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Big Revolution - A blockchain is a tool, not the second coming

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Welcome to Wednesday's Big Revolution. My day is set to be filled with back-to-back video calls, on m
 
June 6 · Issue #101 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Wednesday’s Big Revolution. My day is set to be filled with back-to-back video calls, on my sofa, at home, with maybe enough time to grab a coffee from time to time. But first, here’s what I’ve been reading… 
Martin

Big things you need to know today
A Huawei smartphone. Credit: Sebastian Hietsch on Unsplash
- The ‘Facebook did deals with device manufacturers’ story now has teeth. It appears one of the deals was with Huawei, a company that American government has said is a security threat. As I wrote on Monday, Facebook doing deals with device makers isn’t a big issue on its own.
- The Wall Street Journal has a look at tensions between Facebook and the WhatsApp team. The chat app’s founders left over plans to insert ads and reduce encryption. Fast Company has a summary if you hit the WSJ paywall.
- The Pentagon is using A.I. to help it track nuclear weapons activity around the world.
- Instagram will reportedly soon support videos of up to an hour long. That would be a significant change in the rhythm of how people use the app, and I wonder what kind of users would post a 60-minute video, especially as they would reportedly be in vertical format. Perhaps a chance for Instagram celebrities to have a go at producing YouTube-style content?
- Apple is adding an interesting ‘Live Listen’ feature to AirPods. It will let you catch a conversation in a noisy environment if you have difficulty with your hearing. It’s not intended as a full replacement for a hearing aid, though.
- Facebook is testing the ability to stream live lipsync videos featuring popular songs. Now it has the licensing deals in place, it’s ready to take on Musical.ly. 
The big thought
A blockchain is a tool, not the second coming
Last night I saw a couple of tech journalists tweet that they’d received an email with the subject line “Could Blockchain help cure breast cancer?” I checked my own inbox. Yep, ugh, there it was. Even though I’m no longer working as a tech journalist, I still receive a lot of (usually terrible) press releases.
Little surprise that the email led to much eye-rolling among recipients. Aside from being another example of tedious blockchain hype, the question in that email’s subject line is a dumb one.
- Could a Python script bring peace to the Middle East?
- Could an Amazon S3 instance solve climate change?
- Could a GitHub repository find the Loch Ness Monster?
The answer to all these questions is ‘maybe, in part.’ These technologies could help people do these things, but they’re the wrong questions to ask. All these technologies (yes, including blockchains) are just tools. You might as well ask 'can a hammer build a table?’ 
Using blockchain tech on its own isn’t a differentiator. It’s the outcome, and how it benefits your users that’s the important thing. STOP FETISHISING TOOLS, and let’s focus on what we do with them. 
One big read
WWDC 2018: Apple's Software Chief Details How iOS Apps Will Run on Macs WWDC 2018: Apple's Software Chief Details How iOS Apps Will Run on Macs
This is worth a read if you’re interested in Apple’s plans to let developers easily bring iOS apps to the Mac. Also, there’s no love for touchscreen laptops here. But then, Apple thinks everything is bad until Apple is ready to do it.
One big tweet
Vlad Savov
Tech companies: we want to change the world!

*they change the world*

Oh lordy, was that our fault?
8:51 AM - 6 Jun 2018
That’s all for today...
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