simondlr #13 - "Earth Has Been Margin Called"

Hi everyone. Happy new year! Excited for 2020.

Since June 2018, I’ve been working on my first novel, “Hope Runners of Gridlock”. On December first, I completed draft zero, clocking in at roughly 54,000 words. As Terry Pratchett described it: “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

This is the first time I’m writing a novel and discovering the creative process myself. In letting the book marinate, I went back and started re-drafting it into draft 1. I’m rewriting roughly 65-70% of the book: adding colour, slotting character motivations into place, adding chapters and removing some chapters. The speed is much faster however, since the broad story is still intact. It’s about halfway through draft 1.

Here you can see the graph of the writing process of draft 0. The big dip is me taking out the notes/summaries/etc into a separate document.

To compare draft 1 progress:

Draft 0:

Writing Days: 106

Average Words Per Day: 504

Draft 1:

Writing Days: 14

Average Words Per Day: 2135

So you can see that re-writing is substantially faster. After draft 1 is done, I plan to send it to friends, and people I regard to be target readers for feedback for judging broadly if it all makes sense before going into the editing process (of which I still need to find).

Sometimes the revision process feels like defragmenting a hard drive. With each pass, more of it falls into place. It’s like shaking a piece of rock and sand in a bucket, seeing the stones sink to the bottom, and the sand rise to the top.

Even in draft one, I have to contend with characters doing *new* things. Regardless, it’s an infinitely fun process.

I published chapter 1 of the book, online. I hope you enjoy:

All in all: I’m seriously enjoying it, and it has opened floodgates for more stories I want to tell. I’ve even been creating some moodboards from music I made for the world (visuals from @visualdon on Instagram).

And so, one such short story that came to me recently, is called: “Earth Has Been Margin Called”.

It deals with humanity’s predicament in discovering that Earth was used as collateral in a galactic trade gone wrong.

Really enjoyed writing this one.

Finally, something new I want to try with this newsletter: sharing some recent links that I enjoyed. This newsletter is still primarily an avenue to share with you all when I publish new content, but if it’s not something you would be particularly interested in as-is, there’s a lot of cool shit elsewhere.


Interviews with Cixin Liu of Three Body Problem fame:

I recently finished the ‘Remembrance of Earth’s Past’ trilogy, and it was one of the most mind-bendingly amazing journeys. Understanding what goes on in his mind has been something I’ve been curious about. These two interviews give an amazing insight into his mind, and who he is.

GPT-2 Chess:

Following GPT-2 has been incredibly interesting, particularly in its capacity to act as a crude, minimal, general AI. It learns so well from text, that if you can transcribe things into text, it could learn it just from that. GPT-2 Chess is such an example:

AI Dungeon is another great example: I pondered on Twitter where else you can use AI Dungeon-like storytelling. It could be quite powerful: talking to God? co-creating fan-fiction for people who aren’t writers? co-creating a share universe together? Lots of possibilities.

Ostrom & DAOs:

In thinking about blockchain-based organisations, I can’t help but come back to Elinor Ostrom’s principles for commons management. Jeff Emmett and the Commons Stack team produced a great article explaining how those principles can be slotted into blockchain-based organisations:

Ethereum 1.x & Merkle Trees:

I find merkle trees to be such an incredibly fascinating data structure. It seems to have no bounds for interesting designs. A recent article from the Ethereum Foundation, explaining stateless Ethereum clients contains a great explanation on how Ethereum’s Patricia Merkle tree works in storing state effectively.

I’m currently trying to understand more of erasure coding, so I can understand new innovations such as coded merkle trees:

A Song a Day for 4000 Days:

I enjoy creative experiments where simple acts accumulate over time into a grand, meta creative experiment. Case in point is Jonathan Mann’s “Song a Day” experiment, where he has consecutively created songs now for 4,000 days.

He recently hit a viral success with a great, catchy hook of the beloved ‘Baby Yoda’:

It’s a great reminder that creativity *always* contains a dash of luck. It’s thus important to during the creative process to remain radically authentic.

Hope you enjoyed this bumper newsletter!

Remember: take time to enjoy a sunset.



simondlr #12 - New Markets In The Arts #2: Generative Art Economies

Hello friends!

I got around to writing the second article in the “New Markets In The Arts” series: Generative Art Economies.

It is probably my favourite part of the whole series, because this is exactly where I would be working and playing in, full time, if I wasn’t writing a novel.

If you missed part #1, here it is: New Property Rights.

In the mean-time, the presentation these articles are based on, finally went live. I gave a condensed 20min version at Ethereum’s devcon5 in Osaka.

In novel news! I finished draft zero of ‘Hope Runners of Gridlock’. I’m so excited! The first draft is done. The last 4 days of writing was the best experience, downloading 10,000+ words onto paper. It was a joy in itself.

You can see my writing progress from when I started in June to finishing my first draft last weekend.

Out of curiosity, I also plotted the distribution of how much I wrote.

As you can see, on some days, you make ALL the progress. Very much like most things in life: be it running, programming or learning how to love better.

I’m heading into the first re-draft. Once that is done, I’ll definitely need some ‘beta readers’ to point gaping plot holes before getting an editor.

Looking forward to that! Looking forward to learning. Looking forward to sharing the story.

As always. Take time to enjoy a sunset.



simondlr #11 - New Markets In The Arts Pt. 1

Hey everyone!

At Ethereum’s devcon5, I had the privilege to give a talk on “New Markets In The Arts”. In transcribing it, it’s ballooned a bit. So, I’m breaking it down into three articles. The first one, I’m publishing today: focusing on experimenting with property rights.

Enjoy! New parts coming soon.

In book news, after being in Japan, I’ve gotten back into a good rhythm and still aiming to get a draft done by the beginning of next year. I’ve really felt it hitting a good stride as the characters started running the story, and I just get to sit back and write what they get up to. The first full draft is in sight.

I will also be working on another book once ‘Hope Runners of Gridlock’ is in draft/editing mode. Interest has been expressed in a compilation of my essays I’ve written over the past 5 years on blockchains, tokenization and crypto-economics along with updated commentary. I’ve collected roughly 32 essays that I want to combine & publish in this manner. It will also help me get to grips with the basic process of publishing e-books online (before tackling the process of publishing a novel).

As always. Take time to enjoy a sunset.



simondlr #10 - Japanese Narratives & New Markets In The Arts @ Devcon5

Hi everyone!

I’ve been travelling through Japan for almost a month. A wonderful country to explore! During this time I serendipitously bumped into Kevin Abosch, whereupon he shared me the narrative structure of Kishotenketsu. It’s a fascinating form of storytelling which I really enjoy. I digged deeper, wrote about it, and even wrote some Kishotenketsu:

I’m coming up towards the end of my trip with Ethereum’s devcon5 happening in Osaka next week. If you are around, please come say hi! I will be giving a talk on “New Markets In The Arts”, speaking about new forms of IP, generative economies and markets-as-medium. I’m really looking forward to seeing old friends and new.

I haven’t done much productive work the past few weeks, but I have been trying to write. It’s been much, much slower, but I have continued to write on my novel (getting close to 40,000 words).

That’s all for this content update!

As always. Remember to find time to watch a sunset!



simondlr #9 - Clovers & Novel Progress

Hi everyone!

I wrote an article about Clovers, a fun, art, nerdy, game that uses novel economics around the collection and generation of symmetrical end states of Othello (yes, you read that correctly).

What’s particularly interesting is how this model could potentially be used to build generic economies around alogrithms themselves. I would say this is one of my favourite uses of bonding curves out there atm. Enjoy!

For my book (“Hope Runners of Gridlock”), I’ve been writing steadily. Been doing a lot of revisions lately. Thus: it feels slow, but writing every day.

The lovely artwork you see was commissioned from Alida Loubser:

For concept art, I gave a handful of artists the synopsis and prologue and gave them free reign to sketch something. Really happy with how the first one turned out. If you are interested in participating, let me know.

If you are interested to follow along, here’s the tweet thread. I had fun making some music for this announcement!

That’s all for this edition. Heading to Japan soon, getting excited for Ethereum’s devcon5. I’ll be presenting on “New Markets In The Arts”. Looking forward to it.

As always: find time to see a sunset.



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