Woke up to an NFT of myself

So I woke up this morning. A friend had messaged me on Twitter, and shared a link. Somebody had made an NFT of a well-known open source photograph of myself and a many other open source contributors, maintainers, and for lack of a beter term – thought leaders.

Faces of Open Source Meta

In 2018, I was photographed by a professional photographer who was working on a book called Faces of Open Source.

I agreed to take the photo shoot, and to be honest I wasn’t prepared for it. I showed up to the photo shoot without any makeup, and directly from the airport. I was at a tech conference in North Carolina, and thought it was just another media outreach stunt related to the conference.

In hindsight, I should have worn something different or put on makeup or something. I honestly had no idea what was happening until I walked into the studio. This lack of social awareness and missing social queues and expectations is surprisingly on brand for myself. So at the very least the photo did a great job at capturing that.

Use in Journalism

So he took really great photographs of myself, and many other open source technologists and leaders.

You can see the full collection.

The photographer Peter Adams was really nice and thoughtful when we worked together. I mentioned I had some trauma regarding my facial characteristics as a transgender woman. Many folks followed along with me addressing my trauma publicly as I went through a Facial Feminization surgery in 2020.

Peter did the best he could and took an amazing photograph of myself that I was able to use for many publications. Peter was always very kind and clear about the use of his work. I advertised his photograph on my website, and my press kit.

I made it a point to always include the fine print about his work, and did my best to prevent his work from being used without his consent or for paid efforts.

I want to be extremely clear here.

As an open source engineer who has over 200 repositories of my life’s work that I blatantly give away for free I take this shit extremely seriously.

Licenses are important.

Expectations of money, ownership, and distribution are important.

Faces of Open Source Meta

There were even a few occurrences when Peter’s photograph of myself was used for paid publication. I had to request that the photograph be removed on behalf of his work, and frankly it frustrated me that the journalists disregarded the fine print or his license to begin with.

Peter is a photographer, that is how he makes money.

I am an open source engineer, that is how I make money.

This is capitalism, and we all have to make money. It’s almost always unethical to someone.

I happen to work for a company that pays me to do my work, and Peter has started his own company.

I am working on a new book called “Hacking Capitalism” that goes into these thoughts in detail. The fact of the matter is that everybody needs to get paid, including Peter, including me, including you.

Feel free to sign up for early access to the book

My NFT

At some point Peter decided to take his work (already or soon to be published in a book) at turn it in to NFT using opensea.io

Myself, and my photograph included.

I also want to call out that there is another one of his photographs of me, that did not make it to opensea.io.

I strongly suggest everyone reads the author’s thoughts on NFTs immediately.

My thoughts on Crypto

So web3 and crypto has been blowing up on Twitter recently. There is a lot of passionate leaders in the industry saying a lot of very passionate things about crypto.

I looked into Ethereum in 2017 when I was working at Microsoft. One of my colleagues there was a big advocate for Tesla stock and Ethereum. He wouldn’t shut up about it.

I used bitcoin to pay for my HRT as a transgender woman when I first started transitioning in 2013. There was a bitcoin kiosk in Denver and that was the only way I was able to purchase estradiol on the underground pharmaceutical market.

Furthermore, I paid for my Twitter handle using Ethereum when I was working at Heptio! There was a DJ/rapper from Mexico who had @krisnova and asked that I paid him for it in Ethereum. It was easy enough, so I obliged.

Needless to say I have known the basics of crypto-currency for a while. Or at least how it worked and how to get real money into and out of the market.

Ethereum this week

As chance would have it, I have been exploring the internals of the Ethereum project this week. I wanted to learn more about the process of mining Ethereum, and review the project from an open source governance and software perspective.

I wanted to see how they governed their shit, and what the code looked like

Over the past week I began understanding how to mine Ethereum, and how to run the blockchain software on my local lab.

Ethereum

Compute

I have a Dell R630 compute server that I run a public facing Kubernetes cluster on. It has no GPU, and has 48 CPUs on board.

I used this to run the geth software which will validate and sync the main blockchain with the rest of the network.

From an engineering perspective the geth software is solid! I even think that geth might be a more viable approach to running public distributed systems from a security perspective. This could be useful for things like federated Kubernetes clusters, and distributed workloads over the public internet.

  • geth is written Go!

Anyway this is the tool that basically serves as the “control plane” or “brains” of the operation.

Interestingly its main limitation is disk IO and not CPU or network! For instance, you can’t even run a peer on the Ethereum network without an SSD and about 100gb of storage.

This compute node listens on port 8545 and can be used to hand out work (similar to the Kubernetes) to local agents.

GPU

I have an ancient NVIDIA card that I use for live-streaming on my Arch linux desktop.

NVIDIA Corporation GP106 [GeForce GTX 1060 6GB]

On this computer I run a tool called ethminer that basically takes the work from geth and processes it using the GPU devices on board.

Note that the type of work that geth hands out to miners like ethminer is typically where the environmental impact concerns come from.

Proof-of-Work (PoW) vs Proof-of-Stake (PoS)

You can read more at the official docs site.

From my understanding the PoW is embraces the “Zero Trust” or “Validate don’t Trust” philosophy that all the crypto bros are going on about.

Blockchain demystified

The blockchain works by computing what result based on the previous result.

For example if the blockchain algorithm was T + N * 2 + 1 and your inputs were 2, 4, 6 the result would look like the following

2 * 2 + 1 = 5
4 * 2 + 1 = 9 + 5 = 14
6 * 2 + 1 = 13 + 9 + 5 = 27

…and so on

In order to validate your shit is the same shit as the rest of the world, the theory is that your shit will need to compute and come to the same conclusion the other computers in the world have come to.

The current strategy for doing this is to perform literally all the same calculations in the world. This is called PoW (Proof-of-Work). Ethereum is moving to a new strategy called PoS (Proof-of-Stake) that has a dramatically less harmful impact on power consumption and therefor the environment.

What this means

So I had about $350.00 in my Coinbase accounts this morning when I woke up.

I had mined a decent portion of this from my Linux GPU when I am not using it. I keep my mining value publicly available on this website! (Right side of the toggle menu)

I have invested literally millions of dollars into myself, what will another few hundred hurt?

I want to support Peter

I wanted to support Peter’s work because I know how hard it can be to make money as an artist. In tech we are very spoiled because there are plenty of jobs available for open source engineers like myself. However, there aren’t similar jobs for people like Peter, and that is a reflection of our ruthless profit driven economy and not of Peter.

It was a bit rude

I don’t think the announcement was as well-thought-out and gracious as it could have been. He could have done a better job at reaching out to myself and the other participants in his work. At the very least we could have partnered with him to help him make money.

I do believe the majority of the participants want Peter to get paid

I wonder if the majority of the participants would want it done in this way

In Peter’s defence he doesn’t spend his life on the internet dealing with open source licenses, media, journalism, and public criticism like the rest of us.

My fantasy is that Peter was just ignorant to the unspoken ethics of open source, and that his behavior was not malicious.

Ultimately he owns the photographs, and legally can do whatever he wants to with them. Of all the cryptocurrencies available to sell his NFTs with, in my opinion he picked the best of the best: ethereum.


Bottom line

I agree with Peter.

I think he is well-meaning. Given the difficulties with publishing his book I can see why NFTs make sense. As an author, I can deeply emphasize with the challenges in publishing a book.

Sure – it could have been better.

Honestly I am just honored that somebody thinks my stupid open source work is valuable enough to put my face on an NFT.

  • Do I wish he would take another photograph of me? Yes. I hate that face!
  • Do I wish he would have reached out first? Yes. But honestly I probably would have missed the email.
  • Do I think Crypto is here to stay? Absolutely. There are too many hurt, and traumatized young people in the world without a viable career path otherwise. Crypto isn’t going anywhere.
  • Do I think Crypto is bad for the environment? Yes.

As the author of Cloud Native Infrastructure I feel it is my job to offer free and readily available infrastructure analysis so that the world can understand the impact of cryptocurrency infrastructure.

I plan on continuing my lab work, and offsetting the cost of my work with carbon offsets and posting about my findings.

Stay tuned.