"Every time I mention ethereum in public in SF I'm scared a bro in a Patagonia vest is gonna appear like gollum from behind a dispensary and eavesdrop for insider info to up his margin lending game idk"
The technique is the means to the solution. Here's an example I came across when I did a quick Google search for examples.
In the same vein, let's say you're ten years old and a school bully approaches you with a slingshot in hand, aiming it at you. In this example you luckily happen to know a specific martial arts move - we'll call this "Technique X"- and it helps you disarm the bully by knocking the slingshot out of their hand. Have you solved the problem? No. The bully's still there. The bully still has the intention to harm you - with or without the slingshot - and likely won't stop just because they lost their tool.
Yeah, you solved the immediate problem of being pelleted, but you haven't achieved the real solution: returning to safety. For that, you'll probably use a different technique - running a far enough distance to get away from your aggressor.
Satoshi Has No Clothes
I started thinking about our misguided tendency to conflate techniques and solutions when Zcash co-founder Ian Miers pointed it out in his talk "Satoshi Has No Clothes."
In it, Ian says:
These lists of privacy coin features that people rattle off: zk-SNARKs, cutthroughs, stealth addresses, ring signatures, it uses VPNs/Tor - this whole list of features doesn't tell you anything about the actual privacy you're getting. But it sounds really impressive.
Some techniques don't work at all, some work better than others. But the technique isn't the solution. The whole protocol is what you actually have to build. And when you build a whole protocol you need to evaluate it not based on the features it has but what it actually does.
Here are all these features, what are they actually hiding?
Does it hide everything else?
And then, really, how is this thing actually used? And is the way it's being used safe?
Ian writes more about common privacy attacks and defenses over here.
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