This week is the three year anniversary of the concept behind Catallax. Every year my family and I take a retreat into the east Texas woods to relax and rejuvenate. This place is great and there is a ton of child care so that parents can reconnect and have some time to step away from the children.
Three years ago I had a really great confluence of influencers. We had just found out that our third child was on the way and I was deep in the weeds with Piketty, Fukuyama, and wrestling them through the lenses of Alexander.
I had been thinking for a long time about how money fell short of all that I thought it could be. I distinctly remember drawing a dollar with arrows over it going both directions in the early 2000s. I was introduced to Kevin Phillips’ History of the American Rich and I banged my head against the problem a good bit, but never came up with much.
In 2009 I discovered Gesell and his natural money concept. That discovery really clicked a few things into place and there was something about the 0% interest assumptions that I knew was going to be important. I wrote a piece of fan fiction about one of the big cell phone makers launching a natural money to fix the economic crisis. It never really went anywhere.
It wasn't until June of 2014 that Bitcoin and the Blockchain came into the picture and clicked all the pieces into place.
Lessig's mayday PAC was flailing and the prospect of never being able to fix money in politics led to a deeper question of how can we fix money. Piketty showing the data of capital concentration magnified many of the principles that I'd been ruminating on since I'd read Phillips a decade and a half earlier. On a morning walk, a number of ideas were elevated into RAM out of the cold storage of my brain. Bitcoin's idea of a public ledger of all transactions was a key piece in the puzzle. Before seeing and understanding that this was a tech that could actually live in the world Catallax would not have been possible.
It wasn't until later that year that I got into the meat of the Bitcoin tech and realized that all the pieces I needed were already there, but the summer of 2014 caused me to start writing the pattern language found in my book Immortality.
I tried to soft launch in 2015 with a talk at the Texas Bitcoin Conference and flying to NYC to demo at the Singularity Institute's Exponential Finance. The feedback was ok, but not what I wanted. In that same season, a colleague brought a business opportunity to me that was too good to pass up. We bought a company in an unrelated field and we've been fighting the good fight trying to apply new technologies to the world of organ donation for the last two years. It has been a fun ride and we are starting to see enough light at the end of the tunnel that I can start to hand some of my responsibilities over to new employees.
I haven't been completely idle. As I've been crisscrossing the country installing software at organ centers I've been piecing together the book Immortality that lays out why I think we need this new kind of money. "Why?" Was the biggest question I received when I had tried to launch previously. Somewhere around early 2016 Robert Pirsig helped me answer that question in his amazing book Lila. I hope that if you have the “Why?” question and that the intersection of moral philosophy and economics piques your interest that will check out Immortality and that it will answers that question.
During the last two years, ethereum has really matured and now seems to be the platform that I needed all along. Now we are here in the summer of 2017 and people are paying me to write solidity contracts. The pieces of the puzzle for how Catallax can be a real thing now are starting to fall in place and the last few hurdles of regulatory compliance are being arranged. Please follow us on twitter, medium, rss, Facebook, or Reddit and come along for the ride.
Let's fix money.
Happy Birthday, Catallax!
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