2017 in Books (Non-Fiction Edition) 

I’ve read a pile of great books in 2017. More than one a week on average throughout the year for the first time in ages. I track everything on Goodreads and there’s something undeniably satisfying about looking back at a long list at the end of a year. 

To me, reading is something that you just have to make time forLike so many (e.g. Seth GodinNaval Ravikant), I’ve always seen books as one of the most powerful and valuable technologies in the known universe. Because it only takes one book to change your life entirely, setting you spinning off down a new and exciting path in life. So there’s little chance I’ll voluntarily choose to address my current book addiction anytime soon.

Looking down the list, 2017 has brought a good mix of non-fiction, fiction, poetry and a few scripts. It’s amazing how the few words in a book title can catapult you instantly back to a time and place when a new idea made its mark. Some on the list left little trace but thankfully the letdowns were few and far between. More interesting to me is the fact that only a small proportion of the content was actually published this year.

These days, I avoid a daily diet of ‘breaking’ news as far as possible. There’s too much going on, in so many areas. Viewed through the window of our ever-present smartphones, the world is now so visibly complex to each one of us that an addiction to the news translates to a life wasted on the minutiae of global chaos that you’re mostly powerless to influence. Sometimes we need to carve out solid blocks of time and take in the bigger picture. In a similar way, a book often needs a few years to pass before you can really assess the quality of its ideas. And so, for me, it’s some of the oldest, forgotten books retrieved from the depths of bookshelves during a move this year that have brought the greatest rewards.

So instead of attempting to share a list of the top books of the year, I thought I’d instead share a few quotes that grabbed me. Make of them what you will – but if they’re here, they’re worth reading in my opinion. 

1. The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age – James Dale Davidson & Lord William Rees-Mogg

A book written back in the mists of time (1997) that was recommended to me a few years ago by a couple of people in the cryptocurrency scene. If anything, the passing years have only made the content more prescient. It foretells the death of the nation state as it comes under attack from networked technology over the coming century. If even 50% of the predictions in this book (their third) come true then the seismic changes that we’re facing in our near future are way beyond those that most people could ever be prepared for (or in some cases, will be willing to accept).

“Private competing currencies circulated in Scotland from early in the eighteenth century until 1844. During that period, Scotland had no central bank. There were few regulations or restrictions on entry into the banking business. Private banks took deposits and issued their own private currencies backed by gold bullion. As Professor Lawrence White has documented, this system worked well. It was more stable, with less inflation than the heavily regulated and politicised system of banking and money employed in England during the same period….Michael Prowse of the Financial Times summarised Scotland’s free-banking experience. “There was little fraud. There was no evidence of over-issue of notes”

And just maybe we’re focusing too much on goals…

“For human beings, it is the struggle rather than the achievement that matters; we are made for action, and the achievement can be a great disappointment”

2. Lying – Sam Harris

Read this book and the next time your nearest and dearest asks you to tell them whether they look good, you’ll find your mind flashing back to this extended essay from Sam Harris.

“In many circumstances in life, false encouragement can be very costly to another person….False encouragement is a kind of theft: it steals time, energy and motivation that a person could put toward some other purpose”

“When we presume to lie for the benefit of others, we have decided that we are the best judges of how much they should understand about their own lives – about how they appear, their reputations, or their prospects in the world. This is an extraordinary stance to adopt toward other human beings, and it requires justification. Unless someone is suicidal or otherwise on the brink, deciding how much he should know about himself seems the quintessence of arrogance”

3. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century – Timothy Snyder

Wouldn’t it be nice to think that we’ve finally reached Peak-Trump? Nice, but delusional. So this book, pulled together only a few hours after the 2016 US Election result filtered through by a renowned historian, lists a few early warning signs from history to look out for seen in other countries that slid towards disaster after falling under the power of demagogues.   

“What the great political thinker Hannah Arendt meant by totalitarianism was not an all-powerful state, but the erasure of the difference between private and public life. We are free only insofar as we exercise control over what people know about us, and in what circumstances they come to know it”

“You might one day be offered the opportunity to display symbols of loyalty. Make sure that such citizens include your fellow citizens rather than exclude them”

4. Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

In a nutshell: a book that demonstrates just how wrong humans are so often about so many things. One with interesting connections to the Black Swan and definitely one to reread.

“Declarations of high confidence mainly tell you that an individual has constructed a coherent story in his mind, not necessarily that the story is true”

“The social norm against stereotyping, including the opposition to profiling, has been highly beneficial in creating a more civilised and more equal society. It is useful to remember, however, that neglecting valid stereotypes inevitably results in suboptimal judgements”

“Our mind is strongly biased toward causal explanations and does not deal well with ‘mere statistics’. When our attention is called to an event, associative memory will look for its cause – more precisely, activation will automatically spread to any cause that is already stored in memory.

And perhaps all those success stories that sell so many business books focused on ultra-successful tech entrepreneurs are somewhat misleading, to say the least. 

“Although hindsight and the outcome bias generally foster risk aversion, they also bring undeserved rewards to irresponsible risk seekers, such as a general or an entrepreneur who took a crazy gamble and won. Leaders who have been lucky are never punished for having taken too much risk…A few lucky gambles can crown a reckless leader with a halo of prescience and boldness”

5. Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari

A great overview of where we’ve been, I read this one mainly because I wanted to read his follow-up (Homo Deus) about where we might be going. 

“Despite the astonishing things that humans are capable of doing, we remain unsure of our goals and we seem to be as discontented as ever. We have advanced from canoes to galleys to steamships to space shuttles – but nobody knows where we’re going. We are more powerful than ever before but have very little idea what to do with all that power…Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?”

6. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill – Alone (1932-1940) / The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill – Visions of Glory (1874-1932) – William Manchester

A number of weeks this year were spent on the first two 1,000 page volumes of William Manchester’s magisterial biography of Churchill. It’s a work that justifies the word ‘epic’ in every sense of the word, making it impossible to quote – and I’ve not even made it to World War II onwards yet. Looking forward to diving into Volume 3 in the New Year.

“In the House, he spoke frequently, with wit and apparent ease – few know in those, early days of the excusing rehearsals in Mount Street, the infinite pains that went into each polished performance…Already he was displaying a puzzling contradiction which would endure throughout his public life. He could not address the House without intensive preparation. Yet no member could be quicker on his feet. He said ‘Politics is like waking up in the morning. You never know whose head you will find on the pillow’.” And of politicians, he once said, ‘He is asked to stand, he wants to sit, and he is expected to lie”.

One of the areas that fascinates me about Churchill is his prodigious work ethic as a writer. The quantity of written content that he produced for publication (on top of his political work) was frankly incredible, and at one stage (pre-WWII) he was possibly the best paid writer in the world. Hence the late nights – every single night – spent writing (more accurately, dictating before an audience). 

“Most writers regard the act of creativity as the most private of moments, but for Churchill it is semipublic; not only is the staff on hand, but any guest willing to sacrifice an hour’s sleep is also welcome”

7. How to Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams

The Dilbert creator often splits opinions but there are some real nuggets of wisdom in this semi-autobiographical book that are well worth taking onboard. 

“Another huge advantage of learning as much as you can in different fields is that the more concepts you understand, the easier it is to learn new ones. Imagine explaining to an extraterrestrial visitor the concept of a horse. It would take some time. If the next thing you tried to explain were the concept of a zebra, the conversation would be shorter…Everything you learn becomes a shortcut for understanding something else”.

“Dealing with experts is always tricky. Are they honest? Are they competent? How often are they right? My observation and guess is that experts are right about 98% of the time on the easy stuff but only right 50 per cent of the time on anything that is unusually complicated, mysterious or even new”

8. The Death of Expertise – Tom Nichols

I loved this book. Short and to the point, it rails against the trend in modern society to shut down any hint of reasonable debate online and the fact that we’re building a culture which values the opinions of armchair Wikipedia skimmers as somehow being of equal value to career experts. On top of that, not only do people believe they now know more about more topics, they’re happy to revel in their ignorance (check out the parallels to the Dunning-Kruger Effect).      

“…the protective, swaddling environment of the modern university infantilises students and thus dissolves their ability to conduct a logical and informed argument. When feelings matter more than rationality or facts, education is a doomed enterprise”

“To faculty everywhere, the lesson was obvious: the campus of a top university is not a place for intellectual exploration. It is a luxury home, rented for four to six years, nine months at a time, by children of the elite who may shout at faculty as if they’re berating clumsy maids in a colonial mansion”

And, in the age of Trump:

“As the writer Susan Jacoby put it in 2008, the most disturbing aspect of the American march towards ignorance is “not lack of knowledge per se but arrogance about that lack of knowledge”


“This fusing of entertainment, news, punditry, and citizen participation is a chaotic mess that does not inform people so much as it creates the illusion of being informed”.

9. The Complacent Class – Tyler Cowen

I’m a big fan of Tyler Cowen’s Marginal Revolution blog. But I’d never actually read one of his books before. In this one, he argues that, far from being in a period of unparalleled dynamism and innovation, Americans are in fact working much harder than ever before to either postpone change or to avoid it altogether. Meanwhile society is becoming ever more homogenised as algorithms increasingly try to match every aspect of our life (Spotify, dating, and many others) to things that they believe we’ll like – whether we like it or not.

“That said, ‘better matching’, for all its pleasures and virtues, is also in some regards uncomfortably close to the concept of ‘more segregation’ as we will see. Very often we match to what we already like, or what is already like us”

“A lot of our biggest social problems, such as unemployment, are in large part problems of matching….That said, the gains from matching are distributed very unevenly, and they accrue mainly to people who are better at using and handling information, a group whom elsewhere I labeled infovores…Some people are simply not so good at manipulating and interpreting digital information, so they don’t gain nearly as much from the internet and the matching capabilities it gives us”

10. The Black Swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I’ve written about this before and, whilst it’s hard for me to name a book of the year, this unquestionably hits the top 3 for me. Here’s a couple of quotes to whet your appetite:-

“If you want a simple step to a higher form of life, as distant from the animal as you can get, then you may have to denigrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimise time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs. Train your reasoning abilities to control your decisions…Train yourself to spot the difference between the sensational and the empirical”

“We grossly overestimate the length of the effect of misfortune on our lives. You think that the loss of your fortune or current position will be devastating, but you are probably wrong. More likely, you will adapt to anything, as you probably did after past misfortunes. You may feel a sting, but it will not be as bad as you expect”

“Professions that deal with the future and base their studies on the non-repeatable past have an expert problem” 

Joining The Team At MaidSafe

(This is a repost from the MaidSafe blog)

As we hurtle towards the end of 2017, it’s time to take stock. And the verdict’s in: it’s been a crazy year in the world of cryptocurrency. But thankfully, in most cases, that’s crazy-good, as opposed to crazy-bad. That’s certainly the case for me personally at least. And this is why…

Back in January 2014, I organised the first Bitcoin Meetup in Scotland. As I wrote at the time, it felt like a bit of a leap of faith. Not in terms of the organisation (thanks to Meetup). But because the prevailing view amongst those few who’d actually heard of this ‘magic internet money’ was that the whole thing was a scam and destined to end in tears.

Whether real or perceived, it crossed my mind that there might be a reputational risk in becoming so deeply involved as an organiser. I don’t consider myself risk-averse in any way. But as someone who had enjoyed/endured a legal career of more than a decade, I’m hardly the best person to judge. After all, the risk of loss-aversion has well-known effects on decision-making.

But try as I might, I couldn’t get past one simple fact. I’d spent many months by that stage falling deeper down the proverbial Bitcoin rabbit hole. Late nights wrestling with explanations about the technology, engaging with the economic implications, debating the future potential and limitations. To me, it was clear that change – at a fundamental, disruptive level that would resonate across multiple areas of everyday life – was coming. And yet, as far as I could make out, no-one in Scotland had got together in a room  to discuss what was going on. The decision was made. I might be left sitting alone in that pub one evening – but surely there had to be others out there.

The story of how the scene in Scotland developed after that first meetup (for which, to be clear, I claim no credit!) is an interesting one. But it’s not the focus here. Nor is the purpose of this post a chance for me to say ‘I told you so’ when we look at Bitcoin in 2017. I believe Bitcoin remains a technology in evolution with an indeterminate end state that has plenty of room left to run. The key thing here is the paradigm shift that’s taking place.

But that very first night in Edinburgh was important for another reason. I’m still in contact with many of the people that I met for the first time that night. But undoubtedly one of the most impactful conversations I’ve had was with someone who’d been one of the first to sign up for that meetup – a guy called David Irvine, who travelled all the way across from the West Coast of Scotland, from an outfit that went by the name of MaidSafe.

I’d tried to research everyone who’d signed up before the meetup. Not in a creepy ‘let’s-track-you’ kind of way. But in a ‘let’s-build-the-community’ kind of way. I wanted to help people to keep the conversations going after the event. And I have to admit, my feeble brain had struggled to understand what MaidSafe did before the Meetup. But that changed when I spoke to David on that evening. And I was dumbfounded by the fact that a project with such huge ambitions and such far-reaching implications was taking place pretty much under my nose in Scotland.

Since that time, I’ve been heavily involved in the Bitcoin/blockchain scene, particularly in Scotland. But I’ve always been convinced that something big was happening in the mythical shed in Troon. Throughout my travels, I kept pointing people in the direction of the SAFE Network and discussing what it represents. That included asking Nick (Lambert, COO) to give a talk when I put on the Scottish Bitcoin Conference in 2014, running a Maidsafe-focused meetup and also sharing in the rollercoaster excitement of the MaidSafe fundraising in April 2014.

Fast forward four years and I’m delighted to say that I’ve now joined MaidSafe full-time as Marketing and Outreach Coordinator. Most people who start at a new company talk platitudes about their new employers. But you’ll have to take my word for it in this case. I’d continue to sing the praises of the SAFE Network even if I wasn’t working here.

This is why.

MaidSafe’s mission is no less significant than building a new secure network that will revolutionise the way that every one of us uses the internet. Many years ago, David had worked out that we collectively needed a better solution. And MaidSafe is in good company, with none other than the inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, sharing similar concerns. In fact, Tim is working on addressing the same sort of issues with his Solid project at MIT.

Over the past couple of years, the problems of data storage and security have only worsened. The concerns so presciently raised by MaidSafe eleven years ago have intensified in the collective awareness of society. We now see daily examples of sensitive personal information and data being hacked or misplaced by third parties. Arguments over privacy and net neutrality dominate the news. And new concerns over the excessive power wielded by giant internet companies are raised daily.

In short, as the internet has increased in importance to our daily lives, so has the visibility of its major flaws. And crucially – these aren’t issues that will simply solve themselves. We can’t sit back and expect things to improve. Technologies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have helped to bring the benefits of decentralisation to the forefront of discussion. And even amongst those who remain cynical, few still believe our current architecture remains fit-for-purpose when it comes to the next few decades of human evolution.

In addition to playing a small part in helping to build a solution to a problem that increases with each passing day, there’s another big motivating factor at play for me here. With the emergence of MaidSafe so early in the chronology of recent events, I believe that many over the past few years have simply not had the opportunity to spend  the time to find out what the ultimate success of this project represents. I’ve been a member of MaidSafe’s forum (https://safenetforum.org/) since it was set up (not by the company but by enthusiasts around the world, it should be noted) a few years ago – and I’m constantly bowled over by just how engaged, respectful, intelligent and enthusiastic this community is.

Over the past few years, I’ve given many talks on Bitcoin and the blockchain scene in general. But the reality is that my advocacy has always been a response to the level of community engagement out there. The more people that found out about the subject, the keener they were to explore further. The similarities to me are striking. Today, I don’t think most people are aware that the SAFE Network project has been active for eleven years. Just let that sink in for a moment. Pre-Bitcoin. The project even had a prototype crypto-currency before Satoshi’s White Paper. As I said at the start, in the context of 2017, the SAFE Network is so far from being a hyped product it’s not funny. But it’s clear to me what the SAFE Network is: an open-source project that’s open to all that invokes a passion and belief in a community who are all driving in the same direction.

Remind you of something?

As I start working with the team on a unique project, I can’t wait to get out and do my bit. I remember a comment David made years ago. It was along the lines of “It doesn’t matter who achieves our goal in the end – but it does matter that someone does”. Joining a team that have been toiling away at some of the hardest technical challenges out there for over a decade – for the most part entirely unheralded and under the radar – there’s no doubt in my mind that that’s going to change soon. And I can’t wait to get started.

If you want to get in touch and have a chat, please reach out. I’m pretty active on Twitter (@dugcampbell) or you can sign up and speak to thousands more via the forum (https://safenetforum.org/). In the meantime, we’re looking for some more people to join us at MaidSafe – so if you’re a UX/UI Designer, Software Support Analyst or Testing & Release Manager and fancy joining the team, please get in touch!

A Trumpless Twitter (and a Twitterless Trump)

A few days ago, the US President’s Twitter account was suddenly deleted. And I can’t have been the only one who found it amusing.

The first thought that struck me was that the tech titan had suddenly grown some cojones. Finally deciding that enough was enough, the company had taken the ultimate stance, showing strong moral leadership in respect of an account that many view as broadcasting a range of offensive and confusing (covfefe anyone?) content. This would qualify as a strident political statement by the tech sector, no doubt of that, and one to dwarf the great SOPA/PIPA protests of 2012.

“Good on ’em”, I thought. And I doubt I was alone.

But before I’d even heard the echo of my chuckle bouncing back off the opposite wall, I realised how unlikely it was that a major US tech company had actually decided to arbitrarily delete the official account of its own President. There might be well-known tensions between the tech industry and the state-sponsored powers of surveillance. But to see Twitter actively remove the chosen mouthpiece of its own President really would be an unbelievable story – even during the onslaught of unbelievable political stories that we’ve seen from across the pond in recent months.

Of course, as we now know, the reality of the situation is that this was nothing more than a failure of company procedure, as opposed to the opening shots of revolution. It turned out that a departing Twitter employee had been unable to resist that big flashing red button and took that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a story to share in pubs for a lifetime, deleting Trump’s account on the way out of the building. Indeed, the reports of the incident took more time to write up in the press than the incident itself. It took Twitter all of 11 minutes to restore the account and put it back online.

But the point here is not the fact that the account went offline. Believe it or not, I do have more interesting exciting things to do than to spend my time commenting on the failings of internal corporate procedures. No, the reason that I found this interesting is simple: I realised that in my initial reaction, I was being two-faced about the whole thing. And, more worryingly perhaps, if I’d been more active on Twitter myself at that time, it’s that initial – and wrong – reaction that I would have shared with the world.

Let me explain. I’m a believer in the principles of decentralisation where technology makes this both safe and possible. I also believe that we’re currently in the midst of a mostly silent (and technical) fight to ensure that we as individuals don’t lose our human rights to freedom of expression online in modern society. I think as individuals, we’re sleepwalking together into a ever tightening web where our views, data and identities are increasingly owned by other organisations (for good or evil, it matters little) and that unless we actively work to find a better way, the chance to find a better way forward will soon be gone.

The web was invented as an open platform to enable greater collaboration between individuals regardless of national boundaries. But in the internet that we all use today, we’ve moved far away from that ideal. Don’t take my word for it – listen to Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web itself, for whom this has become a lifelong campaign.

It’s precisely because of these reasons that I support movements such as the SAFE Network and I’m fascinated by attempts to create decentralised versions of identity (see uPort and Civic) and social media/content platforms (see Steemit and DECENT).

So how come in this case my gut instinct was to enjoy this story when it cuts across so many of my beliefs? After reading Daniel Kahneman’s classic ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ earlier this year, one of the explanations might simply be the fact that when you revisit the decisions that you make, it’s often the case that your first, automatic reaction is rarely correct. I’ve been pondering how I took the story here as a result because to me at least, it shows the level of bias – unconscious, unintentional – that can exist. And when you end up finding yourself supporting something, no matter how briefly, that directly contradicts an area that you thought of as non-negotiable, it’s a good a time as any to take note and challenge yourself.

As you move through life, I increasingly think that one of the most important (and underrated) skills to learn is how to avoid becoming fixed in your beliefs and approaches. Whether they’re right or not often depends on the context – but in that case, why not try changing your context? Read a book. Listen to a talk. Meet up with people whose opinions you disagree with. When I suggest changing your context, I’m not saying that you should just give up and change your opinion. After all, it can be just as hard to genuinely connect with someone who holds no opinions as it can be to like someone who refuses to accept feedback about his own (looking at you POTUS). But don’t stop checking whether the context you have today changes the opinions that you formed yesterday. Many people think that it’s a weakness to change your mind. Yet it’s often a strength.

Bias. We all have it. But to my mind, rigidity of thinking and inflexibility must surely be the much greater crime.

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?”

    (Winston Churchill. Or John Maynard Keynes. Or someone else entirely.)

Speaking of which, in the aftermath of The Great SegWit 2X-Hardfork-That-Never-Was Battle of 2017, I think it’s important that we all remember that within the Bitcoin community in particular. Dogmatic opinions – both ways – generally help no one.


The Cake Is A Lie

The Cake Is A Lie

If you haven’t come across “the cake is a lie” meme, try reading the quick post on Medium by Tobias van Schneider, Design Lead at Spotify (aside: anyone else notice just how good Medium is now becoming as a platform for both content creation and discovery?). In essence, the statement means “your promised reward is merely a fictitious motivator”. In other words, you’re striving for something that you’ll never get.

Schneider puts the idea in the context of risk aversion, pointing out that as we get older, we devote more of our time to trying to avoid losing the many things that we’ve accumulated (income, personal image, gadgets) than we do to pursuing growth. Hence the struggle that banks and other established businesses have to actively pursue innovation at any meaningful level. Research has proved the loss aversion theory which tells us that people tend to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains.

On a corporate level, you could argue that’s no bad thing. If that wasn’t the case, we simply wouldn’t have a business environment in which a startup with “nothing to lose” can seek to disrupt an established industry. However on an individual level, the warning should be considered more deeply. Schneider suggests that every time you face a big decision, ask yourself whether your dilemma about whether or not to proceed is simply down to the fact that you’re looking to protect that cake. If so, be very wary.

You don’t get happy by putting all your energies into protecting a cake that you never actually eat.

Today’s my 100th successive blog post. I’ve been blogging (on this website and elsewhere) for a few years now but never with this level of consistency. So what changed?

As most people are aware, I’m a fan of Seth Godin’s work. And as he says, “The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship”. The perfect is the enemy of the good. If I was worried about perfect grammar, ground-breaking commentary and creating a comprehensive database of knowledge on the subjects that interest me, I would never have got started. Posts would take days rather than hours and we all know that real life has a habit of getting in the way whenever it can.

If we’ve never met in person, you might not know that I enjoy acting. And if there’s one lesson that I’ve learned from my entirely undistinguished but thoroughly enjoyable time on stage to date, it’s that the very best actors are invariably the ones who aren’t acting. Or – more accurately – they’re living in the moment and responding naturally to everything that takes place in front of them. Undoubtedly, there’s talent involved. But, even more importantly, I believe that it’s also a habit. Crucially, they’ve managed to construct an environment in which they’re free to take the risk of getting things wrong. The best are never afraid of falling flat on their faces because that’s what gives them the chance to develop their ideas. It’s all about eating the cake, not protecting it.

I guess that’s what this blog represents to me. An attempt to build and maintain a place where I can do the same. For those who are reading it, thanks! For those who aren’t – well, I intend to keep on going. Because to quote Godin once more, “The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing”.


PS. Here’s a list of the posts that were some of the most enjoyable to write (see it’s not all about Bitcoin, honest…)

  1. Why The Internet Of Things Needs The Blockchain
  2. Satoshi’s Songs: Can Bitcoin Save The Music Industry?
  3. Why Science Fiction Shapes The Future
  4. How Do People Get New Ideas?
  5. AI And Summoning The Demon
  6. Startups, Maslow, Happiness, Unemployment
  7. The Six Walls of Surveillance
  8. Farm2050 Collective & The Coming Global Food Shortage
  9. The Genius ISM’s
  10. Collaborative Consumption
  11. Why Art Is Just As Important As Science
  12. The Stark Reality: Surveillance or Security
  13. The Social Challenges Of Peer To Peer Markets
  14. Bitcoin, Accounting And The Blockchain
  15. Coffee and Bitcoin: The Last Few Months








The Year Ahead

I’ve been thinking about how to evolve this blog over the next twelve months. It originally started out a few years back as a place for me to post more considered, long-form articles that went into some depth on topics that fascinated me.

That worked for a while – in the sense that I enjoyed writing and received complimentary feedback from various quarters. But as someone far more productive than me (in making quotable statements, if nothing else) once wrote, “The perfect is the enemy of the good“. The reality is that whilst the more detailed and comprehensive articles may attract decent levels of interest online, the extra effort required to polish up that final 20% slows down the frequency of posts.

But doesn’t quality beat quantity? Usually – but with one caveat. Regular practice inevitably improves quality and writing should be no different. At the same time, I’ve always found that the process of moving knowledge from head to screen using your own words is the most powerful learning technique there is.

So I took the decision to just relax a little more in each post and to just write more frequently – every day – more broadly about the topics that interested me. The logic’s pretty simple. Even if I turn out to be the only one out there that enjoys these topics, at least I’ll enjoy looking back over some of the posts in the years to come and see just how far some of the thinking has evolved.

This year, I’ll keep that approach going. I’m hoping to redesign the site in the near future to make things cleaner and easier to read, particularly on mobile platforms. And as for the topics themselves, I don’t think they’ll be of any surprise to those that have visited before.

The key theme will inevitably be Bitcoin and associated block chain technologies. But on top of that, the other areas under the spotlight this year will likely be data security, surveillance, drone technology, 3D printing, the internet of things, networks, startups, VC investment, AI, the coming singularity and last, but by no means least, how traditional forms of creativity can not only survive but thrive in a digital world.

I’m guessing that’ll keep me pretty busy for the next 364 days.

The 2014 End Of Year Soundtrack

It’s been a busy year. Over the course of the past twelve months, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and speak with some of the most creative and intelligent people of my life to date. I’ve learned more about a vast range of subjects than at any other point of my life and as a result I now have more questions to resolve than ever before as the year draws to a close.

That, to me, is a good thing. It’s a sign of progress.

I’ve written before about how I dislike making predictions. So to wrap the year up, I thought I’d put a little marker down instead to remind myself of some of the songs and albums that have soundtracked my year. By no means comprehensive, this will if nothing else help to remind me of the people, places and ideas that have shaped my 2014.

Thanks for reading – I hope you have a great 2015!