Wrote, Read, Owned
February 9, 2024 12:10 PM   Subscribe

This may be why Part Four is precisely four and a half pages long. And rather than name any successful projects, Dixon instead spends his few pages excoriating the "casino" projects that he says have given crypto a bad rap, prompting regulatory scrutiny that is making "ethical entrepreneurs ... afraid to build products" in the United States. In fact, throughout the entire book, Dixon fails to identify a single blockchain project that has successfully provided a non-speculative service at any kind of scale. from Molly White's reviews Chris Dixon's Read Write Own
posted by chavenet (12 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Read Molly White's review when it came out, and was delighted by how brutally sharp and on-point it was. It left me reflecting on the fact that "reviews" of books by tech industry folks are often breezy summaries of the author's premise with a few nitpicks or rants and raves woven in. Molly's ability to critically engage with Dixon's arguments in the context of his business and behaviors definitely elevated it, and made me long for the days when "beat reporters" were more common…
posted by verb at 12:30 PM on February 9 [24 favorites]

Chances that the guy to productize the first consumer www browser would be an ‘ethical entrepreneur’ was pretty low in retrospect…
posted by torokunai at 12:51 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]

what he dubs the "attract-extract cycle": a pattern among Big Tech companies where they first attract users with generous offerings and then change the rules so as to extract maximum profits once users are locked in
Is... is Chris Dixon aware that the "extract" part of that cycle is most often driven by a company's need to monetize every inch of its userbase at the behest of the VCs who invested in them, hoping for a massive payday (and manipulating them toward that outcome)?

Or is he really that blind to a16z's role, and the role of VCs in general, in creating and perpetuating exactly the problem that he now proposes another round of blockchain hype as a solution for?

I already knew that Andreesen was high on his own farts and oblivious to reality but I guess I need to expand that assessment to the entire crew over there.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:14 PM on February 9 [16 favorites]

Which is more likely? a16z is tired of extracting money from its portfolio companies and wants to make that impossible through technological means, or they just want us to think that so we'll buy into their latest Ponzi scheme?
posted by aubilenon at 1:17 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]

White is always mixing sharp, on point analysis, clear structure, and a clean, readable style that helps cut through crypto and AI murk. She takes pages (or hours) of bloating and asks “excuse me, where *are* the emperor’s clothes?” (Or, if you prefer, “what is SFB’s defense?”) She’s required reading on all this stuff.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:29 PM on February 9 [18 favorites]

The thing that struck me most was how Dixon was so adamant about declaring RSS to be dead. That declaration was made by Google over ten years ago, most people took it as obvious then. That it has to be declared again now a decade later would seem to indicate that it's not really dead at all, just that Dixon really wishes it were so.

I would say that people should stop trusting the word of venture capitalists when they say what's important on the web, and should instead listen to its power users, which evidently, if he doesn't use RSS, Chris Dixon isn't one of. But that we shouldn't believe VCs when they tell us what the next big thing is has been evident ever since they tried to push NFTs upon us.
posted by JHarris at 1:29 PM on February 9 [18 favorites]

"Software enforced" makes me shudder. If you've seen what naïve and largely non-malicious staff achieve by assuming that the training wheels on their corporate apps mean that anything it lets them do must be ok, then you know that leaving software controls to defend things of value, that need to be interacted with in any sort of (semi)public network, against deliberate misuse is doomed. DOOMED!
posted by krisjohn at 2:22 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]

(So I confused Molly White with Molly Crabapple, and then was a further confused given that it made sense that Molly Crabapple would review a book by the Chris Dixon I was thinking of. But this review is neither by Crabapple nor about that Chris Dixon. So, uh, carry on.)
posted by eviemath at 2:25 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]

Molly White is a treasure!

Apparently it's only on the NYT bestseller list due to bulk sales.
posted by Lycaste at 4:12 PM on February 9 [8 favorites]

Isn't that basically how everything gets on the NYT bestseller list? I've been completely disregarding it as an indicator of anything useful for years.
posted by echo target at 4:27 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]

Molly's been such a delight to read. She is brilliant beyond her years, and yay for us that we may get more of her great writing for years to come.

As opposed to the Chris Dixon trash. What bothers me is not so much that someone who's smart enough to know better will release such baseless dreck for no purpose other than to swindle, but that there are so many wealthy people of the investor class with none of the foundational domain knowledge necessary to evaluate the worth of what Dixon et al offer, but will shove obscene amounts of money towards it nonetheless, the outcome of which will likely be continued pure waste of valuable resources that could be put to such better use elsewhere.
posted by jerome powell buys his sweatbands in bulk only at 4:49 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]

Oooh I have heard of this book already. I subscribe to the Financial Times which featured an opinion piece from Dixon in support of his book last week. It was an absolute PR car crash and the wreckage has been burning wonderfully.

I don't claim to be a computing expert but even I feel informed enough to be sceptical of the many weird statements compressed into his comment piece, such as "Unlike traditional computers, blockchains can ensure that any code they run will continue to operate as designed." Uh, yeah, sure.

I scrolled down to see a minor revolt in the comments. They were mostly variations on "This is a bloviating advertorial by a pseudo-expert", "I thought this was a real newspaper, not a mouthpiece for this idiot's PR firm", "Enjoy your dirty money," "Why did I get an email and a push notification about this crap", plus several comments that gave a much better precis of the topic than the actual publication.

It was all the more entertaining thanks to the crypto bros fighting to suppress the FUD all over the comments ("maybe you should read the book before you criticise it", lol, no thanks).
posted by Probabilitics at 6:10 PM on February 9 [12 favorites]

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