Bits and Stuff: Research, Cuteness and Rage – August 20, 2017

I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of research. An esoteric subject, to boot: the derivatives market.

Before you yawn and click away, let me say that it is SO much more interesting than it sounds. Riveting, in fact, and the more I learn, the more I believe that:

  • The instruments meant to hedge risk actually increase it.
  • The market is about so much more than finance – it embodies politics, philosophy and sociology.
  • It also reflects the evolution of organizational structures and the need for centralized controls.
  • Blockchain technology will re-draw the current structures… and thus influence the society that these structures reflect.

I’ll be teasing out these notions over the next few months, although I’ll start with a walk through the various sections: what the instruments do, how they trade, who regulates them…

And I’ll give an overview of what blockchain work is currently going on. There’s more of it than you might think, and it’s accelerating.

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The latest Fintech Insider podcast (an excellent show) was recorded at the offices of Starling Bank, and drilled down on the idea of “users owning their data”. It was repeated so often, as an obvious given, that I was left wondering how long it will take before this mantra spreads to other sectors.

Many blockchain projects are looking at how a decentralized internet would give users control over the information they need to input. And resentment of the hegemonic power of the Facebooks and Googles of this world appears to be building.

Yet legislators (generally far behind) are not yet wading in. And other sectors (utilities? education?) are exploring around the edges, but not with the intensity of finance and social media.

What is also intriguing is that Starling aims to give users control of their data, without mentioning blockchain technology. This will be worth digging into a bit more. How will they pull that off? Could other distributed ledger projects glean from this that perhaps not all empowerment will come from blockchain?

— x —

After a week of depressing, horrific news dominating the headlines and Twitter, I would like to extend a note of gratitude to the trickle of pictures of cute animals appearing in my feed. Call me superficial, but this week I especially appreciated them.

@BabyAnimalPics, @AwkwardAnimals, @TheDailyOtter are some of my faves…

Say what you will about the banalisation of content. For me, getting a little heart lift in the middle of the day, especially in weeks like this, is a good thing.

— x —

And while I don’t generally talk about politics, because I believe it’s too personal, The Economist’s gloves-off takedown of President Trump made me gasp. With delight. Scathing doesn’t begin to describe it.

And while in general I wouldn’t want to see anyone ripped to shreds so publicly, with this article I discovered that there are exceptions.

Hats off, Economist. Rage on.

— x —

I’m taking a couple of weeks off to clear my head and catch up on reading and spend time with family… And I am going to try to use the computer less. You know, that whole unplug thing. (But the research I’m doing is so damn interesting… maybe I can sneak in a couple of hours in the morning… I know, I know, holiday…)

Anyway, enjoy the rest of August!


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