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Big Revolution - The blockchain attention drain

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Hi everyone. Today I'm celebrating, as my Galaxy S8+ has received Android Oreo. I know, it came out l
 
March 12 · Issue #15 · View online
Big Revolution
Hi everyone. Today I’m celebrating, as my Galaxy S8+ has received Android Oreo. I know, it came out last summer and the developer preview of the next major version came out last week, but this is still a fast rollout by Android standards.

Big things from SXSW
Credit: SpaceX
- Elon Musk’s Q&A bore some interesting tidbits. SpaceX plans to start testing its Mars rocket early next year, with “short flights.” Also, he thinks direct democracy, where there are referendums for everything, is better than representative democracy. I reckon quite a lot of Brits would disagree!
- Ashton Kutcher and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff held a high-stakes pitching competition for startups in an Austin restaurant. “The competition was for a $100,000 investment, but Kutcher and his team were so enthusiastic, that they upped Sound Ventures’ investment to $200,000, and Benioff invested an additional $200,000 as well.”
Big things you need to know today
- The inventor of the World Wide Web wants big tech firms regulated more strictly. Tim Berners-Lee joins the drumbeat of calls for governments to keep tech giants on a tighter leash.
- Uber watchers will love this deep look at the company’s troubles over the past year. Some have questioned the motives of some of the sources used, but still – it’s well worth your time.
- More (suspected) state-sponsored malware has been uncovered. This one likely targeted the Middle East and Africa from at least 2012 to 2018. How much more of this stuff is still out there, undetected?
- The Guardian has tried making some political ‘deepfakes,’ and the results are disturbing. But this technology is getting better all the time. Just think how convincing it could be by the time the next UK and US general elections roll around.
- RIP mainstream local media in London? The London Evening Standard is dropping its home city’s name in an push for wider influence. London radio stations LBC and Capital have made similar moves in recent years.
One big thought
Credit: Chris Liverani on Unsplash
The blockchain attention drain
If you live in any city with a big tech scene, you’ve probably noticed that you can barely move for blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused events these days. There’s a reason for that – there’s huge demand for them.
It makes sense that blockchain developers would want to get together, but there’s more to it than that – some of these events are almost religious in their fervour for a largely as-yet unproven set of technologies. And it’s not just developers; consultants, salespeople, those weird hangers-on who are at every event but no-one knows what they do… they’re all hungry for blockchain meetups.
Why are people diving in with such enthusiasm?
- There’s no other technology to get quite as excited about right now. Big leaps forward in A.I. aren’t here yet, gadgets haven’t done anything exciting in the past couple of years.
- Blockchain and crypto are just hard enough to understand that even if you only have rough understanding of it coupled with enough enthusiasm and confidence, you can pass yourself off as an expert to people who know less.
- For such a nascent set of technologies, there’s a lot of money to be made right now. Even if all of it isn’t intellectually honest or in good faith.
Paul Ford wrote a piece for Bloomberg a few days ago that predicted today’s blockchain rush is like the time just before the dotcom bubble popped. He thinks the second wave of this technology will be the meaningful one with lasting impact. Until then, it’s mainly people rushing to make as much money from a dream.
So, don’t worry if you’re not 100% up on blockchain just yet – it’s mostly hot air. By the time it’s meaningfully important, it’ll probably be so neatly stashed behind-the scenes you won’t need to know how it works anyway.
One big read
Trump and the Evangelical Temptation - The Atlantic Trump and the Evangelical Temptation - The Atlantic
A big shift in America: “How evangelicals, once culturally confident, became an anxious minority seeking political protection from the least traditionally religious president in living memory.”
This is is a long, interesting read that helps to explain where America is today, as 20th century norms clash with 21st century realities and unlikely alliances are made.
One big tweet
The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo fights back against criticisms of his ‘I only got news from printed newspapers for two months’ column last week. People pointed out he’d been using Twitter the whole time.
Farhad Manjoo: ask your friends to follow me
What about your dumb tweets, Farhad?

I never said I was going offline. I explained I used the internet. I ran into tweets. I tweeted.

Lying about what I did on Twitter would be really dumb, even for me.

I claimed to unplug from Twitter as a source of news. I did exactly that
5:32 PM - 11 Mar 2018
That’s all for today...
See you tomorrow for the last ‘test’ issue before the proper launch on Wednesday. 
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