-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Financial Cryptography Update: The Ricardian Contract
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 2004 11:17:46 +0100

((((((((( Financial Cryptography Update: The Ricardian Contract )))))))))

                             July 07, 2004




Presented yesterday at the IEEE's first Workshop on Electronic
Contracting, a new paper entitled "The Ricardian Contract" covers the
background and essential structure of Systemics'' innovation in digital
contracts.  It is with much sadness that I am writing this blog instead
of presenting, but also with much gladness that Mark Miller, of E and
capabilities fame, was able to step in at only a few hours notice.


That which I invented (with help from Gary Howland, my co-architect of
the Ricardo system for secure assets transfer) was a fairly mundane
document, digitised mundanely, and wrapped in some equally mundane
crypto.  If anything, it's a wonderful example of how to use very basic
crypto and software tools in a very basic fashion to achieve something
much bigger than its parts.

In fact, we thought it so basic that we ignored it, thinking that
people will just copy it.  But, no-one else did, so nearly a decade
after the fact, I've finally admitted defeat and gone back to
documenting why the concept was so important.

The Ricardian Contract worked to the extent that when people got it,
they got it big.  In a religious sense, which meant that its audience
was those who'd already issued, and intiutively felt the need.  Hasan
coined the phrase that "the contract is the keystone of issuance," and
now Mark points out that a major element of the innovation was in the
bringing together of the requirements from the real business across to
the tech.

They are both right.  Much stuff didn't make it into the paper - it had
hit 20 pages by the time I was told I was allowed 8.  Slashing
mercilessly reduced it, but I had to drop the requirements section,
something I now regret.

Mark's comment on business requirements matches the central message of
FC7 - that financial cryptography is a cross-discipline game.  Hide
yourself in your small box, at your peril.  But, no person can
appreciate all the apposite components within FC7, so we are forced to
build powerful, cross-discipline tools that ease that burden.  The
Ricardian Contract is one such - a tool for bringing the technical
world and the legal world together in issuance of robust financial

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