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Big Revolution - Blockchains and Brexit

Welcome to Tuesday's Big Revolution. There's lots to get your teeth into today, so get chomping... –
October 2 · Issue #219 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Tuesday’s Big Revolution. There’s lots to get your teeth into today, so get chomping…

Big things you need to know today
  • Want to play the new Assassin’s Creed game… in your browser? Google is launching a limited test in the USA to stream the Ubisoft title to Chrome. The days of high-end gaming being limited to powerful consoles and PCs are numbered.
  • HP has announced a leather laptop for some reason. I’m sure animal rights activists will have something to say about this.
  • The next season of Black Mirror will feature a ‘choose your own adventure’ episode. It’s part of Netflix’s experiments with bringing interactivity to some titles, Bloomberg reports.
  • Adam Mosseri is to take over as Head of Instagram, following the departure of the app’s founders. Mosseri, who is currently Instagram’s VP of Product, had been widely tipped to take the role.
The big thought
I bet Xi Jinping knows about blockchain. Phillip Hammond (L) seemingly doesn't. Credit: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2015
Blockchains and Brexit
It was a headline destined to make eyes roll: ’Blockchain may resolve Irish border Brexit problem: Hammond.’
If you’re not up on the finer points of Brexit, you just need to know that the Irish border is probably the most complicated problem of the whole sorry mess. Put a hard border with checkpoints between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and you upset a lot of people and risk a return to the violence of The Troubles. Put the border in the Irish Sea, and you upset a different bunch of people with potentially the same outcome. But there needs to be a border somewhere if the UK is outside the EU and Ireland is inside it.
This is a tough dilemma for a UK government committed to ‘delivering Brexit’ in some form, and by March next year. 'Technology’ has been the solution most commonly proffered the border issue, avoiding any specifics that might reveal the fact that there isn’t any technology available that would solve the problem.
So yesterday, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond resorted to the magical thinking that blockchain is the solution to everything. This has been the laughable claim of anyone desperate to look 'with it’ for the past couple of years. They might be able to just about explain what a blockchain is, but they sure as hell don’t understand what it can and can’t be used for.
How would a blockchain provide a frictionless border between the UK and EU? I honestly have no idea, and I don’t know anyone else who does either.
It’s another sign that even if you think Brexit should happen, there’s no way it should have been rushed in two years without any thought to its complexities. Let’s call it off, and then if we really want to, start again and spend a decade figuring it out. We might even find a legitimate use for a 'Brexit blockchain’ in that time.
One big read
Journalists are grudgingly moving from Microsoft Word to Google Docs. Journalists are grudgingly moving from Microsoft Word to Google Docs.
Interesting thoughts on Microsoft Word vs Google Docs from the perspective of writers working with editors – the experience is very different between the two, and writing or editing while someone else is watching can feel a little too much like performance.
One big tweet
I’m impressed by the way Gmail now suggests words to help you type sentences. But it’s worrying to think how it might standardise the way we write.
Christopher Mims 🎆
hypothesis: gmail's suggested responses (and now suggested text) are going to reify the tendency to use exclamation points to make emails sound chipper!

it's machine chipperness!!
8:08 PM - 1 Oct 2018
That’s all for today...
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