|Have you ever gotten into legal trouble by exploring the dark places of the internet? Like, "sorry, officer, I was only surfing drug markets and child molester forums for my next journalism piece..." Do you worry about that? Do you have to take extra steps to protect yourself?||I'm very careful not to go anywhere that it is illegal to visit. You will hear loads of stories about how easy it is to "stumble upon" child porn, but the fact is that those sites usually have names like "Preteen cuties" so you know exactly what they are, and in order to access them you have to register. So you have to make a very deliberate choice to log into them. I have no interest whatsoever in viewing any child abuse material, so I don't go into those places. When I was researching The Darkest Web, I went to the discussion forums that didn't allow any images (though they did link to sites that did), and even there I turned off images.|
|As for the drugs, weapons etc, there is nothing illegal about surfing them and looking around.|
|I do get a bit nervous every time I visit the US, especially when I was invited to a "friendly" lunch with Homeland Security once (it was reasonably friendly as it turns out, it was also terrifying)|
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|Why did homeland security want to talk to you?||They said it was about the murder-for-hire stuff, but some of the questions leaned toward something else|
|Is there anything that really concerns you about the dark web? Some of the things already discussed are beyond barbaric and that is only the stuff that has been found out about and been picked up by the media and your fantastic work. Do you think the public should expect worse and more horrific revelations from the dark web or is it just "more of the same" for lack of a better term and do you think the authorities are getting better in shutting this inhumanity down and catching the people responsible?||I am definitely not against people taking back their online privacy and I actually think that buying drugs from the darknet markets is a safer and more sensible option than buying them from the dodgy dealer down the road. However the one thing that is really disturbing is that the dark web has provided a place for child predators to find each other and form communities where they support and egg each other on. Imagine a few years ago, someone who was into hurtcore could never tell anyone else and would be unlikely to ever come across another person with the same perversions. Now it is as simple as finding the relevant site on the dark web. When there are suddenly hundreds of people who all think and act in the same way, it normlalizes what they are doing.|
|One of the guys who got caught, Matthew Falder, was a sadist who used to crowdsource "ideas" for torturing the children and teens he was blackmailing into doing heinous things for him online. But apparently he was a "normal" intelligent popular guy|
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|But how does everyone participate in those illegal sites without getting caught? You said in other comments that you tried to stay away from underaged sites because they were illegal. Can't they be tracked down, even with tor and a vpn? The thing that I don't understand is that even on the dark web people say you should stay away from illegal sites, but how are pedos not getting caught?||they are getting caught, but the way they are getting caught is through painstaking detective work, looking for clues in photos, befriending them online and getting them to reveal things about themselves (what is known as social engineering). It takes a long time and many resources.|
|I say don't go there because (a) it is illegal and (b) you really shouldn't want to go there|
|Iirc you attended the trial of the person behind the horrific hurt core website that was exposed a few years back. I was wondering if there was anything in particular that happened during the trial that particularly shocked or horrified you that isn't really public knowledge or talked about? Reactions from the judge or perpetrator during the trial etc. As I remember it the guy was a fairly young loner who lived with his parents but would probably never have been expected to be behind the horrific vile things which he was found to be. Also, how did you get into investigative journalism/writing?||I wrote in one of the other replies above about the little mute girl that has stayed with me. Also, at the insistence of the prosecution, the judge had to watch "Daisy's Destruction" which was a video of torture of a toddler. He put it off for two days and when he came back he was white. He didn't have the sound on, which is considered the worst part, but he still looked shell-shocked. I don't envy him.|
|I'll cut'n'paste re your last question: I was in London, working for one of the most conservative law firms in the world when the Global Financial Crisis hit. I liked the job but it struck me when people were losing their livelihoods that I was working for the bad guys. I'd always wanted to be a writer so when I came back to Australia I quit law and enrolled in a writing course planning to be a novelist, but I discovered I was better at journalism. I first wrote for newspapers here about Silk Road and it grew from there|
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|Thanks for the reply.. that really must've been horrific for all involved from investigation to trial and for all of the victims (apart from the scum responsible of course). I guess it would be naive to assume that the end of this site did anything other than drive this depraved community even further underground. That is the part which is really scary to me but I suppose all we can do is have faith that the authorities are always close on the tail. Thank you for your work on reporting on this and raising this stuff more into the public consciousness and making people more aware of what kind of evil still lurks.||It was the most disturbing two days of my life, made all the worse because they read out hours of interactions from the site where the children still had not been identified or the predators caught.|
|Hurt2theCore was not the last site of its kind and there are still hurtcore sites to this day on the dark web. The one hopeful thing is that there are international task forces that seem to work together really well (unlike when it comes to drugs and every law enforcement agency wants to take the lead and they all withhold info from each other). There are a lot of resources allocated to identifying predators and their victims. Sometimes this has involved some very controversial tactics, such as taking over the sites and letting them run, so that they can use social engineering techniques to identify those who are using the sites and who are actually abusing children|
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|So daisy's destruction is real? Was it referred to by that name court? I always thought it was a myth||Yes, Daisy's Destruction is real, it was referred to by name in court and the judge had to watch the 12 minutes of it that were hosted on Hurt2theCore.|
|The "myth" part is that it shows a murder. The toddler, Daisy, lived, though she suffered such horrific injuries she will never be able to bear children. Hopefully she was young enough that she will grow up without the memory.|
|However, Scully did murder at least one child, whose body was found under the floorboards of his house. it is not known whether he filmed her murder as no video evidence of it has come to light.|
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|Thanks for answering. I actually watched a really good video on Hurt2theCore on youtube once, I think it was by a guy called Nexpo. It was really detailed and informative about the whole case - I forgot those details. Thanks again for replying, this AMA is really informative!||I think I recall that one, it was from a few years ago.|
|An excellent podcast that came out recently is "Hunting Warhead", highly recommend a listen. It is a tough listen, but exceptionally well-told and respectfully handled|
|How do you detach yourself from your work? I'm an investigator for a law firm and I've had a lot of difficult working on wrongful death cases recently. Also, how did you first end up getting published? Any tips for people interested in that field? Thanks!||I don't detach. When I was researching hurtcore, it was harrowing and affected me deeply. Writing that part of the book was a very slow process because I just couldn't be in that headspace for very long at a time. Once the book was written I didn't go back there.|
|I already had a reputation as a blogger and a freelance journalist when i pitched my book on Silk Road. I got an agent and it was auctioned off, with Pan MacMillan getting the rights. At the time, Silk Road was still going strong, and the book I wrote was about this new frontier of drug dealing that was changing the world. I was writing it "from the inside" as I had been an active part of the community for two years. However, right as I submitted the final manuscript to my publisher, Silk Road was busted and Ross Ulbricht arrested, so i had to quickly change the narrative to a "Rise and Fall" thing!|
|How many times have you approached law enforcement with information and how many times has the approach resulted in action? and... are there times where you know something nefarious is happening but history and the evidence at hand tells you it's not worth the effort?||There is no point in approaching law enforcement to say "I have come across this site". If I've found it, you can guarantee law enforcement has found it as well.|
|The only time I've approached law enforcement was when I had information that they did not, which was when a friendly hacker provided me with a back door into the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire site. I got to see all the messages and orders etc. Of course LE knew about the site, but they did not have the details of the people who had hits taken out on them. We tried desperately to tell police in several countries that real people had paid real money to have other real people killed, but they just weren't interested. We sounded like crazy people talking about dark web hitmen, who were scams anyway and nobody was dead, so why should they be interested? They became much more engaged when one of the people WE HAD PREVIOUSLY TOLD THEM ABOUT later turned up dead|
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|By law enforcement, do you mean only local or else the big agencies? I feel like I wouldn't tell my local police department because they wouldn't really know what to do. It would have to the the bigger agencies.||FBI in US. NCA in UK. AFP in Australia. Nobody was very interested, although the FBI did visit at least one of the targets to let her know she was a target. She still wound up dead|
|What are some of the most prevalent uses of the dark web that AREN'T all shady and nefarious?||We might be getting into semantics here, but people use Tor, which is the most possible darknet that is used to access the dark web, just for private browsing and ensuring that commercial interests aren't following them everywhere to bombard them with ads for some thing they looked up.|
|Some of the news organizations have a dark web presence so that whistleblowers can upload information safely. Even the CIA has a site on the dark web so that people can anonymously tip off matters of national security.|
|Other than that, there are just forums, where you don't have to worry that every single stupid thing you post will be saved in posterity forever, to be trotted out years later when you run for congress or something|
|After everything you've seen, does anything surprise you anymore or are you just numb to it at this point? Do you think there should be more education/exposure about the dark web than there is now or would that just be counter-productive as people would just find another place to hide? I'm curious to hear any favourite stories about the Psychonauts.||I am not numb and I hope I never become numb. I really don't visit the horrible dark places very often, unless I'm researching something specific, and even then I don't look at pictures or videos. Most of the crime is pretty benign - I'm not fazed by people wanting a safer way to buy drugs.|
|I think there needs to be ongoing discussions about online activity and its misuse in general, but most crime still happens on the clearnet. The dark web is not nearly as large or prevalent as people fear.|
|For a long time, a dealer provided free LSD to anyone who wanted it for personal use (ie not sale) and to any organizations who were doing psychedelic therapy.|
|One psychonaut got busted and spent time in prison... only he still had bitcoin in a wallet and by the time he was released he was a millionaire. He would have just spent it on drugs otherwise :)|
|I know law enforcement has to delve into the predator side of the dark web. With what you've seen do you think it should be mandatory or an industry standard that law enforcement officials seek professional help? I couldn't imagine investigating that daily and not thinking less of humanity at some point.||I'm pretty sure they do. I worked for Legal Aid for a while, and i know there were pretty strict rules in place for the lawyers who had to defend child abusers.|
|When I was at the trial for Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, I met a cop whose job it was to watch all the videos and befriend the predators in an attempt to get them to slip up and reveal something of themselves. She said she had a little filing cabinet in her brain where she put all that stuff, and that making an arrest made it all worthwhile. She had made several arrests personally. She was a sex offender's worst nightmare :)|
|What’s one of your personal favorite investigations and what made it unique for you?||By far the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire case. What made it unique was that, first, I was provided a back door into the Besa Mafia site by a friendly hacker, so i had information that nobody else had. But then I became "friends" for want of a better word with the owner of the site, Yura. Besa Mafia, of course, was not killing anyone, but Yura made a LOT of money scamming would-be murderers out of their money. We entered into a weird relationship over the years where i would report on his activities and he would try every trick under the sun to stop me from doing so, so that he could keep scamming people. He even offered me a job, helping him, because he had become so busy. He also provided me with names and details of people who had hits taken out on them so I could pass them on to law enforcement.|
|It all became horribly real when one of the people who had a hit put out of them wound up dead. It wasn't Yura of course, but the guy had paid him $13K before giving up on the site and doing it himself. The thing was WE HAD TOLD THE FBI about the hit and the $13K and they visited the victim, but then put it into the too-hard basket when she couldn't think who might have paid that much to kill her.|
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|Wow. That’s actually pretty cool. Reminds me of an old saying. “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”||It's a seriously bizarre relationship. When I was hired as a consultant by CBS for a 48 Hours expose on dark web hitmen, he actually agreed to meet me in London. But he thought that CBS was going to advertise his site as the real deal and he got excited and sent them details of two people who had hits put out on them. CBS sent them straight to the police and very shortly after two arrests were made and it was all over the news, where they called his site a scam. Yura got so pissed about it, he never turned up to our meeting. They had even hired an Academy Award-nominated master of disguise makeup artist to disguise him!|
|are "red rooms" actually a prevalent thing, or just a widespread misconception or rumor? I ask in part because it's very easy to see, for instance, Mexican cartels dismembering people alive, etc, just on the clearnet. Hell, a couple days ago I saw a video posted of a cartel member cutting out a dude's heart while the guy was alive, and he ATE it. He fucking ATE it. So it seems plausible...||The most popular myth of all is Red Rooms, where people – usually women – are tortured to death live on camera while those who have paid to watch type in torture commands in a chat box. Think the movie Hostel, with webcams. In this sense these have never been proven to exist. I get where you are coming from with the cartels, and the recent news item where they found those shipping containers set up with torture rooms freaked me out and made me wonder!|
|There is some truth to this rumour, but the execution is not like you see in the movies. Most notably, because it involves children, not adults abused on demand for paying pedophiles, but not to the point of death|
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|The news about those shipping containers really made me speculate, since for every one person who gets caught doing something evil, there must be at least several more people who are very honed in their 'profession' doing the same evil deeds and worse, yet who evade being captured for decades. Anyway, based on morbid things I've seen, karma comes around eventually...||I know, right? It really freaked me out, and then when I read that they already had intended victims for them but the police got to them first and put them in protected custody.. IMAGINE SEEING THOSE PICTURES AND KNOWING YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE IN THEM!! I would retire to a deserted island somewhere|
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|Your line of work could easily result in something like C-PTSD down the road a little ways. I have a morbid curiosity, and have seen worse than those shipping containers had to offer. I'm sure you have as well. So one more question from you, if you don't mind: what are some proactive approaches to mental health you take to safeguard your sanity?||A lot of wine. Cuddle my dog|
|Hi, there! This has been fascinating to read; thank you so much for sharing! I'm curious: why do you think so many people who don't want to engage with disgusting and illegal content like hurtcore find it so interesting to read about? Do you have any insight into your readership and the ethics associated with reading about these kind of topics?||I think morbid fascination with the dark is exceedingly common - just look at how many people can't get enough about serial killers! In some ways it is probably a self-defense mechanism - the vast majority of true-crime readers are women. People like to be armed with knowledge. We also like to be spooked and scared.|
|As for my books, I don't really go into much gory detail, but the horror still shines through|
|Out of all 9-5 jobs out there, why this? What’s your motive?||I got disenchanted by being a lawyer and I had wanted to be an author since childhood. The lawyering put me in a strong enough financial position that I could quit to do a uni course for a couple of years. My plan was to become a best-selling novelist, but my first chick-lit novel was nothing special. However, during the course, I found I did really well at journalism and was soon making a living as a freelance journo before I finished the course. My first major feature was on the Silk Road drugs market, which I had discovered thanks to a friend who was using it. Once I got in there I became fascinated by everything about it and started contacting the owner, users, vendors etc asking for stories (I was upfront about who I was). I began the first serious dark web blog - allthingsvice.com - and also became the go-to freelancer for Australian dark web stories. Then I pitched my first book and got a healthy advance for it.|
|I like working for myself, working from home and delving into things. Right now I have my dream job (though it wouldn't hurt to pay a bit more. I'm certainly not making anywhere near what I used to make lawyering, but I make enough to get by and I live pretty simply)|
|Did you ever do any writing on Brian Farrell and his role in Silk Road 2.0? I was Brian's cellmate for all of 2017 at Sheridan Federal Prison and heard all of his crazy stories. Was just curious as to the validity of them all.||DoctorClu! I did write briefly about him in Silk Road, but it wasn't all positive. I remember being frustrated by the shitshow that was Silk Road 2.0 in the beginning, right after SR1 shut and when DPR2 took off and Defcon got all dramatic. It settled down after a bit and lasted a year, when it was revealed THEY HAD A FUCKING UNDERCOVER HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICER ON STAFF THE WHOLE TIME. But yeah, anyhow, they are probably true. I'd love to hear them :)|
|Was there ever something on the dark web that made you surprised ( in a good way) and smile ?||So many things. Back in the day of the original Silk Road, I became obsessed with the forums, the people behind it, the intelligent discourse about the War on Drugs and philosophy. I found it amusing that drug dealers ran sales and giveaways. There were book clubs and movie clubs.|
|One of the most important people from that era was Dr Fernando Cauevilla, who became a member of Silk Road as "DoctorX". He was a real doctor who provided genuine, free, non-judgmental advice about drug use to the members of the site. It was quite an amazing time.|
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|Did Ulbricht get taken down the way we were told in the news? What happened to all the Bitcoins?||His arrest went down the way we were told in the news. How they located the server has never been disclosed (other than a fanciful explanation that NOBODY could believe). This explanation may be tested if Variety Jones runs a Fourth Amendment argument at his trial|
|The bitcoin in the wallet on Ross' computer was auctioned off by the Feds. He may have other bitcoin wallets stashed somewhere but nobody knows|
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|Book/movie clubs on the silk road?||Yeah, they would set reading and then everyone would come back and discuss the book, or they would have a time when everyone watched the same movie at the same time and chatted about it in real time|
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|Haha that's amazing! I don't suppose you remember any of the books in question?||They used to be a lot of philosophy books, especially on agorism. A Lodging of Wayfaring Men was one of the books. I remember V for Vendetta on a movie night|
|You don't seem to be pushing your most recent project and you're actually answering all the questions people ask, so I've got ask...are you some sort of government plant meant to destabilize reddit? This isn't how AMAs are supposed to work. You come in, you half ass a few questions, hawk whatever you're here to hawk, and then leave after 20 minutes. That's how it's done.||lol I'm a genuine redditor from way back, and I love talking about the stuff I do. I did find that after I answered a question in an AskReddit thread a while back that blew up, the sales followed. But that was organic and I don't think you can force it to happen - Reddit can spot that a mile awy|
|What are some of the best things about the dark web? And can anyone get on it? Things you can buy that you can’t buy normally online?||I really enjoy some of the forums, especially the psychonaut forums where people who like to trip on psychedelics get together and talk drugs and philosophy. There's a real "be kind to one another" vibe.|
|Getting on the dark web is easy, but not getting scammed when buying things takes a lot of homework. Yes, you can buy most things, but the most popular things are drugs and digital goods, i.e. things that depend on repeat custom and are easily transferable from seller to buyer|
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|[deleted]||You're doing the Good Work my man. I'd give you one of those awards if i knew how|
|What would you define the word "Safe" when it come to the internet (both www and dark web) world and are there any tips that I should follow to keep myself safe?||It really depends on what YOU mean by safe. Tor, which is the darknet that provides access to the dark web will keep you safe from prying eyes and surveillance.|
|If you mean keep your information safe, the old-fashioned advice is to never reuse your password and to enable 2-Factor authentication wherever you can. Your information is quite likely somewhere on the dark web thanks to high-profile hacks of major organizations, but provided you don't re-use usernames and passwords, you really don't have to worry too much about it.|
|If you mean keeping yourself and/or any kid safe from predators, the only thing is to ensure you are educated about the approaches and methods they use.|
|Has Covid affected the Dark Web in any real way? Also I just read through all of the post comments, what incredible story’s. I would totally buy a book about the Silk Road or Yaru!||re covid on the dark web, here's some notes I made for an interview I did recently:|
|* when Trump first hyped hydroxychloroquine as a potential miracle cure for COVID-19, drug dealers on the dark web seized on the claim.|
|* Listings quickly popped up on the most popular darknet markets|
|* A vendor on Whitehouse Market sells 100 Pills for $90, calling it a “Miracle Drug For Coronavirus” and suggesting buyers purchase in bulk to sell at a mark-up locally.|
|* Another makes the dubious claim “This drug will help people to beat Corona Virus” There are 11 listings on Empire Market currently, although more than half are from the one seller, who is a well-known and trusted vendor on the site.|
|* There were also people claiming to be selling infected blood or plasma of recovered COVID victims|
|* The infected blood stuff is just bullshit IMO Just because something is listed doesn’t mean it is genuinely for sale|
|* There's been some claims to be selling vaccines|
|* At the beginning there were also loads of listings for PPE|
|* some just used it as a marketing tactic - “fight off the virus with edible cannabis” or “relax with Xanax” and others as an excuse to raise their prices|
|* However, sales are low compared to sales of other drugs on the site, so it is difficult to say whether it’s something that will really catch on|
|* It didn’t take long for complaints to come in and market owners to clamp down on anything claiming to be a miracle cure or vaccine|
|* users were discouraging other users from profiting off the pandemic and requested markets provide health and safety information|
|* All the major markets forbid anything being sold as a cure for COVID. They flagged keywords and vendors would be told to take any listings down. They also put out PSAs telling people not to buy|
|* Monopoly: threatened to ban and.. “You are about to ingest drugs from a stranger on the internet - under no circumstances should you trust any vendor that is using COVID-19 as a marketing tool to peddle already questionable goods”|
|* It was a business decision. They don’t want anything that will attract attention or that might cause desperate people who wouldn’t normally use the DNMs to find their way there|
|* The idea behind DNMs generally is educated and responsible drug use. They really don’t want people dying - bad publicity and no repeat custom|
|* However the dark web is rife with scammers and people willing to prey on the desperate so there are still scams out there|
|* The only way I could ever see it becoming a thing is if there is a well-known potential cure/vaccine that is not being made widely available and could plausibly find its way onto the black market|
|Hi Eileen :) My question is about how you construct your Casefile episodes - I assume there is an extensive amount of outlining but do you write the final draft like a script specifically thinking about his voice? And about how long are they as far as - for example - does one hour equal 50-60 pages? Thank you.||I initially write them as if I'm writing an article or book, but then go back and edit them to be read out and yes, when I do that, I do have his voice in my head lol. One episode is usually around 12,000 words. It then goes to another editor who edits the episode to be even more "casefileaa' before it finally goes to Casey|
|Have you been exposed to things in your investigations that have made you second-guess what you do? If so, what has made you keep going back?||i've definitely had days where I question everything, but to be honest, I don't really hang around the horrible really dark places much. I did delve into the child predator forums when I was writing The Darkest Web, but I don't make it a habit to go there. The psychonauts are much more friendly|
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|To continue with that- have you clicked images, links that make you a suspect in certain scenarios?||Oh absolutely. Sometimes I go to a "Fresh Onion" site, which is a site that crawls all the .onion addresses (dark web URLs end in .onion rather than .com, org etc) and alerts you to any new ones. Sometimes they don't have any description, so you take a big risk clicking on any of those. The most dangerous button on the dark web is the "Random Onion" button, so I avoid that.|
|I'm pretty careful about what I click, but the moment something looks questionable I nope the fuck right out of there|
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|Have you ever felt that you may be a suspect whether it be ok a drug site, a pedo site, etc. Have you ever been contacted by someone regarding your surfing habits?||Well my actual surfing habits are protected by Tor, which means they are hidden from prying eyes, so no I haven't been contacted about them. I am very open on the dark web about who I am and what I'm doing there - I use the name OzFreelancer on all of the markets and forums. I don't go to the sites that host child abuse images - you can't un-see that shit and I don't need it in my head.|
|As noted in another reply, I was contacted by Homeland Security on one of my visits to the US and taken for a "friendly" lunch.|
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|Psychonauts are more friendly than most people. Something about regular mind altering experiences makes you want to be less of a cunt.||Yeah, I call The Majestic Garden a little corner of sunshine and rainbows on the dark web :)|
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|More about The Majestic Garden please? What is grown there?||It's a place where people talk about and source psychedelics - most notably LSD, the 2C family, DMT and MDMA. Talk about and sourcing harder drugs is forbidden. In fact the admins snuck in an autocorrect so that any time someone wrote the word "cocaine" it would post as "a raging hardon" :D|
|Do you fear that seeing all this stuff might turn you emotionally blunt? I'm not watching any of this stuff on purpose (even the clearnet stuff), because I fear that the more you see of it, the more normal it gets, and ultimately, the more it will fuck you up. To quote the movie 8mm... "If you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you."||No, I can't even watch "3 Guys 1 Hammer" in its entirety, let alone look at the really dark materials on the dark web. When I was researching The Darkest Web, going into the predator forums did the opposite of making me blunt. It was the shortest section of the book but took the longest to write because it was so emotionally draining|
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|I have to ask, what is "3 Guys 1 Hammer"?||It's a video of two teenagers murdering an innocent man with a hammer that went viral on the gore sites of the regular internet. It's truly horrible.|
|The teens killed over 20 people. I wrote about them in my book Psycho.com (excuse the plug)|
|I heard somewhere that you foster dogs. Is that something you do to counter all the terrible humans you encounter in your research - everyone knows how dogs are better than people. How many dogs have you fostered and which one was your favourite?||After my dog died I knew I didn't want to have another dog as I wanted to travel more. So I thought fostering dogs would be the answer as you give them love for a few weeks and then they go to their forever home. My first foster, Roy, was a big fat failure and now he lives here and sleeps in our bed and is the most spoiled dog alive|
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|Did you then just decide to quit travelling? I don't know anything about Roy, but I already think I love him.||Nah, he has family he can stay with when I go away, but any major travelling has been thwarted by COVID for now anyway. I'm in a hard lockdown city.|
|And I'm sure Roy would love you too, u/suckmyhugedong|
|Given how much you know about the dark web, what kind of crazy awful nightmares have you had? This could be a really good one. Thank you||Probably the worst thing was delving into the forums where child predators gathered. I never looked at any videos or photos, but just seeing their discussions sickened me. The one thing that keeps coming back to me came out of the sentencing hearing that I attended of Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, considered the most heinous website in history. In court they read out a conversation between him and an abuser who made videos of torture of the mute disabled child in his care. They were joking "at least she won't be able to tell anyone" . the abuser wasn't caught, at least by that stage|
|As an indie author, how have you sourced freelancers? Did you seek out those that have specific expertise or did you work with editors from your time as a traditionally published author?||I learned to do everything myself before I started outsourcing.|
|I work with a professional editor who happens to be a friend of mine from back when we did a writing course together. I've been doing my own covers, but now that I have some royalties coming in, I've engaged a professional cover artist from Reedsy to develop a brand and more professional-looking covers for me. It is the hardest thing to find people you really want to work with and who are in budget.|
|I still haven't got the hang of email lists, newsletters or a website - they are all in a total mess at the moment and I'd love to find someone who can do them, but again it is that problem of finding the right person who is within budget|
|is it true that most of the internet is in the "dark web"? if so about how much percent is it?||By far the biggest myth is that it 10x larger than the Internet. I mean, this should be common sense anyway, but it gets propagated by tabloid media all the time. It stems a lot from people using the terms "deep web" and "dark web" interchangably when they are different things.|
|The statement that 90% (or thereabouts) of the internet is hidden is true, and it is called the deep web (not the dark web). The 90% that is hidden is all those pages you won’t get to using google or any other search engines. There’s nothing scary about that – in fact it works in your favour.|
|The easiest example is your bank. The bank’s major page is available to anyone who searches the web (part of the 10%, also known as the “clearweb”). But once you log in, all those pages you can access that contain your personal details? Not searchable on google. Each one of those pages is part of the 90% of the deep web. Business and government intranets also make up part of the deep web. Honestly, it’s nothing to worry about.|
|The dark web – the hidden services available through Tor and other anonymising programs – makes up a tiny fraction of the deep web. A really, really tiny fraction. It is infinitely smaller than the clearweb.|
|Do you think human trafficking happens on the dark web? Last year (I think) there was a really bizarre story here in the UK about a model who was supposedly kidnapped to order, drugged and transported overseas by a group called "Black Death". The official story is that BD doesn't exist, and the kidnapper was a fantasist. Is it likely that humans are bought and sold into slavery over the dark web?||There are no slick websites with auctions for slaves on the dark web, but I have no doubt that human traffickers use dark web encryption to communicate.|
|(here comes the second plug for the thread) - I wrote about the kidnap of Chloe Ayling and the Black Death Group in Murder on the Dark Web|
|What ever happened to the plural of mongoose storyline? it seems like after he was arrested in the united states, his case just fizzled away. did you ever find out any more information about yuri after he cancelled the interview with a news program? what happened with peter scully's case? i read that there was a fire where a lot of evidence against him was held and it all went up in smoke. are there any character and/or personality storylines that you feel haven't been told or are still a complete mystery? eg. tony76||1. He is still in the MCC in NY and awaiting trial. It has taken a long time because he had terrabytes of information to go through and things would have slowed down due to covid. I understand he is running the Fouth Amendment argument that Ulbricht probably should have run in the first place|
|2. I last heard from Yura just a few weeks ago. He is still scamming. There are some more programs in the works about him|
|3. Yes there was a very convenient fire, but he still got sentenced to life and i hope he rots in hell|
|4. I am madly curious to know what is happening with the extradition of James Ellingson, aka “MarijuanaIsMyMuse”, aka "redandwhite", MAYBE aka Tony76. I would LOVE to know that full story!|
|the below is a reply to the above|
|Wow, this shit is a blast from the past. I used to love following the darknetmarket drama. Did you write about PoM and tony76 in one of your books? Ever since reddit shut down /darknetmarket I've been out of the loop.||Yes, I wrote about them in The Darkest Web|
|I was in touch with PoM/Mongoose when he went on a posting rampage on MyPlanetGanja, then visited him in Bangkok prison several times. Wrote all about it :)|
|This may have been answered by a previous post pertaining to native language barriers to specific sites on the dark web, but in your investigations, did you come across content/pages/forums from warzones? Middle East, Burma, Afghanistan, etc? If yes, what was the most memorable bit?||There are loads of sites in foreign languages, but it is too difficult for me (a one-language numpty) to attempt to translate through AI, and it is not worth hiring a translator when they could just turn out to be Cat Facts|
These crypto lending & borrowing services found early traction. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market?submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]
This is the third part of Crypto Banking Wars — a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become the bank of the future. Who is best positioned to reach mainstream adoption in consumer finance?
While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this very powerful technology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe a crypto-native company will ultimately become the bank of the future. We’re confident Genesis Block will have a seat at that table, but we aren’t the only game in town.
In the first post of this series, we did an analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. In our second episode, we looked at the world of non-custodial wallets.
Today we’re analyzing crypto lending & borrowing services. The Earn and Borrow use-case covers a lot of what traditional banks deliver today. This category of companies is a threat worth analyzing. As we look at this market, we’ll mostly be focused on custodial, centralized products like BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius.
Many of these companies found early traction among crypto users. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market? Let’s find out.
Institutional BorrowersBecause speculation and trading remains one of the most popular use-cases of crypto, a new crypto sub-industry around credit has emerged. Much of the borrowing demand has been driven by institutional needs.
For example, a Bitcoin mining company might need to borrow fiat to pay for operational costs (salaries, electricity). Or a crypto company might need to borrow USD to pay for engineering salaries. Or a crypto hedge fund needs to borrow for leverage or to take a specific market position. While all of these companies have sufficient crypto to cover the costs, they might not want to sell it — either for tax or speculative reasons (they may believe these crypto assets will appreciate, as with most in the industry).
Instead of selling their crypto, these companies can use their crypto as collateral for loans. For example, they can provide $1.5M in Bitcoin as collateral, and borrow $1M. Given the collateralization happening, the underwriting process becomes straightforward. Companies all around the world can participate — language and cultural barriers are removed.
The leader (and one of our partners) in this space is Genesis Capital. While they are always the counterparty for both lenders and borrowers, they are effectively a broker. They are at the center of the institutional crypto lending & borrowing markets. Their total active loans as of March 2020 was $649M. That number shot up to $1.42B in active loans as of June 2020. The growth of this entire market segment is impressive and it’s what is driving this opportunity for consumers downstream.
Consumer ProductsWhile most of the borrowing demand comes from institutional players, there is a growing desire from consumers to participate on the lend/supply side of the market. Crypto consumers would love to be able to deposit their assets with a service and watch it grow. Why let crypto assets sit on an exchange or in cold storage when it can be earning interest?
A number of consumer-facing products have emerged in the last few years to make this happen. While they also allow users to borrow (always with collateral), most of the consumer attraction is around growing their crypto, even while they sleep. Earning interest. These products usually partner with institutional players like Genesis Capital to match the deposits with borrowing demand. And it’s exactly part of our strategy as well, beyond leveraging DeFi (decentralized finance protocols).
A few of the most popular consumer services in this category include BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius.
BlockFiBlockFi (Crunchbase) is the leader in this category (at least in the West). They are well-capitalized. In August 2019, they raised $18.3M in their Series A. In Feb 2020, they raised $30M in their Series B. In that same time period, they went from $250M in assets under management to $650M. In a recent blog post, they announced that they saw a 100% revenue increase in Q2 and that they were on track to do $50M in revenue this year. Their growth is impressive.
BlockFi did not do an ICO, unlike Celsius, Nexo, Salt, and Cred. BlockFi has a lot of institutional backing so it is perceived as the most reputable in the space. BlockFi started with borrowing — allowing users to leverage their crypto as collateral and taking out a loan against it. They later got into Earning — allowing users to deposit assets and earn interest on it. They recently expanded their service to “exchange” functionality and say they are coming out with a credit card later this year.
It’s incredible that BlockFi has been able to see such strong growth despite their numerous product and security woes. A few months ago, their systems were compromised. A hacker was able to access confidential data, such as names, dates of birth, postal addresses, and activity histories. While no funds were lost, this was a massive embarrassment and caused reputational damage.
Unrelated to that massive security breach and earlier in the year, a user discovered a major bug that allowed him to send the same funds to himself over and over again, ultimately accumulating more than a million dollars in his BlockFi account. BlockFi fortunately caught him just before withdrawal.
Poor Product Execution
Beyond their poor security — which they are now trying to get serious about — their products are notoriously buggy and hard-to-use. I borrowed from them a year ago and used their interest account product until very recently. I have first-hand experience of how painful it is. But don’t take my word for it… here are just a few tweets from customers just recently.
For a while, their interest-earning product had a completely different authentication system than their loan product (users had two sets of usernames/passwords). Many people have had issues with withdrawals. The app is constantly logging people out, blank screens, ugly error messages. Emails with verification codes are sometimes delayed by hours (or days). I do wonder if their entire app has been outsourced. The sloppiness shines through.
Not only is their product buggy and UX confusing, but their branding & design is quite weak. To the left is a t-shirt they once sent me. It looks like they just found a bunch of quirky fonts, added their name, and slapped it on a t-shirt.
To the innocent bystander, many of these issues seem totally fixable. They could hire an amazing design agency to completely revamp their product or brand. They could hire a mercenary group of engineers to fix their bugs, etc. While it could stop the bleeding for a time, it may not solve the underlying issues. Years of sloppy product execution represents something much more destructive. It represents a top-down mentality that shipping anything other than excellence is okay: product experience doesn’t matter; design doesn’t matter; craftsmanship doesn’t matter; strong execution doesn’t matter; precision doesn’t matter. That’s very different from our culture at Genesis Block.
This cancerous mentality rarely stays contained within product & engineering — this leaks to all parts of the organization. No design agency or consulting firm will fix some of the pernicious values of a company’s soul. These are deeper issues that only leadership can course-correct.
If BlockFi’s sloppiness were due to constant experimentation, iteration, shipping, or some “move fast and break things” hacker culture… like Binance… I would probably cut them more slack. But there is zero evidence of that. “Move fast and break things” is always scary when dealing with financial products. But in BlockFi’s case, when it’s more like “move slow and break things,” they are really playing with fire. Next time a massive security breach occurs, like what happened earlier this year, they may not be so lucky.
Based on who is on their team, their poor product execution shouldn’t be a surprise. Their team comes mostly from Wall Street, not the blockchain community (where our roots are). Most of BlockFi’s blockchain/crypto integration is very superficial. They take crypto assets as deposits, but they aren’t leveraging any of the exciting, low-level DeFi protocols like we are.
While their Wall Street heritage isn’t doing them any favors on the product/tech side, it’s served them very well on winning institutional clients. This is perhaps their greatest strength. BlockFi has a strong institutional business. They recently brought on Three Arrows Capital as a strategic investor — a crypto hedge fund who does a lot of borrowing. In that announcement, BlockFi’s founder said that bringing them on “aligns well with our focus on international expansion of our institutional services offering.” They also recently brought someone on who will lead business development in Asia among institutional clients.
BlockFi Wrap Up
There are certainly BlockFi features that overlap with Genesis Block’s offering. It’s possible that they are angling to become the bank of the future. However, they simply have not proven they are capable of designing, building, and launching world-class consumer products. They’ve constantly had issues around security and poor product execution. Their company account and their founder’s account seem to only tweet about Bitcoin. I don’t think they understand, appreciate, or value the power of DeFi. It’s unlikely they’ll be leveraging it any time soon. All of these reasons are why I don’t see them as a serious threat to Genesis Block.
However, because of their strong institutional offering, I hope that Genesis Block will ultimately have a very collaborative and productive partnership with them. Assuming they figure out their security woes, we could park some of our funds with BlockFi (just as we will with Genesis Capital and others). I think what’s likely to happen is that we’ll corner the consumer market and we’ll work closely with BlockFi on the institutional side.
I’ve been hard on BlockFi because I care. I think they have a great opportunity at helping elevate the entire industry in a positive way. But they have a lot of issues they need to work through. I really don’t want to see users lose millions of dollars in a security breach. It could set back the entire industry. But if they do things well… a rising tide lifts all boats.
Honorable MentionsCelsius (ICO Drops) raised $50M in an ICO, and is led by serial entrepreneur Alex Mashinsky. I’ve met him, he’s a nice guy. Similar to Binance, their biggest Achilles heel could be their own token. There are also a lot of unanswered questions about where their deposits go. They don’t have a record of great transparency. They recently did a public crowdraise which is a little odd given their large ICO as well as their supposed $1B in deposits. Are they running out of money, as some suggest? Unclear. One of their biggest blindspots right now is that Mashinsky does not understand the power of DeFi. He is frequently openly criticizing it.
Nexo (ICO Drops) is another similar service. They are European-based, trying to launch their own card (though they’ve been saying this forever and they still haven’t shipped it), and have a history in the payments/fintech space. Because they haven’t penetrated the US — which is a much harder regulatory nut to crack — they are unlikely to be as competitive as BlockFi. There were also allegations that Nexo was spreading FUD about Chainlink while simultaneously partnering with them. Did Nexo take out a short position and start spreading rumors? Never a dull moment in crypto.
Other players in the lending & borrowing space include Unchained Capital, Cred (ICO Drops), and Salt (ICO Drops).
Wrap UpWhile many companies in this category seem to be slowly adding more financial services, I don’t believe any of them are focused on the broader consumer market like we are. To use services like BlockFi, Nexo, or Celsius, users need to be onboarded and educated on how crypto works. At Genesis Block, we don’t believe that’s the winning approach. We think blockchain complexity should be abstracted away from the end-user. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto.
For many of these services, there is additional friction due to ICO tokens that are forcefully integrated into the product (see NEXO token or CEL Token). None of these services have true banking functionality or integration with traditional finance —for example, easy offramp or spending methods like debit cards. None of them are taking DeFi seriously — they are leveraging crypto for only the asset class, not the underlying technology around financial protocols.
So are these companies potential competitors to Genesis Block? For the crypto crowd, yes. For the mass market, no. None of these companies are capable of reaching the billions of people around the world that we hope to reach at Genesis Block.
Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Download the app. We're a digital bank that's powered by crypto: https://genesisblock.com/download
⟳ f-droid.org from Wed, 26 Feb 2020 20:21:50 GMT updated on Sun, 01 Mar 2020 05:23:29 GMT contains 2962 apps.Added (870)
|Hi Prof. Kuskin. I'm enrolled in the course and I'm really looking forward for it to begin. Question: will you put some material in advance (some coursera courses do) so that we can take advantage of the weekend?||Hi, rdentato! Thanks for writing. I've been looking forward to this course for a while. That's a good idea. We're going to do a bit more proofing today. If it looks sharp, I'll open it up and let people look around!|
|Please please do... several course put materials in advance or one or two weeks and this makes a big difference. For example, I travel a lot and my work schedule is irregular, so having the chance of having the lecture before helps me when I have a busy week!||I see this is getting a lot of points. Will definitely get with my tech staff to open the course ASAP. When we do, I will send out an email.|
|Why do you think comic books and graphic novels are such a successful storytelling medium?||Great question, tyesterday. You know, my own feeling is that comics are like medieval manuscripts from the fifteenth century. They are best, best, best artform for the book. They are something to have and collect and sort of worship.|
|As the internet has made books only one medium of many for communication, the comic book has seized the format and exploded.|
|That said, a lot of the energy has to do with community. People need a community of the imagination. Comics provide the platform for that community.|
|I love this Medieval aspect and perspective...it ties to the one-page assignment you have stated. Like the old monks illustrating the letters of their manuscripts with story-driven art-work!!!||Yes!|
|Professor, in your study of comic book history, do you think that comics in general have been ahead of the curve when it comes to social, race, and gender issues? Or have they mostly lagged behind the times? Has comics really been a force for good or just entertainment for the masses?||Excellent, Jlgill. Complex question. I think, like all art, comics tend to throw a lot out there, so it's hard to generalize. Certainly race and gender have lagged, and continue to lag. There is a lot of racism and sexism in comics, no doubt.|
|But, one of the first comics, the first of the species, is William Hogarth's Four Stages of Cruelty (ca. 1750 or so, so pretty early in the scheme of things), and he's drawing and writing about animal rights, and gender abuse. So there it is—can't generalize.|
|What Comic Book/Graphic Novel would you recommend to someone who's looking to start reading them?||Two writing assignments, two multiple choice tests (easy), and making your own comic book!|
|How big will the comic book have to be? I have some ideas of varying lengths, but would need to work out some details ahead of time.||So, four pages + cover is the basic assignment. More pages will be rewarded with extra credit.|
|Hey Prof. Kuskin! My brother and I are both taking your course and we're really looking forward to it. 28,000+ people is an incredible number. How do you feel about having an audience that large? Do you anticipate that students will suffer to some degree from the lack of intimacy you might expect from a classroom or lecture hall?||Hi, Joompah. Thanks for writing in. Yes, I agree, it's got to suffer that, a loss of intimacy. I signed on to this for two reasons: first, I think comics are anti-authoritarian and MOOCs are anti-authoritarian. It's a match I like, and I am so proud and humbled that the University of Colorado Boulder got behind this project.|
|Second, I really believe in the Humanities. I feel that even with the loss of intimacy, if some people can be exposed to thinking about BIG IDEAS AND BIG QUESTIONS through comics, they will have a better life. I believe that.|
|So, the cost is the intimacy. I like to learn all my studnets' names, and sweat their writing out with them. Obviously, I can't quite do that here.|
|Hear, Hear! to getting the word out to the masses. I am a 50 yr old optometrist and do not have time to return to college. Ive taken an astronomy course from Duke, a micro-economics course from U of Illinois and now will start a Humanities course from U of Boulder. Go Go MOOCs!!!||Bravo!|
|, there will be quite a few people whose names you'll learn, Professor. The active ones on the forums, the ones that will submit good comics of their own. Intimacy doesn't always require diminutive scale.|
|Hi Prof. Kuskin, what is your favorite comic book series of all time?||Dark Knight Returns.|
|It's maybe not the best comic book, and I disagree with almost everything Frank Miller has said of late, but boy, what a comic! I remember my first time reading it. It blew me away, and still does. (that said, I do have an enormous batman tattoo, so maybe I'm biased.)|
|Have you ever thought about monetizing this course? Would the bitcoin revolution be a solution to this problem?||You know, though I like the idea of virtual currency funding my comics library as much as the next nerdy guy, I think it's just fantastic that the course is free. It's renewed me in some ways, and I hope to share that energy.|
|So let,s talk. How will the writing assignment look like?||Hey, Posnikr! The writing assignments are very focused. They concentrate on one page from a comic, which you will be supplied with. The whole assignment is to focus in on that page and read it like a brilliant visual-textual poem.|
|To be honest with you (and whoever else is out there!), I developed the assignment--stole part of it--from my Chaucer mentor. It's my first attempt at making it work in a massive format.|
|We shall see!|
|Would the page in question be from a work that we would, at that point, have been expected to have read, or will it be taken out of the context of the comic itself? I think both assignments would be interesting, but am curious about what you have in mind.||Hey, Kanta7.|
|So, I assign two essays in the course. The first one pulls some pages from comics I have discussed in my lectures. The second one, later in the semester, adds a few we don't discuss.|
|The point of the assignment is entirely to focus on the page. Each page is a little beautiful poem for you to tease apart. (I learned this from my doctoral director on Chaucer, back in the 1890s). So, really you don't need any more than a page.|
|It's hard to focus. I'll teach to you to focus.|
|So You can not give wilder approach to the topic just the materials which will be provided ?||Hi, posnikr. See above. It is a very narrow focus. But I promise, it will teach you to read depth in every page.|
|I really want you to stick to the materials. My goal is to teach depth, focus, and clarity in structure.|
|What got you into comics?||Hey, easterislandstatue (great username, by the way): my mom read them to me in Central Park in NYC as a kid. Then I would go home and cut them into little playsets at home... thousands of silver age playsets.|
|I stopped reading when I was in grad school. Became a bit of snob.|
|Then, about ten years ago, I went through a rough patch, and wandered into a comic shop in New Orleans. Couldn't believe how it all developed.|
|From there, I was hooked again.|
|Hello Prof. Kuskin. Do you often read comics? Which comics recently published you would recommend for somebody?||I do read comics a lot.|
|I am really grooving on the work of Matt Kindt, Paul Pope, and Jeff Lemire. I stayed up and read all of Lemire's Sweet Tooth in trade paperback in one night recently.|
|I would recommend his Underwater Welder.|
|But you can't go wrong with Paul Pope's One Trick Rip Off. Really can't.|
|What program/tool will we use to make our own comic? Will we need special software or computer platform?||No, you will not. You'll need to figure out how to scan your documents and upload them. That's it. In fact, there is nothing better than a comic made with pencil, ink, and paper, and then scanned in.|
|Hello, Professor Kuskin! I'm very excited for this course. Two questions: 1) How exactly did you come to decide on what materials to use for the class? 2) What comic books/graphic novels didn't make the cut for the course that you would suggest people read?||Whew! There are a lot of questions here, and I read yours and meant to answer it earlier because it is a very good one.|
|So, here is what I think, and I have to say this with some humility because the comics world is a huge one with a great knowledge base.|
|I believe there has emerged over the past ten years a clear literary history and canon of American comics. I think my syllabus reflects this canon, and I think it is fair to say that it would be a shame for a student of comics not to know the comics I list off.|
|That said, nobody--NOBODY--is going to be happy with my selections because comics are very emotional and because, well, any list is going to be partial.|
|I am sad that I've left out Persepolis--it didn't make my final cut--I am sad too that Grant Morrison's work is not really going to be represented. I would have liked to spend even more time on the underground scene, and on alternative comics, particularly Los Bros Hernandez (wikipedia them if you are not familiar). You will see that that lecture is a long one.|
|Ultimately, I think you can see from all the enthusiasm on this reddit that there is much passionate in comics.|
|No one will be particularly happy with my list, but I hope everybody is generally happy that the course is being taught!|
|Sort of a rewording of hegglehog's question about the Hawkeye Initiative. Do you see a future in comics/graphic novels, especially the superhero genre, where women are portrayed more realistically (i.e., less as idealized sexual objects, and more as normal people)?||So, The Hawkeye initiative is interesting. Ultimately, superhero comics are going to have a lot of trouble getting over physical stereotypes. That's the genre. Crime, sci-fi, and even fantasy are moving ahead in this direction.|
|Hi Prof!! In Spain, education needs comics, superheros and all you could imagine :D Any idea???.||Hi, Okenda. Thanks so much for writing in. So, Sandman gets some attention, and I go with Watchmen over From Hell, though, I really do think From Hell is a masterpiece. Watchmen fits with the structure of the course a bit better, though From Hell may be the more significant comic.|
|Are we going to have a deep talk about Neil Gaiman master piece, The Sandman books, and Moore's From Hell??. Do you know any Spanish comic artist like Paco Roca?.||So many comics, so few days in the course...|
|Thaaank you very much for this course!!!.||Wm.|
|Since you are located in Boulder, Colorado how have the floods effected you? I know CU was closed for a while.||Well, Boulder did take a hit. The surrounding towns as well--Lyons, Longmont, Estes Park, Nederland, and so forth. Very, very sad.|
|The university reacted tremendously. We were closed for two days, but got back going quickly, and are running like a top now. It was a very impressive reaction.|
|I was fine. A bit wet, but fine. Thank you for asking.|
|Professor, I enjoyed and was very much in agreement with your assessment of sequential arts and its place in literature/culture. Would you suggest your course to any prospective graphic novel creators?||Yes, actually. My course is chiefly analytic and historical, but my main contention is that no one writes (or draws) alone—that is, no one can drop into a living artform without recognizing the history of that artform, it's experience through time.|
|So, I can only hope that my lectures expand that history a little bit. I know that I have learned a lot putting them together.|
|Do you think text — dialogues, captions etc. — are mandatory for comics to qualify as comics? People have argued that storyboards or wordless novels, picture books, or even, back in time, scrolls, are all forms of comics. Would you agree to that, will your course propose a definition for comics; or do you think that definitions are beside the point? Thank you.||So, there are many wordless books that qualify as comics and are wonderful stories. You know, HoaSi, I really do think definitions are besides the point. Arguing about definitions is a lot of fun, but ultimately it slows down the imaginative investigation. Comics are part of a larger combination of literature and artwork, of storytelling through books--and I mean books here really broadly, for an ipad is a book—that has been going on for thousands of years.|
|Where is the medium going? what is your prediction for the next big thing in comics?||Very good question, Bambi_stars. What does Adama say in Battlestar Glactica? "I don't do hypotheticals?" It's a wise statement.|
|I've been mulling over where I think the energy is, though, and I think that there is a lot of energy in creators, like Pope, Lemire, and Kindt, who are moving in and out of the superhero and "alternative comics" genre. What I mean to say is that I think so-called mainstream superhero comics have tremendous force and importance to the comics community, but it's not necessarily where the best or most adventurous work is being done. So I look to people who did not start that way bringing a new perspective in.|
|How will this class prepare students for their future careers and lives?||This is a brilliant, question, Salacious!|
|I have a lot to say on this topic. And first, I'll say this: a few of my students have gone on to try to make comics their careers, so that's a direct application.||But! I really want to say this: the study of art--and I mean comics as art--is critical, and I mean critical to a good life. Comics are great this way, because they are an easily accessible art form. Why? Because art gives us life to study. Each comic book page is a problem set, and writing about the page is way of analyzing a problem set.|
|Why are american comics serialized such that what you buy at the store is just a single series? why are american comics not sold in anthologies, as japanese comics are? were american comics once sold in anthologies, and if so, what happened to them?||Hi, Choubugioxkel. This is a fascinating question, that I think comes down to the way comics have always been distributed. American comics began as a throw-away literature reprinting newspaper "funnies" and so they have always been seen as ephemeral.|
|My sense is that the so-called Graphic Novel revolution has made a lot of change here, and that a lot of readers now wait for the anthologies. I know I do.|
|How on earth will you be able to respond to 28,000 students. Do you have powers you've not yet revealed?||Galactus is my TA.|
|Why do comics gravitate towards "capes?"||What, you don't wear one when you're relaxing...|
|Hi, Prof. Kuskin. I'm a huge graphic novel fan (especially Alan Moore's work). I already have a good background in graphic novels and I'm very excited about your course. I just wish to know the level of detail we will adopt to read texts like Maus and Watchmen - will it be a basic analysis or in-depth, taking into account historical events (Maus) or other pop-culture and historical references (as in Watchmen)?||Hey, Oneiros. (gulp).|
|Okay, in this course, I try to split the difference. Set up the text with one large scale question, and then really focus on as tightly as I can on a single page.|
|I ask the same of you in the papers (which I describe in one of the threads below).|
|I much favor in-depth close reading of the page. That's my into each comic.|
|Hey Doc. Brave of you. Retired teacher here. Looking for the fun. I am beyond erudite and sophmoric. Glad to be part of this. Dislike testing. Too close to testosteroning. So no Perespolis on this list but Building Stories is ! Curious. Muiti cultural choices ? American Born Chinese ! Looking forward to Monday. Hey how about Crumb's Genesis ? Thimble Theater ?||Excellent list of texts, jmusich. So, I too dislike testing, and I don't know how the "assessements" will go. For me, it is part of the experience in this new frontier.|
|I actually finished recording the Crumb lectures last week. I focus on ZAP and BIG ASS, but one of the things that this course has already taught me is that his shadow is long.|
|Yes, you are free to disagree, but I find Building Stories very important.|
|Hi, how deep are we going to study the semiotic level in comic. i mean, the simbolism under the narrative, the semantics of their meanings, the formal structures of signs and it´s agents? THX!||Okay, this is an interesting question. In my view--and here it comes--much comics criticism, indeed, much humanities criticism has a very semiotic turn to it, and is very, very concerned with a technical language for representation. Now, it is my view, that over the past thirty years this has alienated much of the audience for the Humanities, narrowing the academy so that it is talking to itself. (Boy this is from a guy who started out by reading Louis Althusser).|
|One major goal for this course is to show that the supposedly simplistic comic book can hit at major intellectual questions. Now, to get at those questions, you certainly have to close read those books carefully, but you don't have to bury them in a difficult language.|
|Comics are for everyone. Literature is for everyone. Art is for everyone. We need a semiotic language that recognizes this truth.|
|Hope that makes a little bit of sense.|
|How does the industry feel about the current trend in Hollywood movies based on comics?||Hey, dontjudgemefood. I think the industry--the mainstream industry--owned as they are by movie companies, and plenty happy. Mainstream comics are always tilting to bankruptcy. Ouch.|
|Prof Kuskin, I already enrolled. What do you think about the so-called GNs but actually TPBs that collected ongoing issues? Also, since the course starts in 3 days, shouldn't the course forums be opened so people who enrolled can discuss there?||Hi, Multjiang. After I wrap up this reddit, I have a few images to map and a little proofreading, and then we will go live, a bit early, so people can jump in.|
|In one of the first videos I discuss the difference between GNs and TPBs. To me, they are all comics. I don't think we should get too hung up on these definitions.|
|Have you thought of mentioning independent lengthy comics in the course such as Jeff Smith's Bone and Dave Sim's Cerebus?||Just mentioned Cerebus in recording my lectures last sunday. It's a brief mention, but the independent comics movement is powerful.|
|Hi Professor, how do you feel about Comic Books and Graphic Novels as an introduction to reading? I'm asking this because my gateway to reading narratives was Calvin and Hobbes, but only now I'm getting into comics with Allan Moore.||I said in one of the earlier posts that I started reading comics with my mom during dog walks in Central Park in NYC. It was during those walks, back in the late 60s that I learned to read. I guess Stan Lee was my first author, and in that he taught me to read. So, I think comics are great to learn to read, although maybe Alan Moore would be a tough start...|
|Though even as I type that, I realize that one of my firmest beliefs about reading is that it should be self-motivating. It is a challenge for each parent to decide what is appropriate--on the one hand, some images in comics do seem inappropriate but on the other hand, I am not to judge what fires off a child's imagination and gets them reading.|
|Yes! A great introduction to reading!|
|Will you be touching on any non-capes-&-cowls graphic novels, such as Essex County by Jeff Lemire?||Boy, Dollinha, I haven't read "Essex County." I just read my way through Sweet Tooth, and you can bet that I'll be buying this soon!|
|Thanks for the tip. (and there, just for the record, I sure haven't read everything).|
|But, looking over the reading list, superheroes only get part time in this course. There is so much out there that doesn't involve them...|
|This is my first approach to comic books and graphic novels. I am very excited to start but also I feel a little intimidated. Do you have any advice for your "non-background" students?||Please do not feel intimidated. First, comics are for everybody. They are not about rites of passage or about warehouses of knowledge. They are about the imagination.|
|Second, the MOOC should be challenging and engaging, but it is also for everyone. It is not about being the brightest or about being perfect in any way. (Lord knows, you will discover that I am imperfect!).|
|In a nutshell, this course is about thinking about some great stories and taking some personal risks.|
|I am total newbie when it comes to comics. I haven't read many but I do want to start reading them and learn to appreciate them. Is this a good course to achieve that?||Yes, niting!|
|This is course for you. I've taught it many times, and my students always feel that it renews them. Welcome aboard!|
|Hello Professer Kuskin, I was wondering what you think of the current fiasco that is DC comics?||Hey, emmawestlund! I think you nailed it. It's a fiasco! I'm going to talk about this when I get to Planetary, which is a total indulgence on my part. Warren Elllis has a great phrase, "Decoherence," and I think it applies well to "The New 52."|
|But... art is generative, so there is always hope. Let's keep hoping!|
|Greetings from Greece! Would you say that this course would set a good basis to a person who likes to draw and wants to get involved in illustration but has absolutely no clue how?||Hi! Glad you've signed up. Yes! This course will not teach you to draw, but it will discuss and make you think about layout. Layout is key.|
|The comic book is a collaborative medium by convention and due to time consumption. Very few do fill all of the positions all by themselves. What is your view regarding collaboration between students? When we make our own comic, for example, will we be able to work in groups? I suppose what I'm asking is — does the course allow for that and to what extent?||In my bricks and mortar version, I allow for collaboration. In this version, I don't emphasize it--there is no way for me to track the student submissions accurately. I would say here, and I will say if it comes up in the discussion forums, that people can work together, but that each person needs to pull his or her weight.|
|Hi Prof. Kuskin! What sorts of insight do you hope this course will give people in the comics industry?||Well, I would hope for three things: 1. I hope this brings a lot of people into reading comics on a regular basis, so in this way, I really hope that this course is good for comics, and good for the comics industry in general. 2. I hope the industry notes that people are really interested in big questions and smart comics. Sure, it's great to see beautifully drawn heroes slugging it out against nefarious evil-doers, but I hope to see more and more thoughtful and aware comics. 3. With that, wouldn't it be beyond great if someone from this course decided to make a go at comics and, actually, could pay their rent on it?|
|Since this is so multinational, could we do another AMA where people list a favorite comic or graphic novel from their country? The course is focusing on US work but I'd love to use this opportunity to learn about work beyond the US. Might be a fun end of course question.||Nice idea. If this does not naturally come up in the discussion forums over the next seven weeks, let's make a promise, Zorgly, to force the issue.|
|How do you feel about Greg Land and his success in the industry?||Hey, Grimrecycler.|
|This is a tougher question to answer than it appears, so thanks for asking it. On the one hand, let's be fair: there are no rules to comics except what will float in the market. That's an important rule, is it not? I mean, if we're going to start hedging comics, we will quickly be in the business of hedging art--back to 1954.|
|On the other hand, I'm not really a fan. He's made a fine career on some stereotypical artwork that some find offensive. I put him, sadly, in the same boat that Mark Millar seems to be currently rowing (from the writing side of things).|
|There. I said it.|
|What comics do you currently buy monthly?...and do you still make weekly trips to the store to pick up new comics?||Hey, M0ntana! Thanks for this question. What do I buy monthly? Batman (which I've not been happy with, but can't give up), Kick-Ass (which I'm not happy with, and am about to give up), Lazarus (which I like), Massive (so-so), Scarlet, Fatale, Trilluim--probably some others, but that is what springs to mind (and my mind and fingers are getting a little tired).|
|Hello professor. Will there be any live lessons during this course? If so, on what medium would that be?||Wow. I hadn't even thought about live lessons. I will jump into the discussion forums pretty regularly. I'll talk to my tech person.|
|Valiant re-boots, The Last Unicorn, what happened to Warlock?||What did happen to Warlock? It's a good question!|
|Is there a reading list for the class? I do a podcast called Alt3red Egos and I read a ton of comics, but I need to "schedule" my reading time. If I had a list of books that would help with the class, I could do that.||Welcome! So, the basic reading is on the Coursera "profile" which is at Link to www.coursera.org When the course opens, you'll be able to download the syllabus, which presents the whole course.|
|Hey, Prof. Enrollee here! How many classmates do I have?||Yes, about 28k, but who knows how many will make it to the end?|
|Hi proof! I've been a non structure storyboarder for some years. I wonder if we...if we will get some (structure) and, specially, if we will also work on the course. By 'work' I mean all kind of means (keyboards electroshocks included) that push us to draw, design storyboards along the classes. Will we?||Yes you will!|
|Hello Professor - greetings from New Jersey. I got into comics as a way to teach my dyslexic 3rd grade son how to read. He is now a honor roll 7th grader! Hoping to gain further understanding and insight into the medium as I am still much the novice. Thank you for the opportunity.||Great. Bravo on the Honor Roll! You should be proud.|
|I think you'll see many ways of working on focus in this course.|
|This is a brilliant, question, Salacious!||I have a lot to say on this topic. And first, I'll say this: a few of my students have gone on to try to make comics their careers, so that's a direct application.|
|I'm enrolled in the class. At the time I enrolled, comics were just an interest of mine. Within the past couple months, I've actually been hired as an editor for comics. Looking at comics through an academic lens will only better my understanding of them, which will help me as an editor!||Bravo!|
|I believe all the lectures will be on coursera as long as the class is. not sure if that answers your question.||Well answered, almightypoodle! Yes, I believe that is true. You can enter into the course late, drop out for a bit, and come back and learn at your own pace.|
|I am an academic librarian looking forward to this class - a departure from my usual routine...borrowed most of the books from my daughter and ready to go!||Excellent! I hope that you get a kick from the course and that it filters into your librarian ship.|
|I am a bit worried about the 'make your own comic book' bit. Not much creativity or art skills here.||Week three gets a little heavy, sexually. I certainly wouldn't have been embarrassed when I was 15, but I would have been a bit embarrassed if I was watching with my Mom!|
|Just stopping by to say hello. I can't wait for class to start! :)||Hello, studentloansadness!|
|Bought the first novels already! So excited!||Wonderful!|
|Hello, Pr Kuskin,||Please don't be afraid, totoro46!|
|I' m enrolled - a little afraid as a beginner, so many people knowing so many things. I live in Spain. As an ignorant, I have no question until now ! Waiting for monday ;)||I wrote on this earlier, but comics are for everyone! It's not about winning or losing, it's about liberating the imagination.|
|Evenin' from the UK. FYI Its nearly 8pm here, not 7pm as stated in the Email ;)||Sorry! Lord knows, it's hard enough for me to make it to work on time! Glad you made it.|
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