Bitcoin was cool until it sucked


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Suddenly no one seems to be talking about Bitcoin anymore.

As a general rule, things that are practical tend to be neither cool nor fun. This handy-dandy heuristic also provides some insight into why, as Bitcoin became more well-known, as more stuff sprung up around it, and as cryptocurrency in general became a “space” for “innovation,” Bitcoin itself went down the drain. It’s currently worth around $3,500 per coin, which is $1,000 less than the current electricity cost of mining one on your computer. (Disclosure: I own about $50 worth of Bitcoin because I am dumb as shit.)

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Drew Millard — The Outline

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Naked and Afraid


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Another one on Facebook, hopefully last for this year.

Admit you have a problem. Yes, over and over and over, Facebook executives have copped a plea. But they’ve never acknowledged the real problem is the company’s core DNA. More often than not, the company plays the pre-teen game of admitting a small sin so as to cover a larger one. The latest case in point is this post-modern gem: Elliot Schrage On Definers. The headline alone says all you need to know about Facebook’s latest disaster: Blame the guy who hired the firm, have him fall on a sword, add a bit of Sandbergian mea culpa, and move along. Nope, this time is different, Facebook. It’s time for fundamental change. And that means….

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John Battelle — New Co Shift

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Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek that ever lived


From The Otameal.

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The Oatmeal

Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet


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Free speech and Reddit.

Which Web sites get the most traffic? According to the ranking service Alexa, the top three sites in the United States, as of this writing, are Google, YouTube, and Facebook. (Porn, somewhat hearteningly, doesn’t crack the top ten.) The rankings don’t reflect everything—the dark Web, the nouveau-riche recluses harvesting bitcoin—but, for the most part, people online go where you’d expect them to go. The only truly surprising entry, in fourth place, is Reddit, whose astronomical popularity seems at odds with the fact that many Americans have only vaguely heard of the site and have no real understanding of what it is. A link aggregator? A microblogging platform? A social network?

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Andrew Marantz — The New Yorker

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The god of China’s big data era


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Are we heading towards a nightmarish world where our every action is going to be rewarded or punished by the Government?

An Orwellian characterisation of social credit is the favoured narrative of English-language media and academia. Countless media stories compare the system with Nineteen Eighty-Four or other more contemporary cultural references such as the Netflix series Black Mirror. The underlying depiction of social credit in these instances is of ‘big data meets big brother’: a corporatist state spying on its population, hoarding vast swathes of personal data to be algorithmically synthesised into a single three-digit score that dictates one’s place in society. Punishments such as bans on individuals purchasing tickets for air travel have hit the headlines.

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Adam Knight — ECFR

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Death might not be the ultimate leveler in future


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They do this with the knowledge that, if somehow they do find an intervention to extend the human lifespan, it will almost certainly be too expensive for the average person to afford, which would create two entirely different classes of humans — one group with money that can see 150, and another that just has to take whatever small insights trickle down from the top.

“The disparity of wealth in the United States will create a “class of immortal overlords,” former Facebook President Sean Parker said at a cancer innovation event last November. “Because I’m a billionaire, I’m going to have access to better healthcare so… I’m going to be, like, 160 and I’m going to be part of this class of immortal overlords.”

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Jacob Banas — Futurism

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Facebook keeps asking for our trust even as it loses control of our data


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These breaches keep happening. One day in not so distant future, one of the breaches would end up being the final straw.

Over a long enough time span, all data is liable to be breached. It’s why some security researchers call on companies to store as little data about their customers as possible, to minimize the damage when the inevitable happens. As an advertising company, Facebook cannot easily adopt such an approach. But it could modulate the other ways in which it asks us for our trust — perhaps deciding, as Google did, to leave the camera out of its home speaker; or not to put on stage an executive soliciting our most personal information, however well anonymized, while the investigation into a data breach affecting millions is still underway.

Instead, it’s full speed ahead.

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Casey Newton — The Verge

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