Category Archives: Technology

Disrupting the Currency Market

My column that originally appeared in the Duke Political Review.

The advancement of the digital age has transformed financial transactions, both in high powered trading and in everyday use. According to Nilson Reports, some $4 trillion in purchases occurred using credit, debit or prepaid credit cards in 2012. Online shopping is omnipresent, and smartphones have even rendered trips to your local bank unnecessary, as checks can be deposited directly into your account from wherever you are. The one area of payments that remained undisrupted by the digital age was the concept of currencies themselves. Continue reading

Links for Wednesday, October 30

Here are the links I’ve tweeted about recently. Check them out:
Perhaps I was naive when I figured Obama and I just differed on our view of government. It appears that he also lies extensively for political ends.
My new column on Bitcoin in @DukeDPR Disrupting the Currency Market
RT @danielfstrunk: Chanticleer-ing a path through the budget | The Chronicle via @dukechronicle
RT @ggreenwald: For those unaware of what makes the ACLU so important & principled – http:/…
If someone gets results thou don’t like, are they racist? Professor Anomaly thinks not. via @dukechronicle

Links for Wednesday, October 23

Here are the links I’ve tweeted about recently. Check them out:
Seriously, even if you’ve never heard of Uber, watch this video. One of the best I’ve seen by @reason
RT @reason: If you’ve ever used @Uber watch this video, which details the hassles the service gets from bureaucrats
Hey Japan, if your society makes it economically infeasible to have relationships, you’re gonna have a bad time!
@IBM The Watson division always gets all the media attention!
RT @d_seaman: These BASTARDS. The US Senate is trying *again* to pass #CISPA, which the American people overwhelmingly said no to. http://t…
NSA says the need MORE(!?) ability to get personal info from tech companies. Dianne Feinstein bringing back CISPA

The Core Internet Institutions Abandon the US Government

This from a post on, it seems that many parts of the internet are disassociating themselves from the US government.  ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the Internet Society, and all five of the regional Internet address registries moved away from the US-dominated internet structure of the past years.

In my last post, I mentioned something similar at the end of the my last post, which in turn was an idea I heard originally from Dr. Martin Libicki of the RAND Corporation at a cyberwarfare event earlier this month.  He felt that perhaps the most devastating consequence of General Alexander’s expansion of the NSA’s powers was the loss of American hegemony over the internet.  He stated, and I wholeheartedly concur, that while Alexander was so blindly focused on the disruption of terrorist activity, we lost a great deal of economic and political trust and control over the internet and technology.  The payoff of preventing terrorism is intangible and possibly overstated, while the costs are titanic and concrete.

While I am no fan of the US government having more power, the ability to have a strong say in shaping the internet benefited the US, and often the world, especially with such a tradition of free speech and technological innovation.  But it has become clear that the United States government can no longer be trusted to safeguard the freedoms of the internet.  And now we all must deal with that reality by removing the internet from its grasp.

Surveillance: What’s Possible and What’s Legal?

Originally published in the Duke Political Review.


NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, MD. Public Domain Image from Wikipedia.

On June 6, 2013, documents published simultaneously by The Guardian and The Washington Post threw into stark relief the extent and ability of the United States intelligence agencies, chief among them the National Security Agency (NSA), to gather data and information, even on domestic targets. I had just begun a summer long internship in a large software company, and I was eager to gauge the reaction from programmers who had spent years designing and building the internet that most only interact with superficially. Continue reading

Links for Sunday, August 04

Here are the links I’ve tweeted about recently. Check them out:
Just watched that horrifying Fox News interview with Lauren Green. Wow. The Young Turks coverage:
Yahoo is shutting down another acquisition. This is weird. I guess they’re just acquiring talent?
“pressure cookers, backpacks and quinoa, oh my!” by @inthefade
RT @ggreenwald: Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler on why the “aiding the enemy” charge against Manning is so dangerous…
@TheEconomist on Chris Christie’s “cognition-arresting sentimental appeal” against freedom:
RT @reason: Verdict in Bradley Manning Trial Expected Tomorrow –
Why do we need billion dollar blimps to protect DC? This is not the Cold War.
@TheEconomist critiquing America’s public finances. Please forward to all congressional and state leadership.

The Future of Virtual Currencies: Part 2, Brief History of Virtual Currencies

Below is Part 2 of my series on Virtual Currencies and Bitcoin.  You can find Part 1 here.

Brief History of Virtual Currencies Before Bitcoin

Virtual currencies have not only existed for quite some time before Bitcoin, but have been large commercial ventures for over a decade. An in-depth report from Eurogamer traces in-game currency trading back to one of the first multiplayer online games, Ultima Online, first launched in 1997[1].  Although Ultima waned, other MMOs grew over the course of the last decade. With larger player bases and more complicated games, more complex economies naturally arose.  Players spending dozens if not hundreds of hours in these games meant that in-game currency could be priced to many hours of labor, in essence creating a huge market where in-game currency had real-world value. Continue reading

Open Source and the GPL

The term “Open Source” was first used in 1998 to refer to Netscape Navigator’s distribution and development method of giving away their source code for free.  However, the concept of sharing code and information had a long history before that, including automobile manufacturers in the early 20th century sharing patents, all the way through ARPANET and the beginning of the internet.  BSD, for example, is a Linux distribution that was shared and given away for free for years before Open Source became a term. You can read more in Wikipedia’s article.

Free software is a related term. It was coined by Richard Stallman in the 80s when he established the Free Software Foundation. Continue reading

You are being monitored by your government

Last night, a story broke when The Guardian confirmed that Americans were being subjected to widespread, untargeted spying by the NSA (Glenn Greenwald broke the story for those who don’t know of him).  To quote:

In plain language: the order gave the NSA a record of every Verizon customer’s call history — every call made, the location of the phone, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other “identifying information” for the phone and call — from April 25, 2013 (the date the order was issued) to July 19, 2013.  The order does not require content or the name of any subscriber and is issued under 50 USC sec.1861, also known as section 215 of the Patriot Act. Continue reading