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Taking back the Internet, more promising vaccine data, luciferase, and an idea about opt-in discussions on Satchel

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Greetings all,

First up, in today’s episode of Ventures, my guest Andrew Cronk (Co-Founder, Figment.io) and I discuss practical ways to engage with the Web 3.0 stack, how to keep up with information in the blockchain space, how to learn and teach others about crypto technologies, and where everyone is going to be storing and sharing baby photos in the future.  

Check it out: Taking back the Internet: Blockchains, Privacy, Web 3.0, and Figment.io :: with Andrew Cronk

I posted this morning on Twitter a few things. This was likely the most active I’ve been on Twitter in about a decade. :) Needless to say, I’m much more excited about Satchel, which I’ll discuss further below.  

More good news on the vaccine front

Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is strongly effective. 94.5% is amazing. This is another mRNA vaccine, similar to Pfizer and BioNTech’s that I wrote about last week.

In researching how they were able to come up with these vaccines (especially so fast), I came across the Luciferase Immunoprecipitation Systems (LIPS) Assay, which researchers at the US FDA developed a couple years ago to detect the creation of antibodies against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).  

I appreciated Tad Pacholczyk’s demystifying response here to the scary name causing various conspiracy theories out there:

“Luciferase, an enzyme involved in firefly illumination, is being used in various testing and development stages ahead of the production of a COVID-19 vaccine, but is not itself part of the injected material included in human vaccinations. Luciferase is a commonly used biomedical research tool, and has been used, for example, in lab animals to study the most effective way to deliver mRNA vaccines, whether by an injection into the skin, muscle or a vein.”

In short, luciferase-tagged proteins can be developed from the mRNA in the lab to then allow binding antibodies to be collected at the bottom of plastic test wells via protein beads. Given how bright luciferase is, it can be used effectively to quantitate antibody production.

Commenting UX: Less noise, more signal

Throughout the week, like most people, I often come across topics that I’d love to have a discussion about with specific friends. Text threads work for some things, as does email, as does setting up Zoom calls, etc… but I’m curious if there’s an asynchronous middle ground between social media and small-group discussions?  

For example, this past week I did some thinking about not only vaccines and the Web 3 stack (per above), but also about strategies for teaching modern-day web development, coaching founders at scale, and network organizational design. Beyond the Economist on my nightstand, I’m also reading Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward, which my mother gave me for my 40th birthday this past summer. I can think of dozens of friends who I’d love to have a book study with on each of the chapters, but who has time for that? Even if we had time, how would we align calendars?

Social media is the wrong place to have those discussions, of course. (As an aside, I think Google tried with “circles” on G+, Facebook tried with “Lists”, etc… but nobody ever really used these). 

There’s got to be a middle ground here. What if I created a Satchel post on a specific question, topic, and/or research area (such as React.js vs. Stimulus.js) where I put my notes/thoughts down - make it public (or optionally private to a list) - then invite not only top-of-mind friends, but also anyone who follows the relevant topics by subscribing to those topics on my subscribe page. If I left it to just top-of-mind friends, this would inadvertently exclude key people, so I think a certain amount of “casting the net” is a good thing.  

No matter how I drive people to that post (heck, even via social media for some things), anyone who lands there would then have to raise their hand and quickly opt-in / “apply” to that discussion. This way not only could I easily let my friends in, but it would also allow me to get to know YOU - who I probably don’t know yet. However, if you are reading this far down, then you are likely the kind of person who I would like to meet, learn from, bounce ideas off with, etc.

So - let’s try it.

Go subscribe to topics that interest you here, and later this week or weekend I’ll post a discussion topic or two and see who wants to chime in. This will force me to actually build a simple opt-in / raise your hand / comment system with the applicable privacy features. I’m thinking that everyone I let into a discussion will be anonymous to every other commenter by default. Perhaps in the near future two commenters who want to know each other can reveal their identities via some kind of “hey, I like what you said there, let’s be friends” UX.

Thanks for reading. And yes, we are currently in private alpha mode for Satchel, so if you’d like to try it out as an author, let me know. I’m currently letting in a small handful of applicants that are willing to help me and the team test it out.

Have a great rest of your week,