My favourite articles from the past few days, on bitcoin, fintech and elusive pursuit of truth:
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A brief history of cryptocurrency drama, or, what could possibly DAO wrong? – by Jon Evans, for TechCrunch
Brilliant. Hilarious. An abbreviated history of bitcoin and Ethereum. Read.
“October 2008 – A pseudonymous figure or group called Satoshi Nakamoto publishes a white paper entitled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” This introduces a new data structure, the blockchain, which over the next eight years will create billions of dollars of value and cause intelligent people to seriously speculate that it could be used to replace the entire global financial system. The mystery of Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity is never solved. Compared to much of what follows, this all seems pretty reasonable and plausible.”
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I’m not crazy about the idea of sharing a commercial with you, but this is impressive, if only just for the art. A pen with electricity-conducting ink. Creativity just got even more awesome.
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The great rebundling of banking has begun – by Marcus Swanepoel, via Medium
Why this whole “disrupting banks” thing is much stickier than the futurist headlines would have us believe…
“…it’s a matter of trust. People care about their money and it takes a huge amount of time and investment in order to convince people to risk even a portion of their money with you. The value of this trust is tricky to measure, but it can significantly distort the relative value perception of alternative products and services.”
It’s also a matter of convenience. “Unbundled” services are just, well, inconvenient. We use the grocery store because we can buy a large part of our kitchen needs there. We use banks because they can provide most of our financial needs.
“Despite what many service providers have tried to push onto customers, most people don’t buy Bitcoin in one place and then move it to another ‘safer’ option to store it. There are of course exceptions with more advanced users (and arguably many casual users should move their Bitcoin to safer places given the sorry state of security in some Bitcoin companies) but the reality is most people more than often just don’t, despite the risks being pointed out to them. It’s simply too inconvenient. At a slightly deeper level of abstraction, one could even argue that Bitcoin itself is ‘bundled’: It can be used as a store of value, to send money between parties, or to transact online.”
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How technology disrupted the truth – by Katharine Viner, for The Guardian
A thought-provoking article about fact-checking, shoulder-shrugging and moving the goalposts…
“What is common to these struggles – and what makes their resolution an urgent matter – is that they all involve the diminishing status of truth. This does not mean that there are no truths. It simply means, as this year has made very clear, that we cannot agree on what those truths are, and when there is no consensus about the truth and no way to achieve it, chaos soon follows.”
The article isn’t about bitcoin or blockchain, but it is so good I’m including it here anyway. After all, the blockchain sector has been marked by irresponsible misreporting that is sometimes about clickbait and sometimes about wanting to get involved without understanding the basics.
“The increasing prevalence of this approach suggests that we are in the midst of a fundamental change in the values of journalism – a consumerist shift. Instead of strengthening social bonds, or creating an informed public, or the idea of news as a civic good, a democratic necessity, it creates gangs, which spread instant falsehoods that fit their views, reinforcing each other’s beliefs, driving each other deeper into shared opinions, rather than established facts.”
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How Brexit Is Affecting The Bitcoin And Blockchain Industries – by Jonathan Chester, for Forbes
So it looks like Luxembourg might replace London as bitcoin startup capital of post-Brexit Europe…
Jonathan Chester discusses the impact of Brexit on the bitcoin sector. It’s not all bad: some expansion will be brought forward to take advantage of the two-year window before any separation of legislation is enacted. And, volatility in the euro and in local European economies will make bitcoin look even more like the relatively safe store that it deserves to be.