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Alex Carter

Alex Carter

1 year ago

Metaverse, Web 3, and NFTs are BS

More on NFTs & Art

Web3Lunch

Web3Lunch

1 year ago

An employee of OpenSea might get a 40-year prison sentence for insider trading using NFTs.

GM Friens

The space had better days. Those greenish spikes...oh wow, haven't felt that in ages. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs have lost popularity. Google agrees. Both are declining.

As seen below, crypto interest spiked in May because of the Luna fall. NFT interest is similar to early October last year.

Google Trends

This makes me think NFTs are mostly hype and FOMO. No art or community. I've seen enough initiatives to know that communities stick around if they're profitable. Once it starts falling, they move on to the next project. The space has no long-term investments. Flip everything.

OpenSea trading volume has stayed steady for months. May's volume is 1.8 million ETH ($3.3 billion).

Source: Dune

Despite this, I think NFTs and crypto will stick around. In bad markets, builders gain most.

Only 4k developers are active on Ethereum blockchain. It's low. A great chance for the space enthusiasts.

An employee of OpenSea might get a 40-year prison sentence for insider trading using NFTs.

Nathaniel Chastian, an OpenSea employee, traded on insider knowledge. He'll serve 40 years for that.

Here's what happened if you're unfamiliar.

OpenSea is a secondary NFT marketplace. Their homepage featured remarkable drops. Whatever gets featured there, NFT prices will rise 5x.

Chastian was at OpenSea. He chose forthcoming NFTs for OpenSeas' webpage.

Using anonymous digital currency wallets and OpenSea accounts, he would buy NFTs before promoting them on the homepage, showcase them, and then sell them for at least 25 times the price he paid.

From June through September 2021, this happened. Later caught, fired. He's charged with wire fraud and money laundering, each carrying a 20-year maximum penalty.

Although web3 space is all about decentralization, a step like this is welcomed since it restores faith in the area. We hope to see more similar examples soon.

Here's the press release.

Source from Justice.gov

Understanding smart contracts

@cantino.eth has a Twitter thread on smart contracts. Must-read. Also, he appears educated about the space, so follow him.

Steffan Morris Hernandez

Steffan Morris Hernandez

1 year ago

10 types of cognitive bias to watch out for in UX research & design

10 biases in 10 visuals

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

Cognitive biases are crucial for UX research, design, and daily life. Our biases distort reality.

After learning about biases at my UX Research bootcamp, I studied Erika Hall's Just Enough Research and used the Nielsen Norman Group's wealth of information. 10 images show my findings.

1. Bias in sampling

Misselection of target population members causes sampling bias. For example, you are building an app to help people with food intolerances log their meals and are targeting adult males (years 20-30), adult females (ages 20-30), and teenage males and females (ages 15-19) with food intolerances. However, a sample of only adult males and teenage females is biased and unrepresentative.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

2. Sponsor Disparity

Sponsor bias occurs when a study's findings favor an organization's goals. Beware if X organization promises to drive you to their HQ, compensate you for your time, provide food, beverages, discounts, and warmth. Participants may endeavor to be neutral, but incentives and prizes may bias their evaluations and responses in favor of X organization.

In Just Enough Research, Erika Hall suggests describing the company's aims without naming it.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

Third, False-Consensus Bias

False-consensus bias is when a person thinks others think and act the same way. For instance, if a start-up designs an app without researching end users' needs, it could fail since end users may have different wants. https://www.nngroup.com/videos/false-consensus-effect/

Working directly with the end user and employing many research methodologies to improve validity helps lessen this prejudice. When analyzing data, triangulation can boost believability.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

Bias of the interviewer

I struggled with this bias during my UX research bootcamp interviews. Interviewing neutrally takes practice and patience. Avoid leading questions that structure the story since the interviewee must interpret them. Nodding or smiling throughout the interview may subconsciously influence the interviewee's responses.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

The Curse of Knowledge

The curse of knowledge occurs when someone expects others understand a subject as well as they do. UX research interviews and surveys should reduce this bias because technical language might confuse participants and harm the research. Interviewing participants as though you are new to the topic may help them expand on their replies without being influenced by the researcher's knowledge.

The curse of knowledge visual

Confirmation Bias

Most prevalent bias. People highlight evidence that supports their ideas and ignore data that doesn't. The echo chamber of social media creates polarization by promoting similar perspectives.

A researcher with confirmation bias may dismiss data that contradicts their research goals. Thus, the research or product may not serve end users.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

Design biases

UX Research design bias pertains to study construction and execution. Design bias occurs when data is excluded or magnified based on human aims, assumptions, and preferences.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

The Hawthorne Impact

Remember when you behaved differently while the teacher wasn't looking? When you behaved differently without your parents watching? A UX research study's Hawthorne Effect occurs when people modify their behavior because you're watching. To escape judgment, participants may act and speak differently.

To avoid this, researchers should blend into the background and urge subjects to act alone.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

The bias against social desire

People want to belong to escape rejection and hatred. Research interviewees may mislead or slant their answers to avoid embarrassment. Researchers should encourage honesty and confidentiality in studies to address this. Observational research may reduce bias better than interviews because participants behave more organically.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

Relative Time Bias

Humans tend to appreciate recent experiences more. Consider school. Say you failed a recent exam but did well in the previous 7 exams. Instead, you may vividly recall the last terrible exam outcome.

If a UX researcher relies their conclusions on the most recent findings instead of all the data and results, recency bias might occur.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

I hope you liked learning about UX design, research, and real-world biases.

Scott Duke Kominers

1 year ago

NFT Creators Go Creative Commons Zero (cc0)


On January 1, "Public Domain Day," thousands of creative works immediately join the public domain. The original creator or copyright holder loses exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt, or publish the work, and anybody can use it. It happens with movies, poems, music, artworks, books (where creative rights endure 70 years beyond the author's death), and sometimes source code.

Public domain creative works open the door to new uses. 400,000 sound recordings from before 1923, including Winnie-the-Pooh, were released this year.  With most of A.A. Milne's 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh characters now available, we're seeing innovative interpretations Milne likely never planned. The ancient hyphenated version of the honey-loving bear is being adapted for a horror movie: "Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey"... with Pooh and Piglet as the baddies.

Counterintuitively, experimenting and recombination can occasionally increase IP value. Open source movements allow the public to build on (or fork and duplicate) existing technologies. Permissionless innovation helps Android, Linux, and other open source software projects compete. Crypto's success at attracting public development is also due to its support of open source and "remix culture," notably in NFT forums.

Production memes

NFT projects use several IP strategies to establish brands, communities, and content. Some preserve regular IP protections; others offer NFT owners the opportunity to innovate on connected IP; yet others have removed copyright and other IP safeguards.

By using the "Creative Commons Zero" (cc0) license, artists can intentionally select for "no rights reserved." This option permits anyone to benefit from derivative works without legal repercussions. There's still a lot of confusion between copyrights and NFTs, so nothing here should be considered legal, financial, tax, or investment advice. Check out this post for an overview of copyright vulnerabilities with NFTs and how authors can protect owners' rights. This article focuses on cc0.

Nouns, a 2021 project, popularized cc0 for NFTs. Others followed, including: A Common Place, Anonymice, Blitmap, Chain Runners, Cryptoadz, CryptoTeddies, Goblintown, Gradis, Loot, mfers, Mirakai, Shields, and Terrarium Club are cc0 projects.

Popular crypto artist XCOPY licensed their 1-of-1 NFT artwork "Right-click and Save As Guy" under cc0 in January, exactly one month after selling it. cc0 has spawned many derivatives.

"Right-click Save As Guy" by XCOPY (1)/derivative works (2)

"Right-click Save As Guy" by XCOPY (1)/derivative works (2)

XCOPY said Monday he would apply cc0 to "all his existing art." "We haven't seen a cc0 summer yet, but I think it's approaching," said the artist. - predicting a "DeFi summer" in 2020, when decentralized finance gained popularity.

Why do so many NFT authors choose "no rights"?

Promoting expansions of the original project to create a more lively and active community is one rationale. This makes sense in crypto, where many value open sharing and establishing community.

Creativity depends on cultural significance. NFTs may allow verifiable ownership of any digital asset, regardless of license, but cc0 jumpstarts "meme-ability" by actively, not passively, inviting derivative works. As new derivatives are made and shared, attention might flow back to the original, boosting its reputation. This may inspire new interpretations, leading in a flywheel effect where each derivative adds to the original's worth - similar to platform network effects, where platforms become more valuable as more users join them.

cc0 licence allows creators "seize production memes."

"SEASON 1 MEME CARD 2"

Physical items are also using cc0 NFT assets, thus it's not just a digital phenomenon. The Nouns Vision initiative turned the square-framed spectacles shown on each new NounsDAO NFT ("one per day, forever") into luxury sunglasses. Blitmap's pixel-art has been used on shoes, apparel, and caps. In traditional IP regimes, a single owner controls creation, licensing, and production.

The physical "blitcap" (3rd level) is a descendant of the trait in the cc0 Chain Runners collection (2nd), which uses the "logo" from cc0 Blitmap (1st)! The Logo is Blitmap token #84 and has been used as a trait in various collections. The "Dom Rose" is another popular token. These homages reference Blitmap's influence as a cc0 leader, as one of the earliest NFT projects to proclaim public domain intents. A new collection, Citizens of Tajigen, emerged last week with a Blitcap characteristic.

These derivatives can be a win-win for everyone, not just the original inventors, especially when using NFT assets to establish unique brands. As people learn about the derivative, they may become interested in the original. If you see someone wearing Nouns glasses on the street (or in a Super Bowl ad), you may desire a pair, but you may also be interested in buying an original NounsDAO NFT or related derivative.

Blitmap Logo Hat (1), Chain Runners #780 ft. Hat (2), and Blitmap Original "Logo #87" (3)

Blitmap Logo Hat (1), Chain Runners #780 ft. Hat (2), and Blitmap Original "Logo #87" (3)

Co-creating open source

NFTs' power comes from smart contract technology's intrinsic composability. Many smart contracts can be integrated or stacked to generate richer applications.

"Money Legos" describes how decentralized finance ("DeFi") smart contracts interconnect to generate new financial use cases. Yearn communicates with MakerDAO's stablecoin $DAI and exchange liquidity provider Curve by calling public smart contract methods. NFTs and their underlying smart contracts can operate as the base-layer framework for recombining and interconnecting culture and creativity.

cc0 gives an NFT's enthusiast community authority to develop new value layers whenever, wherever, and however they wish.

Multiple cc0 projects are playable characters in HyperLoot, a Loot Project knockoff.

Open source and Linux's rise are parallels. When the internet was young, Microsoft dominated the OS market with Windows. Linux (and its developer Linus Torvalds) championed a community-first mentality, freely available the source code without restrictions. This led to developers worldwide producing new software for Linux, from web servers to databases. As people (and organizations) created world-class open source software, Linux's value proposition grew, leading to explosive development and industry innovation. According to Truelist, Linux powers 96.3% of the top 1 million web servers and 85% of smartphones.

With cc0 licensing empowering NFT community builders, one might hope for long-term innovation. Combining cc0 with NFTs "turns an antagonistic game into a co-operative one," says NounsDAO cofounder punk4156. It's important on several levels. First, decentralized systems from open source to crypto are about trust and coordination, therefore facilitating cooperation is crucial. Second, the dynamics of this cooperation work well in the context of NFTs because giving people ownership over their digital assets allows them to internalize the results of co-creation through the value that accrues to their assets and contributions, which incentivizes them to participate in co-creation in the first place.

Licensed to create

If cc0 projects are open source "applications" or "platforms," then NFT artwork, metadata, and smart contracts provide the "user interface" and the underlying blockchain (e.g., Ethereum) is the "operating system." For these apps to attain Linux-like potential, more infrastructure services must be established and made available so people may take advantage of cc0's remixing capabilities.

These services are developing. Zora protocol and OpenSea's open source Seaport protocol enable open, permissionless NFT marketplaces. A pixel-art-rendering engine was just published on-chain to the Ethereum blockchain and integrated into OKPC and ICE64. Each application improves blockchain's "out-of-the-box" capabilities, leading to new apps created from the improved building blocks.

Web3 developer growth is at an all-time high, yet it's still a small fraction of active software developers globally. As additional developers enter the field, prospective NFT projects may find more creative and infrastructure Legos for cc0 and beyond.

Electric Capital Developer Report (2021), p. 122

Electric Capital Developer Report (2021), p. 122

Growth requires composability. Users can easily integrate digital assets developed on public standards and compatible infrastructure into other platforms. The Loot Project is one of the first to illustrate decentralized co-creation, worldbuilding, and more in NFTs. This example was low-fi or "incomplete" aesthetically, providing room for imagination and community co-creation.

Loot began with a series of Loot bag NFTs, each listing eight "adventure things" in white writing on a black backdrop (such as Loot Bag #5726's "Katana, Divine Robe, Great Helm, Wool Sash, Divine Slippers, Chain Gloves, Amulet, Gold Ring"). Dom Hofmann's free Loot bags served as a foundation for the community.

Several projects have begun metaphorical (lore) and practical (game development) world-building in a short time, with artists contributing many variations to the collective "Lootverse." They've produced games (Realms & The Crypt), characters (Genesis Project, Hyperloot, Loot Explorers), storytelling initiatives (Banners, OpenQuill), and even infrastructure (The Rift).

Why cc0 and composability? Because consumers own and control Loot bags, they may use them wherever they choose by connecting their crypto wallets. This allows users to participate in multiple derivative projects, such as  Genesis Adventurers, whose characters appear in many others — creating a decentralized franchise not owned by any one corporation.

Genesis Project's Genesis Adventurer (1) with HyperLoot (2) and Loot Explorer (3) versions

Genesis Project's Genesis Adventurer (1) with HyperLoot (2) and Loot Explorer (3) versions

When to go cc0

There are several IP development strategies NFT projects can use. When it comes to cc0, it’s important to be realistic. The public domain won't make a project a runaway success just by implementing the license. cc0 works well for NFT initiatives that can develop a rich, enlarged ecosystem.

Many of the most successful cc0 projects have introduced flexible intellectual property. The Nouns brand is as obvious for a beer ad as for real glasses; Loot bags are simple primitives that make sense in all adventure settings; and the Goblintown visual style looks good on dwarfs, zombies, and cranky owls as it does on Val Kilmer.

The ideal cc0 NFT project gives builders the opportunity to add value:

  • vertically, by stacking new content and features directly on top of the original cc0 assets (for instance, as with games built on the Loot ecosystem, among others), and

  • horizontally, by introducing distinct but related intellectual property that helps propagate the original cc0 project’s brand (as with various Goblintown derivatives, among others).

These actions can assist cc0 NFT business models. Because cc0 NFT projects receive royalties from secondary sales, third-party extensions and derivatives can boost demand for the original assets.

Using cc0 license lowers friction that could hinder brand-reinforcing extensions or lead to them bypassing the original. Robbie Broome recently argued (in the context of his cc0 project A Common Place) that giving away his IP to cc0 avoids bad rehashes down the line. If UrbanOutfitters wanted to put my design on a tee, they could use the actual work instead of hiring a designer. CC0 can turn competition into cooperation.

Community agreement about core assets' value and contribution can help cc0 projects. Cohesion and engagement are key. Using the above examples: Developers can design adventure games around whatever themes and item concepts they desire, but many choose Loot bags because of the Lootverse's community togetherness. Flipmap shared half of its money with the original Blitmap artists in acknowledgment of that project's core role in the community. This can build a healthy culture within a cc0 project ecosystem. Commentator NiftyPins said it was smart to acknowledge the people that constructed their universe. Many OG Blitmap artists have popped into the Flipmap discord to share information.

cc0 isn't a one-size-fits-all answer; NFTs formed around well-established brands may prefer more restrictive licenses to preserve their intellectual property and reinforce exclusivity. cc0 has some superficial similarities to permitting NFT owners to market the IP connected with their NFTs (à la Bored Ape Yacht Club), but there is a significant difference: cc0 holders can't exclude others from utilizing the same IP. This can make it tougher for holders to develop commercial brands on cc0 assets or offer specific rights to partners. Holders can still introduce enlarged intellectual property (such as backstories or derivatives) that they control.


Blockchain technologies and the crypto ethos are decentralized and open-source. This makes it logical for crypto initiatives to build around cc0 content models, which build on the work of the Creative Commons foundation and numerous open source pioneers.

NFT creators that choose cc0 must select how involved they want to be in building the ecosystem. Some cc0 project leaders, like Chain Runners' developers, have kept building on top of the initial cc0 assets, creating an environment derivative projects can plug into. Dom Hofmann stood back from Loot, letting the community lead. (Dom is also working on additional cc0 NFT projects for the company he formed to build Blitmap.) Other authors have chosen out totally, like sartoshi, who announced his exit from the cc0 project he founded, mfers, and from the NFT area by publishing a final edition suitably named "end of sartoshi" and then deactivating his Twitter account. A multi-signature wallet of seven mfers controls the project's smart contract. 

cc0 licensing allows a robust community to co-create in ways that benefit all members, regardless of original creators' continuous commitment. We foresee more organized infrastructure and design patterns as NFT matures. Like open source software, value capture frameworks may see innovation. (We could imagine a variant of the "Sleepycat license," which requires commercial software to pay licensing fees when embedding open source components.) As creators progress the space, we expect them to build unique rights and licensing strategies. cc0 allows NFT producers to bootstrap ideas that may take off.

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Laura Sanders

Laura Sanders

2 years ago

Xenobots, tiny living machines, can duplicate themselves.

Strange and complex behavior of frog cell blobs


A xenobot “parent,” shaped like a hungry Pac-Man (shown in red false color), created an “offspring” xenobot (green sphere) by gathering loose frog cells in its opening.

Tiny “living machines” made of frog cells can make copies of themselves. This newly discovered renewal mechanism may help create self-renewing biological machines.

According to Kirstin Petersen, an electrical and computer engineer at Cornell University who studies groups of robots, “this is an extremely exciting breakthrough.” She says self-replicating robots are a big step toward human-free systems.

Researchers described the behavior of xenobots earlier this year (SN: 3/31/21). Small clumps of skin stem cells from frog embryos knitted themselves into small spheres and started moving. Cilia, or cellular extensions, powered the xenobots around their lab dishes.

The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Dec. 7. The xenobots can gather loose frog cells into spheres, which then form xenobots.
The researchers call this type of movement-induced reproduction kinematic self-replication. The study's coauthor, Douglas Blackiston of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and Harvard University, says this is typical. For example, sexual reproduction requires parental sperm and egg cells. Sometimes cells split or budded off from a parent.

“This is unique,” Blackiston says. These xenobots “find loose parts in the environment and cobble them together.” This second generation of xenobots can move like their parents, Blackiston says.
The researchers discovered that spheroid xenobots could only produce one more generation before dying out. The original xenobots' shape was predicted by an artificial intelligence program, allowing for four generations of replication.

A C shape, like an openmouthed Pac-Man, was predicted to be a more efficient progenitor. When improved xenobots were let loose in a dish, they began scooping up loose cells into their gaping “mouths,” forming more sphere-shaped bots (see image below). As many as 50 cells clumped together in the opening of a parent to form a mobile offspring. A xenobot is made up of 4,000–6,000 frog cells.

Petersen likes the Xenobots' small size. “The fact that they were able to do this at such a small scale just makes it even better,” she says. Miniature xenobots could sculpt tissues for implantation or deliver therapeutics inside the body.

Beyond the xenobots' potential jobs, the research advances an important science, says study coauthor and Tufts developmental biologist Michael Levin. The science of anticipating and controlling the outcomes of complex systems, he says.

“No one could have predicted this,” Levin says. “They regularly surprise us.” Researchers can use xenobots to test the unexpected. “This is about advancing the science of being less surprised,” Levin says.

Kyle Planck

Kyle Planck

1 year ago

The chronicles of monkeypox.

or, how I spread monkeypox and got it myself.

This story contains nsfw (not safe for wife) stuff and shouldn't be read if you're under 18 or think I'm a newborn angel. After the opening, it's broken into three sections: a chronological explanation of my disease course, my ideas, and what I plan to do next.

Your journey awaits.

As early as mid-may, I was waltzing around the lab talking about monkeypox, a rare tropical disease with an inaccurate name. Monkeys are not its primary animal reservoir. It caused an outbreak among men who have sex with men across Europe, with unprecedented levels of person-to-person transmission. European health authorities speculated that the virus spread at raves and parties and was easily transferred through intimate, mainly sexual, contact. I had already read the nejm article about the first confirmed monkeypox patient in the u.s. and shared the photos on social media so people knew what to look for. The cdc information page only included 4 photographs of monkeypox lesions that looked like they were captured on a motorola razr.

I warned my ex-boyfriend about monkeypox. Monkeypox? responded.

Mom, I'm afraid about monkeypox. What's monkeypox?

My therapist is scared about monkeypox. What's monkeypox?

Was I alone? A few science gays on Twitter didn't make me feel overreacting.

This information got my gay head turning. The incubation period for the sickness is weeks. Many of my social media contacts are traveling to Europe this summer. What is pride? Travel, parties, and sex. Many people may become infected before attending these activities. Monkeypox will affect the lgbtq+ community.

Being right always stinks. My young scientist brain was right, though. Someone who saw this coming is one of the early victims. I'll talk about my feelings publicly, and trust me, I have many concerning what's occurring.

my current vibe after two long weeks of monkeypox symptoms.

Part 1 is the specifics.

Wednesday nights are never smart but always entertaining. I didn't wake up until noon on june 23 and saw gay twitter blazing. Without warning, the nyc department of health announced a pop-up monkeypox immunization station in chelsea. Some days would be 11am-7pm. Walk-ins were welcome, however appointments were preferred. I tried to arrange an appointment after rubbing my eyes, but they were all taken. I got out of bed, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and put on short shorts because I wanted to get a walk-in dose and show off my legs. I got a 20-oz. cold brew on the way to the train and texted a chelsea-based acquaintance for help.

Clinic closed at 2pm. No more doses. Hundreds queued up. The government initially gave them only 1,000 dosages. For a city with 500,000 LGBT people, c'mon. What more could I do? I was upset by how things were handled. The evidence speaks for itself.

I decided to seek an appointment when additional doses were available and continued my weekend. I was celebrating nyc pride with pals. Fun! sex! * ‍

On tuesday after that, I felt a little burn. This wasn't surprising because I'd been sexually active throughout the weekend, so I got a sti panel the next day. I expected to get results in a few days, take antibiotics, and move on.

Emerging germs had other intentions. Wednesday night, I felt sore, and thursday morning, I had a blazing temperature and had sweat through my bedding. I had fever, chills, and body-wide aches and pains for three days. I reached 102 degrees. I believed I had covid over pride weekend, but I tested negative for three days straight.

STDs don't induce fevers or other systemic symptoms. If lymphogranuloma venereum advances, it can cause flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes. I was suspicious and desperate for answers, so I researched monkeypox on the cdc website (for healthcare professionals). Much of what I saw on screen about monkeypox prodrome matched my symptoms. Multiple-day fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, tiredness, enlarged lymph nodes. Pox were lacking.

I told my doctor my concerns pre-medically. I'm occasionally annoying.

On saturday night, my fever broke and I felt better. Still burning, I was optimistic till sunday, when I woke up with five red splotches on my arms and fingertips.

As spots formed, burning became pain. I observed as spots developed on my body throughout the day. I had more than a dozen by the end of the day, and the early spots were pustular. I had monkeypox, as feared.

a story i posted on instagram detailing my symptoms.

Fourth of July weekend limited my options. I'm well-connected in my school's infectious disease academic community, so I texted a coworker for advice. He agreed it was likely monkeypox and scheduled me for testing on tuesday.

nyc health could only perform 10 monkeypox tests every day. Before doctors could take swabs and send them in, each test had to be approved by the department. Some commercial labs can now perform monkeypox testing, but the backlog is huge. I still don't have a positive orthopoxvirus test five days after my test. *My 12-day-old case may not be included in the official monkeypox tally. This outbreak is far wider than we first thought, therefore I'm attempting to spread the information and help contain it.

*Update, 7/11: I have orthopoxvirus.

I spent all day in the bathtub because of the agony. Warm lavender epsom salts helped me feel better. I can't stand lavender anymore. I brought my laptop into the bathroom and viewed everything everywhere at once (2022). If my ex and I hadn't recently broken up, I wouldn't have monkeypox. All of these things made me cry, and I sat in the bathtub on the 4th of July sobbing. I thought, Is this it? I felt like Bridesmaids' Kristen Wiig (2011). I'm a flop. From here, things can only improve.

Later that night, I wore a mask and went to my roof to see the fireworks. Even though I don't like fireworks, there was something wonderful about them this year: the colors, how they illuminated the black surfaces around me, and their transient beauty. Joyful moments rarely linger long in our life. We must enjoy them now.

Several roofs away, my neighbors gathered. Happy 4th! I heard a woman yell. Why is this godforsaken country so happy? Instead of being rude, I replied. I didn't tell them I had monkeypox. I thought that would kill the mood.

By the time I went to the hospital the next day to get my lesions swabbed, wearing long sleeves, pants, and a mask, they looked like this:

I had 30 lesions on my arms, hands, stomach, back, legs, buttcheeks, face, scalp, and right eyebrow. I had some in my mouth, gums, and throat. Current medical thought is that lesions on mucous membranes cause discomfort in sensitive places. Internal lesions are a new feature of this outbreak of monkeypox. Despite being unattractive, the other sores weren't unpleasant or bothersome.

I had a bacterial sti with the pox. Who knows if that would've created symptoms (often it doesn't), but different infections can happen at once. My care team remembered that having a sti doesn't exclude out monkeypox. doxycycline rocks!

The coworker who introduced me to testing also offered me his home. We share a restroom, and monkeypox can be spread through surfaces. (Being a dna virus gives it environmental hardiness that rna viruses like sars-cov-2 lack.) I disinfected our bathroom after every usage, but I was apprehensive. My friend's place has a guest room and second bathroom, so no cross-contamination. It was the ideal monkeypox isolation environment, so I accepted his offer and am writing this piece there. I don't know what I would have done without his hospitality and attention.

The next day, I started tecovirimat, or tpoxx, for 14 days. Smallpox has been eradicated worldwide since the 1980s but remains a bioterrorism concern. Tecovirimat has a unique, orthopoxvirus-specific method of action, which reduces side effects to headache and nausea. It hasn't been used in many people, therefore the cdc is encouraging patients who take it for monkeypox to track their disease and symptoms.

look at that molecule!!! hot.

Tpoxx's oral absorption requires a fatty meal. The hospital ordered me to take the medication after a 600-calorie, 25-gram-fat meal every 12 hours. The coordinator joked, "Don't diet for the next two weeks." I wanted to get peanut butter delivered, but jif is recalling their supply due to salmonella. Please give pathogens a break. I got almond butter.

Tpoxx study enrollment was documented. After signing consent documents, my lesions were photographed and measured during a complete physical exam. I got bloodwork to assess my health. My medication delivery was precise; every step must be accounted for. I got a two-week supply and started taking it that night. I rewarded myself with McDonald's. I'd been hungry for a week. I was also prescribed ketorolac (aka toradol), a stronger ibuprofen, for my discomfort.

I thought tpoxx was a wonder medicine by day two of treatment. Early lesions looked like this.

however, They vanished. The three largest lesions on my back flattened and practically disappeared into my skin. Some pustular lesions were diminishing. Tpoxx+toradol has helped me sleep, focus, and feel human again. I'm down to twice-daily baths and feeling hungrier than ever in this illness. On day five of tpoxx, some of the lesions look like this:

I have a ways to go. We must believe I'll be contagious until the last of my patches scabs over, falls off, and sprouts new skin. There's no way to tell. After a week and a half of tremendous pain and psychological stress, any news is good news. I'm grateful for my slow but steady development.

Part 2 of the rant.

Being close to yet not in the medical world is interesting. It lets me know a lot about it without being persuaded by my involvement. Doctors identify and treat patients using a tool called differential diagnosis.

A doctor interviews a patient to learn about them and their symptoms. More is better. Doctors may ask, "Have you traveled recently?" sex life? Have pets? preferred streaming service? (No, really. (Hbomax is right.) After the inquisition, the doctor will complete a body exam ranging from looking in your eyes, ears, and throat to a thorough physical.

After collecting data, the doctor makes a mental (or physical) inventory of all the conceivable illnesses that could cause or explain the patient's symptoms. Differential diagnosis list. After establishing the differential, the clinician can eliminate options. The doctor will usually conduct nucleic acid tests on swab samples or bloodwork to learn more. This helps eliminate conditions from the differential or boosts a condition's likelihood. In an ideal circumstance, the doctor can eliminate all but one reason of your symptoms, leaving your formal diagnosis. Once diagnosed, treatment can begin. yay! Love medicine.

My symptoms two weeks ago did not suggest monkeypox. Fever, pains, weariness, and swollen lymph nodes are caused by several things. My scandalous symptoms weren't linked to common ones. My instance shows the importance of diversity and representation in healthcare. My doctor isn't gay, but he provides culturally sensitive care. I'd heard about monkeypox as a gay man in New York. I was hyper-aware of it and had heard of friends of friends who had contracted it the week before, even though the official case count in the US was 40. My physicians weren't concerned, but I was. How would it appear on his mental differential if it wasn't on his radar? Mental differential rhymes! I'll trademark it to prevent theft. differential!

I was in a rare position to recognize my condition and advocate for myself. I study infections. I'd spent months researching monkeypox. I work at a university where I rub shoulders with some of the country's greatest doctors. I'm a gay dude who follows nyc queer social networks online. All of these variables positioned me to think, "Maybe this is monkeypox," and to explain why.

This outbreak is another example of privilege at work. The brokenness of our healthcare system is once again exposed by the inequities produced by the vaccination rollout and the existence of people like myself who can pull strings owing to their line of work. I can't cure this situation on my own, but I can be a strong voice demanding the government do a better job addressing the outbreak and giving resources and advice to everyone I can.

lgbtqia+ community members' support has always impressed me in new york. The queer community has watched out for me and supported me in ways I never dreamed were possible.

Queer individuals are there for each other when societal structures fail. People went to the internet on the first day of the vaccine rollout to share appointment information and the vaccine clinic's message. Twitter timelines were more effective than marketing campaigns. Contrary to widespread anti-vaccine sentiment, the LGBT community was eager to protect themselves. Smallpox vaccination? sure. gimme. whether I'm safe. I credit the community's sex positivity. Many people are used to talking about STDs, so there's a reduced barrier to saying, "I think I have something, you should be on the watch too," and taking steps to protect our health.

Once I got monkeypox, I posted on Twitter and Instagram. Besides fueling my main character syndrome, I felt like I wasn't alone. My dc-based friend had monkeypox within hours. He told me about his experience and gave me ideas for managing the discomfort. I can't imagine life without him.

My buddy and colleague organized my medical care and let me remain in his home. His and his husband's friendliness and attention made a world of difference in my recovery. All of my friends and family who helped me, whether by venmo, doordash, or moral support, made me feel cared about. I don't deserve the amazing people in my life.

Finally, I think of everyone who commented on my social media posts regarding my trip. Friends from all sectors of my life and all sexualities have written me well wishes and complimented me for my vulnerability, but I feel the most gravitas from fellow lgbtq+ persons. They're learning to spot. They're learning where to go ill. They're learning self-advocacy. I'm another link in our network of caretaking. I've been cared for, therefore I want to do the same. Community and knowledge are powerful.

You're probably wondering where the diatribe is. You may believe he's gushing about his loved ones, and you'd be right. I say that just because the queer community can take care of itself doesn't mean we should.

Even when caused by the same pathogen, comparing health crises is risky. Aids is unlike covid-19 or monkeypox, yet all were caused by poorly understood viruses. The lgbtq+ community has a history of self-medicating. Queer people (and their supporters) have led the charge to protect themselves throughout history when the government refused. Surreal to experience this in real time.

First, vaccination access is a government failure. The strategic national stockpile contains tens of thousands of doses of jynneos, the newest fda-approved smallpox vaccine, and millions of doses of acam2000, an older vaccine for immunocompetent populations. Despite being a monkeypox hotspot and international crossroads, new york has only received 7,000 doses of the jynneos vaccine. Vaccine appointments are booked within minutes. It's showing Hunger Games, which bothers me.

Second, I think the government failed to recognize the severity of the european monkeypox outbreak. We saw abroad reports in may, but the first vaccines weren't available until june. Why was I a 26-year-old pharmacology grad student, able to see a monkeypox problem in europe but not the u.s. public health agency? Or was there too much bureaucracy and politicking, delaying action?

Lack of testing infrastructure for a known virus with vaccinations and therapies is appalling. More testing would have helped understand the problem's breadth. Many homosexual guys, including myself, didn't behave like monkeypox was a significant threat because there were only a dozen instances across the country. Our underestimating of the issue, spurred by a story of few infections, was huge.

Public health officials' response to infectious diseases frustrates me. A wait-and-see approach to infectious diseases is unsatisfactory. Before a sick person is recognized, they've exposed and maybe contaminated numerous others. Vaccinating susceptible populations before a disease becomes entrenched prevents disease. CDC might operate this way. When it was easier, they didn't control or prevent monkeypox. We'll learn when. Sometimes I fear never. Emerging viral infections are a menace in the era of climate change and globalization, and I fear our government will repeat the same mistakes. I don't work at the cdc, thus I have no idea what they do. As a scientist, a homosexual guy, and a citizen of this country, I feel confident declaring that the cdc has not done enough about monkeypox. Will they do enough about monkeypox? The strategic national stockpile can respond to a bioterrorism disaster in 12 hours. I'm skeptical following this outbreak.

It's simple to criticize the cdc, but they're not to blame. Underfunding public health services, especially the cdc, is another way our government fails to safeguard its citizens. I may gripe about the vaccination rollout all I want, but local health departments are doing their best with limited resources. They may not have enough workers to keep up with demand and run a contact-tracing program. Since my orthopoxvirus test is still negative, the doh hasn't asked about my close contacts. By then, my illness will be two weeks old, too long to do anything productive. Not their fault. They're functioning in a broken system that's underfunded for the work it does.

*Update, 7/11: I have orthopoxvirus.

Monkeypox is slow, so i've had time to contemplate. Now that I'm better, I'm angry. furious and sad I want to help. I wish to spare others my pain. This was preventable and solvable, I hope. HOW?

Third, the duty.

Family, especially selected family, helps each other. So many people have helped me throughout this difficult time. How can I give back? I have ideas.

1. Education. I've already started doing this by writing incredibly detailed posts on Instagram about my physical sickness and my thoughts on the entire scandal. via tweets. by producing this essay. I'll keep doing it even if people start to resent me! It's crucial! On my Instagram profile (@kyleplanckton), you may discover a story highlight with links to all of my bizarre yet educational posts.

2. Resources. I've forwarded the contact information for my institution's infectious diseases clinic to several folks who will hopefully be able to get tpoxx under the expanded use policy. Through my social networks, I've learned of similar institutions. I've also shared crowdsourced resources about symptom relief and vaccine appointment availability on social media. DM me or see my Instagram highlight for more.

3. Community action. During my illness, my friends' willingness to aid me has meant the most. It was nice to know I had folks on my side. One of my pals (thanks, kenny) snagged me a mcgriddle this morning when seamless canceled my order. This scenario has me thinking about methods to help people with monkeypox isolation. A two-week isolation period is financially damaging for many hourly workers. Certain governments required paid sick leave for covid-19 to allow employees to recover and prevent spread. No comparable program exists for monkeypox, and none seems to be planned shortly.

I want to aid monkeypox patients in severe financial conditions. I'm willing to pick up and bring groceries or fund meals/expenses for sick neighbors. I've seen several GoFundMe accounts, but I wish there was a centralized mechanism to link those in need with those who can help. Please contact me if you have expertise with mutual aid organizations. I hope we can start this shortly.

4. lobbying. Personal narratives are powerful. My narrative is only one, but I think it's compelling. Over the next day or so, i'll write to local, state, and federal officials about monkeypox. I wanted a vaccine but couldn't acquire one, and I feel tpoxx helped my disease. As a pharmacologist-in-training, I believe collecting data on a novel medicine is important, and there are ethical problems when making a drug with limited patient data broadly available. Many folks I know can't receive tpoxx due of red tape and a lack of contacts. People shouldn't have to go to an ivy league hospital to obtain the greatest care. Based on my experience and other people's tales, I believe tpoxx can drastically lessen monkeypox patients' pain and potentially curb transmission chains if administered early enough. This outbreak is manageable. It's not too late if we use all the instruments we have (diagnostic, vaccine, treatment).

*UPDATE 7/15: I submitted the following letter to Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. I've addressed identical letters to local, state, and federal officials, including the CDC and HHS.

I hope to join RESPND-MI, an LGBTQ+ community-led assessment of monkeypox symptoms and networks in NYC. Visit their website to learn more and give to this community-based charity.

How I got monkeypox is a mystery. I received it through a pride physical interaction, but i'm not sure which one. This outbreak will expand unless leaders act quickly. Until then, I'll keep educating and connecting people to care in my neighborhood.

Despite my misgivings, I see some optimism. Health department social media efforts are underway. During the outbreak, the CDC provided nonjudgmental suggestions for safer social and sexual activity. There's additional information regarding the disease course online, including how to request tpoxx for sufferers. These materials can help people advocate for themselves if they're sick. Importantly, homosexual guys are listening when they discuss about monkeypox online and irl. Learners They're serious.

The government has a terrible track record with lgtbq+ health issues, and they're not off to a good start this time. I hope this time will be better. If I can aid even one individual, I'll do so.

Thanks for reading, supporting me, and spreading awareness about the 2022 monkeypox outbreak. My dms are accessible if you want info, resources, queries, or to chat.

y'all well

kyle

Jenn Leach

Jenn Leach

1 year ago

This clever Instagram marketing technique increased my sales to $30,000 per month.

No Paid Ads Required

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

I had an online store. After a year of running the company alongside my 9-to-5, I made enough to resign.

That day was amazing.

This Instagram marketing plan helped the store succeed.

How did I increase my sales to five figures a month without using any paid advertising?

I used customer event marketing.

I'm not sure this term exists. I invented it to describe what I was doing.

Instagram word-of-mouth, fan engagement, and interaction drove sales.

If a customer liked or disliked a product, the buzz would drive attention to the store.

I used customer-based events to increase engagement and store sales.

Success!

Here are the weekly Instagram customer events I coordinated while running my business:

  • Be the Buyer Days

  • Flash sales

  • Mystery boxes

Be the Buyer Days: How do they work?

Be the Buyer Days are exactly that.

You choose a day to share stock selections with social media followers.

This is an easy approach to engaging customers and getting fans enthusiastic about new releases.

First, pick a handful of items you’re considering ordering. I’d usually pick around 3 for Be the Buyer Day.

Then I'd poll the crowd on Instagram to vote on their favorites.

This was before Instagram stories, polls, and all the other cool features Instagram offers today. I think using these tools now would make this event even better.

I'd ask customers their favorite back then.

The growing comments excited customers.

Then I'd declare the winner, acquire the products, and start selling it.

How do flash sales work?

I mostly ran flash sales.

You choose a limited number of itemsdd for a few-hour sale.

We wanted most sales to result in sold-out items.

When an item sells out, it contributes to the sensation of scarcity and can inspire customers to visit your store to buy a comparable product, join your email list, become a fan, etc.

We hoped they'd act quickly.

I'd hold flash deals twice a week, which generated scarcity and boosted sales.

The store had a few thousand Instagram followers when I started flash deals.

Each flash sale item would make $400 to $600.

$400 x 3= $1,200

That's $1,200 on social media!

Twice a week, you'll make roughly $10K a month from Instagram.

$1,200/day x 8 events/month=$9,600

Flash sales did great.

We held weekly flash deals and sent social media and email reminders. That’s about it!

How are mystery boxes put together?

All you do is package a box of store products and sell it as a mystery box on TikTok or retail websites.

A $100 mystery box would cost $30.

You're discounting high-value boxes.

This is a clever approach to get rid of excess inventory and makes customers happy.

It worked!

Be the Buyer Days, flash deals, and mystery boxes helped build my company without paid advertisements.

All companies can use customer event marketing. Involving customers and providing an engaging environment can boost sales.

Try it!