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In the mid-600s BC lived one of Ancient Greece’s greatest literary figures, a soldier-poet called Archilochus. He was one of the first to write about his own feelings and he gained fame for calling it like he saw it.
His observances on his fellow humanity were unsentimental and honest. He was a kind of an anti-Homer – where Homer mostly praised people as heroes, Archilochus described them in all their rawness.
Sparta, not known for helicopter parenting, banned his poetry “to protect their children.” When a father withdrew an offer of marriage to his daughter, Archilochus’ subsequent biting poem, according to legend, drove them both to suicide.
He is fittingly known as the poet of blame and an inventor of the elegy. He would have been right at home as a modern Twitter user.
In one literary device, Archilochus classified people as either hedgehogs or foxes. He wrote:
“The fox knows many things, the hedgehog one big thing”
Sir Isaiah Berlin, the Oxford philosopher, used Archilochus’ idea as a light-hearted way to classify thinkers into hedgehogs, like Nietzsche, (God is dead => Uber mensch); and foxes, like Shakespeare, (love all trust a few, knowledge is the way to fly to heaven, Denmark’s rotten, we band of brothers, out damned spot, cowards die many times, be true to yourself, etc. etc.).
In this same spirt, we set out below a first list of crypto greats by dividing them into foxes or hedgehogs. Think that we’ve made a mistake or left someone out? Well, make suggestions to the editor. Don’t be a poet of blame.
Foxes (driven by several ideas)
- Nick Szabo – Computer science, gold, history of money, botany, law, smart contracts
- Hal Finney – Cryptography, proof of work, internet security, games, running Bitcoin
- Adam Back – Hashcash, cryptography, making stuff work
- Tim May – Writer, scientist, anarchist
- Phil Zimmermann – Privacy, cryptography, computer tracking
- Vitalik Buterin – Computer science, consensus methods, smart contracts, debating morons
- Jack Dorsey – Programming, payments, meditation, yoga, torchbearer
- John McAfee – Computer security, libertarianism, politics, (self) marketing
- Brock Pierce – Acting, games, investing, banking
- Bill Barhydt – Cryptography, payments, derivatives
Hedgehogs (driven by one big idea)
- Andreas Antonopoulos – Education
- Erik Voorhees – Liberty
- Anthony Pompliano – Long Bitcoin, short the bankers
- Laura Shin – Asking hard questions
- Elizabeth Stark – Moving like lightning
- Riccardo Spagni – Privacy
- Emin Gün Sirer – Genuine thought leader
- Roger Ver – Economic freedom for the world
- Tim Draper – Skin in the game
- Alex Gladstein – Crypto for human rights
Robert Sharratt writes occasionally about how banks suck and how crypto can make the world a better place. You can follow him on: @ReassureFin.