“Nothing is good or badWilliam Shakespeare
But our thinking makes it so”
Partially due to the nascency of the technology unlocking a new financial paradigm and partially due to the lopsided reasoning of die-hard extremists, crypto is full of controversial, polarizing views.
Influencers shilling their bags, promising innovation.
Maxis calling everything shitcoins, swearing that BTC is salvation.
Anons posting screenshots of mind-melting gains, talking about portfolio optimization.
Michael Saylor calmly riding the storm, while Headlines are flashing red.
In this industry, deciphering between fact and fiction is a form of art.
In order to masterfully navigate the space, one must be able to think for oneself, and to do that, one must be able to hold conflicting thoughts and find the truth in both of them.
Here we are going to do just that.
We shall address some of the most controversial topics floating around the crypto-verse and make arguments from both sides.
Supporting: CEX is Good
Centralized exchanges are critically important for the industry because they play the role of an interface for retail. CEXs abstract away a lot of complexity relating to key management, reduce fees by keeping trading off-chain, and ultimately facilitate the bulk of exchange volume. They provide a (granted mediocre, but still some) degree of protection to their users from themselves (by keeping funds in a CEX users are able to avoid having their wallets drained or interacting with malicious links.)
Centralized exchanges act as interim bridges between the crypto economy and legacy finance. Well-organized, compliant entities such as Coinbase and Kraken become legal onramps that help formulate regulatory clarity.
Opposing: CEX is Bad
A wolf in sheep’s clothing. Centralized exchanges are the antithesis of cryptocurrency. They hold your private keys and subject you to their whims.
As history has shown us, regardless of regulation, centralized exchanges will engage in shady activity and will not hesitate to misappropriate user funds, freeze balances, and confabulate arbitrary reasons to ruin the user experience.
There will be good actors and there will be bad actors everywhere you go. Not intended to act as a wallet/vault for storing crypto but rather an intermediate point exclusively for ease of trading; a CEX is just another tool; it is up to the user to figure out how to use it.
What many call the “final boss” to crypto mass adoption, regulatory oversight is arguably among the most sensitive subject matters in crypto. While, in theory, the intentions of regulatory oversight make sense, there are nuances and political agendas that twist and abuse the law in not-so-subtle ways, distorting reality and blatantly lying to consumers.
Supporting: Pro — Regulation
Necessary to formalize the industry and provide added guardrails to protect citizens. Having concrete incentives and operational standards in place would deter malicious actors and create an environment considered more trustworthy by the average person.
The sooner that regulation arrives, the sooner the industry gets acknowledged by legacy finance, and the sooner the floodgates open for old money to pour in.
Façade. Regulation is like sushi with chocolate milk, only good in theory.
Giving regulators control of the industry breaks the core tenets of decentralization, not to mention destroying the vision of a sovereign economic future.
The people in charge will do everything they can to mask their true intentions of helping their friends. They will step over any moral boundaries and create parasitic laws, tucked away in plain sight so that the layman will not understand how to interpret it, and stifle innovation.
Moreover, once regulation takes hold of the industry, we will lose that freedom of the Wild West feeling. We will forfeit much of the radical, bleeding-edge experimentation as we attempt to make our overlord happy. The revolutionary cypherpunk spirit has been replaced with the cold whispers of ETF across the marble walls of Wall Street.
A necessary evil. For the most part, both sides of the argument have the same end goal in mind: understanding how to operate in the space.
Regulators might not be able to impose regulations at the network level, but they definitely can make getting in and out of crypto a nightmare.
An unavoidable element in the creation of a crypto network, token unlocks are recurring, economically intense events. As the industry continues to blossom, more tokens will launch, and more unlocks will take place. Understanding how to think about them can guide you in the decision-making process.
Unlocking tokens means increasing the circulating supply. Having as much of the supply out in the market as possible provides more natural, higher-quality price discovery.
Just because more tokens are coming onto the market does not directly translate to those tokens being sold. In fact, it could mean the exact opposite; perhaps there are buyers on the market looking to put on some size and, without an unlock, would be forced to pay higher prices (or accumulate less).
Human nature coupled with astute financial management would incline any rational human being to realize their profits/recoup their investments as soon as possible.
Every influx of tokens into circulation also means an influx of value in terms of market capitalization. Market forces will typically balance around capitalization, if an unlock of 10% boosts the FDV too high, odds are stakeholders will offload their positions to restabilize market cap.
Not every unlock will be significant. Odds are that the vast majority of unlocks will have little to no market impact because they will be priced in ahead of time. Unlock schedules are usually made public, and the markets tend to front-run the event.
Possibly one of the most talked about subjects since the arrival of crypto itself, the conversation around custody boils down to the well-known saying, “Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins.”
Supporting: Self Custody is Good
Maintaining full control over one’s assets is the killer value proposition of crypto. The simple fact that crypto is the only asset class that allows for digital ownership and sovereignty warrants users taking the extra step to remain in control. By opting to self-custody, we reduce (if not entirely remove) third-party risk vectors. Holding the assets should imbue the user with a sense of economic freedom and allow them to have ease of movement (no obligation to tie wealth to a jurisdiction).
Opposing: Self Custody is Bad
Custody is hard and introduces risks associated with natural human error. Being fully responsible means always having to remain vigilant or end up falling victim to scams.
Managing keys, mnemonics phrases, keystore files, storing them safely, and using them safely, deteriorate the user experience. There are countless stories of users losing their private keys, forgetting where they were written down, or having their crypto stolen due to a security lapse consciousness.
Being fully responsible is dangerous; better to hand it off to professionals who have legal obligations to protect users.
Self-custody is supreme, but so is human nature.
The only balanced approach is a combination of both.
Hybrid custody has, in fact, been considered a supreme model for years; through a simple multi-sigs implementation, users can give a degree of custody to trusted third parties to help them with key recovery.
Strongly suggested and supported but not enforced, the simple fact that self-custody is at all possible must be protected, just like the freedom of speech or religious expression: self-custody must remain an inalienable right.
Falling squarely on the left curve of the crypto intelligence spectrum, Meme coins are a cultural phenomenon expressed as a digital unit of account.
WIF, BONK, PEPE, WEN, DOGE, HarryPotterObamaSonic10Inu, and the smorgasbord of other exotic, strange names representing a nascent category of assets that have come into existence exclusively due to blockchain technology.
Supporting: Memecoin Good
Unlocking a new financial paradigm rooted in culture, memecoins invite a caliber of users that would otherwise not be involved, thus being a net positive to the industry in terms of capital and users.
Playing the role of a psychological focal point for driving collective behavior online; memes lower the barrier to entry for average people by making the asset less about complex financial metrics and more about subtle social primitives such as “relatability”.
Moreover, the strength of communities that form around memes can be comparable to that of legacy financial institutions; It is very likely that a $DOGE token holder will own their coins longer than they will have dollars sitting in their bank accounts.
But the fun does not stop there. Whenever built on top of other blockchains, memecoins bolster the network with activity and liquidity, becoming catalysts that drive second, and third-degree orders of impact on layer 1 coin prices.
Lacking formality is a feature, not a bug.
Supporting: Memecoin Bad
Scams designed to psychologically dup unsophisticated retail users into throwing money down a drain.
Memecoins are ultimately a net negative because the vast majority of users will lose money and be scarred from their experience so much that they abandon the industry and become vehement nay-sayers.
These “assets” are usually short-lived bursts of excitement that clog networks with spam activity. Single-cycle vaporware that ceases to matter during times of macro turbulence.
Memes must meme.
As an industry, it is important that we retain the power to launch economic systems far outside the grasp of institutions.
Modularity in blockchain architecture refers to the permanence and degree of isolation of a system’s code. Monolithic blockchains such as Bitcoin and Solana have tightly knotted components within the system that are critical to other components. Modular Blockchains, such as Manta Pacific and Celestia, on the other hand, are all about code flexibility.
Modular is Android, Monolithic is Apple.
Modular is Superior
Becoming the leading narrative driving the recent crypto rally, modularity naturally falls closer in alignment with the open, permissionless composability of Web3.
Having the ability to customize and swap functionality ad hoc provides a greater likelihood of success for a crypto project. As the rate of evolution in technology continues to accelerate, it will become increasingly important to integrate some of the breakthroughs into the tech stack; something only possible in the presence of a modular architecture.
Furthermore, modularity is actually a more secure structure. In the event that a single component/algorithm fails or has some critical vulnerability found, then that component can be switched out without too many disruptions to operations.
Monolithic is Superior
Monolithic blockchains provide much stronger relationships between the network’s operations and the base token. These systems tend to foster life-long commitments from their communities because the structural rigidity reflects itself in the philosophy. Maintaining ties to their original message results in a higher degree of trust from the audience.
From the operational standpoint, having a single point to allocate community resources (thought, capital, and skill) increases the system’s resilience.
Absolutely subjective. Both architectures have their benefits, both have their tradeoffs, and both are working just fine.
Modular chains are easier to build. Much of the code is open sourced and much of the innovation is publicized. Therefore, it is anticipated that there will be more modular chains than monolithic ones moving forward. The inverse logic holds up for monolithic, which are harder to build and maintain, but typically result in stronger security guarantees.
It is unlikely (if not impossible) that one will eradicate the other; the future is multi-chain, and those chains will vary in their architecture.
Price action that can tilt fortune in your favor… or leave you on your ass. Volatility is a matter of behavioral preference; depending on who you ask (and what they do), volatility is either a blessing or a curse.
Supporting Volatility is Good
As the saying goes, no risk, no reward; and volatility is the risk factor.
A signal indicating large fundamental shifts in the social acknowledgment of an asset, high volatility is a godsend for risk-loving short-term traders. The sudden, sharp fluctuations in price act as an alluring call to supercharge one’s financial situation.
Moreover, high volatility extends beyond the spot marketts into options, driving funding rates and supercharging trading strategies (such as Delta-neutral ones) with additional yield.
Opposing Volatility is Bad
Volatility is a direct expression of an immature market, and immature markets lack the characteristics necessary to attract the monsoon of legacy liquidity.
The higher the volatility, the higher the inclination of market participants to gamble (as opposed to invest) the higher the collateral damage to users. Crypto is intended to become the financial rails of the global economy, and so long as high volatility is present, that mission is unattainable.
Volatility is the “widow-maker of the untrained trader and the destroyer of margin trading degenerates”.
Market participants with longer time preferences should not be phased by the day-to-day price actions and instead interpret the instability as confirmation of their convictions.
Meanwhile, those with less capital (or heightened time sensitivity) are heavily dependent on the volatility and (some would argue) should be doing their all to thrive in such environments.
Mining, Proof-of-Work, and the Environment
A topic that has always been prevalent in the crypto community and one that began drawing massive mainstream attention once Bitcoin’s energy consumption surpassed that of independent nation-states; proof-of-work mining is the mechanism responsible for transmutating electricity into digital gold.
Supporting: Mining is Good
Proof-of-work systems are the most pure expressions of decentralization. Binding atomic resources (electricity) to the creation of digital goods lends itself more alignment with nature, open systems that are dependant on the laws of physics rather than the arbitrary man-made laws.
POW is the only mechanism capable of resisting government shutdown as it is the only one that can lay claims to asset archetypes of commodity and truly permissionless participation.
The hardware component drives development at the physical layer of the stack; creating jobs building specialty (ASICS) machines that force innovation at the level of silicone chips and microprocessors, elements that are quintessential to the progression of mankind as a whole.
Not too dissimilar from traditional mining operations, the resources expended act as the buffer validating valuations. The more resources spent on protecting something, the more valuable it becomes (in so far as it relates to society).
Moreover, mining acts as a buffer for balancing electrical grid loads; during times of low demand, service providers can re-direct their infrastructure to mining purposes and maximize the value of their equipment. Now, rather than having to lose their excess reserves (electricity stored in batteries leaks out slowly), companies can find optimal win-win situations (the company monetizes their waste, and the network receives extra resources that strengthen security).
Opposing: Mining is Bad
The amount of waste created in the process of mining is unnecessary. So many resources are spent without any clear benefit that it is foolish not to reallocate them to better purposes such as AI and gaming.
We can optimize network operations, reduce the managerial complexity of maintaining physical infra, and save the environment from incessant carbon emission if we simply shift models away from mining.
Mining, being an environmental issue, has been disproven.(ESG muppets can sit TF down and drink their soy milk).
Banning or removing POW systems would be similar to declaring war on decentralization.
The creator of Bitcoin. Godfather of the Cryptocurrency industry. Anonymous Outlaw or Coordinated Committee of Intelligent Actors, Satoshi Nakamoto is the mystery of our industry.
Supporting: Net Positive
Without Satoshi, there would be no industry worth $1.6 Trillion and growing.
Powerful perpetual narrative of an anonymous entity revolutionizing human economic endeavors. That shroud of uncertainty that distances Bitcoin from the government is an added layer of protection. By remaining unknown, the layman will have a higher degree of certainty that the government cannot/will not coerce the creator into shutting it down (possible or not).
The story’s uniqueness creates pockets of conspiracy theorists that drive extra attention.
Opposing: Net Negative
The mystery of this figure casts a perpetual shadow of uncertainty; what if he does return? What if we really do crack the code and get access to his wallet? What if it really was just the government playing games with us?
Long live Satoshi Nakamoto.
KYC – Know Your Customer
The core policy for regulatory compliance and the only real method of sybil defense, KYC remains one of the most contentious subjects in crypto.
Supporting: KYC is Good
Conducting KYC protects not just platforms from spammy bots and violations against international counter-terrorism financing laws, but also protects users from interacting with dangerous entities.
KYC helps align a project with social morals to avoid doing business with dirty money. Moreover, Know-Your-Customer policies ensure that a platform’s analytics are pure and accurate.
Opposing: KYC is Bad
Another subtle way to tith the cryptoverse to the hip of legacy finance, and the single greatest point of friction in the onboarding process, KYC must be removed.
Forced KYC results in platforms not being able to onboard as many users as possible and deters capital. Many, if not all, of the sophisticated crypto market participants, search for economic environments that help them protect their capital and circumvent taxes; doing KYC defeats this purpose and, in turn, pushes users to alternatives.
While the fundamental necessity for KYC is genuinely understandable, its shadow implications of having sensitive identity information in the hands of third parties create just as much of an equilibrium in the unease.
Blockchain does not judge, nor does it care where your source funds; and that within in and of itself is powerful. Being the last truly neutral ground, a sanctuary for those who have been cast out of their jurisdictions, the implementation of KYC is only a problem for those looking to leave Web3.
If the platform is centralized, KYC is understandable, if it is decentralized, then there should not be any.
MEV— Maximal Extractable Value
Ah, the good-old “art of on-chain extortion”. Either the best thing to happen to crypto since the advent of blockchain itself or the very essence of highway robbery in cyberspace.
Supporting: MEV is Good
MEV is a natural bi-product of a fair transaction environment. It is an added vector to earn more money, an incentive that drives competition and, in turn, network security.
As is the case with any other competitive venture, the innovation that arises provides benefits that are not always directly visible, primarily in the form of detecting operational flaws that help with tech optimizations.
Opposing: MEV is Bad
Only available to network operators, an audience that is specialty trained and technically inclined, MEV only exists at the unfortunate, unknowing expense of average users.
By imposing this hidden tax, users end up dealing with more executional friction, which in turn forces them to lose more than just money; they lose opportunity.
MEV has an important role in the industry that has overall brought in more operators and kept more operators in play than there would have been otherwise.
Moving forward MEV will likely transform into a more benign version of itself; the days of absolute disorder happening at the node level will disappear. Projects like JITO on Solana leverage MEV as extra incentives for distribution to the project’s users, a trend that has caught the attention of teams on different chains.
This is a small sample of the ever-expanding set of controversial topics in the crypto space.
Do with this information as you will, but understand that every action has a reaction; and not every reaction is as it may seem on the surface.
Then think for yourself.
This game is not about being right.
It’s about being profitable.
Can you handle it Anon?
See you on the other side.
This article was originally published by Andrey Didovskiy on Hackernoon.