This is part one of a two-part interview with Finn Brunton, author of 'Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency'. In this part we dig into the secret pre-history of Bitcoin, including the World War 2 origins of public/private key cryptography, how Proof Of Work was initially proposed as a means to fight spam,  and how the 'Extropian' movement - which, Finn explains, stood for 'more life, more energy, more time, more space, more money... more everything! - collected an uncanny number of the early engineers contributing to what would eventually become Bitcoin.

If there's one key takeaway from this episode, it's that there's no one Satoshi Nakamoto -- Bitcoin's a bricolage of math, technology and ingenuity stretching back at least seventy years. Do any of the Extropians who had themselves cryogenically preserved, we wonder, have bitcoin wallets still till accruing value -- and will they still be able to recall their word seeds when they're brought back to life in a hundred years' time?


This is the second part of a two-part interview with Tim Tayshun, bitcoin entrepreneur and activist, who dedicated himself to exposing the crypto ponzi scheme, OneCoin. We discuss: how the internet changed the business of running a ponzi; the similarities between scams like OneCoin and the crypto world's ICOs; how OneCoin modeled the way it moved money and on methods used by drug dealers; how Tim used memes to deal some deadly blows to the operation; and why Onecoin -- which by its own account should now be worth more than all US dollars in circulation --- still refuses to die.


This is part one of a two-part series with Enric Duran, leader of the Faircoin project and founder of Fair Coop. Faircoin is a fascinating experiment in cryptocurrency: a LETS-style community currency which also functions as an exchange-traded token. With it, Duran's Fair Co-op wants to power an international co-operative movement based on ideas and principles emerging from the Catalan Integral Co-operative: peer-to-peer organization, and horizontal governance by consensus.

We discuss how the Fair Co-Op project co-opted (!) the original Fair Coin for its own use; trust and reciprocity in small communities and how crypto can extend this into the wider world; and just how to think about the 'ecological cost' of Bitcoin as a means to create a truly trustless global exchange network.

Enric Duran raised around four hundred thousand Euros in 2008 by creating multiple overdrafts with fake solvency, and then invested this money into building the cooperative movement in Spain in 2008, leading to the creation of the Catalonia Integral Cooperative movement in 2010. Since 2014, Duran’s focus has been on working with FairCoop to generate the alternative ecological and post-capitalist ecosystem that FairCoin is based on.

Who controls your online accounts and identities? For most of us, the answer will be some combination of Big Social -- companies like Google and Facebook -- as well as a host of smaller platforms and services, all of them parceling up and selling our information for profit.

But after a series of high-profile hacks, trusting social media corporations to store and safeguard our personal information looks an increasingly bad idea. And many are understandably wary about letting platforms look after their cryptocurrency investments. Custody of our digital assets, it seems, is shaping up to be a key issue for network citizens.

Enter Dark Crystal, a project based around Scuttlebutt (interviewed in a previous episode) and recipient of a recent grant from Ethereum Foundation. Dark Crystal enables users to store private keys -- from Bitcoin to email encryption and beyond -- with and inside their communities and social networks.  To do this, i makes use of the mathematical magic behind Shamir's Shared Secret, allowing groups of friends to safely store different 'shards' of a key,  bringing it together as and when needed.

In this episode, we meet Peg and Kieran from Dark Crystal to discuss the implications of the project: what happens when custody of our most precious digital resources can be taken away from banks and megacorps and entrusted to friends, family and community? And do projects like Dark Crystal signal the beginning of a new, cryptography-based 'information commons'?



In our second interview with Emin Gün Sirer (the first one being lost to a catastrophic file system failure!), we discuss the current state of cryptocurrency, and just what Emin means when he says that Satoshi Nakamoto is 'dead.' We discover the secret shared lineage between BitTorrent and Cryptocurrency, and how they both tackle the 'chaos of the commons'. Of course TRON's recent acquisition of BitTorrent, Inc. comes in for some scrutiny -- Emin remains, let's say, skeptical. And, finally, we look at Emin's work on and around the all-new Avalanche protocol, which he sees as the most significant contribution to cryptocurrency since Bitcoin itself. 

Emin Gün Sirer is a co-director of The Initiative For Cryptocurrencies & Contracts and associate professor of computer science at Cornell University. Known for significant contributions to peer-to-peer systems and computer networking, Emin was behind the first Proof-of-Work system for cryptocurrency, Karma, which debuted before Bitcoin. Having since become a respected commentator on and contributor to Bitcoin itself, Emin is now working on Avalanche, a new cryptocurrency protocol based on an entirely new model, promising fast, reliable transactions with significantly lower power overheads.

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