I'm something of a Bitcoin skeptic; although I embrace the ideals of decentralization and privacy, I am concerned about the environmental, technological and social details of Bitcoin. It was for that reason that I was delighted to spend a good long time chatting with the hosts of the Bitcoin Podcast (MP3), digging into our points of commonality and difference; despite a few audio problems at the start, the episode (and the discourse) were both fantastic. Read the rest
Back in 2015, the incomparable Ian McDonald (previously) published Luna: New Moon, a kind of cross between Dallas and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, with warring clans scheme and fighting on a libertopian lunar colony where the only law is private contracts and you're charged for the very air you breathe; McDonald raised the stakes to impossible heights with the 2017 sequel Luna: Wolf Moon, and now, with the final volume, Luna: Moon Rising, McDonald proves that he despite the wild gyrations of his massive cast of characters and their intricate schemes, he never lost control. Read the rest
A guy named "Aaron" has been pitching Reddit moderators and other influential Redditors on their participation in a lucrative scam to inflate the popularity of posts about different cryptocurrencies, using massive farms of bots that post and upvote through a network of proxies that make them seem like they're distributed all over the world. Read the rest
David Gerard is a technically minded, sharp-witted, scathing critic of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies; his criticism is long, comprehensive and multipartite, but of particular interest is is critique of "proof of work" (an idea that is central to the blockchain, but which many cryptographers are skeptical of). Read the rest
When we think of democracy, we generally think of voting: the people are polled, the people decide. But voting is zero-sum: it has winners and losers. There are other models of governance that can make claim to democratic legitimacy that produce wins for everyone. Read the rest
In An Empirical Analysis of Traceability in the Monero Blockchain, a group of eminent computer scientists analyze a longstanding privacy defect in the Monero cryptocurrency, and reveal a new, subtle flaw, both of which can be used to potentially reveal the details of transactions and identify their parties. Read the rest
Naomi Klein's l(ooooo)ongread in The Intercept about the state of play in Puerto Rico is the comprehensive summary of the post-Maria fuckery and hope that has gripped America's colonial laboratory, the place where taxation without representation, austerity, chemical weapons, new drugs, and new agribusiness techniques get trialed before the rest of America are subjected to them. Read the rest
By design, data placed in the blockchain is visible to everyone in the world and can never be removed; everyone who mines bitcoin makes a copy of the blockchain, and so any illegal content stashed in the blockchain ends up on the computers of every miner. Read the rest
Cynthia Lee, inspired by a tongue-in-cheek request by Christopher Mims, created a Chrome browser extension that replaces the word "blockchain" with the phrase "mulitple copies of a giant Excel spreadsheet."
WHAT: This is a Chrome browser extension that can help readers contextualize news stories with hype about blockchain technology, by reminding you that blockchain is, in essense, a giant Excel spreadsheet.
WHY: For fun.
I made a Chrome browser extension per @mims' suggestion below. Currently pending review in the Chrome store, but in the meantime manual install available from GitHub (quick and easy even for non-coders, I promise!). You're welcome, blockchain haters. https://t.co/5EDmrp091N https://t.co/FcrXARH2LA
— Cynthia Lee (@cynthiablee) March 1, 2018
Atari is launching its own cryptocurrency, because of course it is.
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The company’s Paris-listed stock rose as much as 111% between February 4 and February 15. The company says it is investing in a “crypto platform” that will use its own digital currency, the “Atari Token.” It can be used to – you guessed it – play video games.
Blockchain transactions are recorded forever and indelibly, and that means that all the Bitcoin transactions on early Tor hidden service marketplaces like Silk Road are on permanent, public display; because many people who made these transactions later went on to link those Bitcoin wallets with their real identities, those early deals are now permanently associated with their public, identifiable selves. Read the rest
LegalFling is a Dutch app that's supposed to protect partners in sexual liaisons from miscommunication by recording both parties' consent to sexual activity in an indelible, public blockchain entry. Read the rest
Technological limitations in the design of the Bitcoin system means that the network only processes about seven transactions per second, unless you pay someone with a lot of compute-power to log your transaction, currently at the rate of about $20/transaction. Read the rest
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today pledged to aggressively scrutinize publicly-traded companies that suddenly change their name or their business model to try to profit from the nutty hype surrounding cryptocurrency. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton threw this wet towel on the blockchain bubble Monday. Read the rest