January 15, 2019

Grin & urbit launch

Today marks the launch of two very interesting projects that have been under development for several years:

Grin, a new cryptocurrency that implements the Mimblewimble protocol described in an anonymous paper dropped into the #bitcoin-wizards IRC chat in 2016 by pseudonymous Tom Elvis Jedusor. Mimblewimble was originally intended as a bitcoin improvement protocol, but the grin developers are launching the protocol into an independent project.

Grin has three interesting features:

  • it is launched with no direct investors, no premine, no ICO, and no founders reward. It is run completely on community donations.

  • not only was the initial protocol proposed anonymously, but the current dev-team is mostly pseudonymous as well.

  • grin supposedly offers great new tech to scale anonymous transactions differing very much to Bitcoin and the two leading privacy coins Monero and Zcash.

Unlike Bitcoin, there are 100 million dollars of VC money invested into special-purpose vehicles to mine Grin. This means that a lot of the hacker development ethos will get washed out by changing the composition of the early holders. Bitcoins organic launch without any professional investment early on, is unlikely to ever be possible again.

urbit, a clean-slate redesign of personal computing that has been in development since 2002, has launched its software on the ethereum mainnet. Urbit is interesting for several reasons, of which I try to explain two:

  • it is completely new software trying to rebuilt how computer software has been working since pretty much the 1930s. Urbit is to todays operating systems, what Windows is to BIOS, and that in form of a decentralized architecture written from the ground up with distributed & federated functions only. A natural drawback of re-inventing the computing stack is, that it creates new concepts that are hard to grasp.

  • this is a political one, Founder Curtis Yarvin is a controversial figure, who has been credited with contributing to the alt-right movement.

Learn more about Grin here and read the primer for urbit here

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