe). It’s a depressingly common occurrence online.

            But from a step outside, looking at something to invest time and effort in, and seeing that a project is closely identified with a person I would never want to be associated with, it’s quite easy to choose not to delve too much further.

            I also happen to believe that he (along with many cryptocurrency enthusiasts) are fundamentally mistaken about how economics work, and I discount Urbit for that reason too.

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              In the case of Peterson, his work is philosophical, so that heuristic makes a large amount of sense. Although when dealing with someone so, uh, misrepresented by various groups, I’d think it would be more sensible to actually look at the (readily, freely available) source material.

              I agree that it is a significant time investment to fully understand, but I think you can get a good approximation of his basic mindset by watching one of his non-combative interviews, or one or two of his (non-biblical) lectures .

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                Thanks for the suggestions!

                I was a bit unclear when I wrote:

                In the case of JP, my impression is unfortunately only 3rd hand.

                I meant it in the narrow sense that I cannot offer any first-hand critique of his work. I’m really hesitant to parrot statements like “Person X holds Y views” unless I’ve verified this personally.

                (I’d love to post a link to my comment but it’s really hard to find on the site, I’ll try to update if I can find it)

                However, there’s a limit of how much time I’m prepared to spend just to be able to defend or criticize someone. In JP’s case, my desire to engage with his work is minimal since his most well-known public stance is vociferously anti-trans.

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                  In JP’s case, my desire to engage with his work is minimal since his most well-known public stance is vociferously anti-trans.

                  This is a good example of why it is worth going to the source. Peterson is not anti-trans, which he has stated many times and demonstrated by having respectful, productive interviews with at least one trans person that I can think of (Theryn Meyer).

                  The popular narrative conflates his objection to compelled speech in general with his objection to trans people (who were the subject of a particular piece of compelled speech legislation).

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                    I was prodded by your comment to read up a bit more about the entire Canadian controversy that I referred to.

                    You’re correct, based on the reporting I’ve read JP can’t be denoted as anti-trans. Thanks for encouraging me to learn more about this issue.

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                      Thanks for being open to revisiting your views; that’s a remarkably rare virtue.

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                if they’re genuinely anti-Semitic (Jarvin identifies as a Jew, I believe) … are fundamentally mistaken about how economics work, and I discount Urbit for that reason too.

                What? You seem confused. Urbit is a technological structure, not a political one or economic one.

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                  Urbit is a technological structure, not a political one or economic one.

                  The entire premise of Urbit is the ownership of “scarce resources” (analogous to physical land) where one can seek rent. That’s both economic and political.

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                    Ok, but that’s no different from DNS.

                    Also:

                    Urbit’s distribution and sponsorship hierarchy of galaxies, stars and planets is not designed as a political structure, or even a social structure. The actual social layer is in userspace – one layer up.

                    Socially and politically, Urbit is a flat network of planets. Galaxies and stars are plumbing. No one cares which star is your sponsor, any more than your Facebook friends care who your ISP is, or you care what data center Facebook is in.

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                      Ok, but that’s no different from DNS.

                      DNS is absolutely a politic, economic and technical structure.

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                        You’re misunderstanding structures and the downstream implications that these structures cause. DNS is a techincal structure that has implications which are technical, political, and economic.

                        The US Congress is a political structure which has implications that are political and economic (and sometimes technical, in the case of, say, regulating Facebook data privacy or whatever).

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                          DNS isn’t just a technical structure. The distinction between structures and implications (which I don’t think is useful in this context anyway) does to economics, but DNS does make political/social choices - for example, the number of root servers, control being hierarchical rather than distributed, and so on. All of these are both technical and political choices that the project makes, and that’s after generously excluding the organisations, committees, and documents that make DNS work.

                          Urbit’s choice to have “scarce resources” is an intentionally different political choice from the one DNS made, which never intended to hit the resource limits we currently have with IPv4 - which is why we now have IPv6, and an address space where addresses becoming scarce is almost entirely implausible for the foreseeable future. Urbit’s choice was made with full knowledge of how scarcity effects these systems, making it absolutely clear that the design decision is political, not technical.

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                    Is there an example of a technology that doesn’t have political or economic implications? Considering the potential scope and impact of Urbit beyond its technological contributions seems especially important since it seems to me that it’s trying to alter the current conventional paradigm for internet services.

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                      Is there an example of a technology that doesn’t have political or economic implications?

                      No. And I didn’t say it doesn’t have political/economic implications, in fact it definitely does. But in my opinion, the Urbit political implications are better than what we currently have. Consider:

                      Socially and politically, Urbit is a flat network of planets. Galaxies and stars are plumbing. No one cares which star is your sponsor, any more than your Facebook friends care who your ISP is, or you care what data center Facebook is in. … Because sponsorship has an escape mechanism, it is not a feudal bond (like your relationship to Facebook).

                      Urbit is a decentralized network of social networks. No one can regulate it. Urbit is made to blossom into an endless garden of human cultures, each of which must regulate itself, none of which can bother the others. The soil in which these flowers grow must be level and neutral.

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                  I agree. It’s a kind of politics that makes people weak centered on our basic instincts of us vs them. The better route is to separate the two, ignore whatever bullshit he writes on his blog, focus on his technology, identify what good/bad can come out of it, and (if good) then either adopt or clone plus compete with it. The adopt or clone decision is where you consider the person. Even then, it’s not their political ramblings so much as what they do in a development and business context day to day. A person with strange beliefs who acts civil and hard working around others in a business is fine with me.

                  Edit to add: Work in diverse company with piles of people each with different beliefs, some diametrically opposed. We somehow still function and mostly get along with each other. Different mindset with effort put in is all it takes. Makes job more interesting, too.

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                    Except Urbit is deeply rooted, in its design, by Jarvin’s beliefs about politics and economics. A technology can’t stand in isolation from its context when its a deeply social technology like Urbit.

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                      That’s a statement of faith, not proof. Assuming no patent risk, I can literally take his tech, distill out ideas useful to me, and use it for those things. I could’ve done that without ever knowing what his political beliefs are. I can do it while knowing what his political beliefs are. I can even do it to support things he opposes. Therefore, they provably don’t matter if I’m not partnering with him.

                      They matter to you or others like you who feel a need to combine a person’s political beliefs or statements with everything they do. You’re limiting yourself voluntarily for ideological reasons. I intentionally avoided limiting myself that way since it reduces what I can get done with no value in return. My opponents who control the world in damaging ways also don’t limit themselves like you: they’ll work with or fund people whose beliefs or personalities they can’t stand if it achieves common goals. Got them where they are. Defeating them to stop real damage (vs crap people write on Internet) will take all kinds of people working together despite differing beliefs.

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                        Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m all for appropriate parts of technology for uses outside their design. My statement wasn’t about restricting yourself. What I mean is that (and this is especially true in software) the design of a technology is better understood when looking at the “whys” and not just the “hows”. For example, why does Urbit limit its address space? It’s not a technological limitation. In fact, there are lots of parts of the system built around the idea of artificial resource scarcity. Without understanding this system “top”, which covers many lines of code in various components, how are you going to properly take what you need if say, you don’t want that silly limitation?

                        A person with strange beliefs who acts civil and hard working around others in a business is fine with me.

                        I find that a person with “strange beliefs” (to put it nicely) is also a strange person to work with. Most work is communist in nature ( in the Graeber definition of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”). When you ask for a code review, your colleague typically doesn’t say “I will do it but what will you do for me?”. If you need a wrench, the guy next to you doesn’t go “Only if you give me $1”. If the friction is low enough, or need great enough, people will typically do it. Any strange beliefs that stray away from this kind of work ethic typically make all work far less efficient, and even unworkable.

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                          In fact, there are lots of parts of the system built around the idea of artificial resource scarcity.

                          Ok, now I agree with you there. What you’re talking about, though, is design goals. I’m all for understanding them since I need to understand the rationale behind the decisions. I think I avoided Urbit when I saw cryptocurrencies or something mentioned. The rationales might have a political component. I can still ignore that if I choose. Sometimes, I learn from it like with privacy techs whose features might be inspired by sneaky behavior of companies or governments. One can still separate design requirements from political motivations in most cases just by filtering and/or generalizing.

                          “is also a strange person to work with. “

                          Now, now, that’s jumping to conclusions. A person should be judged on what they actually do rather than hypothesizing. I only read a little on this guy with some people saying he’s really nice at conferences with informative talks. Some people said there were problems but those posts weren’t as specific. If he’s actually disrupting people, then he’s not a good guy to have around. If he’s not and is helpful, then he is potentially a good guy to have around. That’s how I do it with coworkers. It works with some being weird on occasion but they usually just avoid uncomfortable subjects if they know it bothers someone. Unless they’re assholes which is a different thing entirely. ;)

                          “When you ask for”

                          Since I know little about him, I’d say whoever you’re describing is a person that demands something in return for his work. Presumably, the employees aren’t working for free. They’re doing that, too. I’m also aware of, experienced a lot of, people trying to be users getting others to do their work for them or get something from nothing. They’re not give and take people so much as take, take, take. One strategy for dealing with that is to be a no, extra, free work by default person who is selective about their generosity. I just read an awesome article about such a transition recently.

                          Now, that said, a person that acts like that can also be a drain on a business or not right for its culture. Not even political culture so much as performance standards. If they’re paid to do an app, the best team will always be supporting each other to get it out the door in whatever state the business needs. I’d not hire such a person that made everything a trade if they were already getting paid for an outcome that required that minor thing to achieve. I’d rather them be helpful by default covering for each others’ weaknesses and helping them improve on them. I’m sure you’re of the same mind on that, too. :)

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                            “is also a strange person to work with. “

                            Now, now, that’s jumping to conclusions.

                            Re-reading what I wrote I was definitely a little obtuse. Let me elaborate, I find people with his kind of ideas usually hard to work with. But that’s just my experience. I didn’t mean strange ideas in general, but “strange ideas” as in, his ideas. Reading previous articles, it seems his co-workers basically seemed to have done what you would do, basically tiptoe around those issues to maintain a polite atmosphere. Which is fine and probably the most appropriate thing to do in that situation.

                            However, I think we can agree that we should not entertain asinine ideas. If he was a flat earther and designed his software to have a 2D address space because the plane is the way to go, we would certainly find that a strange design choice that introduces complexity. But for some reason when someone thinks some races are a better fit for slavery and that democracy is bad and incorporates those ideas into his design by having an ownership model based on those ideas, we seem to say “I can work with that guy, he is fine, he likes cats as I do”. To me, that’s just a form of support and validation. Maybe you are able to compartmentalize these things, but what if the person can’t and finds your support validation of the other stuff. I’m going to call in Godwin’s Law here and say, yes, Hitler also loved his mother and painted some nice stuff, but would I work with him on chemistry projects?

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                              If he was a flat earther and designed his software to have a 2D address space because the plane is the way to go, we would certainly find that a strange design choice that introduces complexity.

                              I don’t know about you, but I would judge the idea as strange if I would not see the benefits of it, not because its author has different political views. If 2d addresses would solve many issues than it might be a good idea regardless of who came up with it.

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                                “But for some reason when someone thinks some races are a better fit for slavery and that democracy is bad “

                                Those are actually specific examples where I’d consider not working with someone. Especially if the project was about individual empowerment and decentralization. I’ve still worked with people who had a white supremacist background. We’d occasionally have to call them out on their behavior if a discussion between them and black folks involved race. They’d make an advance which we sane, white people would block. They almost always walk off. Then, it’s done. They and the black folks usually get along day-to-day with one we just fired being missed a lot. Might shock you with the stuff you read on tech forums about what blacks, Jews, etc believe and need for inclusive environments, eh?

                                “To me, that’s just a form of support and validation. Maybe you are able to compartmentalize these things, but what if the person can’t and finds your support validation of the other stuff.”

                                Which brings me to this. Down here in the South, we know there’s lots of racists on each side. As we might say it, we know everyone has a bit of bullshit or crazy shit in their head. With a Christian majority, we’re also taught that people are inherently sinful with us needing to admonish it, be forgiving, and be patient in helping them get better. So, what of these people who think other races are inferior and individual decisions are worthless? How to get them further away from these beliefs?

                                There’s only one thing that works that I can tell from observing where the South was and is today. That’s getting different people in one place forced to be around each other, tolerating each other, for long periods of time. For us, it starts in public schools where racist whites and blacks along with people in the middle are stuck together. Then in the workplaces. The process over time lowered that racist bullshit down to tolerable levels where the KKK-style people are fairly uncommon or rare depending on the area. They mostly hide from us. Even they often like black people where they are compartmentalizing what they learned to like vs what they were taught to hate.

                                What you’re advocating is essentially enlightened people pushing out those who still need to learn stuff away from those who will teach them. Then, they cluster into groups of racists who continue reading garbage, hating on people, plotting, and planning. Many such shunned groups ended up voting for Trump last election since he was only one pretending to care about them. There was no way to reach them since the radical-leftist liberals succeeded in censoring them off as many forums as possible. They similarly created their own recruiting locals and drowning out opposition. Division and siloing at an all-time high on the net like it used to be in meat space in the South. (slow clap for radical liberals)

                                We’re not showing support for these idiots: we’re showing them that people are better than they think. We’ll call them out where needed. If they disrupt too much and ignore warnings, we’ll eject them from that position so they know we mean business. They’ll have another chance to do better. Contrast that to radical-liberal doctrine behind CoC’s where statements on any medium or place will get people blocked from all places with similar CoC. See paragraph above for where that shit leads. My reaction is more patient and measured with a chance for people to learn over time. And it always takes time.

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                                  That’s getting different people in one place forced to be around each other, tolerating each other, for long periods of time.

                                  I think this is absolutely right. I’m not advocating for people to splinter of and shun each other. What I’m advocating is people should not ignore bad ideas and make sure the other party knows. I’m not a moral relativist. And you are right about Trump folks feeling left out. You are also right that the liberals basically ignored them.

                                  However, You are wrong that radical-leftists are liberals because they are not liberals. Radical leftists despise liberals just as much as the right does. But you won’t find that kind of discussion on Fox News or NY Times.

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                                    I forgot about the definition dispute. My bad. Yeah, OK, your position seems a lot more reasonable. I like that. :)

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                                    I’m a lot less patient and tolerant than I used to be: particularly of stupid stuff directed at someone else.

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                                The reason for network address scarcity is to make spamming cost-ineffective.

                                Compare that with the state of email spam, where email addresses are basically free.

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                                  Alternatively, they could do something like bank-level verification checking government ID’s and requiring a deposit to create an account. Then, maybe fining whoever is spamming. Then, it should go down. Worst case with low or now fines, whoever is compromised will find out about that changing their credentials or reinstalling their system.

                                  Jumping from “there’s spam cuz addresses are free” to “need network address scarcity” is the kind of unnecessary, risky solution that crowd is fond of. Better to just fix the problems in existing systems or design new ones with methods proven in existing ones. They have an irrational aversion to doing that for some reason.

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                                    Relying on government ids is a centralized solution. Urbit is decentralized, thus needs a decentralized reputation system.

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                                      It could be bootstrapped that way. The different organizations become part of the reputation system. Hell, it might even become a new service from banks and credit unions. They already often act as notaries.

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                                        Yeah, I’d rather not have banks regulating my computer usage…

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                                          Are you using burst transmission or a mesh network not connected to the Internet (doubtful)? Otherwise, you already use a centralized service via one of the big ISP’s that ID’d you and took payment with centralized currency. They also regulate your computer usage far as the network goes. Although they got issues, they’re still less volatile than most of these decentralized systems. The most popular ones, esp Bittorrent, operate over the centralized ones, too, for their benefits. That’s despite decentralized options being available for a long time. They’re too slow and unreliable.

                                          It always interests me that you rely on centralized services on one hand with justifications but tell me in other areas there can be no justification for relying on centralized service. Make up your mind. Meanwhile, the inconsistency suggests to me that we can leverage centralized services as a component in these decentralization schemes.

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                                            Decentralized computing infrastructure is something valuable we should work toward. We’re not there yet, but Urbit is a step in the right direction. Ofc sometimes its better to centralize some things, but in computing I’d rather have decentralized infra.

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                                    Spamming is not the main motivation. The main motivation is to provide a source of funding to the company by selling the space. Oh, and the designer was a neo-feudalist which probably inspired the whole enterprise.

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                                      The main motivation is to provide a source of funding to the company by selling the space.

                                      I’ll add that I’m skeptical of all companies that look like pyramid schemes or at least just funnels of money to the creators in exchange for tech that’s highly risky. Throw in any cryptocurrencies to that list since they’re usually structured in an elitist way for founders. If it’s a money system, I want it done fairly by non-profits or public-benefit companies whose incentives will protect the currency, exchange, and so on. Preferably one that’s already profitable from another revenue stream where they don’t have to worry about trying to monetize the financial project. It can just breakeven with a slight surplus or donations to cover expansion.

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                                        You are right on the money here.

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                                          Great pun haha.

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                            Lol no one owes moldbug respect

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                            Whatever his political stance he’s still as excellent a writer as he was one the old Usenet. One of the more memorable flames on talk.bizarre was from his hand.

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                              I found him self-aggrandizing and subject to an inescapable superiority complex. When he writes philosophy he is unnecessarily verbose, so everything said seems tainted by trivial matters such as the author ego and it leaves me wondering whether the actual ideas expressed are self-sufficient or tainted by this ego: trying to project, to present himself: keeping at the marketing speak level and building an idea of himself, instead of leaving his ideas laid bare.

                              It’s not precise, and he just reads like an insufferable prick. I found Urbit rather interesting though, but I can only rejoice that the project is now without this guy.

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                                I tried reading the linked post and couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Maybe because it’s written “in-universe” so to speak and therefore addresses those people familiar with the specialized terminology of the Urbit system.

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                              I don’t really care to what extent Yarvin is a cryptofascist (he might be) or a windbag (he is) or if he should learn to trim down his writing (he should).

                              No, no, I want to complain specifically about his technology. Because that’s why we’re here: to discuss technology.

                              First, let’s look at some hoon:

                              ++  peer-scry-x
                                |=  pax/path  ^+  done
                                :_  +>
                                =+  pek=(peek-x pax)
                                ?^  pek
                                  ?~  u.pek  ~|(bad-scry+x+pax !!)
                                  ~[[ost %diff u.u.pek] [ost %quit ~]]
                                =+  usr=`~.  ::   =^  usr  pax  (user-from-path pax)
                                ?.  ?=(twit-path pax)
                                  ~|([%missed-path pax] !!)
                                =+  hiz=(pear-hiss pax)
                                ?~  hiz  ~                          :: already in flight
                                ::?>  (compat usr -.u.hiz)                  ::  XX better auth
                                [ost %hiss scry+pax usr +.u.hiz]~
                              ::
                              ++  peer  |=(pax/path :_(+> (pear & `~. pax)))       ::  accept subscription
                              ++  pear                              ::  poll, possibly returning current data
                                |=  {ver/? usr/(unit user:eyre) pax/path}
                                ^-  (list move)
                                ?.  ?=(twit-path pax)
                                  ~|([%missed-path pax] !!)
                                =+  gil=(pear-scry pax)
                                %+  welp
                                  ^-  (list move)
                                  ?:  ?=($full -.gil)  ~       :: permanent result
                                  =+  hiz=(pear-hiss pax)
                                  ?~  hiz  ~
                                  ::?>  (compat usr -.u.hiz)                  ::  XX better auth
                                  [ost %hiss peer+pax usr +.u.hiz]~
                                ^-  (list move)
                                ?.  ver  ~
                                ?-  -.gil
                                  $none  ~
                                  $part  [ost %diff p.gil]~
                                  $full  ~[[ost %diff p.gil] [ost %quit ~]]
                                ==
                              

                              To me, this language looks like an unfortunate cross-breeding of Scheme, J, and a dash of diff syntax for good measure.

                              The official way to pronounce Hoon characters is awkward. Further, the name for the different structures in the language–“wing”, “cell”, “tall rune”, “flat rune”, “gate”, “face’. It feels needlessly obtuse.

                              The C [source] for Urbit makes choices that I don’t really approve of:

                              
                                **/
                                  /* Canonical integers.
                                  */
                                    typedef uint64_t c3_d;
                                    typedef int64_t c3_ds;
                                    typedef uint32_t c3_w;
                                    typedef int32_t c3_ws;
                                    typedef uint16_t c3_s;
                                    typedef int16_t c3_ss;
                                    typedef uint8_t c3_y;   // byte
                                    typedef int8_t c3_ys;   // signed byte
                                    typedef uint8_t c3_b;   // bit
                              
                                    typedef uint8_t c3_t;   // boolean
                                    typedef uint8_t c3_o;   // loobean
                                    typedef uint8_t c3_g;   // 32-bit log - 0-31 bits
                                    typedef uint32_t c3_l;  // little; 31-bit unsigned integer
                              typedef uint32_t c3_m; // mote; also c3_l; LSB first a-z 4-char string.
                              

                              There’s an elaborate reasoning for ignoring stdint (it’s too long to type). There’s the use of kitchen-sink headers. There’s the lack of include guards or pragmas.

                              And lastly, there’s the fact that a lot of dependencies are kinda farming all the interesting OS work out. Like, I’d be really impressed by a bootable distribution of Urbit, but they kinda skipped that.

                              Let’s talk about those things, not whatever it is moldbug is up to.

                              1. 4

                                The thing I dislike the most about hoon and the whole urbit system is how it revels in using unfamiliar names and syntax for everything. I don’t really buy the “late binding” argument they give, and given Yarvin’s oversized ego I’d be more inclined to believe that the renaming of things is just to make it look foreign and to steal ideas and still give himself credit for them.

                                1. 3

                                  I’m with you on that. This looks like the kind of crap no software developer should ever have to deal with. The hoon especially.

                                  1. 1

                                    I’m not great at hoon but the type system is very similar to clojure’s spec, except built into the compilation and every level of the rest of the system. I think it’s a great idea and wish I had more time to study it.

                                    1. 1

                                      Hoon is the higher level language Tlon is committed to developing, and given the scarcity of resources and everything else about the system Tlon is committed to developing it makes sense they will not develop any other language.

                                      The community (this is an OSS project, after all) can still develop a transpiler from any other language.

                                    2. 7

                                      From the essay, on cathedral and bazaar models of software development:

                                      Because a cathedral can coordinate, a cathedral can create – acting at a scale above individual action. A bazaar is very useful, but a bazaar does not create. It can grow; it can heal, harden, extend, and expand; but creation requires an individual or a coordinated group.

                                      and, after admitting an unfair but honest and not corrupt distribution of Urbit space:

                                      Property is always and everywhere a kind of amnesty. It says: whatever happened in the past, this is now what is. When we all agree that everyone has what they now have, however they got it, we have a formula for peace. When we say that everyone should have what they deserve, we can never expect everyone to agree – which means we have planted permanent seeds of discord.

                                      1. 6

                                        I still don’t really understand urbit. Could a kind person explain me the project like i’m five?

                                        1. 9

                                          Based on reading the above comments, there’s a reason for that. I don’t understand it either, and it would seem that its author didn’t optimize for accessibility :)

                                          1. 5

                                            This is the best explanation: https://urbit.org/primer/

                                            1. 4

                                              See the new primer they just released. The video in it gives an overview. https://urbit.org/primer/

                                            2. 3

                                              How does this relate to the deflating crypto bubble? Urbit seems to rely on Ethereum, but to what extent is blockchain/crypto-currencies fundamental to it?

                                              1. 4

                                                Urbit uses Ethereum to encode who owns which assets (“Azimuth points”). Other than that, Urbit does not rely on any blockchains/cryptocurrencies. However you could, for example, store your bitcoin wallet keys in your Urbit.