AMA: Crypto & Metaverses

My friend recently sent me an email with a bunch of questions about crypto, web3, and the rest.

With their permission, I’ve opted to publish the answers here in the hopes that I could inform more people of my personal opinions.

This is not financial advice, please do your own research before yeeting cash into Web3.


I have been working a bit on educating myself about crypto and metaverses and I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on a few things…

What do you think is the best decentralized asset investment right now? Ethereum? Other cryptos? LAND in Decentraland? Land in other metaverses? NFTs?

First, I don’t know anything about Metaverse platforms or their tokens. Mostly, I find them clunky, unappealing, and not really solving a meaningful problem. I also don’t spend my time trying too hard to better inform this opinion, so take this for what its worth as well.

My personal investing strategy is to follow along with the Fat Protocol Thesis. The thesis states that the value that is being built on top of Ethereum (DeFi, NFTs, L2s, etc) will drive value to the Ether token (ETH) since you need it to participate.

Additionally, the upcoming protocol merge to Proof of Stake expects that the issuance of ETH will decrease 90% (and abate power consumption by 99%). These effects are compelling macroeconomic shifts that should drive the price of ETH up as well, in my opinion.

So, I simply rely on a small recurring buy for ETH that I don’t touch (aka Dollar Cost Averaging – DCA). That’s it.

Alternatively, index-style tokens like BED, DPI, and GMI allow participants to invest in the broad spectrum of Ethereum tokens without picking individual tokens. If you don’t spend the time researching and understanding the individual token, don’t bet on it.

Knowing my technical abilities and limitations from working with me, do you think it’s plausible for me to learn how to use Unity Editor and/or Unreal Engine to make my own NFTs and sell them (on OpenSea or something like that)? Or am I misunderstanding NFTs?

Again, I’m not an expert in NFTs, but: unless you are going to make it a daily career change to learn Unity or Unreal (which are mostly gaming platforms), I don’t recommend this.

In fact, I probably don’t recommend getting into NFT-creation in general. It is an extremely difficult niche to break and is mostly a community building game.

Unless you are quite serious about creating NFTs and building a personal community for you or a DAO-brand, don’t.

The exception might be to provide a graphic design (via Photoshop or Blender3D) and publication service to customers who want to create NFTs.

What basics should I know before getting involved in places like Decentraland or The Sandbox or Somnium Space?

Virtual land speculation is beyond me. As stated above, Virtual Reality platforms don’t really appeal to me. The best use case I’ve seen for them is in creating virtual NFT museums.

Is it best to stay anonymous in these metaverses? I see a lot of usernames that look like much more complex passwords than they look like “johnsmith”.

I argue that you should have both a public and private presence in crypto.

That said, yes many people choose anonymous (anon) usernames and NFT profile pictures (pfp’s) as a layer of protection and personal expression.

It depends also if you want to levy your name as a personal brand that can operate between Web3 and IRL, but could potentially be a physical security risk. I choose this path, though at times I wish I had chosen to build an anonymous identity.

What crypto wallets do you recommend? I’m looking at Trezor or Ledger for a hard wallet, and probably MetaMask for an online wallet. Do you prefer others?

I personally use a Ledger Nano S, which is fine. I’ve heard Trezor is just as well. Mostly it’s important to have some kind of cold storage / hardware wallet to protect your funds.

You would then likely also use MetaMask to interface with Web3 applications with your hardware wallet. I often will plug in my Ledger and MetaMask allows me to connect it to the websites I frequent.

I also have a small amount of crypto within MetaMask to participate with things on-the-fly, but always treat this as assets I could have stolen.

What should I expect to pay in fees for wallet transfers and crypto transactions?

For normal transfers, $5-15. For NFT and DeFi transactions, $50+. These are rough estimates for operating on Layer 1 (Ethereum Mainnet). Yes, it’s not hospitable for a lot of people, but there are solutions.

The reality is that Layer 1 is not going to be hospitable for retail users in the long run; that’s Plan A. Retail users will (and do) need to move to Layer 2 networks that use Layer 1 to secure their transactions, but ultimately reduce fees by a lot.

So, you might choose to use zkSync L2 (again, this network is built on top of Ethereum Layer 1) and transfers would be $0.01 etc. You would always have the option to move your funds back to mainnet, though.

What technology do you think I need if I’m going to get involved in this universe? Obviously a VR headset, but which one? And do I need more computing power than just a 2019 MacBook Pro?

I’m not sure VR is a must-have. I don’t really plan on getting a VR headset to participate in crypto, but maybe gaming in general. Maybe some platforms look better in VR, but again I don’t think they look that good to begin with so. 🙂

If you were going to deep dive into 3D rendering, you might need a better rig, but I think there are solutions for that like render farms. Otherwise, you’ll just be joining me in doing fine using DeFi, OpenSea, Discord, and most of Web3 on a laptop.

Got a question? Drop me a line!

Organizing Decentralized Labor within Bankless DAO

A week ago, Bankless DAO launched and created a fascinating experiment: how do you organize labor for an open, decentralized media company with a goal of convincing 1 billion people to go “bankless”?

Well first, you must create internet communism (or maybe functional anarchy?).

Guilds gone wild

Through Discord, we’ve seen thought leaders emerge from the pool of those awarded BANK in the initial distribution (or those that market-bought their way in).

And through these leaders & the soft consensus of the group, the notion of a “Guild” was created to organize labor almost immediately.

The Writer’s Guild quickly filled the gap for the creation of a DAO newsletter.

The Translator’s Guild spun up around translating their content.

The Developer’s Guild is organizing in anticipation of the many proposals that would require dev effort.

A Legal Guild, a Finance Guild, a Research Guild, a Design Guild – all spinning up from the community that wants to offer their services for the benefit of the DAO.

Guilds get paid

Ok, we have pools of labor, now what?

Ask not what the DAO can do you, but what you can do for the DAO.

A meme I saw but couldn’t find the source of

Initially, we have volunteer work. The first DAO Newsletter was assembled and published without a single BANK token issued from the treasury. The buzz of initialization colliding with the original BANK airdrop is enough to get started.

Volunteerism won’t last forever.

Alongside initial guild formation, the community created a formal proposal template.

Among common criteria is space for budget.

Specifically, any campaign proposal can request BANK tokens from the community treasury (through a formal snapshot vote) with an itemized budget for the guilds it would require work from.

Alternatively, a guild could propose funding for itself for self-contained work that would benefit the DAO.

The high level makes sense, but we have yet to execute a proposal with a guild budget – nor have we quite figured out how assignment of work works.

Budget & assignment are two critical pieces of guild labor organization that must be sorted sooner than later in order to maintain progress.


If we assume that proposals would include guild-level budgeting for work, the guild needs to have:

  1. Representation on what the budget should be
    • For example: marketing campaign asking for dev resources needs dev guild to comment on what it would take to build what they’re asking
  2. A system for assigning work
    • For a marketing campaign that asks for one landing page, who should build it?

Traditional organizations would have team lead with a manager whose manager set expectations given to them by a CEO or something.

The intent of the DAO is to create something different – something decentralized.

At some level we must organize guilds into mini-DAOs represented by a committee – where a small, elected group represents the best interest of the guild and is ultimately held accountable to them by some means.

Committees would champion budgets, manage expectations, and play a role in the assignment of work – and ideally, as little role as possible.

We have much to learn.

Bonus: Guilds allow for an open labor market

As we collect contributors in guilds, something interesting happens: we begin to see a community of people open to do labor FTBO the DAO and rewarded with BANK tokens.

Primarily, the distribution of BANK tokens for labor effort would be from the community treasury through:

  1. Campaign Proposals with funding that have a line item for guild work
  2. Guild Proposals that attempt to serve full-time ongoing non-campaign effort

But an interesting third option emerges: P2P.

Because contributors value and wish to drive value to BANK tokens, being rewarded with BANK tokens for any related project is worth considering.

This bounty was claimed by a community member and executed P2P.

Here we can see comrade frogmonkee offering 100 BANK for personal blog post editing services. It exemplifies the idea of an open labor market tied to the available guilds. Anyone can offer personal BANK to guilds in exchange for labor (naturally, the guild is not obligated to accept).

As guilds pool more resources, their ability & appetite to handle work increases.

Is this communism?

I have no idea. Smarter people than me can debate the semantics of this experimental labor industry.

Open labor markets will have their own challengers, sure – and ultimately, I don’t see it as the primary driver of the BANK economy (yet).

Just something that caught my eye.

3 Rules for Healthy Pseudonymous Hygiene with Ethereum

Anonymity with Ethereum is hard. It’s a public blockchain, after all.

Sure, you can create your seed phrase offline or with a hardware wallet, but as soon as it comes to moving funds to your fresh accounts you should expect that eyes will see that transaction – even years later.

Even with all the proper steps taken to create a cold wallet, the currencies you put into those accounts still come from somewhere. And somewhere wasn’t in your control.

Typical Transactions

Let’s take the classic example of where that money comes from: an exchange.

When you sign up for an exchange like Coinbase, you go through KYC. They know who you are, how much you buy, and where you send it.

So, when you send funds from the exchange to your secure cold wallet, they have access to this transaction. They could deduce that wallet as yours (and share that info with the IRS or NSA, etc). Even if you use a mixer, the exchange will still see this and flag or even block your address.

It’s all connected, forever.

Now, in this pure example, nobody else could deduce that this cold wallet is yours. Randos on Twitter wouldn’t be the wiser. On-chain it’s just another transaction.

This is basic pseudo-anonymity: the public doesn’t know that this account is yours, but there is some trail that could identify you to someone. In essence: you are not guaranteed anonymity. 

The risk of exposing your addresses and losing that pseudo-anonymity is exacerbated by participation in the network:

  • Transferring funds
  • Registering ENS
  • Buying NFTs
  • Using DeFi
  • Transacting with platforms like God’s Unchained

So it’s good to arm yourself with some principles & rules for using Ethereum so you can guard yourself from exposure.

Principle #1: Be Public AND Private

Use specific public & private addresses and keep them completely separate.

With this one principle, you’ll be able to maintain pseudo-anonymity with one reason: intention.

When you commit to using a public address, you acknowledge and understand the public nature of the chain itself. This inherently will train you to think between public and private transactions.

Always think: “Should I use my public address for this transaction?”

For example, I use my public address for:

  • Registering ENS & mapping it to my Twitter
  • Connecting to God’s Unchained
  • Building example transactions for education
  • Kicking the tires on DeFi platforms before diving in
  • Linking with 3box and Satellite

Not everything can be private; rather than deprive yourself of using various protocols, use a public address with them instead.

With that, you can expand into a few simple rules (and a handy flowchart).

Rule #1: Use multiple addresses

Not only should you split between public and private addresses, but you should use multiple of each to diversify your pseudo-anonymity.

Maybe you don’t want two public protocols to know that you’re using the other. Consider using a public address for each.

If you want to guard your private address against the risk of exposure, split it into multiple. Use one for DeFi and one for hodling – this way no one can determine your full net worth by uncovering one account.

Use one for a public pseudonymous Twitter account.

With multiple addresses, you limit your exposure to connecting them all.

Unfortunately, as you expand your address collection, your fees for moving those funds around grows. Be sure to consider transaction fees into your privacy plan.

Rule #2: Never cross streams

Never transact directly between your public and private addresses.

Only send assets to your addresses from a centralized exchange (or a mixer).

Due to the way centralized exchanges are set up, they essentially act as a mixer with the way their receive/send currency. So, if you need to send money from your private address to your public one, send it to your exchange first and disperse it to your public address in two transactions to ensure you leverage the mix properly.

Obviously this does still leave you exposed to exchange deduction, but it will keep the public out of the know. You’re not trying to hide from big brother, are you?

Rule #3: Use Brave, a VPN, and Tor

Looking to supercharge your privacy?

Use Brave browser and always clear cookies & local storage when switching between public and private accounts. This prevents individual applications from tracking that two addresses could be linked to the same user.

Use a VPN or Tor to totally obfuscate your internet browsing history from your ISPs.

When you actively commit to dividing transactions between multiple public and private addresses, you’ll be well on your way to concealing your true net worth & activity; limiting your exposure to being a target for crypto theft and questions from your mother-in-law.

What tips do you have?

How to create a pseudonomous identity on the internet

Image credit

A short guide to creating a pseudonymous identity on the internet that probably can’t be traced to your real identity (for fun).

Maybe you want to launch a DeFi product without attaching it to your identity? I don’t know you.


Step 1: Use VPN or Tor

Obfuscate your IP address with a VPN or Tor when interacting with these applications to maximize cloak. Or don’t. At least use Brave browser.

Step 2: Fund a new Ethereum address with a Mixer

Properly transfer some ether through a mixer like Tornado to a brand new address (probably MetaMask). This kills off any connection to your central exchange (CEX) funded address.

Remember, don’t dox your new address with direct transactions or other touches.

Step 3: Create an Ethmail address

Legacy internet is built with email. Claim your email address using your new Ethereum address. Don’t add an email forwarder.

Step 4: Signup for Twitter, Github, etc.

Use your new email to signup for new accounts.

Don’t reuse a password – always use VPN. Be careful when you set up 2FA to not use a linked phone number – maybe no 2FA at all.

Make sure you’re using incognito so Twitter can’t link your old sessions to the new account – clear browser cookies/local data first.

Step 5: Claim an ENS name and link your social profiles [optional]

Add Twitter to your ENS record and ENS to your Twitter profile. This ties and proves your address to your profiles. Don’t want to prove it? Do you.

Step 6: Use

Launch smart contracts and tweet tweets, you’re free! 

Web3: The next generation of internet use

Web3 is quite an elusive term to define beyond “you know it when you see it”.

For me, it’s the glue between the web as we know it and the emerging permaweb (read as Ethereum); allowing us to use our crypto with every smart contract in existence with the click of a button.

It’s the UI you use to open a CDP with MakerDAO to create DAI, the way you login to p2p social networks like Satellite, use DeFi, and even to register your name on the internet for eternity 999 years.

And now, Web3 is coming to Web2 sites like Twitter & Facebook with a new Chromium extension called MaskBook, which offers encrypted messaging, truly private images, and even native Web3 ecommerce embeds!

With Web3, you can:

  • Login to an application without them storing (and losing) your person information
  • Send a private message on any platform that only your recipient can read
  • Send money anywhere without permission from your government and bank in seconds
  • Donate money directly to a cause without a middleman directly from your Twitter feed
  • Establish the foundation of your self-sovereign digital identity

Let’s dive in and learn about some of the cool projects building out Web3 for the rest of us to enjoy.

It starts with Wallets

Web3 starts with a wallet (I recommend the Meta Mask extension).

Web3 wallets like MetaMask hold your money – obviously – but more importantly they make Web3 available on every webpage you visit. You bring Web3 with you as you browse; it’s just a matter of each site using it, too!

When you use a Web3 native website like Zapper Fi, it can ask your wallet for permission to submit transactions to smart contracts, transfer crypto, or sign messages using your private key (more on signing below – spoiler alert, it’s cool).

Because you are in complete control of your wallet & transactions, these site’s can’t do anything without your express permission. In fact, Web3 sites are analogous to speed dial for smart contracts: they offer easy buttons or forms that let you interface with the blockchain on your own.

When you visit websites that don’t support Web3 like Twitter, nothing happens – unless you add your own Web3 functionality to them…

Introducing Maskbook!

Web3 on Twitter with MaskBook

What if you could tweet something that only your followers could read.

Imagine sending a “private” DM to your partner that Twitter itself couldn’t decipher (or leak).

What if you could contribute to a GitCoin fund straight from your Twitter feed.

Imagine purchasing an NFT directly from your DMs.

MaskBook is a very interesting piece of tech that injects Web3 into websites as you browse (with permission) and edits the page (DOM) to create integrated experiences in context. For example:

Through MaskBook, I create a GitCoin Web3 link and tweet it. On Web2, nobody is the wiser: it looks like a regular link

Maskbook fallback

But with MaskBook’s Web3 lens, you would see the embed come alive directly in your feed.

Maskbook progressive enhanced Gitcoin embed

Clicking the button opens a dialog to execute a Web3 transaction (currently using a native wallet implementation, adding Meta Mask soon).

Boom – Web3 p2p ecommerce within your Twitter feed.

Pair a decent UI & capture for shipping/download info and you could sell any product with a single link.

Here’s how it works:

Maskbook uses a loophole in Twitter’s character-limit logic: they don’t count links as characters. So, Maskbook can build a super long link with the details and extract/interpret it in the DOM as anything imaginable. 

For me, the most beautiful part of it is the progressive enhancement from the simple fallback link.

One more thing

But what if they fix the character loophole? Easy: Maskbook can encode text into images and interpret – like a QR code, but cool.

Maskbook also integrates the same features into Facebook and has no limit on how it could blend Web3 into any existing Web2 property.

What could you do with Web3 on Amazon? Reddit? Netflix?

Sign in on the dotted line

As I mentioned above, Web3 wallets aren’t just useful for operating smart contracts and transferring funds: they can be used to completely replace email/password login.

That’s right, no more passwords (at least, no more website passwords – please use a secure wallet password).

Because wallets contain your private key, the address is only usable by you! Typically, this means only allowing you to execute transactions, but recently MetaMask has added the ability to sign messages as the address as well. This is a simple operation that proves you have the private key without revealing it.

In practice, signing a message to the website allows them to confirm that you own the address and let you log into the site!

Satellite offers a great example of this process:

  1. Register your username & address (on-chain)
  2. Sign a message proving you own the address
  3. Tada, logged in!

Satellite also forces you to sign all of your content and stashes it all in torrents over IPFS, which is an interesting concept that we’ll visit another time.

Register your name for 999 years

Enter ENS. 

ENS is quickly becoming the preferred naming tool for Ethereum (and otherwise). Compared to its counterparts Unstoppable Domains and Handshake, ENS’s focus on address resolution instead of IPFS or root certificates has really given it a mass-adoption head start. 

But ENS is so much more than address resolution (and email); I peg it for the foundation of digital identity as we know it.

Check this out (and forgive me for skipping its IPFS and DNS functionality):

First, ENS is a shortcut.

When I need to use my ETH address, I can type in jameswmontgomery.eth instead of the whole gambit. Any of the growing number of web applications that support it can simply translate that into my actual ETH address (or BTC and other chains as well).

This feature is what most people use ENS for right now.

Second, ENS allows for custom key value text pairs.

Beyond adding all my coin addresses, I can add my website url, my twitter handle, or even an entire pgp public key – any key/value pair I can think up, linked forever to an account I alone control.

With ENS, I can connect all the pieces of my public identity into one place on the blockchain. Imagine not filling out the social links section of a profile (or any piece of a profile) ever again.

On top of that, I can give someone my ENS name and they’ll be able to lookup all my public profiles in one shot. A modern business card.

Now that I have my info added to my ENS name, let’s use it to “login”.

Then, I can “login” to applications.

Using just my ENS domain, I can pre-load any website with all my public profile info. Any transactions would be Web3 protected by my actual wallet (or signed by my key), but the publicly readable content could easily be pulled into an application.

Take a look at Zapper Fi again; you can plug in jameswmontgomery.eth and watch/review my transactions (or anybody at all) without logging in at all. This is just a taste of Web3 applications to come: simply inputting an ENS name to start using the public portion of the application, while gating real transactions with the wallet.

DeFi, NFTs, social networks, and anything on the blockchain are as easily accessible as plugging in your digital name.

It’s a healthy reminder to maintain compartmentalized pseudo-anonymity as well.

Lastly, I connect with my network.

What is identity if not in relation to other people?

Since my address might touch others, I can construct a contact list of other ENS names & profiles that I have known – whether through web applications, ETH transactions, or even Web2 applications like Twitter.

I could delegate my credit to a friend or even “stake” the information of my friends’ ENS profile as correct.

Consider how you could tie yourself publicly to other ENS names, contracts, and addresses – or inversely how you could publicly dissociate/discredit others as well.

So, ENS ties together a username that: 

  1. Easily resolves to any crypto address
  2. Preloads public data about you into any web app
  3. Allows only you to “sign in” or execute transactions
  4. Can touch every other ETH contract & contact

And you can rent it for 999 years on-chain for $5k – or, you could just grab 1 year for $5 like a normal person (or control a free subdomain, hmu). 

ENS connects the dots for an even smoother Web3 experience and I can’t wait to see how we use it for digital identity in the future. 

Web3 is dope

These are just a couple of cool projects I’m keeping my eye on. 

Web3 is constantly being built up and, in my opinion, is one of the biggest web development opportunities of the next 10 years.

So start getting used to using your wallet (and try not to get wrecked by gas fees)!

What cool Web3 projects are you into?

Review: Linus High Yield DeFi Platform

DeFi is quickly becoming one of the most impactful use cases that public blockchain networks are offering. Atomic transactions, smart contracts, and automation are driving costs down, democratizing finance, and surfacing very alluring yields on deposits.

With products like BlockFi and Compound, it takes a bit of technical know-how to participate in the space. For most in the cryptocurrency space, maintaining a wallet and working with exchanges is quite easy – but there’s a gap in participation for those that are not technically savvy.

If you want a no-fuss onramp to cryptocurrency DeFi gains, check out Linus!

What is Linus DeFi?

Linus is a simple Financial Service Provider (FSP) that accepts USD transfers and returns a high interest rate on that account. No settings, no bells, no whistles.

Behind the scenes, Linus takes the USD, exchanges it for USDC, and loads it onto Compound Finance to take advantage of their DeFi lending pool’s APY. 

In short, they handle the “techiness” on behalf of their depositors. Linus democratizes DeFi for those who don’t or can’t use DeFi themselves.

Linus has just launched out of private beta and is open for new account creation. Here’s the overview of what they have to offer.


No fees

Linus currently has no fees, at all.

They profit directly from the APY differential between their rates and Compound. 

Extremely easy

Linus only allows two actions: deposit and withdraw. You don’t need to understand cryptocurrency to take advantage of its power.

Better rates

Linus’ APY puts savings accounts and other investment products to shame. Their current (variable) APY is a monster 3.5% – topping both the 2.3% inflation rate and Marcus’s 2.05% 12mo CD.

No term limits

No need to lock up your capital in CD to get this rate – or suffer a penalty for early withdrawal. Deposit or withdraw at any time.

Instant accrual

Due to the instantaneous nature of DeFi, Linus accounts accrue interest every second – you don’t need to wait 30 days (or years) to get your interest.

USDC stability

Compared to Dai, USDC is an audited 1:1 backed stablecoin. This allows for a large liquid safety net for withdrawal needs.


No insurance

High risk, high reward. Linus does not offer insurance on their products at this time. If the underlying assets are lost, there is no recourse (as is the case when using any DeFi products). 

However, they are pursuing adding insurance policies through on-chain insurers (like Nexus and Onyx) and off-chain as well.

Variable APY

DeFi rates will go down over time. Though common investment products suffer the same variable APY, products like CDs do offer stability in the face of flux.

Unlike some competitors who adjust APY live, Linus only does this monthly.

Lower APY

USDC interest rates are typically lower than other cryptocurrencies.

Dharma, a similar product, leverages the same technique using Dai and offers nearly a 7% APY at present (skyrocketing to upwards of 20% during Black Thursday chaos, but then falling to 3% in the aftermath). 

Comparatively, putting GUSD directly on Compound gets you 8.6% (without the easy account, though).

USD only

At present, there are no options to deposit any other Fiat or crypto currencies. This tracks with their positioning towards the non-crypto userbase, but it does leave something to be desired for those like me (especially when Dharma allows for Dai deposits).

Compound only

Though they are actively pursuing diversification, Linus currently leverages Compound Finance singularly. This leaves a single point of failure open for DeFi protocol abuse – if Compound fails, Linus fails.

On top of that, by only using a single platform, Linus’s APY is essentially tracked to Compound. As they diversify, we’ll see this rate become a bit more stable.

No transparency

Compared to Compound’s public transactions and USDC’s audit trail, Linus does not offer any audits or transparency reports (similar to any bank and how they use your money).

Though on-chain transaction monitoring is in consideration, you must be able to reconcile that investment businesses set up without transparency could model ponzi schemes. 

Ultimately, I’m a fan of Linus. I spent some time talking with their founder Matthew Nemer and believe they have strong, intelligent leadership to guide them through a highly competitive DeFi landscape.

Check out Linus for yourself! [referral link]