A newsletter about decentralization

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Oct. 3-6, 2021

As Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood pointed out last week, Facebook just gave us a perfect demonstration why we sorely need a decentralized web.

The social giant was hit by both a worldwide outage Monday and blistering revelations by a former product manager who says the company consistently prioritizes profit over user safety. Such issues increasingly highlight why it might not be such a good idea to allow a single company to dictate almost 3 billion users' daily experience of the internet.

On a similar note, the supposed safety of conventional money versus the blockchain-based stuff looks more specious by the day. Just witness the week's wrangling in Washington over whether to raise the U.S. government's self-imposed debt limit -- and thus avoid certain global financial catastrophe.

Lawmakers ultimately delayed such a reckoning by reaching a temporary debt ceiling increase on Thursday that should last through December. But we can almost certainly expect the whole awful game of chicken to repeat then.

That may include renewed discussion of one truly loopy debt workaround that was briefly entertained this time around by purported Serious People in Washington. The idea was that, if Congress failed to pass a new bill to raise the debt ceiling, the president could instead use executive action under existing law and order the U.S. Mint to print a $1 trillion platinum coin to pay the government's bills. Among the people who thought this might not be such a bad move were an American Nobel laureate in economics and the Mint's former director.

It also happens this idea was a plotline on The Simpsons in 1998. It's literally a cartoonish way to manage a currency.

Perhaps something to keep in mind the next time someone tries to tell you that bitcoin is some wild and woolly concept. Yeah, because who needs an automated, transparent, predictable way to print money in fixed and ultimately limited quantities when we can instead have... this?

On to the week's other headlines:

That's it for now. Thanks for spending some time with the newsletter today! A full revision history of it, including earlier drafts, is available here. If you'd like to get updates like this in your inbox every Sunday, please join our email list here.

As ever, a quick disclaimer: This newsletter is intended for journalistic purposes only, not as investment advice. For the latter, please DYOR and consult appropriate financial pros to make the most suitable choices for your needs.

— Peter A. McKay


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#Web3 Weekly covers the movement toward a more decentralized internet, sometimes referred to as "Web 3.0." In doing so, we define decentralization broadly and try to make the topic accessible to both geeks and non-geeks alike.

Peter A. McKayThe newsletter started as a personal project by consultant Peter A. McKay in 2017. In its early iteration, the newsletter was sometimes published on an occasional basis, under slightly different titles. Since fall 2019, it has run continuously as #Web3 Weekly.