Tag Archive | technology

The blockchain arena sure is having a week, huh?

I had this interrogation of Kickstarter’s empty “blockchain proposal” written and on the desk of the Beat’s editors back in March. Was starting to worry that it wouldn’t feel timely, as the publication date got farther and farther away from news like “the Kickstarter CEO has resigned to spend more time with his family.”

And then it ended up getting published within days of “the third-biggest stablecoin goes ker-splat, setting off a rolling chain of destruction in every protocol and/or exchange that leaned on it.” (The power of decentralization, folks!)

There’s always something.

Older Kickstarter news/polling/snark:

“I have no assurances from the people who want to use it on Kickstarter that protocols are in place to protect the users. My biggest concern is I have interacted with Kickstarter three times now – sent emails and had meetings and stuff – requesting clarification of intent and a roadmap, and I have never gotten one, which makes me question the wisdom of the entire venture.”

Will you buy comics on Kickstarter if they go through with their blockchain plans?” Twitter poll, closed with 4500+ votes.

In many ways, Kickstarter’s weird crypto project — and the blockchain aspirations other aging web 2.0 companies are pushing on us right now — are kind of like watching a middle-aged man buy a boat. He doesn’t need to buy a boat. His life will be significantly more complicated, and likely worse, after he buys the boat. But he has somehow convinced himself that he needs to buy this boat because he has done the math and realized he is going to die soon and he thinks the boat will fix this.”

General blockchain criticism/snark:

“It turns out, businesses already use computer programs a lot. DAOs don’t bring anything to the table. So a lot of it is excuses to do things you can already do, and just say, ‘Oh, it’s a DAO. That means it’s crypto, and it’s magical, so if you don’t understand why our idea sounds so stupid, it’s because it’s very complicated and you need to think about it more.’” (Video with David Gerard, who literally wrote the book on crypto failings. Multiple books, in fact.)

“One of the most infamous examples of a game incorporating an early form of a play-to-earn system was Diablo III’s auction house, where players could buy and sell weapons and items for real money. […] But Blizzard’s experiment in monetizing scarcity was a disaster.”

“The biggest [lie] is “this incentivizes green power.” Which it does in the same way that a whole bunch of random shootings would incentivize bulletproof vests.”

This video has my new favorite example of crypto fans using The Most Elaborate Possible Technical Terms for the most absurdly mundane things: “It’s called loading. You’ve described how loading works.

Excellent deployment of quotation marks: “‘Hacker’ Steals NFTs ‘Worth’ Millions From Opensea Users.

Excellent Onion headlines: “Man Who Lost Everything In Crypto Just Wishes Several Thousand More People Had Warned Him

Dispatches from Balloonville

Title inspired by my new favorite player in the NFT Space:

Screw it, I like the Balloonville people. So few in the Crypto Space will openly embrace the true meaning and spirit of “unregulated trustless marketplace that anyone can participate in.” Looking forward to their next project, “Bored Rug Club”, followed by the pixelated “CryptoScammers.”

Screenshot of balloon picrew characters
Who could have expected that this would pop??

More NFT rubbernecking:

“On February 9, 2021, an unidentified scammer used a phishing attack to steal dozens of NFTs from individual wallets. [..] In total, the scammer netted over 1100 Eth (~$3 million) from the attack. The phishing attack used a legitimate Opensea buy order.” So why call it “stealing” or “scamming”? It’s a valid blockchain transaction! Everything is fine.

[NFT sales data] do not show the democratization of wealth thanks to a technological revolution. They show an acutely minuscule number of artists making a vast amount of wealth off a small number of sales while the majority of artists are being sold a dream of immense profit that is horrifically exaggerated. Hiding this information is manipulative, predatory, and harmful, and these NFT sites have a responsibility to surface all this information transparently. Not a single one has.”

“If you have access to a free trial of some chart-making software, you can even begin to make a corkboard map of this emerging web of ownership, business relationships, and incredibly bad art.

Other blockchain-based definitely-legitimate-and-not-a-scam rubbernecking:

Often used as a way to distribute free NFTs for giveaways and other promotional campaigns, there is nothing stopping someone from airdropping NFTs with abusive content—doxing, revenge porn, child sexual abuse imagery, threats, etc.—into someone’s wallet. […] And even if someone hides or burns an NFT of this sort, the transaction and its contents remain immutably on the blockchain for anyone to see.” A quick overview of blockchain-based abuses we should be worried about.

The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) has called for regulations of cryptocurrency-related platforms after one of sport’s biggest cryptocurrency-brands has gone into liquidation. The Times has reported that fan engagement platform, IQONIQ, has collapsed in Monaco, which has potentially left thousands of supporters in possession of Fan Tokens ‘worth almost nothing’.” Ah, the wonderful applications of crypto in sports.

Two lists: falsehoods [about crypto and blockchain] that nobody who is interested in the world as it really is should ever repeat, at least not without heavy qualification; the second a list of truths and rules of thumb about cryptocurrency and blockchain that have been demonstrated repeatedly (often for many years) but escape notice far too often.”

Evangelists reinventing stuff that already exists:

Why not compare Bitcoin to other networks? “Bitcoin is the Apple eWorld of money!” The original electronic walled garden, that turned out to be too expensive and not very interesting. Or compare it to other technologies — “Bitcoin is the Ford Pinto gas tank of money!” Which it frequently demonstrates.”

I have been exploring Active Worlds for several days. It is a sort of internet archaeologist heaven, where player-created structures stretch out for what can seem like hundreds of virtual miles. There are many worlds to explore — all of which are anything but active — but this main one, AW, has been running since the mid 90s.” So we’ve had what they’re calling “the ~metaverse~” for almost 30 years now.

Git was released in 2005 and was based on work going back to the late 1990s; Merkle trees were invented in 1979. The good bits of blockchain are not original, and the original bits of blockchain turn out not to be much good.”

I put all the nice links in the back half of the post (tech, grifting, COVID, economic boosts, and more)

Things to worry about:

June 12: “In 2016, Gun Violence Archive recorded that 241 people were shot and killed or wounded in a road rage incident; so far this year, as of June 7, that number is 212, the analysis found. ‘I don’t think we quite realized how dramatic the change was going to be.’

“Customers trying to avoid online delivery platforms like Grubhub by calling restaurants directly might be dialing phone numbers generated and advertised by those very platforms — for which restaurants are charged fees that can sometimes exceed the income the order generates.

Magie filed a legal claim for her Landlord’s Game in 1903, more than three decades before Parker Brothers began manufacturing Monopoly. She actually designed the game as a protest against the big monopolists of her time — people like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. […] And yet it was the monopolist version of the game that caught on, with Darrow claiming a version of it as his own and selling it to Parker Brothers. While Darrow made millions and struck an agreement that ensured he would receive royalties, Magie’s income for her creation was reported to be a mere $500. ”

“What do you mean ‘text’? There’s obviously some math text on the blackboard on the right, just like there’s obviously a woman covering almost half of the photograph. Is that woman invisible? Why?” When neural nets try to auto-detect what’s in an image…and what kinds of things they miss.

The Onion, in “this isn’t even a joke”: “Promising to let him know as soon as something becomes available, nurse Janae Howager informed a man having a heart attack Thursday that there was about an hour wait until the next Covid-19 patient died.”

Things to make you smile:

“Despite being lauded by some of the right-wing media’s leading figures, though, the Freedom Phone’s buyers could be getting less than they expect for its $500 price tag. That’s because the Freedom Phone appears to be merely a more expensive rebranding of a budget Chinese phone available elsewhere for a fraction of the Freedom Phone’s price.” But hey, influencers get referral codes, so when their followers buy the phones they get a $50 cut. It’s grifters all the way down.

February 25: “The lawyers working to reunite immigrant parents and children separated by the Trump administration reported Wednesday that they have found the parents of 105 children in the past month.” And that was just the Biden administration’s first month.

““We both started writing grants,” Dr. Weissman said. “We didn’t get most of them. People were not interested in mRNA. The people who reviewed the grants said mRNA will not be a good therapeutic, so don’t bother.’”” (There’s a happy ending! It’s the research that led to the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccines.)

“A New York City pilot program that dispatches mental health specialists and paramedics instead of police for certain nonviolent emergency calls has resulted in more people accepting assistance and fewer people sent to the hospital, early data shows.” Don’t send cops to do non-cop jobs! It works!

Cash transfers have arguably the strongest existing evidence base among anti-poverty tools, with dozens of high-quality evaluations of cash transfer programs spanning Africa, Asia, and Latin America and including both unconditional and conditional cash transfer. These studies include many randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and also include studies that measured impacts 4–5 years out,1,2 evidence which exists for hardly any other interventions.”

The Onion again: “Deeming the move unfortunate but necessary to keep his fledgling Silicon Valley dream alive, CEO Jason Ipser told reporters Tuesday that his struggling tech company was almost desperate enough to start making an actual product.