If only comments on the internet were always like this

Like I said in a previous post, I don’t want to write about Web3, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, or blockchain on this blog, and I still won’t. Today I wanted to share this rather excellent work available on Molly White’s website, which happens to be on this topic.1

It is a very long read, but trust me, worth your time. The post features an article by Kevin Roose, published on the New York Times, The Latecomer’s Guide to Crypto, and it is here minced into little pieces, spiced with dozens of annotations from a bunch of experts.2

I will let you appreciate the general take from the comments, but I found this format to be very compelling. If anything, this “guide” never should have been published as it was on the New York Times. Reading the original article next to the annotations, you can’t help but wonder why wasn’t this published on Roose’s personal blog instead, or at least in the opinion section.

Here are a few of my favourite annotations, in no particular order:

“Many tech veterans I’ve spoken to”? This would get me a call from an editor. The call would ask me who they were, and why their arguments were so bland that I could not quote at least one of them in my piece. (Ed Zitron)

The gist of this piece does not feel like “pay attention to crypto so you can make sure it’s responsibly developed”, it feels a lot more like “put your money in and buy some apes while it’s still early”. (summary of multiple comments)

It frustrates me that Kevin says the solution is to pay attention to the problems and then does not pay attention to the problems. (Bennett Tomlin)

I’m glad that we have established that those who are primarily speculators who derive their value from convincing others to invest are publicly stating that they believe it’s worth something. (Bennett Tomlin)

Among the several parts of Roose’s article that got me to raise my eyebrows, the one I want to comment on is the following:

Understanding crypto now — especially if you’re naturally skeptical — is important for a few reasons.

I’ve read this sentence more than a dozen times and I still can’t understand what it means. Does it mean that if you’re skeptical towards “crypto” it means that you don’t really understand it? Does it mean that understanding is more important for people who are skeptical than for people who aren’t? Did Roose mean “skeptical by nature” instead? This is very confusing and it reads a bit like: once someone really understands crypto, they won’t be skeptical anymore (the comment from Neil Turkewitz on this part is worth a read).

Seriously, I cannot recommend this annotated format on Molly White’s website enough.3

  1. Hat tip to Winnie Lim for sharing this on Twitter today.↩︎

  2. I wonder why the use of this “annotation from experts” format is not more common across the publishing industry. Medium has had something like this for years, but I am sure something like this, with a tool like Hypothesis on a mainstream website for specific articles, would be a hit, if annotated by the right experts.↩︎

  3. White is also the creator of the sarcastically titled blog Web3 is going great, which I really recommend too.↩︎