Lab1++: Earning More BitPoints

Class,

I wanted to write a little bit more about how you are going to earn your legal lab points in this class. The idea is marketplace. You have to find a market for your skills within the class. You have to find a customer and you have to sell a product that the customer wants to buy. (Illegally gained BitPoints is another matter for another post).

The Lab #1 Phase 2 documentation explains a little about how I can be your customer. There are a number of goods and services that I am willing to purchase should you decide to offer them. And if you think you can come up with more, please propose them to me.

But your class is also a source of goods and services. As soon as anyone has BitPoints (earned from selling to me), they can also buy from other students. You should start thinking about what you, and your individual company, have to offer.

The great thing about the marketplace is that not everyone has to be good at everything. You really only have to be good at a few things and you sell that goodness to those that aren’t as good, or that are choosing to invest their talents elsewhere. Are you good at coding? That’s great. The marketplace will need you to create products. But the marketplace also demands products that are tested. Perhaps you should subcontract the testing of your product to someone else.

Technical documentation is also very important. Are you a great technical writer? Offer your services to the marketplace. Or, maybe you are a great analyst and you do great work searching for vulnerabilities. Offer to do a code review to the marketplace.

Maybe you do great tech support. Sure, company A was able to build TGPE software (The Greatest Product Ever), but maybe they want a “field engineer” to help install and maintain it on their customer’s servers. You could work out an agreement with A to provide those services.

During the Lab #1 phase, all companies have to be individual. You can work together on a contractual basis, but each (one-student) company tracks its own money and is responsible for its own profits.

After Lab #1 is over, any group of students can form a larger company if they wish. A larger company might have more resources to purchase expensive software (or expensive zero-day vulnerabilities). More details will be published in the Lab #2 write-up, but this should give you a taste of what to look forward to.

But the marketplace, like any real marketplace, is regulated. Fortunately, I’m a limited government kind of guy, so I won’t have many. And, you’re always welcome to do blackmarket deals so long as you don’t get caught. I will create a separate page soon listing all the rules and regulations for companies and selling in the marketplace, but here are a few basic ideas.

  1. There will be different “ratings” of companies. To be a company with an A rating, you will, for example, have to put BitPoints into a “bond” against lawsuits. Suppose, for example, that your software is responsible for a security breach. You will have to pay some amount of damages and you should have a certain amount of BitPoints reserved for such a purpose.
  2. Official class communications are “discoverable.” The word discoverable is a legal term that means that the information can be used against you in court. If someone accuses you of doing something illegal, your posts on Piazza and even your bank records can be used as evidence. As I will be participating in the black market myself, I’m going to setup a black market channel soon. I think I may even set it up over playground.

I will tell you that this approach to the course is incredibly experimental. I hope it works. Please be patient as more details are unfolded and come to class prepared to discuss.

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