This post is many layers of meta deep. Let us begin.
The first layer of fun is to examine things, and criticise them. Like so :
Neil: mircea_popescu: MisterE no actually, betting both sides is the way to play. << I think, judging from the public histories on bitbet, that this is very poor advice. It seems that waiting pays; I think bitbet probably needs harsher time decay than linear.
X is wrong, Y is broken, Z doesn't work, or could work better, or should be more like this than like that. It's familiar, isn't it ?
It should be familiar, it is after all the first level, which means it's directly visible even to people who aren't intelligent in the first place. Much like first base is generally available to everyone - even nerds and virgins have at least once seen other people kiss - the "critique" level is directly and immediately part of the universal human experience, and so even hopeless cases of mental retardation can represent themselves partaking in it, as a fantasyi. It's what every aspiring undergraduate leaves school with - diploma or no diploma, job or no job, any actual understanding or none whatsoever, critiquerizing will certainly be part of their mental universe.
The second layer of fun is to actually do the math. Like Mike does in this recent btcalpha article :
The results were surprising to me. BitBet's monthly financial statements tell a story of losing house bets, but a lot of money that the house "wins" goes to the person that created the bet. The answer to the question at hand is clear. Betting both sides of wagers is a winning proposition.
House Wagers: 1,324
Total Bet: 66.16 BTC
Total Won: 71.97 BTC
Profit: 5.81 BTC
Surprising to him, he says, which means he's been having fun. And it is fun, I tell you for sure, I do things such as teach women who used to think they "have no head for math" how to calculate the volume of gasoline they'd need to bring a gallon of watery alcohol to a boiling point, or the mass of a star a billion light years away required for it to appear a millimeter wide to the naked eye and on and on. Once they get the hang of how to figure the world, the unanimous response is that it's fun. Which it is.
This second layer of having fun is not visible to the general public, but the people who have been taking time critiquing and criticising often find within them the resources to make this next step. It's a path rife with dangers, however, because it often veers into statistics, which is how the devil got his tail.
But does it end there ? Why no, it doesn't!
The third layer of fun is making things! Like so :
mircea_popescu: Here's a very simple way to have fun as a bright young programmer : write a google search application that finds answers to bets based on queries derived from bet text, then bets. See if you win.
The proposition being bet on is, after all, a string in a natural language, which has a binary outcome associated. Because the outcome is binary, if you bet randomly over a long enough horizon of bets you should break even (well, minus Bitbet's 1% house edge). So! Could you find some manner to process the entirety of the World Wide Web, through for instance Google's search API (so as to spare you having to actually spider, index and process the whole thing on your own dime) so as to beat that 1% edge ?
It certainly is an enticing problem, especially because if you do, that's a living for you right there. Not because Obama is diverting the public treasury through your hands to "support" you, not because Harvard or MIT gave you a piece of paper, not because the SEC or whoever else says it's ok. For no external reason, but merely because you can. You.
And if you make a fortune from it, guess what ? You made that fortune. Not Obama, not MIT, not the SEC. You.
Fun, huh ? Not that it stops there, of course, because
The fourth - and perhaps last - layer of fun is to... well ? What now ?
Here's the beauty of it : I can tell you, and the five or ten or so people who actually are comfortable on layer three can see it, but otherwise for everyone else it's just gibberish. It's just me being asinine, or arrogant, or absurd, or another alliteration. In any case : the fourth and perhaps last layer of fun is to design the systems which allow people the other three layers. Which, ideally, make them comfortable, even unavoidable. Rather than make it a climb, make it a push, make interlocking levels work through each other so as to force people to move up in the world - even should this come at the expense of a few crushed fingers, or skulls.
Because you see, what surprised Mike was no surprise to me. The entire thing is designed for this purpose, with this in mind, Bitcoin isn't great today because "adoption" or because "advertising" or because "professional" or "conference" or "community". Bitcoin doesn't work because Obama, or because MIT, or because SEC. With or without them, Bitcoin is the same thing : it's well designed, and that's all that matters.
Now go out and have some fun. And remember : the more fun you're having, the more fun you'll have.———