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PiedPiperCoin

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Interpersonal Relations

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As Pied Piper’s Head of Business Development, I wear many hats. (Figuratively, I mean — wearing a hat indoors is a little fresh for my taste.) Most recently, however, my head has been occupied by one chapeau in particular: interpersonal relations.

The first challenge arose when Dinesh and Gilfoyle tested the alpha of our new app, and a merge error left each one’s data on the other’s phone. I thought we’d all just have a good laugh about it — Dinesh would tease Gilfoyle for buying tickets to a Satanist film festival; Gilfoyle would mock Dinesh for his Notes file “Non-Threatening Pickup Lines”; I’d lightly rib them both, very much included in the fun — but things quickly escalated into a standoff. The entire ordeal tested just about every non-violent conflict resolution tactic I learned at last year’s conference in Sacramento, but in the end brute force prevailed and the phones were destroyed. At least this gives me a scenario to role play at the next conference!

On top of that, Richard came to me with an urgent romantic crisis. Details of his sexual escapade are best kept between him and myself, the closest of confidants, but suffice it to say he needed to cut ties and maintain his “ramblin’ man” status. We brainstormed a graceful exit strategy, although I’m sure it will still take time for the young lady to move on. After all, Richard has such a remarkable mind, but it is just one among many remarkable organs, like his heart.

After these trying journeys across the waves of human emotion, I think it’s time for another Redfin holiday. There’s a beautiful Colonial that I’m sure will sell fast, and I want to spend some time imagining its rat-free charms before the listing is taken down!

Pied Piper’s New Partner

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Typically I write these posts from my living room work station, listening to the familiar music of the hostel: the babbling creek of Erlich’s bong water, the keyboard taps of Richard hard at work, the dueling banjos of Dinesh and Gilfoyle insulting each other as only two best friends can. Today, however, there’s a new, silent yet utterly overpowering orchestra member in the room — a portrait of our recently announced partner, Gavin Belson!

Yes, friends, as you may have read in Code/Rag, Richard and Gavin have joined forces to create the next Pied Piper product. And though Gavin is not physically here at this exact moment, he’s present in the spirit of business collaboration and a penetrating photographic gaze. Exciting!

I’ll admit, the intervening days have been a bit of a roller coaster for me personally. During a recent meeting, I not only tragically flubbed a drumroll cue, but I also lost my temper on Bryce, Gavin’s transfusion associate, when he interfered with our presentation. It was no judgment on his profession — I actually find parabiosis to be an incredibly intimate demonstration of corporate loyalty, and it’s a pity Richard and I have incompatible blood types — but I had to defend my CEO. And sometimes defending your CEO means accessing reserves of anger you keep vacuum sealed like a guest duvet in the closet of your mind.

But all’s well now! After taking in Frank Capra’s World War II propaganda classic “Why We Fight” over at the Stanford Theatre and a quick muffled scream into my Pied Piper jacket, I feel much better. I stood up for Richard, Richard stood up for Gavin, and my friend Gloria stood up for me when someone cut me in the popcorn line.

Well, I’m off to watch the fellows drink a beer in celebration of Dinesh’s return to Pied Piper!

Together Again!

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Our hero Richard has returned! We were all shaken by his weeklong leave, even though the rest of the gents put on their bravest faces. They pretended they didn’t even notice the monumental absence at our work table, those stoics. I found ways to keep busy — arranging my button-down shirts by intensity of hue, and practicing my calligraphy, of course — but these were flimsy distractions.

When Richard finally came home, I was happy to see a renewed sense of mission and a little color back in those cheeks. But I was surprised to learn he had taken on a new partner, whose name I won’t disclose but whose character is questionable at best. I knew that Richard would need protection, and I certainly couldn’t leave it to the Brett Saxbys of the world, who drink with abandon in the middle of the workday and skate by on charm. No, I had to rejoin Pied Piper.

Being a part of Richard’s project is a dream come true, and that’s not a phrase I take lightly! (The last time I used it was when my third grade class visited the fire station, and the firefighters let me organize their gear.) One of my first orders of business? Cutting through the profanity-laden facade of Gilfoyle’s bravado and getting him back on our team. Of course he would never say it out loud — that’s Gilf for you — but behind his unblinking eyes I knew he was just as happy as I was to be back in the Pied Piper fold.

Oh, Gilfoyle is telling me he needs to encrypt my computer “to limit the consequences of Dinesh’s inevitable sexual failure,” so I better sign off. Until next time, readers!

Where Is Richard?

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Where do I begin? Pied Piper Founder Richard Hendricks is missing. No, dear readers, this isn’t just a nightmare narrated by a raspy voice you heard on the other end of a ringing payphone by the Chevron station when you were thirteen. This is real. Richard Hendricks is missing, and has been for the last three and a half hours.

I’m sure you’re all wondering how we got here. Well, earlier this week Richard was in an absolute state. After he and I weathered the storm of his nail-biting together, I watched helplessly as Richard again lost his sense of internal equilibrium. At one point he even walked into the pool without letting me know so I could lifeguard.
 

But we turned a triumphant corner in the basement archives of late tech titan Peter Gregory. I’ll admit I was a bit off-kilter after seeing a self-driving car that once drove me to a traumatizing abyss. Yet amid the hoarded debris of this man’s life Richard found what he was looking for — proof that he was onto something great. What a moment it was!
 

Then I arrive, a grim reaper with a scythe in the form of a patent number. I cut down the great oak of a dreamer’s dream. And now Richard has left the hostel without any indication of where he’s gone or when he’ll be back. I know the 911 operator is right: I’m being alarmist, and this was a completely unnecessary call. If I know Richard — and I know him better than anyone — he’s just taking a walk to process the news and mourn what might have been.
 

Richard, if you’re reading this, come home! We’ll figure this out together. Oh, and your sandwich is wrapped in wax paper in the fridge.

Problem 1:

Single Points of Failure

Libraries are vulnerable to losing their collection because all of their books are contained at a single location. Say, for instance, that there was a fire, or a flood, or a vandal defaced John James Audubon’s masterpiece Birds of America by giving all the Warblers human genitalia. Even worse, if the vandal recruited bird haters from other neighborhoods and got ahold of all the copies of the book in existence, it could be lost crude doodles forever. It would be a tragedy on par with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

The Problem

Because Birds of America is centralized in one public location, it’s susceptible to permanent deletion. The same goes for content on the Internet — storing all your family photos on a single account in a cloud service? They could all be wiped away if someone hacked your account or corrupted the host servers.

The Solution

Our solution: In our decentralized library, we would duplicate and distribute multiple copies of Birds of America to your neighbors — if you need a copy, you would just go to your neighbor’s house. As our Pipernet town of mobile devices grows, so do the number of neighbors who might have a copy of your book. And the more potential copies there are available, the more secure the book is.

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: spread your personal files on devices across the world, so they’re completely safe from bad actors manipulating or deleting them.

Takeaways

All copies of your files in a well-known, hackable location = RISKY!

Files copied and distributed to multiple locations = SAFE!

Problem 2:

No Privacy

In order to check out books, you must have a library card — an ID that links back to your real world identity. That library card reveals all the books you’ve ever checked out, where you returned them, and whether they were returned on time.

The Problem

The tech titans collect data profiles on us too, and theirs are far more comprehensive. They amass thousands of personal data points by tracking our activities in both the online and physical worlds.

Users don’t own or control their own data, so it can be used against them. Take, for instance, Richard’s lawyer Pete Monahan, who had his probation revoked when the state retrieved his library records. Which was… probably a good idea. But for this metaphor’s purposes: bad that they can access that information!

On the web, our data profile is far more detailed, the laws around privacy even looser, and more freedoms are at stake. For example, what if Hooli sold your search data to an insurance company who then denied you coverage because you’ve HooliSearch-ed “kindest Palo Alto based Cardiologist” a few too many times?

The Solution

Replace library cards with anonymous identification cards which are impossible to connect to your real world identity. Instead of using a library card (linked to your name, address, etc.) to check out books, you would swipe a nondescript card (containing no personal details). Your activity would be tracked to keep the system stable, but your identity would not be siphoned and sold. I, for example, would no longer check out books as "Donald Dunn," but rather the nom de guerre "h3w0vbk37vpm."

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: use its apps and services without compromising your privacy.

Takeaways

Trading your identity and data for online services = RISKY!

Using services anonymously so nobody can target you = SAFE!

Problem 3:

Censorship and Manipulation

Because a town’s library is run by a small group of administrators, they could theoretically decide what books are available to its people. They could even decide to ban Birds of America, depriving young birders of Audubon’s elegant illustrations, pored over page by page under a government-issued blanket after lights out, giving you hope that even a slender-framed, shivering boy could grow to be as majestic as a Hooded Merganser.

The Problem

On the internet, multinational corporations can screen content, or even “adapt” their services to fit the local government’s requests. In both libraries and on the Web, we’re susceptible to data being censored or manipulated by intermediaries.

The Solution

A peer-to-peer lending system backed up by a fully public ledger, allowing you to send and receive books freely to anybody in the world without worrying about censorship or interference. Want to add Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, or your controversial essay on Audubon’s coloring techniques? No problem, even if the town surrounded you with pitchforks to ban them, these vital texts would be available to share neighbor to neighbor, impossible to delete.

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: exchange messages and files directly with their intended receiver, disperse ideas and information free from threats of censorship.

Takeaways

Pushing all transactions through a central authority = OPPRESSIVE!

Establishing a peer to peer exchange system based on an immutable public ledger = FREE!

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