Category Archives: Ethereum

TheDAO Adds Curators

The DAO has the concept of curators, trusted members that verify the identity of others. This is quite public, here is the state of things now, except that Gavin Wood is no longer involved.


The recent additions, @iurimatias & @sherminvo were announced by @stephantual

Being the social network analyzer that I am, I immediately fired up Maltego to see if I could track down the other eleven among the contacts of the first two. This is pretty easy – paste in the text names and transform them into Twitter ‘affiliances’.


They had fourteen accounts they follow in common and among them were three more of the curators, as well as some hints on which projects are important.


And that leads to 1,676 Twitter accounts, as well as a chance to show off the Maltego 4 feature known as collections. This graph speaks to me, but I’m used to reading them. I’m sure anyone new to this craft would be quite frustrated by it.


Prior to Maltego 4 I would have maybe used the leaf node trimmer to reduce all of the ones that have a single follower, but that’s losing information. Another method would have been to laboriously select each group with a mix of logical and graphical query methods, then attach an Alias entity to all of the Twitter accounts, giving them two links, which helps for visualization as well as pruning.

But Maltego 4 offers collections



The boxes represent groups of 75 or more Twitter accounts with similar attributes, in this case its the accounts with only a single follower from among the five curators we’ve already identified.  I did remove the collection boxes, then teased this tripartite network apart a bit.


The four non-celebrity curators are the group with red dots on the left, along with their shared follows. Vitalik Buterin is on the right with his contacts. I expected to find all of the others in the shared contacts, but there was only one, while three of the others were out in the weeds at the far left.


Located members include:


Now that we’ve got our people identified, we find that nine accounts addressed 3,214 others. There is a collection like feature in Gephi, but it’s clumsy, so I’m going to do some other rituals to simply this graph.




Dialing it down to seventy seven accounts total, I think we’ve got the list of future curators right there in the middle.



I’ve saved the Maltego file used here and the nine curators are now being recorded by my system. We’ll revisit this the next time new people are added.



Distributing Tokens With Ethereum

A couple of days ago in A Trio Of Ethereum Graphics I noted that there was one for creating tokens, which are described as representing any fungible tradable good: coins, loyalty points, gold certificates, IOUs, in game items.

I’ve periodically mentioned Adversary Resistant Networking here and this includes Cryptostorm, an OpenVPN provider that offers Zero Customer Knowledge services. Most VPN providers sell you an ‘account’ – typically a combination of an email address and a credit card. Cryptostorm instead offers … you guessed it … tokens! They don’t care who you are, so long as you present proof of purchase before using the service.

Having reviewed the token section I find that it contains extensive programming examples in Solidity, Ethereum’s contract programming language. This is a structured language similar to Python, but it offers the object oriented feature of inheritance from parent contracts.

I have quite a bit more reading to do, but it looks like I should be able to whip up a smart contract to sell Cryptostorm tokens. The only problem I see is that the example doesn’t show how I’d have a bit of persistent storage for the stock of tokens, but that can’t be all that hard. Maybe InterPlanetary File System provides a way to do this from within Solidity.


Cryptostorm has gone through some gyrations over the last year or so, as one of the founders self-destructed in slow motion. The current estimate is that he’ll be in custody through about 2020 after his latest misadventure. His going in and out of custody did not expose the network users, as he’d long since been escorted out of any server operations duties, and while some of the things he did are missed, everyone seems to have breathed a sigh of relief.

I’ve been a happy Cryptostorm customer for a little over two years and I’ve been a token reseller in a small way as well. I sold about $1,200 in tokens in exchange for PayCoin, an altcoin which collapsed into an SEC investigation. My PayCoin is worth about $0.65 today and it’s not terribly liquid.

I backed off and waited for Cryptostorm to implement a reseller program that is tied directly to their ‘tokenbot’, which automatically sends tokens after sales. The details are complex, but that’s just not going to happen for a variety of reasons.


I obviously have some reading and experimentation to do, but the heavy lifting on this problem is already implicitly solved by the existence of Solidity. This looks like something that can be finished by the end of June.

This discovery comes at an opportune moment. I’m not going to join the dogpile on former Tor developer Jacob ‘@ioerror‘ Applebaum, but I am going to note that it’s the latest in a string of problems for the project. Tor really needs a micropayment methodology to support the operational cost of its exits and there are some issues that can be resolved by replacing a trusted individual with some sort of blockchain construct.

The methods I employ will be open, a default for any Solidity contract released on the Ethereum blockchain. The entire code base for running a Zero Customer Knowledge VPN provider is available on the Cryptostorm Github account. Observers will be correct in noting there is no barrier to someone ripping off the effort, writing a proposal on The DAO, and running Cryptostorm out of business.

The gritty reality of Cryptostorm’s day to day grind is forbidding to most of the existing OpenVPN providers. They’re not ready to face a network where they don’t know anyone, and in addition to inbound firewalls there are also outbound intrusion prevention systems and inline proxies for both Tor and I2P. Innovation is hard.

But I seem to be having one of those right place/right time moments here. We’ll check back on this come July 4th and see how close it is to ready.


Digix: The Gold Standard in Crypto-Assets

When researching Crypto-Asset Market Capitalization I was surprised to see DigixDAO listed as a part of the Ethereum universe. I was well aware of The DAO itself, having converted some of my Bitcoin into Ether, to purchase DAO tokens. As the title hints just a little bit, I think DigixDAO is a hasty rebrand of Digix, in an attempt to capitalize on the massive free PR available by associating with The DAO.

That’s an understandable move and since Digix is a serious player, I think it’s both well reasoned and wise. But just what exactly IS DigixDAO?


The Digix Whitepaper has this to say about it:

Digix provides a use case for the tokenisation and documentation of physical assets through its Proof of Asset (PoA)protocol. The PoA protocol utilises Ethereum and the InterPlanetary Files System (IPFS) to track an asset through its chain of custody. This allows for the open and public verification of an asset’s existence without a centralised database. Digix also offers an API allowing other applications to be built on top of our asset tokenisation service.

You might see some spelling errors in that paragraph, but it’s a Singapore company, thusly using British English. Proof of Asset means precisely what it says – you have to prove you’ve got the thing, in this case a chain of events tying a Digix Gold Token to an actual physical gold bar. The cheekily named InterPlanetary File System is a ‘peer to peer hypermedia protocol’, and something that deserves a post all on its own. We can understand the use of IPFS and the Ethereum blockchain as an instance of data notarization.

The underlying company is, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, a Singapore pawn broker business called ValueMax. American readers should pause here; owning gold jewelry in some Asian countries fills a role similar to having a money market account here. ValueMax are publicly traded and they have twenty eight locations. This entity is more like a regional bank than the stereotypical American pawn shop in a seedy neighborhood with a bunch of used bikes chained together outside the front door.

ValueMax is selling the gold and associated tokens. The physical storage is entrusted to Malaca-Amit, near Singapore’s airport. An independent third party, Bureau Veritas Inspectorate, applies industry standard tests to the gold stocks to ensure their legitimacy.


DigixDAO is a curious entity in the eyes of someone used to American investments and our definition of a pawn shop. What I see here is a quarter century old Asian company in what is a respectable trade for their home country, they’ve grown to dozens of locations, they’re leveraging their existing skills and reputation to not just move into a new market, but instead they are first and get to define it from scratch.

DigixDAO is in a sweet spot, alone in a newly revealed niche with a tested solution. One possible path for them, given the flood of funds coming into anything with the letters ‘DAO’ associated with the name, would be acquiring pawn shop chains in other countries, so that they have local physical asset handling to go with their proven cryptocurrency system.

I’m going to check out the minimums to participate, but if I can get in for what I receive for a single ghost written cryptocurrency story, I’ll make the purchase so I can report the details of the transaction here.



Putting The DAO In Perspective

This image was recently posted by @stephantual and it shows clusters of activity within the Ethereum blockchain. The DAO is newsworthy, but it’s only 1.2% of total transactions.



The original article is here and it contains some information on how the visualization was produced. I really need to get busy with pyethereum, things like this are my natural domain.


A Trio Of Ethereum Graphics

I bookmark things I want to read, or more likely I favorite stuff using my Twitter egg that I use to keep up with the world. Compelling stuff ends up a startup page in my browser, nagging until I read. The really important stuff remains in startup until I actually start doing something about it. I have a trio of Ethereum links that have been percolating for about a week, looks like today is the big day to actually read them.



Create Your Own Crypto-Currency With Ethereum

Late last night I mentioned the lower denizens of CoinMarketCap in Crypto-Asset Market Capitalization. There are 690 altcoins, the vast majority of which are sketchy at best. There are a few legitimate advances in blockchain technology and there have been literally a thousand Bitcoin clones used for pump & dump scams. Looks like Ethereum is going to offer a foundation where innovators can play with new ideas without reinventing the wheel. This should put an end to some of the saucier fraudsters.



Crowdsale: Raising Funds From Friends Without A Third Party

Back in the dark ages I led the team that won a $100k USDA Innovation Grant. Then during the renaissance I led the team that finished in the top five for the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge. We were seeking $400k and came in ahead of about seven hundred other proposals. I’ve worked on IndieGoGo and Kickstarters that have never gone anywhere. Having organic crowdfunding/crowdsale systems built into the Ethereum arcology is very, very interesting.


How To Build Democracy On The Blockchain

I recently mentioned in First Ether Bought, Spent On DAO Tokens that I had spent a bit of my BTC income in order to participate in The DAO. This decentralized autonomous organization expected to raise $5 million, but instead roared into the global financial conscious, raising $150 million in thirty days and bringing in aggregate quarter billion dollar boost to the ETH/DAO market capitalization. That number sounds like a Wall Street hedge fund bonus, and everyone is paying attention.

Unlike venture funds run by a small number of high flying investors, The DAO is run by consensus. I have a few hundred of the 1.2 billion DAO and that still matters, because consensus building requires conversation. If I educate myself, which I’m doing by reading these articles today, and I communicate my findings, which I’m starting to do with Tableau Public, I have influence commensurate with the time I’m willing to invest.


I have always done well in environments like this in the past. It’s easy for me to work out how things fit together, and what the least energy cost path is from point A to point B. Right now I have a small income from things like this, but hopefully it’ll morph into a grown up sized career move, which will be a welcome change after almost a decade of struggling with health related issues.

Crypto-Asset Market Capitalization

I’ve been using CoinMarketCap as a source for the data used in things like Top Ten AltCoins 2016-05-31 but I have to admit to having not explored the site any further than pulling the data for those visualizations.

I decided to check out the Assets page and it’s another wonderland to explore. I already mentioned that I bought Ether and used it to buy into The DAO, a distributed autonomous organization founded as a venture capital fund. But what’s this DigixDAO? It’s also based on Ethereum … hrm.


After a little digging, it isn’t clear that DigixDAO is a distributed autonomous organization, but it seems to be a virtual gold fund tied to the London Bullion Market Association.

So I own a bit of BTC and a bit of ETH, two cryptocurrencies, and I’ve bought into DAO, which are like shares in a venture capital fund. Now there appears to be a precious metals fund. This is starting to look an awful lot like a mutual fund prospectus that can be balanced to achieve an appropriate investment strategy.


There are 57 asset funds listed but only 50 of them were amenable to visualization. Some lack information and appear to be failing, while others offer unique asset bases. Among those fifty, one is based on NuBits, two are based on Ethereum, five are based on Omni, eight are based on BitShares, nine are based on Counterparty, and twenty five on Nxt.

Ethereum is the largest platform with $174 million in assets. Omni is next with $40 million, 64% of which is MaidSafe Coin, the 7th largest altcoin. Counterparty is next with almost $11 million, 57% of which is Storjcoin X, itself the 22nd largest altcoin. Nxt is the 20th largest altcoin and the largest of the 25 assets using it only compromised 33% of the total. This must be a hotbed of innovation, expect I’ll be giving it further attention.

Here’s a quick first visualization.


Stripping the newly dominant Ethereum funds shows the map of the world before May of 2016.



There are 691 coins listed on CoinMarketCap but of those only Bitcoin really has the liquidity to support a business of any size. Once you get below the top fifty or so even the coins that aren’t intentional scams have such small market caps that they are easily manipulated. The smaller number of asset funds, the handful of platforms, and the lack of negative news (at least that I can recall) speak to something very different happening at the lower end of the market.

I’m going to do some reading on Nxt and BitShares; I suspect both of these platforms have influenced the thinking that led to the larger players.


Top Ten Altcoins 2016-05-31

A few days ago I reported First Ether Bought, Spent On DAO Tokens. Despite having managed to be present at the beginning, I didn’t expect to find this today on CoinMarketCap. I own $40 USD worth of The DAO, a distributed autonomous organization formed to manage a venture capital fund. I didn’t realize it was going to be listed as an altcoin all on its own.


This looks very different than even a week ago. Sorry for potato color change, I’m just getting used to producing content in Tableau, like Top Ten Altcoins 2016-05-31.


A quarter billion dollars has flowed into the ETH/DAO environment in the last thirty days. Litecoin is up $30 million in the same period, perhaps on the overall attention to the sector. The rest of the altcoins are low inertia, with market caps of less than $50 million.

I suspect my holdings in ETH and DAO are going to swell, but it’ll be due to work on proposals, rather than any speculative investment of my BTC income.