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Big Revolution - The blockchain middle road

June 1 · Issue #96 · View online
Big Revolution
Big things you need to know today
- A WWDC leak emerges! We’re just a weekend away from Apple’s WWDC keynote, and until now the press has struggled to break any news about what will be revealed. Now, the reliable Mark Gurman at Bloomberg says digital wellbeing tools (like Google’s!) and upgraded AR will feature in an otherwise relatively small update to iOS. MacOS will get tighter iOS integration.
- Don’t expect big hardware launches at WWDC, Gurman says. Updated MacBook Pros, 12-inch MacBooks, and a replacement for the MacBook Air are in the works but won’t be ready until later in the year. A refresh of the Apple Watch is apparently also on the cards.
- Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle firm Waymo is ramping up its fleet, with an order for 62,000 (sixty-two thousand!) Fiat Chrysler minivans. They’ll be used for Waymo’s future self-driving taxi service. One day, you may even be able to buy your own Waymo vehicle too, The Verge reports.
- GDPR is helping Google suck up more of the EU online ad market, the Wall Street Journal reports. The tech giant’s resources mean it can get consent from users far more easily than competing adtech firms.
- YouTube is the dominant force in how US teens use the internet, the Pew Research Center says. “85% of teenagers (ages 13–17) say they use the platform. Closely behind are Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%),” says The Verge. Facebook usage is 51%, down from 71% just three years ago.
The big thought
Forget the bulls and bears: the blockchain middle road
When it comes to blockchain, it often feels like everyone is either a super-bull (who thinks the tech is the future of everything and helps a company raise $4bn without having released a product) or a super-bear (who thinks the whole thing is stupid and will amount to little or nothing).
The reality about the future of blockchain is likely more nuanced. Isn’t it always the case that our predictions of utopia or dystopia are disproved by a future that settles somewhere in between the two?
Last night I was compere for a London event held by Binary District that looked at the city’s digital future and how technologies like blockchain will help shape it. 
Here are a few of my favourite takeaways from the speakers and our panel discussion:
- Do you even own your cryptocurrency? Dave Michels of Queen Mary University says this is legally debatable – does a blockchain ledger represent strict ownership? And what happens if all the crypto-heads find out their ‘fortunes’ aren’t necessarily theirs?
- Is blockchain GDPR compliant? Michels said that depends if you’re a permissionless system, or a private blockchain (which is easier to fork and remove data). It’s going to be fascinating see court cases about this play out in the future.
- It could be 2025 before decentralised technologies are stable and commonplace in financial services, according to Denis Nagy, CEO of Dolfin.
- Middlemen like banks do have a role in a decentralised future, said more than one speaker. Trusted parties are still important.
- Biometrics go back to the 1800s (kind of)! Barclays’ Head of Mobile Innovation, Julian Wilson, said the bank’s archives show how customers’ identities used to be logged via handwritten notes about their appearance.
One big read
Memes Are Becoming Harder to Monetize Memes Are Becoming Harder to Monetize
Businesses that sell merchandise based on popular memes are struggling as the lifespan of a meme becomes shorter. In the past ten years its gone from months, to weeks, to days. 
The public has moved on before you’ve even got your batch of novelty t-shirts back from the printers, let alone sold any.
One big tweet
It’s the circle of dongles…
Dieter Bohn
Back in 2007, the headphone jack was a quietly great differentiator for the original iPhone. It fulfilled the promise that it was a wide screen iPod.

Treos and BlackBerrys had stupid 2.5 jacks. WinMo was nowhere on music.

Everybody else had dongles. iPhone didn't.

4:10 PM - 31 May 2018
That’s all for today...
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