Week #43 (October 26th)

This was my last week in Paris, and for once, I was actually sad to leave. This was, in fact, another really interesting week on the crypto-front ! My friend had gone back to Boston, but I did not even have time to feel lonely as a new crypto-person came into my life. She’s a girl from Barcelona who is involved in FairCoop (that really cool initiative that that Stacco had told me about just a fe weeks ago). Stacco had connected me with her, since I had expressed interested in learning more and potentially getting involved in FairCoop. So he sent her to me. It was a pleasure to meet her and to hear more about the project. FairCoop is, indeed, one of the most interesting application of crypto currency as a means to support and sustain the commons. I was really happy to learn more about it, and the more I learnt, the more I was convinced that it was an amazing idea, whose elegancy simply could not be denied. Taking a crypto currency in order to create a global initiative connecting together a variety of smaller, local initiatives which could all interact with each other through a system of mutual credit, backup up by the FairCoin crypto currency instead of any fiat currency, so as to (1) remain completely independent from any central bank or government, and (2) directly benefit from the speculative value that the capitalists will bring to the project. Apparently a win-win situation, to begin with at least, but whose ultimate objective is to rely on capitalism only to bootstrap the project, and then be able to develop a sustainable alternative economic system that will eventually disrupt the capitalism system. An utopian vision perhaps, but given the actual success of the Cooperative Integral de Catalunya, I was confident that this one stand a chance to succeed as well. I decided I would do everything I could to hep them with the project. I joined the “Commons Council” of Faircoop, and I committed to launch a local node in Paris, together with Etienne (the Symba guy). We got in touch with the people from the Cooperative Integral Ile-de-France, with OuiShare, LaPaillasse, and other people who are highly involved in the commons-world in order to tell them about the project and try to involve them. The response was quite positive, and we already have decent core of people interested and motivated in helping out, that I’m actually looking forward  to come back to Paris in december, in order to further develop the local initiative..

Interestingly, that week, I also had a presentation organized by Ouishare at La paillasse, of course, a presentation about the utopian / dystopian vision of Ethereum and decentralized autonomous organizations. It was the first time I had to give such a presentation in french, and I felt a little bit uneasy about it, but it turned out to be one of my favorite presentations so far, for I had the chance to present my ideas in front of a public that was not only interested, but actually quite passionate about this. Although not everybody was knowledgeable about the underlying technicalities of Ethereum, most of them understood the potential (and the dispotential) it present. I have even been asked to give a keynote about this at the next OuiShareFestival in may.. finally society is starting to understand the relevancy of my research  :)

Week #42 (October 19th)

This week, Amir left back to London in order to move back to Paris. He felt that he had abandoned his crew, and he had a few things to deal with before he could actually move to Paris, but he promised he’d be back “soon”. (I since then have learnt to never rely on anything Amir says when it relates to schedules or timing.. :)

But I was not alone. A friend of mine from London came to visit me in Paris. His name is Vlad and he is about as obsessed about crypto as I am, except that he’s actually an expert mathematician, so he can actually put his obsession to actual use  :)  Last time we met was over 6 month ago in Amsterdam, where we had committed to do a crypto-marathon and just brainstorm ideas and discuss about crypto for about 24 hours. This time, we had to do better (and we did !); we decided to try and do a 72 hours marathon, where we’d not leave crypto-world for the whole time. I brought Vlad to the Loop (the local hackerspace in Paris) which I had never been before, at least not in its current location. We started hacking right away, talking about block chain scalability,  proof of work, proof of stake, proof of stake at stake and so on for the whole evening, and night.  Of course, we had to sleep at some point, but we only slept in order to be able to concentrate more the following day.  We couldn’t really go home because the subway was off, so we stay at the squat next door, the Jardin d’Alice, where we kept chatting for another few hours about reputation systems, block chain voting and the like. Eventually, we fell asleep.

Something horrible had happened that night, perhaps because I used it too intensively (bit coin mining is laptop killer), it seemed that my computer was refusing to use my HD, which was making some horrible squeeking noises whenever I tried to boot from it. Here’s a challenge. How would I get a new HD in Paris, by only paying in Bitcoin? I thought I was lucky, since I was still at the Loop, I could just purchase an old recoup’ed HD from there, and pay them in Bitcoin !  But it turns out that (1) they had no available SSD hard-disks around, and (2) they were not willing to accept Bitcoin. Again, France was surprising me for its closed-mindness when it comes to accepting Bitcoin. I was getting quite concerned, till an old friend of mine that I used to hang out with at the Loop suggested that he would come with me and purchase a HD in Montgallet, and that I could pay him back in Bitcoin. He actually had no Bitcoin wallet yet, so the whole thing was legitimate. Yet, as I was about to accept the offer, I remembered that the computer I own is not actually mine, but my university’s property, and so I could ask my university to actually purchase a new HD for it, since it had just broken. So, again, instead of relying on a human-wallet, I decided to rely on my university resources instead, so as to get a pretty decent HD without having to pay for it myself  :)

The day went on quite smoothly, with me and Vlad hanging out in the underground room of the Loop, and just barely noticing the beautiful day outside. We discussed about my beloved reputation system, Sabir, which Vlad seemed to enjoy, although I could see that he still had some doubts about it. As the sun was getting down, we decided to go back to my place to meet Solene (Amir’s girlfriend) and Anesu (the only one from Amir’s crew that was actually still in Paris). They brought us to yet another squat, one really close to my house in fact, where a crazy dude was exhibiting his crazy art (which is just as good as it is crazy in fact). After about one hour there, both me and Vlad started getting frustrated, since this was preventing us from working on the crypto! So, we found a small couch and started thinking about ways to improve the Sabir reputation system, so as to turn it into an actual general purpose reputation and identity management system. Just a few hours passed before we actually came up with a really elegant way of turning Sabir into a much simpler, and yet more sophisticated system of “subjectively objective reputation” – i.e. taking the subjective value judgements of multiple individuals and aggregating them together into an objective value by pondering each judgement through a particular value metrics. For lack of a better name, we called this system !@#.

Week #41 (October 12th)

I was much less worried to remain in Paris that I was before arrival. Indeed, I think I could actually survive quite easily there now! It turns out Amir actually decided to leave the place he was squatting in London (in fact, I believe he had been evicted from it) and move in to Paris instead, perhaps because of Solene, but perhaps also because of the location of the city which is located in the middle of Europe, and basically 15 euro away by bus to any major city of the continent. Amir had actually found another squat in Paris, an old abandoned police station in a small town in the suburbs of Paris, where he had been invited to take over a whole floor in order to set up a hacker-space ! The fort, as we eventually began to call it, was really rudimentary at the moment, no running water, but it had Internet & electricity, and I think that’s all what amir needs to survive – in addition to caramel I guess  ;) So amir decided not only to move there himself, but also to bring all of his crew along with him, so as to establish a network of crypto-squatters in Paris, in preparation to the squat-conf that was coming up in November, where, of course, they’ll be presenting the wonders of DarkWallet and decentralized crypto ledgers.. I was really sad I would miss it, but I was really happy to hear that Amir and his crew would become permanent citizens of France !

Another good news came that week. I had started to draft a white paper concerning all the hard problems of crypto-law, and as the document was getting larger and larger, I thought it would be a good idea to turn it into a text book. So I sent the outline to someone from Harvard Academic Press, asking them whether they’d be interested in publishing it. The reaction was much more positive than I had hoped for, as they found the topic to be “fantastic” (quote) and they actually want it to be part of a real book, as opposed to a simple textbook. I could finally write about all the stuff I would ever want to talk about, knowing that this is actually being appreciated by the public.

For the rest of the week, I mainly have been working and hanging out with Amir and his crew most of the time. For some reason, when you hang out around squats, the question of how you gonna feed yourself never comes up. Squats are amazing at finding outlets for food, it’s hard to tell the quality of the food, probably it’s better not to know where it is coming from in fact, but regardless, it appears that Amir is much more hardcore than me, since he’s been living without spending any money whatsoever for quite a while now. I thought I was cool to live off bitcoin, but Amir just lives off nothing, solely relying on the sympathy of people supporting his project whenever he actually needs to purchase something that he cannot get for free (e.g. bus tickets, mainly). I still had a lot to learn in that regard..

Week #40 (October 5th)

This was my big come back to Paris. I did not know for how long I would have to stay there, but I knew I had to start preparing the ground in order to be able to run a decent life without infringing my oath. I  went back to Paris because of two main things, one was the meeting of the European project I’m working on, which I was actually organizing at my university, and the other was the final symposium of another project I had been working on for the past 3 or 4 years, the ADAM project on online decentralized architectures. The former was a standard meeting where all partners meet and discuss the current developments of their research, and establish the roadmap for the next research directions to take. It was nice, mainly because I like my partners a lot, but nothing really exciting on the Bitcoin front. The most interesting part was the part that was actually not officially part of the meeting, as we started thinking about the possibility to apply for a EC fund with Sabir, so as to get fundings for another 3 years to research and implement the Sabir idea. At the end of the meeting, we organized some kind of informal time for meeting the various communities that we will be working with to develop a prototype of our application. We met Etienne, the founder of the Symba community, which is an alternative currency that he’s trying to get off the ground since a few years now, and it seems like it’s gonna take off soon. Etienne came with two guests that we had never met before (at least not in real life): Stacco and his fiancée, from the Guerrilla Translation initiative. It was actually a pleasure to meet Stacco, which I already knew through a multitude of email threads, but with whom I never had the chance to interact more directly. Stacco came to chat about my possible involvement with the Commons-based Reciprocity License research that the P2PFoundation was organizing, which I obviously agreed to. Most interestingly, however, Stacco started telling us about this new initiative, FairCoop, launched recently by Enric Duran, the founder of the Cooperativa Integral de Catalunya. The plan with FairCoop is essentially to take over the FairCoin crypto currency and use it as a mean to fund a cooperative of commons-based initiatives or projects — something akin to the Cooperative Integral de Catalunya, except that, this time, it is a global initiative, capable of linking together different local / territorial realities, through the common denominator that is the FairCoin crypto currency. The most exciting part of this scheme, is that by letting external investors (or speculator) invest into the currency, this enable the FairCoop cooperative to extract the value (resulting from the speculative added-value created by the speculators) and bring it back into the commons-based community. A modern form of Robin-Hood perhaps, or simply a way of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, without actually taking anything away from the rich ! Check out the initiative at: http://fair.coop

The ADAM symposium was also quite interesting. Lots of interesting people were there, including the people from MaidSafe, which I was very excited to meet and talk with, although it turned out that I simply realized that MaidSafe is actually not that great, in fact, it turns out to be quite flacky as a concept, and quite late in its implementation. Yet, the discussion was actually quite productive, since the inappropriateness of MaidSafe, compared to the 5 millions dollars it raised through crypto-crowdfunding, shows that pretty much anyone with a decent idea (and not necessarily a decent way to implement that idea) can raise a substantial amount of money, by simply launching a (pretty much useless) crypto currency on the crypto market. This was inspiring, and enticing in a way   ;)

I presented by usual talk on Ethereum: Freenet or Skynet, which has actually been quite well appreciated by the crowd. Even though I was worry that people would think I’m slightly crazy and way too avant-garde for traditional French academia, a few people that I highly respect seemed genuinely interested in the ideas I was putting forth, which made me feel like I’m actually going in the right direction after all.

Finally, another really great news came that weekend: Amir – the mastermind behind DarkWallet – was in town to visit his girlfriend (and my good friend) Solene. He came with 3 comrades of his:  Caedos, which I had formerly met in Calafou, Jonathan from BitMessage and Anesu from another world (Zimbabwe, actually  ;) It was nice to hang out with such a cool crew of people interested in changing (or dominating?) the world with crypto !

Week #39 (September 28th, 2014)

And there we go to Brazil again! Sao Paulo though, not Rio – a much safer place for BTC’es. I had to go to present Creative Commons at the Encontre Internacional de Cultura Digital organized by the SESC, a pretty amazing cultural center that did an amazing job organising one of the best cultural event I had the opportunity to attend until now. Most importantly, from a Bitcoin perspective, they did actually fund the speakers (quite well, indeed) in addition to paying for the transportation and hotel. Not only did they give a decent amount of dollars for my presentation, but they even came to pick me up at the airport and provided a van back and forth from the hotel to the venue, and so on. They also gave me extra money for the per-diem expenses, which they insisted should be in Brazilian reais, in spite of my attempt to get them to pay me in Bitcoin. So, I ended up with quite a lot of money in my hands, dollars and reais, and no way of spending them – not only because of my oath, but also because everything was so well taken care of, that I simply could not imagine a situation in which I would actually need to spend that money on anything else but souvenirs perhaps. So I just put it into my pocket, and promised not to spend any of it, till I get back home and convert them into Bitcoin.

Since I did, however, want to spend some bitcoin, I contacted Rodrigo from Mercado Bitcoin, so that I could hang out and hopefully discover interesting places in Sao Paulo where I could spend my Bitcoins. The conference was, however, way too interesting to miss any single part of it, so I ended up not being able to meet up with anyone outside of the venue, but rather invited people to come and meet me there – although, again, everything was perfectly taken care of in the venue, so spending Bitcoin was not only meaningless, but also impossible.

While most of the presentations were extremely interesting, perhaps the one that marked me the most was the one from Gilson Swartz, whose name I did not know until now, but I was highly impressed by his presentation, which touched many topics that I feel closely related to, including the topic of crypto-currencies as applied to an alternative model of non-market transactions. It turns out, Gilson is the co-supervisor of Ricardo, from Mercado Bitcoin, who I had the pleasure to meet last time I was in Sao Paulo, and who had expressed great interest in Sabir. Again, things were magically coming together without even trying   ;)

Serendipity always kicks in, and Gilson actually informed me that, in the past, he had already coined a currency together with Bernard Lietar, whose name was actually “saber” (funny, but I had never realized that Sabir is so similar to Saber, and yet, it turns out that this is actually the root of the word, from the old Lingua Franca times..  ;)  Gilson also produced a short film about the “Creative Currencies” project (Ministry of Culture and BNDES, at www.culturadigital.br/schwartz, also support from BNDES) which was highlighted by UNESCO during the Rio+20 Forum.

Definitely interesting research is going on this field, and – even if it was just for Glison – the whole trip to Sao Paulo was definitely worth it ! It is interesting to see how everyone is currently starting to think about the new opportunities provided by crypto-currencies, but so few people actually manage to look beyond the “currency” paradigm to start looking towards alternative models which are actually not based on ‘scarcity’ and ‘exchange’ but rather on ‘abundance’ and ‘sharing’. Hopefully, we will be able to build fruitful interactions with Gilson’s Saber and our Sabir !    :)

Week #38 (September 21th, 2014)

What I did not realize was that my crypto-ledger based work was actually closely related to my artistic persona. It was while chatting with John Clippinger, professor at MIT, and telling him about my summer and my Bitcoin adventures, that we somehow ended up chatting about his summer and his first encounter with Burning Man. John said that it was a transformative experience for him and his crew (a comment which I completely second, as it had exactly the same effect on me), but that the core-team of Burning Man were actually quite worry about how the original values of Burning Man were being diluted by the commodification of the event, with lots of people coming to the festival only to party, without contributing with the values of collaboration and sharing which have made Burning Man such a special and transformative event for so many people till now. He said that the core-team asked him to think about a solution, a means of preserving the original values of peer-to-peer collaboration and radical inclusion, without it being contaminated by the capitalistic approach of the new-comers, that simply did not understand the value. I mentioned Sabir to him, and he seemed interested. I sent him the whole document on it, and he seemed quite excited. Ultimately, after a week a few days discussing the issue, we realized that Burning Man would, indeed, make the perfect testbed community for Sabir: a way of understanding who’s actually contributing to the community, and who’s free-riding on it, a way of changing the rules of the games in order to promote empathy and collaboration, and discourage commercial exploitation, a way to restore the original values, without actually excluding anyone, but rather extending these values to the new-comers, by using the ‘carrot’ instead of the ‘stick’.  It is not hard to see how Sabir could actually save burning man, because it allows for people to create social capital according to their actual actions as opposed to what they purchased, it allows to set up a reputation system by means of a non-transferrable currency (calling it currency is probably a mistake, but I have no idea how to best call this thing). We actually need to coin a new term for it because we are currently lacking the proper word for this concept, and it’s so hard to communicate the concept, or even to think about it, if you don’t have a word for it. Either way, without even knowing it, I had come up with a solution for a problem that I was not even aware existed (I had been to burning man about 5-4 years ago, and the commodification problem was only emerging by then, but it was in no way an actual problem that the core-team was actually trying to address). So we had a solution, now we just had to figure out how convince the core-team that it is actually the best solution. See my slides (comments welcome!)

Week #37 (September 14th, 2014)

After an incredible difficult attempt to get my VISA in time to fly off the USA before the Berkman’s inauguration week, and after fighting with the US embassy on every possible level, I managed to land into Boston, for what happen to be an amazing week !

I had scheduled lots of meeting to catch up with all the stuff I had been missing out during the summer, most of them related to Sabir, a system for measuring value in the commons-based ecosystem that would fulfil the same function as price in the market economy (in terms of understanding and comparing value within different commons-based community), and providing an interface with the market, but without incurring the risk of commodification. I spoke with Yochai Benkler, David Bollier, John Clippinger and pretty much anyone that was willing to listen to me, in order to figure out whether the whole idea makes sense, and what are the risks and opportunities that it might entails.  The outcome of most of these discussions have been summarized in this document: MoneyLabReader – Sabir

Week #36 (September 7th, 2014)

Quite a boring week on the Bitcoin front. Nothing really excited happened, except for the usual random routine of going back and forth from my house to my work, with the exception that this time I was also travelling back and forth from my house to the US embassy, and from there to my work, and then back to the US embassy, as a desperate attempt to renew my VISA. Two problems: (1) I had lost my copy of the DS19-20 form, which is essential to get a VISA, and (2) I could not prove that I had proper fundings to actually funds myself for one year in the USA, because my work contract actually end on December 31st, and I had not enough money in my bank account to show that I could actually fund myself. In fact, if I could show them my Bitcoin account, perhaps it would have been possible to argue that I was, indeed, able to survive for a while, but the US embassy was reluctant to accept proof of fundings in anything else than fiat currency. I was quite astonished by that, but I was willing to break the rules, and transfer back all of my Bitcoin into my French bank account to prove that I was actually not a complete bum. Yet, the problem emerged as I realized that a transfer from Bitstamp to my French bank account would take over 3 business days, which – if combined with the fact that the US embassy was closed for Labor day, and was now experiencing difficulties with VISA (because of one day closure?!) – it would probably mean that I would never be able to get my VISA processed in time to be able to fly to Boston and enjoy the first week of festivities that the Berkman center was organising for all the new and returning fellows. So I spent hours arguing on the phone, trying to explain that I only had Bitcoin, and that they should just convert them to today’s rate, but they would just hang up on me after a while. So I went to the US embassy in person, trying to hijack the VISA procedure so that they would let me apply for a VISA in person (i.e. by wasting the whole day at the queue at the US embassy, to get a fucking stamp on the passport) instead of benefiting from the more ‘convenient’ procedure that is all done by email (but which is also much much much slower), but in vain. So I decided to give up at this desperate attempt, and simply asked my parents to vouch for me, with their own bank account. This also was not part of the standard procedure, and it would most likely have been rejected by the VISA processor, unless I could explain them what the issue actually was. Of course, I could not explain it to them because I could not go in person talking to them. So, I decided to experiment with another desperate trick: the love letter. I sent my application by mail (as they asked me to). I knew that it would take them about one week to process (while I had to leave before the end of the week, if i wanted to not waste the Berkman inauguration week) and that, even if they would have done it expeditely, they most likely would have rejected the application because of the fundings problem. So I wrote a love letter and attached it to the application, I was sure it was gonna fail, but I figured I would try anyways. I explained them that I live off bitcoin, and that I have fundings but I cannot prove it to them, I told them that I was really desperate about getting to the US in time and that they could make me so happy if they would process my application fast, I told them that I love them and that I wish they could have the best one of their days, I told them that the world is a beautiful place, and that they could contribute to making it even more so. And eventually, I got my VISA in the mail, the very same day I went and fly off to the USA!

Week #35 (August 31st, 2014)

Back to Paris, life has been much easier. Not because the Bitcoin ecosystem is much more advanced here (although Monoprix announced that it will accept Bitcoin starting from December !!) but mainly because it is much easier to live a comfortable life in Europe, even when you cannot spend fiat money.

Shelter is free (since I’m being kindly hosted by my former flatmates) and transportation is simply dealt with through biking everywhere, regardless of weather or distance. Food is also an easy one, since I can always find a human-wallet willing to help me do quite a large bunch of groceries which generally last a fairly decent amount of time – the American way  ;)

But after my failure in South America, I felt I should try and get further into the process of Bitcoin democratization. So I met with my friend Solene, an amazing chick that is pretty much as interested in Bitcoin and decentralized societies as I am, and which is in fact the girlfriend of Amir, the man behind DarkWallet. Both have been living for a few months in Calafou (the amazing eco-industrial post-capitalist colony in the countryside next to Barcelona, where lots of Bitcoin / Ethereum enthusiasts had been meeting for a long while). For some reason, people interested in cryptocurrencies are often not interested in spending currencies for rent: Amir currently lives in a squat in London and Solene in a squat in Paris, right next to my home. While hanging out with her, and chatting about how we could get more people to understand (and exploit) the opportunities that bitcoin and other cryptoledger-based applications more generally might bring to society, we started brainstorming about what we could achieve to present Bitcoin to people from an commons-based perspective rather than a merely capitalistic or speculative standpoint. It did not take long before we finally got one of the best ideas we could get – turning a soon-to-be Paris squat into an actual Crypt (a shorcut for cryptoledger-based common-living space) where anyone interested in cryptocurrencies and beyond would be welcome to stay, hang out, and meet other people interested in the same kind of stuff. The idea would be to create a network composed of several of these Crypts (e.g. Calafou, Amir’s space in london, and so on) for people to be able to travel around, knowing that there will always be someone interesting to meet in these places — something like the various couchsurfing houses which have been deployed all around the world, but about cryptoledgers instead. Anyone with a cryptoldeger-related project could come as a resident and try to build synergies with the rest of the crypto-community. We would also experiment with innovative governance model, not based on the “generally assembly” or other “pseudo-democratic” means of decision-making, but rather on a much more decentralized or distributed governance system, hopefully by experimenting with Ethereum-based DAO governance models, to find out whether they work in practice.

The idea excited us a lot, so we immediately went to speak with one of these guys who are working on setting up a new squat in the neighborhood, in order to try and pitch him the idea. He seemed slightly reluctant at first, but he soon started to understand the concept and actually started to become excited himself — especially after we told him about the possibility of installing a miner into the basement, in order to fund the activities of the squat, while also getting a sauna as a collateral effect (because of the heat generated by the miner). So we had found a place for our idea, and all we had to do now was to find a community: people who are open-minded enough to be willing to experiment with our idea, but serious and pragmatic enough to actually be able to implement it in real life.

Week #34 (August 24th, 2014)

Argentina, Bitcoin paradise – or so I heard. This ought to be a good Bitcoin week, since I really wanted to repay my tort for infringing my oath having spent so many reais while in Rio !  This week, I really would try hard not to cheat.

First issue – as usual – transportation. As soon as I got off the plane and walked into the airport, all the airport staff I interacted with asked me if I wanted to change money at a better rate than the official exchange rate (the so-called black market). I did not want to get any Argentinian pesos, be it either on the black or white market, but it was pretty late at night and I had to take the bus to my friend’s house. Since I was not sure they would accept bitcoin on the bus – in fact, I was pretty sure they wouldn’t – and I was not willing to take the risk of being stuck at the airport for the night, I decided I would change the few reais I had left in my wallet (just a bit more than 10 euros worth) and that would be all I would be allowed to spend during my stay in Argentinia in terms of fiat money.

The bus system in Argentina is quite peculiar, since you can either pay with the bus card (which cannot be purchased at the airport) or with ‘moneta’ (i.e. coins, as opposed to bills) – although you have to pay twice as much in the latter case. I was not aware of that, so I jumped on the bus with my pesos bills, which I was not able to spend. Fortunately, the bus driver was really keen to let me ride the bus for free, and in fact most of the other passengers insisted to pay for me. Considering the price of a bus ticket (about 30 cents) that kindof made sense. So I made it home without spending any pesos, and thus even more motivated to succed in not infringing my oath for the whole period. Arrived at home, I met my new friends (i.e. the friends of a friend of a friend) who were having a little party that night, so I got the chance to meet a bunch of local while eating really nice local foods. I told them about my bitcoin diet, but they did not seem to understand how I would be able to survive, since – while it is true that Bitcoin is highly popular in Argentina – no one actually wants to spend them, so there are indeed very few merchants accepting Bitcoins. This was a little bit alarming, but that made sense indeed, as I could hardly imagine Argentinians spending bitcoin over pesos – after all, the weakest currency is always the one that goes out first.

Nonetheless, I kept a positive attitude and did not give up on the idea of not infringing my oath. The transporation problem had been resolved, as I discovered that it is really easy to travel for free on the Argentinian bus. As a foreigner, I could pretty much travel for free anywhere, as long as would only show them pesos bills. So I could travel everyday back and forth from my home to the Intercontinental Hotel (the venue for the conference I was attending) without spending pesos. In terms of food, I did not have any problems either. During the conference, I could also easily feed myself, since the conference was providing quite a large amount of food, including many delicious Argentinian sweets, even too sweet at times.

The main problem was the Internet, since the place I was staying at did not have an Internet connection. Usually, I would resolve this problem by asking the neighbors if they would like to share their Internet connection, in exchange of money (Bitcoin in that case) or a gift. This time, it was much more difficult, since – perhaps because of my bad spanish – everyone seemed really scared about me even knocking at their door, and they all claimed they had no wifi, even though of course I could see the lie. So, instead, I tried to walk around to find free wifi spots, but nothing seems to have decent wifi connection. Even macdonalds, which is usually my best bet for wifi had a really bad connection which was going up and down all the time. In desperation, I started approaching places which did not generally provide free wifi, and tried to corrupt them into letting me use their Internet connection, obviously by offering them to pay some Bitcoin. I eventually befriended the staff of La Brioche Doree, who actually knew and were generally interested in Bitcoin, so they gave me free access to their Internet, without even asking me to purchase anything from their store – since they were not able to accept Bitcoin. So this became my temporary office, where I would spend most of my time which I did not have to spend at the conference.

As the conference ended on Saturday, I started to be slightly concerned. I had managed to survive without spending any pesos thus far, but if I were to survive during the weekend, I would have to find some ways to spend my Bitcoins. That night, it was the birthday of another friend of a friend of a friend, who invited me to celebrate at his place, where he was gonna make an ‘asado’ (i.e. Argentinian bbq). I felt obliged to bring something, like wine or food, but there was actually nothing around where I would be able to buy anything in Bitcoin. The so-called Bitcoin paradise only goes one-way – it only works for those who want to sell pesos and purchase bitcoin, but not the other way round. I did not want to infringe my oath, but I also did not want to show up without anything for my friend’s birthday. So I transferred some Bitcoin into a new wallet, printed it out as a QRcode on a nice looking card, which would constitute the present I would offer to my new friend. Funnily enough, at that party there were a bunch of swedes that actually knew quite a lot about Bitcoin (more so than the standard Argentinians I had interacted with so far), and after a few hours we were chatting about Bitcoin and Ethereum, I realized that they already knew me, since they had seen my Berkman talk on youtube and they actually thought I was a big deal.. I have to admit, that was absolutely the first time that I ever felt – even if only slightly – “famous”  ;)