You know, Bitcoin has been something of a puzzle to me, for a few years now. Lots of content creators on YouTube, where I liked to while the evenings away watching videos, were pushing it like crazy, as being the big breakthrough that was going to change the world’s economy, and put money in control of people, not governments, and banks. I just didn’t understand why we should all invest in this next big thing, as they advised us to, not that I’m ever in the black enough to be in the investment market. I like a good puzzle, though, and set out recently to find out a bit more about cryptocurrency, and hopefully solve some of its mysteries, in my own mind, about how it works.
I picked up the first puzzle piece, which was a Tweet thread a puzzle guy called Richard Miller, aka “Z”, had put out, that got me more curious. He had designed a “scratch card” lottery style thing (yeah, that’s the state of my knowledge, on the cryptic topic, even after 5 study sessions I embarked on, in my puzzling journey to understand more, which left me still referring to a lot of “stuff” about crypto “things”, at the end of it). Anyhoo, this crypto lottery had to do with the new and terribly trendy NFTs, which apparently, are digital assets, e.g. digital artworks, which get attached to cryptographic currency transactions, as proof for your ledger that the transaction has occurred. I’m sure I made plenty of research mistakes, coming from a place of not knowing anything about the topic, but I did have a really interesting journey, as it involved puzzles I was already somewhat interested in solving, around the Cicada3301 puzzle, and other related ones, like the a858 Stonehenge Reddit puzzle.
Session one, a leisurely study session over morning coffee, started here, with exploring the topics mentioned in the Cicada puzzler’s puzzling Tweets, which were Dark Marketing, NFTs and Cryptocurrencies (links I explored on screen are available in chat area beside video, if you view on YouTube, and you can see the Cicada puzzler, Richard’s Tweets in this video as well, to see what puzzle I was trying to solve):
(The above video received a strike from YouTube, for Bullying/Harassment, on Sept.20th. Since you can’t harass a fictitious person, I’m thinking maybe a few others mentioned in the video struck it, but YouTube comes down hard on anything with the letter Q in it, these days, so your guess is as good as mine, as to why it happened. Here’s the archived website I discussed, and investigated connections with gambling and bitcoin sites in, in the video removed by YT, maybe just for calling it “AIMing for Qproof” https://web.archive.org/web/20180320171656/https://www.opdeepstate.com/2017/11/15/q-clearance-patriot-analysis-of-breadcrumbs-in-a-nutshell-report/)
Now I was finding the puzzle intriguing again, and I found out more about Bitcoin, and got a bit of Bitcoin enthusiastic spamming, under this video, all raving about their favourite crypto-currencies. I waded on, through the chaos and confusion, however, hacking away at the topic, to see what, if anything else, would be revealed in the undergrowth, as I proceeded through the confusion and chaos in my mind, to try to make headway with my study topic. Often, I find, I have to make little study diversions, before I find my way again, on these expeditions into unknown territory. If the going gets particularly dense (and I am at times quite dense), one finds oneself having to mine one’s way underground, and I had a look at the cryptocurrency topic of Crypto Mining, as the followup to this livestream (no longer called “Followup to AIMing for Truth”; who needs another strike, right?):
Do ARG puzzles have anything to do with Crypto mining, I wondered, as soon as I saw what cryptocurrency hashing codes like SHA-2 looked like, and thought about how communities of solvers might be pooling their resources to solve “puzzles” using apps to crunch the codes down to what resolves to a code that can be used for transactions, or “mining” cryptocurrency? I had no idea whether this was a silly question to be asking, but I’m sure I heard somewhere that there’s no such thing as a silly question, so I indulged myself, and did more exploration of this puzzling territory, in relation to the puzzle the guy known to Cicada3301 fans as “Z” had worked on, as a cryptographer.
After getting some kind of idea about how Bitcoin mining works, I went ahead and asked the question straight out, whether Cicada3301 was as much about the currency of cryptocurrency transactions or mining, as it was about solving a coded puzzle, and I shared some links with viewers under the video as well? One of these was about the a858 “Stonehenge Reddit” puzzle, which I’d had some interest in, having communicated with a moderator from that puzzle’s Reddit board, with some truly bizarrely puzzling results, beyond anything I encountered in my head-scratching enquiries into how cryptocurrencies work, and whether the ARG puzzles involve them.
Well, it seems I was coming around in a circle, slightly, because I’d started out with Q and here he was again, since the Stonehenge Redditor had claimed to be the secret intelligence agent, Q, himself, and he’d written these funny little cryptically puzzling posts, starting in 2011, that intrigued and frustrated solvers on the Reddit thread, to the extent that they eventually asked the guy himself, what’s the point of the puzzle? Was cryptocurrency the point I wondered? I thought it could well be, and said why I thought so, in this livestream, the last in the study series I did. I felt it was as good a solution to the puzzle as any, since nobody else had managed to find the solution.
What I had thought of, initially, as perhaps a rather dry topic of study, turned out to be extremely interesting, and when I later saw this video about John McAfee, it confirmed for me that I hadn’t asked such stupid questions, since a lot of money can be made in cryptocurrencies, if you know when to push the price up, and when to sell quickly. It seems like a bit of a gamble, but perhaps if you have insider knowledge you have the advantage. I’ve no idea what the laws are on insider trading, as it would be called in banking stock market trading, in relation to getting the hot scoops that help you scoop up virtual currencies while they’re hot, and drop them when they’re not, but I know the Q-crew looooved this guy, who lived fast, dangerous, and deadly, and used to dispense trading tips on Twitter like a fulltime Qfarm bot, while he was alive. According to this, he was Tweeting from the grave, and it seems like a Qfan that was using his account, right after he died. Weird, and puzzling, huh? (I’ve started the video at the relevant section, but the rest of it’s pretty hair-raising, if you like to see how an anti-hero hedonistic multi-millionaire muck-up managed to live in luxury and squalor simultaneously).
Bonus Material: Video exploring how social media influencers have exploited their popularity to engage in “pump-and-dump” schemes, sometimes creating their own crypto currencies to do so.