In this Slogging AMA, we talk to Anthony Watson a writer, coder and respected member of the Hackernoon community. We discuss with him all things writing, coding, cryptocurrency and of course gardening.
This Slogging thread by Jack Boreham, Anthony Watson, Sara Pinto, Limarc Ambalina and Mónica Freitas occurred in slogging's official #amas channel, and has been edited for readability.
Hi @channel, please join me in welcoming Anthony Watson. Anthony is a coder, having coded for nearly forty years. He is also an author, having written books on politics, social commentary and Cryptocurrency. He has written many articles on Hackernoon and is a fantastic member of our community. You can ask Anthony anything about:
Hi, Anthony Watson, a pleasure to have you with us. To start, can you explain a little bit about yourself and your work? 😄
I have been coding for close to forty years and continue to do so...mostly .NET C#/SQL which is a bit of a surprise to me since I am also a neo-luddite. However, it is the best way to make money these days so a little intellectual prostitution was required.
I thought I would have stopped writing code but as I got older and eschewed any management I realized coding kept me connected to the world in a way no other profession could. Now I figure I will code until I die. partially for this reason right here->
Once upon a time, there was a saying in politics.
Those who count, KNOW.
Those that KNOW, count!
There is a NEW KNOWING though
Those who code, KNOW.
Those who REALLY KNOW…code
Don’t deny you were told.
hahaha, that's interesting so how does a neo L-Luddite become a coder? 😂
Jack Boreham One is flipping hamburgers at Polly's Pies dreaming of the screenplay or novel one will write to make money without compromising one's artistic principles 😀 AND THEN after owning computers on the board I finally lost a game of chess to a computer in 1983. In the Orwellian year of 1984, I got paid for my first lines of code bossing the machines. I was very proud of being "smart", but when a computer beat me at chess I was humbled. That plus poverty made me pursue the path. One must adapt to survive in a capitalist society, after all.
Hi, glad to have you here! Where do you stand when it comes to cryptocurrency? Since you are a coder and a neo-Luddite, you must have an interesting view of it
Sara Pinto One does not have to like technology, but just like the weather, one must adapt to it. It is quite a circuitous journey that leads me to Bitcoin et al. It actually was born out of a conversation with my son about Runescape commodities back in 2010/11. If only I had followed through on my intuition then I would be hanging out in New Zealand with Peter Thiel and Kim Dotcom.
Funny story...I was one click away from buying 100 Bitcoin for $100...and then the boss walked up 😀 Nonetheless, I kept paying attention and started throwing a little money at it. I wrote about it on HN and then packaged those essays up in this book about how I ended up being a HODL'er https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HVGPLRH?psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&ref_=chk_typ_imgToDp
Sara Pinto But "throwing money at" something is not exactly the same as investing despite the title of the aforementioned. The outcome on cryptocurrency remains very uncertain. Blockchain implementations have legs, but the radical idea of a new kind of "Proof of Work" store of wealth remains unproven for all kinds of reasons.
I'm constantly humbled by technology. Just the other day, I had to accept Grammarly was perhaps better at picking up grammatical errors than me😂. What does the day of a coder look like? I know literally nothing about code. You say it's the best way to make money, why is that? Surviving in a capitalist society is key. How does crypto fit in a capitalist society, in your opinion? 😄
Jack Boreham It is the 21st century. Everyone needs coders or tech jockeys of some kind. Just go on Indeed and look at the number of jobs. They could not care less if you have a degree either...just can you code. Few professions can be that forgiving, but cyclically coding is
Jack Boreham Capitalism needs capital and it needs stable markets and accountants and trusted custodians. The bankers had the most to lose if people lost faith in the current Bretton Woods born system. America had the biggest stake nationally and that stake meant we had some pretty tight regulations like Glass-Steagall in place which made American bankers boring... Bitcoin was created because "Proof of Stake" did not really work as proven in the Great Recession. LIBOR manipulation, credit default swap debacle, bond ratings et cetera all went sideways after Bear-Stearns folded. Gold has always been a bit impractical but it was proof of work in a way because it had to be dug out of the ground. It is why fiat always ends up being the way things go. It is just too impractical to be dragging around carts of gold and silver. However, the current system which has served us so well is now being run irresponsibly. Everyone sees this. That means the dollar cannot be the reserve currency any longer. What is next? Bitcoin? Ethereum? Renminbi? The nation states will not want to lose their status as currency controllers so they will fight back. If things continue to be run irresponsibly then the corporate states will rise with their own currencies perhaps, but China's digital yuan looks very very usable!
That is quite true, we have to adapt to all new realities! That bitcoin story must have hurt though haha. Since you mentioned investing in cryptocurrency, do you have any tips for anyone interested in entering that world?
Sara Pinto Stay off exchanges. invest in a hardware wallet and go slow. You are entering shark-infested waters
Hey, I hope you've been well! Why are you against trading on exchanges like Binance? What issues do you see with them? Also about gardening, what is the easiest indoor plant to take care of, ideally to put on my desk?
I'm guessing digital Yuan is China's response to crypto. I want to know what you think about crypto helping to lessen the inequality gap. Do you see this as a possibility?
Hi! Great to have you here! What made you go from coder to writer? What are your favourite themes to write about?
Limarc Ambalina Hello there...long time no chat.... I am not against Binance in theory, but for beginners I think exchanges are dangerous. Everything is new here and so settlement during market downturns has not been tested. Robinhood's actions earlier this year are an example. A hardware wallet forces you to learn a bit more as well as the opportunity to truly treat it like money, like a non-custodial asset. The "gamification" of investing is not really a good thing...IMO
Limarc Ambalina The best house plant is also coincidentally the best for space stations and space travel. It is so tough and really converts CO2 to O2 efficiently. It has a funny name too Mother-in-Law's Tongue
Jack Boreham crypto will NOT do anything to income inequality except probably make it worse. The delivery lifestyle Americans embrace requires income inequality. The stock market demonstrates how much it likes income inequality too. The Bitcoin Bros want to push this idea of "money for the people", but it is WAY MORE COMPLICATED than that. Money is power. Money will not give up its power. Proof of Stake is the path to make sure the money keeps its place at the table
Mónica Freitas I am soooo glad you asked me that. It is fiction. That is what I MUST write before I check out. I MUST do it. I grew up in a time of great optimism, especially in science-fiction. Now it is filled with darkness. The tech prophecies have come true, but the social ones far less so. This is my purpose in writing fiction. To portray a positive vision of the future. One where we get along. One where there is not so much strife and fighting. Even Star Trek, the TV show responsible for so much of today's tech, which has such positive ideas behind it, has been changed to portray a "negative" future. I wrote about this on HN.
Mónica Freitas ALWAYS fancied becoming a writer. There is just no money in it. I went from writer to coder to rescue myself from poverty. Now I am finally back after all these decades with things to say and stuff to write. It is a great feeling honestly....to have sooo many ideas and not enough time to write them all down. There once was a time when a blank page was very intimidating and there surely were no GOOD fiction stories in my head.
That's true. Science fiction right now is viewed a bit as an omen of the future or an omen for the future's destruction. Do you want to write your sci-fi novel? Do you have an overall of the world you'd like to create?
What changed? What made you more comfortable with writing and creating your fictional worlds?
I'm not a writer but as an avid reader, I always had that curiosity of what it would be like to write a good story. But the blank page is always a bit overwhelming and I ended up not knowing where to start, what to write about. Do you have any advice for future writers? On how to make the blank page less frightening?
That makes sense; I guess monopolies will always exist. To go a bit deeper into crypto, can you explain to all us newbies out there (including myself) what crypto mining is and if you do it?
Mónica Freitas, I do not know what made me more comfortable ...time and trying. I have to say though writing fiction is very trippy. It feels like an acid trip when it is flowing. Here is a slice of the world I see https://hackernoon.com/for-the-good-of-humanity-4u1634m6
Mónica Freitas, I am simply "witnessing" in my fiction I think sometimes. This is the path we are on and this is how we can change it. Seeing all the old science fiction plotlines coming to fruition this century means I just have to ride the trains of thought of the great science fiction masters
Jack Boreham Mining is using computer equipment to solve difficult math problems to "prove" the blockchain transaction is valid. If it is and you solve the math problem, you get a reward. I am mining Ethereum. I started this year banking on the fact that Ethereum 2.0 was not going to happen this year...and it looks like I am going to be correct with just a few days left. Vitalik...what happened?
Please do let us know if you ever write your own sci-fi novel. I'm curious about the world you'll bring to life! What would you say are your book references? What are your favorite authors?
Mónica Freitas well thank you...a pre-sale already 😀 You will most likely hear about it since both Limarc Ambalina and Jack Boreham have helped me turn out decent content so I seem to always end up back here leaning on the HN community to make me better. As far as the authors, Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke are the main ones, but Frank Herbert, Philip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison...there are so many from that time...We are living their plotlines now...they are even woven into video games so even if you did not read them, their influence remains in the younger generations
Mónica Freitas, It was even a science fiction plotline which made me dive into crypto further
Why do you think ethereum 2.0 didn't happen? Also, what crypto/blockchain projects do you have your eye on? Do you think crypto will become sustainable with Cardano and that?
Jack Boreham I am not sure what you mean by "sustainable" if you mean Establishment money calling Proof of Work environmentally unfriendly? I think that is a straw man created by the Establishment to save itself from being swamped by cryptocurrencies. It certainly has slowed things a bit, which is the likely goal of the "sustainability" crowd. An interesting crypto project is Helium. https://www.helium.com/ I let my son put a mining rig for this on my roof(long story🙂) Ethereum 2.0 did not happen because of Proof of Work - WORKS!
The miners would not cooperate. They even threatened a 51% attack and they may have even staged one during early 2021 when Vitalik was pushing so hard for Ethereum 2.0 by August. However, even though Buterin said he had an answer to uncooperative miners ETH 2.0 did not happen. Now Buterin is on the Dogecoin Foundation, so I think ETH 2.0 is on life support...IMO but good for me since I have an ETH miner going.
Mónica Freitas Advice for writers? A#1-WRITE!!! After that here are the techniques I used to complete three books. They are three different ones too, though each path has a little of everything. The first one was when I got stuck...I took a notebook everywhere and when I had a moment or an idea I wrote it down longhand. It meant I had to do the data entry afterwards but it did succeed in breaking through the writer's block.
The next time I tried I could not get to the end even though I had all the ideas in my head. I started keeping a timesheet. I would get up at 4 am and write for an hour or so...just something but mostly on the book. What I thought would take me 40 or 80 hours ended up taking more than 400 hours. I knew because I kept track. This last time I just wrote on a topic and later collect them up into multiple chapters after a time
Ahh, yes, that's what I mean! how do you think all of this will tie into the Metaverse? What is your take on the new verse.
Jack Boreham Web 1.0 was short-circuited by rebellious hippies so it turned out to protect privacy. Web 2.0 was a step away from that and Web 3.0 and the Metaverse means NO privacy at all
That's awesome. I haven't had the chance to get into sci-fi literature - I usually go for fantasy 😅 - but Dune has caught my eye. I'll have to Google these authors' books. Thank you for your advice! Oof, 400 hours is a long time, but I guess it's expected when you're doing something you really like. One last question: what would your self-description be?
Mónica Freitas, I guess I did not name any titles there, did I. Here are some worth a read by these authors. Asimov-Naked Sun, I Robot, the Foundation Series, Clarke- Childhood's End, 2001:Space Odyssey-Heinlein-Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, The Green Hills of Earth, Herbert-The Whipping Star, the Jesus Incident & Dosadi Experiment Phillip K Dick -Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep & Time out of Joint.
Mónica Freitas Fantasy authors of note-Piers Anthony-On a Pale Horse-Magic of Xanth books like Centaur Aisle, Mcaffrey and the Dragon Riders of Pern and Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea books are all pretty good.
Mónica Freitas 400+ hours. It was shocking how long it took., when I had so much already done. I do not really like writing. I find it to be quite hard work. I feel compelled to put in the work, especially since Sonny Bono carried water for Disney and Mickey Mouse.
Mónica Freitas How do I self-describe? That is a toughie. My whole life people have wanted to pigeonhole me. In fact, I HAVE WANTED to pigeonhole me. I am way too random and scattered. My in-laws often referred to me as "dumb$hit"...in a loving way🙂 I have had a few bosses refer to me as a bonehead.
Once when asked for my six-word epitaph I responded with "Too smart for my own good", but I see where there might be a few nouns one could paste on my head like nonconformist, radical, iconoclast, philosopher, humanist, pagan. In the final analysis, I see myself as a simple guy who likes to dig in the dirt...a gardener. I am really a simple person. I am just a bit...mercurial
Thank you for your insightful answers to our questions. As we are just about to wrap up this AMA, any final thoughts on the world of crypto, any key takeaways? Stuff we shouldn't be doing or looking out for? 😄
Thanks for having me. It was a pleasure providing pedantic platitudes. 🙂 So here is a little more: Please please don't put any money into crypto you cannot afford to lose and get a gosh darn hardware wallet if you want to be a HODL'er. http://Trezor.io is one I like
Thank you for joining us! It's been awesome 😄. Where can people find you? Social media ect.