ALT currencies -digital -blockchain -crypto, bitcoin, big tech, internet -social media -web3 -metaverse


ALT currencies -digital -blockchain -crypto -NFT( bitcoin, diem, etc) , internet -big tech- metaverse, social media, www, web3

updates 11-2023

>social media , twitter, X 11-2023 Why I’m Finally Leaving X and Probably All Social Media – by Douglas Rushkof

I’m finally, definitely, fully leaving X, and probably all social media. For real, and for good. And I’m encouraging people to do the same. I’ve been on these platforms watching what has been passing for debates about the Middle East crisis for a few weeks now, and I’ve really reached the point of no return.

The thought first arose when I was talking with my daughter about a poem she’s reading in her Chaucer class at college, called Parliament of Fowls. The story is about this guy who is reading a book by Cicero concerning concept called “common profit,” which is basically a cross between Hayek’s “catallaxy” (where the free market arrives at the ideal solution) and Hegelian synthesis. If everyone argues their point of view in a marketplace of ideas, they will arrive at the common good. But then the guy falls asleep and has a dream where he ends up at this giant gathering of birds — a parliament of fowls — who are having a big argument about which boy eagle a particular girl eagle should choose to marry.

And they’re all just arguing for their own self-interest. It’s like one big Twitter of birds. It’s all just twitter. Musk may have changed the name to X, but it remains this twitter of birds, of people not engaging in good will to reach a common understanding at all. In Chaucer’s story, Nature finally steps in and asks the girl who she wants to marry, and she says she’ll come back next year and choose. Instead of the finalized, definite ending, we get this sustained uncertainty — what we talk about on Team Human all the time. We celebrate the unresolved, the in-between, the ambivalence that keeps us alive. That keeps us coming back. And Twitter has no tolerance for that ambiguity. It’s missing the moderated, the emotional, the poetic…the whole human experience. And when I look at how the platform, and ones like it, are being used to…

>big tech, www 3-11-2023 Google vor Gericht: Es geht um die Zukunft des gesamten Internets – Der Kartellrechtsprozess gegen Google ist der größte seit Jahrzehnten. Dabei sind Monopole schon lange Teil unseres Alltags – mit teils drastischen Folgen – Von Dennis Pohl
03.11.2023, 16:08 Uhr

Nach außen wirkte alles gut. Als der Suchmaschinenriese Google Anfang September seinen 25. Geburtstag feierte, wandte sich das Unternehmen in blumigem Marketing-Sprech an die Öffentlichkeit: Google-Chef Sundar Pichai schrieb, er wolle seinen Nutzern danken, für ihr Vertrauen, ihre Treue – und für ihre Neugierde. Denn ohne sie gäbe es schließlich keine Suchmaschinen. Und damit kein Google. Im kalifornischen Mountain View, wo der Weltkonzern seinen Hauptsitz hat, dürfte die Stimmung in Wahrheit verhalten gewesen sein. Denn an jenem Tag hatte das unter der Dachfirma Alphabet… 17-10-2023 Cryptoverse: Winter is coming as ether funds flounder in fall By Lisa Pauline Mattackal

The weak crypto market is wobbling through autumn. And winter’s on its way. The long-anticipated U.S. launch of a group of exchange-traded funds tracking ether offered fresh evidence of the malaise at a time when investors are running from risk amid economic gloom and war in Ukraine and the Middle East. The six ETFs launched on Oct. 2 offering exposure to ether futures contracts pulled in just under $10 million in their first week of trading, according to CoinShares data. Ethereum products overall saw outflows of $7.5 million in the week to Oct. 13, the data shows. “The timing of the futures ETFs could hardly be worse,” said Vetle Lunde, senior analyst at K33 Research. The week of Oct. 2 saw Treasury yields soar to their highest level in decades, while investors pulled money from riskier assets in the face of “higher-for-longer” interest rates. 13-5-2023 It’s Going To Be Blockchain, Not Crypto – Most people who use crypto in the future to buy something but may not even know it – by Nick Ducoff

…Blockchain has already been through two epochs, the Crypto Era and the Web3 Era, and we’re on the cusp of a third: the Abstraction Era. Put simply, the blockchain is going to become infrastructure…

…Think of it this way: No provider boasts to their prospective end user about the cloud. The end user doesn’t care where information is stored or what the technological underpinning looks like. They just want a great UI and the knowledge that their information is stored securely. We’re seeing the same type of evolution with blockchain technology. In the abstraction era, we’ll be investing in great businesses and technologies — and most of those will just happen to be built on the blockchain. Many funds used to call themselves “cloud” funds or invest in “mobile,” but not anymore: Those distinctions would sound ridiculous.

Similarly, in five years or so, there won’t be a distinction that a fund is a “Web3” fund. Where the technologies or philosophies of cryptocurrency or Web3 make sense, they will be simply used by the best businesses, and everyone will benefit. The future is all about abstraction, and this new era will usher in the next billion users…who will actually be the first billion, seeing as neither our “crypto” era nor our “Web3” era was able to bring in more than 100 million

>AI, Big Tech, www search 10-5-2023 Google’s AI search is over – by Reed Albergotti

The biggest news for people following the AI race:

  • The “Search Generative Experience,” which marries traditional search with an AI chat-like experience, will soon be available as part of “Search Labs” to let customers try “experimental” products.
  • Google unveiled its latest AI model, PaLM 2, which was trained on academic research papers, medical texts, and more than 100 languages, powering its new AI products.
  • Google’s ChatGPT competitor, Bard, will eventually run on Gemini, a new large language model being developed by Google DeepMind.
  • Google is incorporating the latest AI models into its Google Workspace products like Docs and Sheets. For instance, customers will be able to create images from text inside Google Slides and make spreadsheets by describing a task, such as planning for a vacation. In a Google Doc, you can write a short description of what you want to create. PaLM 2 will write the rest of the text for you.
  • Across its product lines, Google announced new ways for computer coders to work with AI to more quickly write software and then export it into other software development tools like Replit.

see also : This article in Geekflare offers a nice rundown of some basic AI terminology, a breakdown of how traditional search works compared to generative search, and an interesting analysis of what it means for Google’s bottom line.

>metaverse, www, big tech 21–4-2023 Meta reportedly cancels all its Metaverse plans – Meta states that it “has not stopped its plans towards the Metaverse vision.” Jonas Mäki

In a large and comprehensive article at The Information, Meta has dropped the term “Metaverse” altogether when presenting collaborations to potential partners. Among other things, it states:

“Meta is no longer pitching the metaverse in conversations with its advertisers and is instead trying to get them to back its Tiktok-a-like short-form videos and its AI tools. That’s in stark contrast to last year, where every second word out of Zuckerberg’s mouth was ‘metaverse,’ in what he was expecting to be the future of the internet.”

This is in pretty stark contrast to the roughly $4.3 billion spent on Reality Labs in the last quarter alone, and Metaverse was also the whole reason they changed their name to Meta

>social media, twitter 14-4-2023 Social media has changed – Will academics catch up? by Mark Carrigan

…It is tempting to explain these changes purely in terms of the figure of Elon Musk. While it has been a gripping spectacle to watch a once lauded billionaire burn $20 billion in a bonfire of hubris, the trajectory of Twitter illustrates a broader change underway in the landscape of social media. Platforms like Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005) and Twitter (2006) are rapidly approaching their twentieth anniversaries in a markedly different economic climate to the one they emerged in. These firms grew amidst the wreckage of the dot-com crash in the early 2000s, framing themselves as ‘Web 2.0’ to differentiate them from their failed predecessors. They enjoyed a low interest rate environment, conducive to their growth, in which anticipated future returns took precedence over present day results. Now the expected post-pandemic hegemony of big tech hasn’t materialised, these firms confront a high interest rate environment with declining consumer spending. This is the most hostile economic environment they have faced and recent changes at Twitter illustrate the challenges involved in finding a sustainable business model. In short, the limits of the advertising model have been hit…

>metaverse, www 4-2023 Mark Zuckerberg Abandons Metaverse as Shiny New Toy Appears – by Maggie Harrison

Poor, poor, Horizon Worlds. According to Facebook-turned-Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth, the company’s metaverse of dead-eyed avatars has been all but abandoned by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg — who, in an added blow, is instead said to be spending the bulk of his time chasing the investor-appeasing Silicon Valley squirrel that is generative AI. “We’ve been investing in artificial intelligence for over a decade, and have one of the leading research institutes in the world,” Bosworth told Nikkei Asia in an interview on Wednesday. “We certainly have a large research organization, hundreds of people.” …

To be fair, as Bosworth noted, Facebook has been working on AI R&D for years, and their large language model (LLM), LLaMa, is rumored to be quite powerful. The CTO also threw the metaverse a generative AI-laced bone elsewhere in the Nikkei Asia interview, explaining that Meta hopes that AI will ultimately make its beleaguered metaverse better.

“Previously, if I wanted to create a 3D world, I needed to learn a lot of computer graphics and programming,” Bosworth told the outlet. “In the future, you might be able to just describe the world you want to create and have the large language model generate that world for you.”

In the short term, though? Meta, per Bosworth’s comments, is unsurprisingly gearing up to deploy AI in its advertising machine, the channel where the company makes the vast majority of its money — as opposed to the metaverse, which at this point is a multibillion-dollar money pit. (Get ready for those hyper-targeted, AI-generated ads, y’all. Cheers to living in hell!)

Still, while we’re sure his investors are pleased, Zuck’s latest post-pivot pivot continues to prove to be a remarkably sharp turn away from a vision that he was fully doubling down on back in just October. And regardless of how Meta ultimately makes out in the ongoing AI race, if one thing’s for sure? Until Zuck’s metaverse vision is realized — if it ever is — the ghost of Zucko’s legless Horizon Worlds avatar will surely haunt its meat-smoking Dr. Frankenstein ’till the bitter end. A sad thought… even Casper had some stems to stand on.

see also : Mark Zuckerberg Bows to Peer Pressure, Announces Pivot to AI 11-4-2023 Is the Metaverse on its Last Legs? Decentraland’s Free Fall Raises Questions – by Jay Speakman

Decentraland’s free fall raises doubts about the metaverse’s future, while AI emerges as a promising technology with real-world applications. – Limited VR adoption, high costs, and lack of diverse content contribute to the decline of virtual worlds. – The shift in focus from the metaverse to AI suggests a reassessment of priorities, emphasizing technologies with tangible benefits.

>crypto, digital 4-4-2023 Crypto’s dream of decentralization is dying – Federal investigations into Binance and FTX spotlight an industry that has become increasingly centralized. – by James Surowiecki

…”…What all of this showcases is the fundamental paradox of the crypto economy, namely that even though crypto was created as a tool for decentralized commerce and finance, almost all crypto trading takes place on big, centralized exchanges in which crypto investors place a surprising amount of blind faith. 

The whole point of cryptocurrencies, supposedly, was that they worked without the need of an intermediary, allowing people to trade without the interference of governments or financial institutions. (That’s why crypto was often described as enabling “trustless commerce,” meaning that it allowed you to do transactions without trusting the other person.)

As an editorial from CoinDesk recently put it, crypto was designed with “the goal of empowering individuals to control their own fates in the digital era, separately from government and corporate structures.” And yet the vast majority of crypto transactions now take place on centralized exchanges like Binance, which are very much corporate structures. 

In fact, crypto exchanges are more centralized than traditional financial institutions…”…

>social media, smartphone gg/page 1-4-2023 Social media is taking a dangerous toll on teenage girls – The evidence is now clear: smartphones are the major cause of the mental illness epidemic among young women. – By Jonathan Haidt

NS/HL — Jonathan Haidt, the social psychologist for our times, has written for this week’s NS on the disturbing link between social media and teenage depression. “Few parents,” Haidt writes, “would knowingly let their daughters become heavy users of anything shown to correlate with mental illness at this level.” Yet we are allowing a generation to be raised on smartphones that we know depress them. Haidt has the data. “Why would youthful mental illness rise steadily throughout the 2010s?” he asks.

…”…It’s not because of the 9/11 attacks, wars in the Middle East, or school shootings. As Émile Durkheim showed long ago, people in Western societies don’t kill themselves because of wars or collective threats; they kill themselves when they feel isolated and alone. Also, why would American tragedies cause the epidemic to start at the same time among Canadian and British girls?

There is one giant, obvious, international and gendered cause: social media. Instagram was founded in 2010. The iPhone 4 was released then too – the first smartphone with a front-facing camera. In 2012 Facebook bought Instagram, and that’s the year that its user base exploded. By 2015, it was becoming normal for 12-year-old girls to spend hours each day taking selfies. The hours girls spent each day on Instagram were taken from sleep, exercise, and time with friends and family. The arrival of smartphones rewired social life for an entire generation. What did we think would happen to them?…”… read whole article here

>big tech, creative labour, copyrights, market power 9-2022 Chokepoint Capitalism: How Big Tech and Big Content Captured Creative Labor Markets and How We’ll Win T hem Back – a book about why creative labor markets are rigged – and how to unrig them – by Rebecca Giblin, Cory Doctorow

Competition is supposed to be fundamental to capitalism. Over the last four decades though, greedy robber barons have worked out how to lock in customers and suppliers, eliminate competitors, and shake down everyone for more than their fair share. ..

While our book starts by dissecting the ways monopolists from the tech and entertainment sectors have cornered their markets, explaining the historical and structural factors that gave rise to this distinctly terrible form of extractive capitalism, we don’t stop there. Our main focus is action. Chokepoint Capitalism is built around shovel-ready ideas for shattering the chokepoints that squeeze creators and audiences – technical, commercial and legal blueprints for artists, fans, arts organizations, technologists, and governments to fundamentally restructure the broken markets for creative labor…

amazonreviewsgooglebookspreview – In Chokepoint Capitalism, scholar Rebecca Giblin and writer and activist Cory Doctorow argue we’re in a new era of “chokepoint capitalism,” with exploitative businesses creating insurmountable barriers to competition that enable them to capture value that should rightfully go to others. All workers are weakened by this, but the problem is especially well-illustrated by the plight of creative workers. From Amazon’s use of digital rights management and bundling to radically change the economics of book publishing, to Google and Facebook’s siphoning away of ad revenues from news media, and the Big Three record labels’ use of inordinately long contracts to up their own margins at the cost of artists, chokepoints are everywhere. <p/>By analyzing book publishing and news, live music and music streaming, screenwriting, radio and more, Giblin and Doctorow deftly show how powerful corporations construct “anti-competitive flywheels” designed to lock in users and suppliers, make their markets hostile to new entrants, and then force workers and suppliers to accept unfairly low prices. <p/>In the book’s second half, Giblin and Doctorow then explain how to batter through those chokepoints, with tools ranging from transparency rights to collective action and ownership, radical interoperability, contract terminations, job guarantees, and minimum wages for creative work. <p/>Chokepoint Capitalism is a call to workers of all sectors to unite to help smash these chokepoints and take back the power and profit that’s being heisted away–before it’s too late.

buy DRM-free ebook  direct from Cory’s own webstore, or – book  BOOKSHOP.ORGBEACON PRESS (US)SCRIBE (AUSTRALIA)SCRIBE (UK)

>social media, tiktok 31-3-2023 TechScape: How the world is turning against social media – France has banned not only TikTok from government phones, but Facebook and Twitter, too. Could this be a tipping point for big tech? Plus, AI-generated pictures of the pope signal a new type of viral image – by Alex Hern 28-3-2023 It’s the great TikTok panic – and it could accelerate the end of the internet as we know it – by Emily Taylor

>crypto, FTX, maps 26-3-2023 Caught in the FTX storm: how a crypto high-flyer fell to Earth – by Alex Lawson

…”…But 2022 would prove to be Grebnev’s annus horribilis, as FTX’s demise crashed the value of crypto and the war in Ukraine raised questions over Maps’s use by Russians.

Grebnev and Bankman-Fried’s fortunes were interlinked. Bankman-Fried, 31, was an MIT physics graduate and former currencies trader at rapid trading outfit Jane Street Capital, before founding Alameda Research, and then FTX. FTX would go on to become one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, before its collapse last year. Grebnev and Bankman-Fried connected online and had a rapport.

In late 2020, Bankman-Fried was listed as an adviser to Oxygen in a document about its business model. By early 2021, Alameda – which traded crypto and also had a venture capital arm – had made two big bets on Grebnev. It led a $50m funding round into, followed by spearheading a $40m round for Oxygen, joined by investment firms Multicoin, Genesis and CMS.

Last April, Grebnev met Bankman-Fried at FTX’s now infamous crypto gathering in the Bahamas, where the latter shared a stage with Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. Bankman-Fried gave Oxygen credibility in the crypto industry. The value of its tokens reached as high as $4 in 2021, valuing the currency at a total of $189m, according to the CoinMarketCap website, while Maps tokens were worth $118m at their peak.

This was allegedly part of Bankman-Fried’s masterplan: to use his clout in the crypto industry to push up the price of “Samcoins” in a coordinated strategy with FTX sister company Alameda Research. Developers behind crypto projects were persuaded to make their trading debuts on his FTX exchange. Alameda would then buy the newly listed coins – which included Maps, Oxygen, Serum, Bonfida and Solana – to increase their scarcity and push up their value, according to the New York Times. There is no suggestion that Grebnev or those behind the other Samcoins would have been aware of this strategy….”…

> chatGPT updates see > AI – intelligence, IQ 3=-3-2023 Can TikTok convince the world it is not a tool for China? By Christina Criddle, Hannah Murphy, Demetri Sevastopulo 2023-02-2023 Cryptoverse: Bitcoin moves towards Satoshi’s payment dream – By Medha Singh, Lisa Pauline Mattackal 2-2-2023 There’s a wild theory that the price of Bitcoin is being propped up—and the academic who proved manipulation in 2017 suspects it may be happening again – by Shawn Tully

…”…The Griffin-Shams study of the forces behind the 2017–18 Bitcoin bubble provides a guide to the strategies that could be pressing a thumb on the sales post-FTX. Griffin and Shams, now a professor at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business, first published their 118-page report in 2018, and it appeared two years later in the prestigious, peer-reviewed Journal of Finance.

For the team, a tipoff for possible manipulation was that Bitfinex, the large exchange closely related to Tether, wasn’t providing much transparency about the supposed stablecoin. “We saw blogs speculating that Bitfinex wasn’t providing full backing for the coin,” recalls Griffin. “If someone’s printing money by printing Tether that’s unbacked by fiat currency, it could cause a bubble in Bitcoin,” he says. “That was the hypothesis.”  

Griffin and Shams found that two practices converged to spur those huge, sudden gains. The first: a flood of newly created coins that gave the fraudster the currency to goose Bitcoin. The second is the approach that’s most relevant today, in which the manipulator or manipulators agree that every time the price drops to a target level, they’ll jump in to push it well above that benchmark.

The pair saw a strong and questionable pattern in Bitcoin prices. Bitcoin had its biggest spikes when two things happened: Prices started dropping, and lot of Tether was being printed. Then, as now, Tether was the most important “stablecoin,” or cryptocurrency supposedly supported one-to-one by reserves in fiat currency. Tether’s effectively a stand-in for the dollar; each coin is supposed to be backed by the equivalent of one greenback in fiat currency. Tether is issued by an arm of iFinex, a Hong Kong company that also owns what was then the world’s largest exchange, Bitfinex.

The authors focused on the 1% of all one-hour intervals between the beginning of March 2017 and end of March 2018 that featured the largest combinations of large Tether issuance on Bitfinex, and big Bitcoin buys on two other exchanges, Bittrex and Poloniex. Just before the start of each period, Bitcoin prices were under pressure. But in each case, it appeared that a single huge buyer rode to the rescue, pushing the token sharply higher by the end of the 60-minute interlude. The “whale,” whose identity remains a mystery, was using Tether to buy Bitcoin and hike its price. “We saw a regular pattern of very sizable price reversals,” recalls Shams. The 95 one-hour spans that witnessed those big Tether and Bitcoin inflows accounted for nearly 60% of Bitcoin’s immense gains over those 13 months…

…In conclusion, Griffin says, the Griffin-Shams study showed concrete proof of manipulation in 2017 and 2018, and that a single individual did the rigging. “We don’t have concrete analysis this time,” he says. “The truth may emerge in specific stories, if there is collusion.” The lesson, he says, “is that the Bitcoin market remains highly vulnerable to manipulation.” Indeed, Bitcoin in the wake of the FTX debacle has registered a wondrous performance. Maybe too wondrous to be trusted. 5-2022 Roadmap To Utopia – Or How Crypto-anarchists Will Learn To Love Regulation

Key take-aways –

  • Government regulation in the crypto-space is set to increase markedly over the next few years – it is unavoidable.
  • In addition, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), public versions of electronic money currently under development by numerous countries around the world, are coming. It is a matter of when, not if.
  • Many crypto-enthusiasts are deeply troubled by these developments. These worries are misplaced. Regulation should be warmly embraced not feared, but for reasons you may not have come across before.
  • Indeed, government regulation and CBDCs may turn out to be the very catalyst that gets crypto-anarchists to their long-hoped for dream of technological utopia where money is (largely) freed from government bondage.


>internet, metaverse, www 1-2023 Metaverse Landlords Are Creating a New Class System – Virtual landowners have found a way to put their investments to work, but with unintended consequences. by Joe; Khalili

…”…The idea that someone might be willing to pay to temporarily occupy a virtual piece of land is curious in itself, but even more interesting is what this says about the trajectory of these blockchain-powered virtual worlds and the social dynamics forming inside them. 

Implicit in this arrangement, says Philip Rosedale, creator of Second Life, is the formation of a new “winner-takes-all” class system. The landed gentry sit atop the social pyramid and below them the professionals and tenants—the latter precluded by price from mounting the property ladder themselves.

The development of sophisticated industries might be construed as a sign of the increasing maturity of virtual communities. But it could also be a sign of disease, says Rosedale, whose own 3D online world pioneered the concept of virtual real estate in the early 2000s.

“The accumulation of wealth in virtual economies is of great concern,” claims Rosedale. Because there is no ongoing cost of ownership for virtual landowners, he says, there will be an “inexorable” and “destructive” consolidation of wealth in the hands of a minority.

Similar theories are raised by Roger Burrows, a sociologist and professor specializing in digital culture and social inequality at the University of Bristol, and Vassilis Galanos, a lecturer in sociology at the University of Edinburgh.

The evolution of virtual real estate is “profoundly political,” says Burrows. He sees virtual worlds as places people go to cocoon themselves among others who share their political beliefs. In this case, so-called cryptonatives have constructed a world over which they preside, as owners of the land, built around the same suspicion of government and public institutions on which the crypto movement was founded. Nominally, anyone is welcome, but only as a tenant…”… 2-2023 SURVIVING THE METAVERSE – by Mary Harrington – review of The Metaverse: And How it Will Revolutionize Everything – by Matthew Ball

My childhood religious education was, you might say, haphazard. I met many of the most famous Bible verses for the first time not in church, or through a family member, but in Handel’s Messiah, which I listened to so many times as a youth that I memorized much of the libretto.

But somewhat like the many people who think they hear Jimi Hendrix singing “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” (as opposed to “the sky”), I didn’t get all the words right. I didn’t hear Handel’s setting of ­Isaiah 40:1–5 as declaring: “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Instead, I thought the choir was singing: “And all flesh shall cease together.”

This made sense to me at the time. I was an awkward, unhappy teenager, more interested in reading and daydreaming than in the social world of my peers. If you’d asked me to imagine a moment when God’s glory was revealed, I’d have agreed that this must surely be one where we would be freed from our fleshly bodies, and shine forth instead as beings of pure spirit.

Is that world at hand? According to a recent book, we are on the cusp of creating something that looks, on the face of it, not ­dissimilar: a fully realized realm of digital “worlds.” In The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything, tech venture capitalist and metaverse investor Matthew Ball defines this “metaverse” in the dry language of investors and techies:

A massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds that can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence, and with continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications, and payments.

In lay terms, this means roughly: “a parallel digital multiverse that all of us can inhabit together, where you can buy and sell stuff, that remembers what you do and doesn’t reset when you log off.” The book itself focuses largely on the technical challenges of realizing this vision. But reading its exhaustive account of payment rails, real-time rendering, data flows, and the like, I experienced a mounting sense of frustration at the author’s apparent lack of interest in what seems to me a central question: “Why?”

Why would we want to build a metaverse? What’s wrong with the persistent, massively scaled, interoperable et cetera world we already live in? Perhaps, to Ball, the answer is too obvious to need saying. After all, I am hardly the first person to think human life would be improved by de-materialization. Not by a long chalk. Among the most influential of such visions emerged in the early days of the Christian Church, when esoteric sects flourished that viewed the human condition as less incarnational than condemned to embodiment. For the Gnostics, the world of matter was irredeemably gross and corrupt, the creation not of divine will but of the Demiurge, an entity viewed as antagonistic to the Supreme Being. For the Gnostics, drawing on Platonist influences, the world of ideal Forms was God’s original Creation; the world of matter was a clumsy copy by an envious lesser being.

If you’d offered my adolescent self a chance to leave my awkward physical body behind, and live instead in that world of Platonic Forms, I’d have wept with relief. As it was, I took every opportunity to get closer to this infinitely more appealing realm, by the time-­honored method of reading everything I could get my hands on—preferably fantasy fiction—and daydreaming when I ran out of books. My longing to encounter something purer, higher, and more magical than the everyday events of real life was so intense that I recall once, when I was around eleven, squinting at a patch of empty forest in the vain hope that doing so would cause a real unicorn to make itself visible.

When I think of that age, what I recall is a sense of agonized certainty that the world must surely have more to it than the dull plane of atoms. I still sometimes read fantasy novels that depict worlds so engrossing and appealing that ending the story feels like a tiny bereavement. And perhaps this is less laughable than it sounds. In 2016, Robert P. George wrote an influential essay in First Things exploring the neo-Gnostic tendency within the liberal worldview, noting the prevalence of an intense mind/body dualism throughout, for example, contemporary sexual ethics. And the modern age has indeed been accompanied by a spreading desire to be anywhere other than in “the real world” as imagined by modernity—that is, to dream of higher or better worlds than the gross, corrupted material one.

But this desire is far from unique to the twenty-first century. It is a by-product of the very paradigm that created modernity: the rationalistic, scientific worldview. This worldview was enabled by a slow coming-apart of magic and the “real world,” whereby the richly symbolic lifeworld common to the Middle Ages gradually resolved into a dimension that was understood to be perceptible rationally, objectively, and empirically. This profound shift in consciousness enabled the rapid acceleration of scientific investigation. But the cost was what Max Weber called “disenchantment”: the expulsion of the numinous from acceptable discourse.

Even as this transition began in early modernity, the lost dimension began taking new forms within the world of letters. Arguably the first work of fantasy fiction is The ­Faerie Queene, written around 1590 by ­Edmund Spenser, a contemporary of Francis Bacon, whose Novum Organum inaugurated the modern, inductive scientific method. As a genre, fantasy fiction thus emerged in tandem with the slow draining-­away of enchantment that has accompanied the march of scientific modernity. For the instrumental, mechanistic view of the universe that took root with Novum Organum and, not long after, René ­Descartes’s Discourse on Method, tends to view enchantment and myth as symptomatic of superstition, backwardness, or immaturity. And some of the longing for mystery left unsatisfied by the bare world of reason and matter found a refuge of sorts in the deprecated but persistently popular genre of fantasy.

By the time my household got its first dial-up connection, around 1997, I was already old enough to vote. But I instantly grasped the internet’s most bewitching promise. It wasn’t, as its progenitors imagined, merely a way of storing or sharing information. It held out the possibility of inching still closer to escape from the everyday world by radically expanding the class of things I could do without having to leave the world of ideas for embodied life. Whereas book reading was a solitary activity, now both reading and discussion could happen on the same dematerialized plane. I could have a social life there, as well as a literary one.

If my longing for transcendent experience found some satisfaction in fantasy stories, the digital age has been swift to combine fantasy with de-materialized digital sociality, in the now wildly popular domain of video gaming, which surpassed Hollywood in revenue more than a decade ago. Multiple surveys suggest that Americans spend an average of eight to twelve hours per week on gaming, and the number rises with each new generation. And no doubt some of the appeal of such parallel universes is how pleasant they are, compared to everyday reality: all the excitement of achievement, with none of the pain or regret that attends failure in the real world. Given that the increasing sophistication and affordability of video games has been paralleled by stagnating wages, repeated political and economic shocks, dire warnings about climate change, and a collapse in opportunity for the young—only accelerated by Covid policy—we should not be surprised that many retreat from the bruising and frustrating constraints of “IRL” (“in real life”) to other planes that offer at least a simulated sense of agency.

But beneath this is a still more intense yearning. In his 2016 essay, George characterized the neo-­Gnostic outlook as an anthropology in which what makes me me is my consciousness, conceived of as radically separable from my body. The clearest and most extreme expression of this anthropology in contemporary culture is, as George observed, among the young people for whom transgender identities serve as a proxy for profound discontent with embodiment itself—a discontent frequently expressed by those within this subculture. One such writes on Twitter: “My own body is a whole existence that I can’t even *BEGIN* to try and feel connected to past carnal wants and desires because it’s so foreign and reprehensible to me.” Body dissociation has come a long way since Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am.”

Small wonder, then, that we find technologists working to synthesize an experience of mystery, enchantment, heroism, or transcendence, to appease the same hunger for enchantment the technological worldview has helped to create. As Ball shows, a key driver in taking us toward the Metaverse has been the tremendous and growing demand for multiplayer online games such as World of Warcraft. If Ball is to be believed, the soon-to-be-even-more-profitable realm of the Metaverse will take us even closer to sating our hunger for enchantment.

This trope has even found its way into the entertainment genre video gaming displaced: the highest-­grossing movie of all time is James Cameron’s Avatar, which came out the year video gaming overtook ­Hollywood in revenue. Avatar depicts a disabled former soldier whose consciousness is projected, by means of a futuristic technology, from his own gray, militarized environment into an able-bodied humanoid “avatar” on a planet of otherworldly beauty where all creatures live in harmony. It is an entrancing depiction of the Gnostic sense of a flawed, ugly embodiment, and the yearning to depart for somewhere more moral, more beautiful, more whole.

But there is a critical difference between the Gnosticism of old and its return today in these tech-enabled parallel dimensions. For the ancient Gnostics, the problem with the world of flesh was how poorly it compared with the true, original world of spirit. Gnosticism took for granted that this world of spirit existed, and that it was in a sense truer and more objective than that of matter. Neo-Gnostics, though, evince no such underlying belief in a transcendent spiritual dimension.

The Metaverse affords no higher Platonic world of objectively existing Forms. On the contrary, it suggests that we can escape from our prison of flesh into an infinitude of infinitely customizable worlds of Forms, tailored to suit each individual. If the root of the Gnostic heresy is a longing for transcendent spiritual experience unburdened by the taint of embodiment, the Metaverse takes this longing a step further. Here, the relief proffered to those longing for bodiless transcendence takes the form of an individualism so radical it affords no space at all for shared meaning, save on an opt-in basis. And it does so with the aim of making money.

Here, the plot of Avatar is unexpectedly prophetic. In the movie, the protagonist escapes his paralyzed body and is made (technologically) “whole” in another realm. But he’s sent to this realm by a resource extraction company, in ­order to befriend the natives of the land his employer wishes to strip-mine. It is a vivid metaphor for the role of commercial exploitation—a strip-mining of the soul—in the creation of these tech-facilitated simulacra of transcendent experience. This role is made clear in Ball’s book: The infrastructure of the Metaverse is already being influenced by corporations eager to maximize the possibility of value capture, from IP regulation to payment systems.

And unlike the vision of the ancient Gnostics, this picture of radical atomization as spiritual transcendence is structurally ­reliant on the very world from which it promises escape. This irony is reflected, obliquely, in Ball’s focus on the material practicalities involved in creating this simulacrum. For the neo-Gnostic dream of lightness and infinite possibility is, as Ball acknowledges, ultimately a prosaic material reality of circuitry, processors, and giant undersea data cables. “The Metaverse may be ‘a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds,’ but . . . it will be realized through physical hardware, computer processors, and networks.”

So this neo-Gnostic vision departs even from the original heresy. It points not to a unitary spiritual dimension, but to infinite imitations of such dimensions, infinitely customizable to each lonely inhabitant. And it departs, again, in remaining dependent on the material world from which it promises escape. In other words, this creation is precisely what the ancient Gnostic heretics believed themselves tasked with escaping: an envious imitation of Creation, which tempts human souls into captivity within itself.

For Ball, though, being a Demiurge is all good: good, at least, for business. “The very idea of the Metaverse means that more of our lives, labor, leisure, time, spending, wealth, happiness, and relationships will go online. Actually, they will exist online,” he declares. The question of why this might be better is, once again, left for others to explore; as, indeed, is the question of how it might be significantly worse. Ball blithely predicts social consequences including a rise in digital surveillance, misinformation, election tampering, political agitation, harassment, “revenge porn,” and deepfakes. He further envisages new and strange cultural crises and conflicts, and a proliferating and radically ­de-­materialized gig economy, along with ever-growing disparities of wealth, in which the rich can play in a world of infinite possibility, “powered by toiling ‘third-world’ laborers for the sake of ‘first-world’ joys.” No matter. Social issues are not his real concern, at least not compared to the challenges more immediately pertinent to his ­priorities, such as real-time rendering capacity or improved regulation of digital IP.

But perhaps Ball is justified in dismissing these issues. For they are already here, just as the real Metaverse is already here, called into being by science to slake the longing for transcendence that ­science itself blotted out. ­Facebook already employs thousands of content moderators in India and the Philippines. For minimal pay, these benighted souls view a daily torrent of Dantesque horrors, from child sexual abuse to torture and grisly murder, with mere moments to assess and act on each case, and minimal support in coping with the emotional impact. “‘First-world’ joys” (of a kind) are already powered by third-world toil.

And the dissociative, disintegrative, de-materializing call of the social internet and its bodiless world of ideas-in-motion already exerts itself nearly everywhere in our ordinary lives. Ball’s “Metaverse” envisions this dislocation as a fully realized parallel dimension. But less extreme versions of it are omnipresent: the text message you try to reply to while talking to someone, the urgent email that coincides with the doorbell ringing, the constant nagging pressure to post what you are doing rather than experience it. We are endlessly enjoined to be somewhere other than where we are.

In Ball’s view, our trajectory into somewhere else—into the Metaverse—is unstoppable. But is it good? Even on the simple metric of well-being, this is debatable: One 2018 study of American youth found that the less time adolescents spent on screen-based activities, the happier and more well-adjusted they were. And this in turn suggests that those best equipped to resist this world’s disintegrative pressure may be those now intentionally ringfencing parts of their own lives as analog-only.

Speaking for myself, as a recovering would-be Gnostic, I find this discipline difficult in the extreme. But whether in dedicated screen-free family time, physical exercise of an intensity that precludes scrolling, or some other strategy, I see the attempt as a matter of survival. The price of technological advancement was disenchantment, and our longing to depart that disenchanted world for somewhere more numinous grows in direct proportion to the deadening march of technology. So, inevitably, the offer of simulated transcendence becomes ever more alluring. One of the most urgent tasks of our age is re-learning how to distinguish the world of spirit from its digital simulacrum.

Those chafing against our disenchanted culture, and the dead-­seeming nature of embodied life within that culture, are now offered a million lonely, bespoke worlds of digital Forms. But the truth is that no elaborate arrangement of goggles, servers, or code will take these seekers where they want to go. We should see the promise for what it is: To those thirsting for truth, it’s akin to the vinegar-soaked sponge offered to a dying man two thousand years ago. And when the world seems stripped of life, and of wonder, we should recall the mystery at the heart of that story: that death is not the end, and flesh is not the enemy.

Mary Harrington is the author of the forthcoming Feminism Against Progress.

>alt currencies, bitcoin, crypto 1-1-2023 Binance Is Bleeding Assets, $12 Billion Gone In Less Than 60 Days – The outflow of cash from Binance is worse than the CEO Changpeng Zhao indicated last month, and it’s become considerably more severe since then, a Forbes analysis shows – by Javier Paz 12-2022 The new tech worldview – Silicon Valley may be coming down to earth. Not so tech’s big thinkers

>big tech, social media, www

theatlantic.comgg page 29-12-2022 The End of the Silicon Valley Myth – The companies that define our digital lives have hit a wall. – y Brian Merchant – read here 26-12-2022 Too big to live, too loved to die: Big Tech’s billion dollar curse of the free – Users may be the product, but we come with a hell of a price tag – by Rupert Goodwins

“Consequences can come at you fast or slow. If you’re a trillion-dollar company, you get to choose which, a bit, but you can never escape completely. Amazon is burning billions on Alexa because voice assistants need massive infrastructure but can’t be monetized. Google Cloud is $700 million in the red as of last earnings and heading south to a state of madness like a New Jersey retiree…”… 12-2022 From Degen to Regen: How Web3 Started Playing Positive-Sum Games – Gitcoin founder Kevin Owocki writes about why 2023 is the year of “regenerative cryptoeconomics.” – By Kevin Owocki

…”… Degens came to Web3 seeking financial upside. Regens are those who are working or building in regenerative cryptoeconomics. They have a long-term view on how Web3 can be good for the world, but not just in the financial sense. Regens see how financial systems could be designed to act as channels for greater human flourishing in service of all of humanity’s needs. My friend Gregory Landua, co-founder of the Regen Network, argues people have eight essential needs that could be expressed as forms of capital. Beyond financial capital, there’s our social, material, living, intellectual, experiential, spiritual and cultural needs…

…Web3 carbon credit systems such as KlimaDAO and Toucan Protocol allow for better, faster and cheaper carbon credit trading. While carbon credits are not perfect, Web3-enabled systems such as Hypercerts allow users to reward projects with observable outcomes. Moreover, hypercerts can be used beyond climate concerns in impact areas such as education, health care, AI safety and open-source software. 2023 will be the year of the Regen. We will rebuild and regenerate not just the Web3 space, but our communities and ourselves.” 24-12-2022 Return to Nothingness: Big Crypto’s struggles with basic accounting and economics — by Martin Walker

“The leaders of “Big Crypto” seem to have a huge problem understanding the basic concepts of conventional finance — such as balance sheets, auditing and cash flows…”… 23-12-2022 The Metaverse Doesn’t Have a Leg to Stand On – It was a rocky year for the tech industry. To understand why, look no further than the “embodied internet.” by Kate Knibbs

…”…Fifty years ago, historian Daniel Boorstin coined the term pseudo-event to describe an event that existed just to be covered by the media—ribbon-cutting ceremonies, press conferences, and the like. Silicon Valley adores a pseudo-event. The metaverse is a twist on Boorstin’s concept—a “pseudo-place.” It’s an artificially manufactured location, one which might be entertaining enough to visit but which cannot offer the human connection it advertises, nor any underlying reason for its existence beyond profit. This all comes back to Silicon Valley’s twinned obsessions with scale and speculation. The metaverse is understood by the world’s profiteers to be a frontier created specifically to be colonized; its purpose is wealth extraction.

This has been a wild and frequently ridiculous year, so much so that Mark Zuckerberg plunging his company into turmoil in order to make a product it’s truly unclear people want is one of the less capricious antics of the private-jet set. (See: Sam Bankman-FriedElon Musk.) This metaverse stumble, though, is notable for how well it explains the overarching problem with our modern-day oligarchy: They have too much money to throw at bad ideas. And hardly a leg to stand on. 21-12-2022 5 Metaverse Trends That Will Shape the Next Decade – As the metaverse continues to expand, here are five emerging trends that will shape the next 10 years. – By Ashot Gabrelyanov

…”…4. Avatar-based dating – While millennials were getting married virtually during the Covid-19 lockdown, Gen Z has been using “stay at home” as an opportunity to date in the metaverse. Games today can provide more than entertainment; they can even introduce you to potential partners. Avatar-based dating is becoming more and more popular, with many new companies emerging that specialize in this service, such as Nevermet. This fast-growing avatar-based service allows users to match with other VR fans and then meet up anywhere in the metaverse. As this trend continues to grow, there will be more and more opportunities for entrepreneurs to enter this space.

5. Metfluencing – When it comes to influencers, the metaverse has become a prime platform for marketing and advertising products and services. This is mostly due to its interactive platform, which allows users to engage with each other in real-time…”… 17-12-2022 The great crypto crisis is upon us – by Hyun Song Shin

>alt currencies, crypto, bitcoin 9-12-2022 Crypto dominos: the bursting crypto bubbles and the destiny of digital finance – by Fabio Panetta 30-11-2022 Bitcoin ‘rarely’ used for legal transactions, on ‘road to irrelevance’, say European Central Bank officials – by Manish Singh

…”…The value of bitcoin recently finding stability at around $20,000 was “an artificially induced last gasp before the road to irrelevance – and this was already foreseeable before FTX went bust and sent the bitcoin price to well down below $16,000,” wrote Ulrich Bindseil and Jürgen Schaaf on ECB’s blog.

The central bankers argue that bitcoin’s conceptual design and “technological shortcomings” make it “questionable” as a means of payment. “Real bitcoin transactions are cumbersome, slow and expensive. Bitcoin has never been used to any significant extent for legal real-world transactions,” they wrote.

Bitcoin also “does not generate cash flow (like real estate) or dividends (like equities), cannot be used productively (like commodities) or provide social benefits (like gold). The market valuation of bitcoin is therefore based purely on speculation,” they wrote.

Portions of the bankers’ arguments lack strong data points and appear fuelled by irrational and emotionally-driven bias. Naturally, it has drawn criticism from several tech-savvy enthusiasts. In a series of tweets, investor and commentator Joel John pointed to a security auditing firm Chainalysis report that concludes that only 0.15% of crypto transactions were linked to criminal activities, compared to 5% for the traditional currency. …”… 11-2022 Harvard paper to central banks: Buy Bitcoin! – By BEN SCHRECKINGER

…”…A new working paper on the subject by Matthew Ferranti — a fifth-year PhD candidate in Harvard’s economics department and advisee of Ken Rogoff, a former economist at the IMF and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors who is now a Harvard professor — has caused a minor splash….”,…

In it, Ferranti argues that it makes sense for many central banks to hold a small amount of Bitcoin under normal circumstances, and much more Bitcoin if they face sanctions risks, though his analysis finds gold is a more useful sanctions hedge.

>internet, web3 21-11-2022 Inventor of the Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee wants to save your data from Big Tech with Web3.0

…”…Berners-Lee’s idea for a new Web was born while working in his lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was trying to find a new way to break down the Internet and protect our data. His solution to the dysfunctions of Web2.0 is the third layer of protocols, giving a person the ability to log into something with their own personal ID. Some people thought that tech people would save the world then. Now, we’re in a situation where there are a lot of things wrong with the Web. He came up with a new project called Solid, and later a new company called Inrupt to help Solid launch. Berners-Lee’s platform can be accessed from your browser. But it is not an app; he calls it a “Pod,” where you can store your private data and access it very easily. In simpler terms, it can be thought of as your key or a digital ID that is kept secure.

He said this is his vision for Web3.0, emphasising that it is not Web3 which uses the Ethereum blockchain system and promises to be decentralised.The issue with Web3 is that data such as health records can easily be traced; as it is public, making it secure is expensive. Speed is another issue and there are questions as to if it can be fully decentralised. Many cryptocurrency and metaverse companies wave the word Web3 around as the future of the Internet. But Inrupt disagrees. “We’re talking Web 3.0 which is the real thing… not a marketing hijack if you like,” said John Bruce, CEO and co-founder of Inrupt, who joined Berners-Lee about five years ago…”…

>metaverse 21-11-2022 The metaverse will be a digital graveyard if we let new technologies distract us from today’s problems – The collapse of digital ventures like FTX shows that no amount of hype and starry-eyed proselytising can escape reality – by Jordan Guiao

>crypto, finance, FTX, Binance 12-11-2022 The weekend FT’s Crypto Crash

>big tech 22 -10-2022 The US supreme court case that could bring the tech giants to their knees – The question of whether social media firms should be responsible for content recommended to users is set to be re-examined – and not before time – by John Naughton

>fintech 15-10- 2022 Who will survive the fintech bloodbath? Firms prepare for a nasty winter

…”…Beyond this geographic trend, three types of fintech firms look best equipped to attract venture-capital dosh.

First are companies that reduce inefficiencies, from the management of company expenses to the reconciliation of business payments, and thus ought to help companies cut back in more difficult times. Next are firms that create new revenue lines for their clients, such as enabling a travel agent to sell their customers insurance. The final group includes financial plumbers, from firms providing data or ones dabbling in crypto to those that help banks comply with sanctions.

Only a few fortunate upstarts—such as GoCardless, which facilitates recurring bank-to-bank payments, and Clearbank, which provides cloud-based payments software—tick all three boxes. They run the infrastructure that moves money around at a time when the dominant “rails” remain costly (think of those 3% credit-card fees) and old-fashioned firms want to build their digital storefront—the logic that underpinned the fintech boom. For this lucky group, the Dutch waffles and daïquiris in Amsterdam were perhaps deserved after all.”

>crypto 14-10-2022 Crypto’s downturn is about more than the macro environment -The global economic downturn should not have a long-term negative effect on cryptocurrency prices, even if it is influencing crypto in the short term – by JOÃO MARCO BRAGA DA CUNHA 5-10-2022 Now That Ethereum is Dead, What’s the Next Big Thing? If I were you I’d look into FedNow immediately – by Isaiah McCall

I recently received a scathing criticism about crypto from a writer I respect. It was funny, dark, and engaging, but it also made me think:

“Money is a function of community. It should exist to serve all of us, not just those who horde it. The current monetary system is awful, but the dystopian alternative offered by anarcho-libertarians simply presents society with a false dichotomy. I want neither. I want democratic money.”

Not two days later and a separate email from another writer said to me, “Bitcoin is a solution to a problem, Ethereum is a solution searching for a problem.”

All of this stings like a cold knife to the chest. I wanted to write a quick rebuttal, but I can’t. Both of these are really insightful criticisms that are worth unpacking. Here we go. …”…

>crypto 3-2022 2022 WILL BRING THE END OF BITCOIN’S GENESIS STAGE – The year is unfolding fast and while it appears that the price may lull, bitcoin will finally take the spotlight on the cryptocurrency stage – by MARK HELFMAN

>www, internet, big tech 27-8-2022 Caught in our flawed net

oup/abstract The book describes the Internet, and how Internet governance prevents it fragmenting into a ‘Splinternet’. Four opposing ideologies about how data flows around the network have become prominent because they are (a) implemented by technical standards, and (b) backed by influential geopolitical entities. Each of these specifies an ‘Internet’, described in relation to its implementation by a specific geopolitical entity. The four Internets of the title are: the Silicon Valley Open Internet, developed by pioneers of the Internet in the 1960s, based on principles of openness and efficient dataflow; the Brussels Bourgeois Internet, exemplified by the European Union, with a focus on human rights and legal administration; the DC Commercial Internet, exemplified by the Washington establishment and its focus on property rights and market solutions; and the Beijing Paternal Internet, exemplified by the Chinese government’s control of Internet content. These Internets have to coexist if the Internet as a whole is to remain connected. The book also considers the weaponization of the hacking ethic as the Moscow Spoiler model, exemplified by Russia’s campaigns of misinformation at scale; this is not a vision of the Internet, but is parasitic on the others. Each of these ideologies is illustrated by a specific policy question. Potential future directions of Internet development are considered, including the policy directions that India might take, and the development of technologies such as artificial intelligence, smart cities, the Internet of Things, and social machines. A conclusion speculates on potential future Internets that may emerge alongside those described.

social media The metaverse is as dead as Zuckerberg’s cartoon eyes – No matter how realistic you make the avatars, the Big Bang for the metaverse needs a user experience that technology won’t deliver for a very long time. By Jesus Diaz

Last week, Meta showed yet another cringeworthy product of its $10.2 billion investment in the metaverse: a demonic VR porcelain doll of Mark Zuckerberg that looked worse than a Second Life avatar from 2003. Hastily released in response to yet another round of universal mockery from all over the internet, it was still only marginally more expressive, and slightly more alive, than a Ken doll. …”… 2021 Hey, Facebook, I Made a Metaverse 27 Years Ago – It was terrible then, and it’s terrible now. By Ethan Zuckerman 21-8-2022 ‘It’s a modern-day Facebook’ – how BeReal became Gen Z’s favourite app – A new wave of social media apps are taking advantage of the revolt against Instagram and TikTok. Will these ‘authentic’ networks change the way we connect? by Laurie Clarke 1-8-2022 Even Facebook’s critics don’t grasp how much trouble Meta is in By David Meyer

Half a year ago, I wrote about how Meta had—contrary to reports—not threatened to leave Europe because of its strong privacy laws, but had rather explained to Wall Street that it would soon have no choice. Well, it’s all happening again. On Friday, Bloomberg reported (in a since-revised piece) that the Facebook and Instagram proprietor had “reiterated its threat” to yank those services from the EU if there isn’t a new transatlantic data-sharing agreement. 31-7-2022 Mark Zuckerberg taking the first step toward turning Facebook into Yahoo 2.0? By Therese PolettiFollow

By putting the algorithm in charge of Facebook to mimic TikTok, its totalitarian leader endangers the lifeblood of Meta and may be risking the type of downward spiral that has already seen popular Silicon Valley web portals fall apart

>www, internet, metaverse, Matthew Ball 16-7-2022 John Thornhill reviews Matthew Ball “The Metaverse”

> social media, addiction, tiktok 7-2022 TikTok is Slowly Destroying a New Generation – It’s digital crack cocaine for kids – by Isaiah McCall 9-7-2022 The all-conquering quaver – TikTok’s rivals are nervous. Governments are suspicious – A billion users are glued to their screens 7-7-2022 Who’s afraid of TikTok? – The world’s most exciting app is also its most mistrusted 5-2022 New study identifies the most definitive signs of “TikTok addiction” – by Eric W. Dolan 9-2020 How TikTok Is Addictive – Psychological Impacts of TikTok’s Content Recommendation System

>alt currencies, crypto, digital assets, credit 25-06-2022 Crypto feels the shockwaves from its own ‘credit crisis’

www, internet, social media, democracy, epistemic 6-2022 YouTube is Dead and Something New is Replacing It – It’s the next Myspace – by Isaiah McCall

If I published this article as a video on YouTube it would have been demonetized. The title alone would be enough to set off YouTube’s algorithm that scours videos for anything too “controversial.” I’m not even trying to be controversial. I’m stating a fact. YouTube is dying. And it could very well become the next Myspace by 2030. …”… read article at source

> internet – big tech – social media – metaverse -web3 5-2022 AFTER BABEL: Why the past 10 years of American life have been uniquely stupid – by Jonathan Haidt

It’s not just a phase. It is a metaphor for what some forms of social media have done to nearly all of the groups and institutions most important to the country’s future—and to us as a people. How did this happen? And what does it portend for American life?

The high point of techno-democratic optimism was arguably 2011, a year that began with the Arab Spring and ended with the global Occupy movement. That is also when Google Translate became available on virtually all smartphones, so you could say that 2011 was the year that humanity rebuilt the Tower of Babel. We were closer than we had ever been to being “one people,” and we had effectively overcome the curse of division by language. For techno-democratic optimists, it seemed to be only the beginning of what humanity could do.

In February 2012, as he prepared to take Facebook public, Mark Zuckerberg reflected on those extraordinary times and set forth his plans. “Today, our society has reached another tipping point,” he wrote in a letter to investors. Facebook hoped “to rewire the way people spread and consume information.” By giving them “the power to share,” it would help them to “once again transform many of our core institutions and industries.”

In the 10 years since then, Zuckerberg did exactly what he said he would do. He did rewire the way we spread and consume information; he did transform our institutions, and he pushed us past the tipping point. It has not worked out as he expected. …”… read whole article here › 2022/04/18 Haidt on the seemingly irreparable brokenness of American life — Although he offers solutions to the problem, since the Internet is here to stay, he actually sees things getting worse, not better, for his … 5-2022 How Harmful Is Social Media? There’s a general sense that it’s bad for society—which may be right. But studies offer surprisingly few easy answers. By Gideon Lewis-Kraus 5 May 2022 — In “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid,” … compares American society today to the Biblical story of Babel. 15 -5- 2022  What Does a Greek Myth and an Old Testament Story Have to Do with America’s Political Divide? When we are always right and above reproach, and they are always wrong and detestable, we forfeit the all-important capacity to look at ourselves critically. FRANK FEARMAY — In his Why the Last 10 Years Have Been Uniquely Stupid, Haidt writes: “The story of Babel is the best metaphor I have found for what has …”… 23 Apr 2022 —Jonathan Haidt | The Glenn Beck Podcast – Audacy  It’s the subject of Haidt’s recent article for the Atlantic, “After Babel: Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid. 25 Apr 2022 — Shapiro: Social media has become our Tower of Babel … internet as a modern Tower of Babel in an Atlantic magazine essay, “Why the Last 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid.”. 19-5-2022 Facebook’s slide into dystopia – Zuckerberg’s metaverse strategy isn’t working – by David Auerbach

…”…Ten years ago it was different. A general sense of bonhomie and celebration reigned. Discussion was polite; when there was disagreement, it petered out into acceptance of differences. More than anything, there wasn’t any particular impression that Facebook was looking over our shoulders at the discussion. And there wasn’t any particular sentiment that discussion mattered. We were sitting around a water cooler, shooting the shit, talking about politics and society as we would about baseball. Today, there is the incessant sense that every discussion counts, the insecure paranoia that any deviation from the right moral path is just a step down the slippery slope toward fascism — or communism, take your pick

Is Facebook responsible for this evolution? Yes and no. Facebook the company is only partly responsible, but Facebook the service absolutely is. The heightened tone of political discourse since Brexit and Trump’s election has put the fear of god into elites and hoi polloi alike, every side convinced they are losing ground to forces with unchecked power. The Trump years became a nonstop doomscroll of panic in every direction at once. A brief glance at the other side was no better: evil corporations and Congress were hamstringing Trump’s attempts to clean the swamp, whether it was Google, George Soros, or Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

And yet it is Facebook that has done more than any person or company — except possibly Twitter — to produce this outcome. The story begins with FarmVille.

In the beginning, Facebook lacked a clear revenue model. Computers could learn what Amazon users wanted to buy and what Google search users were interested in, but it was hard for them to figure out what Facebook users wanted because most of the time they were just talking, and computers do not understand human speech well.

FarmVille (and its clones CityVille, CastleVille, etc.) changed this. Zynga’s addictive game hooked players into paying money to keep their crops from drying up and animals from dying, and rewarded them for advertising the game to their Facebook friends, further spreading the gospel of FarmVille. The model did not make users happy. It made them miserable, as they were always playing catch-up to keep their farm alive. Yet people continued playing. The game was free to play, but you had to pay to win.

Facebook made a remarkable portion of their revenue from Zynga’s offerings alone. By 2013, the FarmVille model had more or less burnt itself out, as there were too few who were willing to go along with its exploitative gameplay model past a certain point. The lesson, however, remained: The attention and engagement of Facebook users needed to be focused on more lucrative pastimes than merely commenting on each other’s status updates.

In the subsequent years, Facebook went through several more iterations of seeking the most viral content, all of which drew users away from the original, unprofitable model of engaging with friends and toward models of clicking, liking, sharing, and above all reacting. FarmVille had made people feel urgent and important, if only to an imaginary digital farm. There were other ways to provoke those emotions. The mid-2010s saw an explosion of clickbait in all its forms, with countless outlets on the Left and Right spitting out outrage article after outrage article in order to gain the most shares and clicks. Viral content took other forms: Buzzfeed‘s listicles, a silly dress that looked blue to some people and gold to others, and personality tests of every stripe. Engaging with and sharing this content replaced much of what Facebook had been, and the company benefited greatly, because it use this content to sell ads.

So when Facebook, reeling from the increased toxicity of rabidly angry content being spread across its platform, started de-ranking news articles and links in general starting in 2017 and 2018, it wasn’t clear what was going to fill the gap. The supposed goal was to restore civility and interpersonal connections, like what Facebook used to be. The problem was, what Facebook used to be still didn’t pay. So Facebook entered an era of genuine uncertainty, first claiming that they were going to emphasise encrypted, private communications, toying with a cryptocurrency that never took off, and finally settling on a nebulous metaverse strategy that Mark Zuckerberg is currently betting the company on.

But where did that leave Facebook users? The past did not simply disappear. Years of clicking, clickbait, and anger have quite visibly melted the minds of many people whom I knew to have been brilliant independent thinkers, but who now hop on the agreed-upon issue or outrage of the day and pontificate using received ideas that would put Bouvard and Pecuchet to shame. I was hardly immune to this tendency, prone to mindlessly Liking or forwarding something that happened to prick my dopamine receptors.

The 2010s sorted us all into our like-minded bubbles, and if everyone agrees on something within a bubble, then those people must be experts to have such uniformity of agreement. “I believe in science!” “MAGA!” “Masks4All!” Even in the absence of clickbait, hashtags and slogans now take their place, serving the same viral purpose that outrage bait and hate-clicks once did.

This is where Facebook is today. Their pursuit of engagement and attention spun far beyond what they had even intended, until they were left with an audience that had gone beyond being dumbed down into dumbing itself down. …”…

more by David Auerbach – How the elites lost the Twitter warThe metaverse will steal your identity 14-5-2022 The week that shook crypto – Scott Chipolina, Katie Martin – FT 5-2020 14-5-2022 Crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried: ‘I got involved with no clue…” 10-5-2022 Elon Musk says he’s ‘very much on the same page’ as the EU on social media laws – ‘Anything that my companies can do that would be beneficial to Europe, we want to do that’ – By Adi Robertson

Musk appeared in a short video alongside EU Commissioner Thierry Breton to confirm his support for the DSA, which — among other things — requires large platforms to police illegal content and assess the risk of harm their services pose, including from disinformation. … Both are highly concerned with transparency, for instance: Musk has suggested making Twitter’s recommendation algorithms “open source,” while the DSA would require large platforms to explain their algorithms to the EU. Similarly, the DSA asks platforms to assess the risk of harm that bots and fake accounts pose, while Musk has pledged to “authenticate all humans” on Twitter despite concerns from some users who operate anonymously for safety reasons. And while it’s not mentioned in this video, the separate Digital Markets Act (DMA) strikes at practices like Apple attaching a 30 percent charge to App Store purchases, something Musk has dubbed a “de facto global tax on the internet.” 7-5-2022 Facebook’s retirement plan – What happens when the world’s biggest social network becomes its most doddery?

…”The social network, which began as a way for oversexed Harvard undergraduates to rate each other’s looks, is now seen by youngsters “as a place for people in their 40s and 50s”, in the words of one leaked internal memo. Investors consider Facebook unfashionable, too: its parent company, Meta, has lost 35% of its market value this year, including a plunge of $232bn in February, the biggest one-day drop in stockmarket history.

Read more from Schumpeter: 7-5-2022 Elon Musk’s takeover financing deal could clip Twitter’s wings – The Tesla tycoon’s complex bid for the social media platform will load the tech firm with debt – by Dan Milmo 23-4-2022 Consensus Mechanisms in Traditional Finance and Decentralized Finance – Maroon Macro

In Issue #36 of Monetary Mechanics, I introduced the idea that blockchain-based finance (i.e. decentralized finance a.k.a. DeFi) is a fundamental improvement in the accounting of economic transactions that facilitates the expression of a whole series of novel financial functions. This expansion in financial functions will undoubtedly be commensurate with the historic explosions in the volume and variety of economic activity that are associated with the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and the post-WWII economic boom.

In this issue of Monetary Mechanics, I am going to focus on the common problems that both traditional finance and decentralized finance try to solve, as well as the different methods that each financial system uses to try to solve these common problems, in order to further flesh out the aforementioned idea. On the surface, it seems that the two financial systems have their own unique concerns, challenges, and jargons. At heart, however, the two financial systems actually attempt to solve the same problem – establishing and maintaining trust in economic systems. …”… 14-3-2022 EU vote on bitcoin mining ban could ‘completely destabilise’ cryptocurrency – Crypto industry figures describe proposed ban as ‘ extraordinarily concerning’ by Anthony Cuthbertson 12-3-2022 Facebook Libra: the inside story of how the company’s cryptocurrency dream died by Hannah Murphy, Kiran Stacey

>crypto, invesrment, generation 18-2-2022 Low Millennial financial well-being drives crypto adoption: Report – Millennials are most likely to seek alternative financial services and assets such as crypto, and younger generations are hopping on to the bandwagon leading researchers to expect a crypto boom in 2022 – by Brian Newar

…”…A report titled The State of Consumer Banking & Payments by Morning Consult in January found that Millennials are adopting new technologies to help them make financial decisions at a higher rate than any other generation…”… 

>www, internet, metaverse 15-2-2022 Marketers are arriving in the metaverse. Now what? – Marketers’ invasion of metarverse – touted as the next big thing in digital marketing – has begun. There’s still lots to be done to realize a true metaverse ecosystem, but some brands are moving in fast – by Tasmayee Laha Roy 4-2-2022 Bring on the metaverse! How Belle depicts the future as a psychedelic wonderland – Mamoru Hosoda’s new anime presents an enchanting alternative reality, in contrast to Hollywood’s usual terrifying portrayals of virtual life – by Steve Rose

Fears about our digital future were not assuaged last October when Mark Zuckerberg released a video trailing the delights of “the metaverse”. The Facebook supremo’s awkward presentation style made it feel like an AI-generated missive from beyond the uncanny valley. Plus, many felt there was something pretty dystopian about an immersive new online world controlled by a corporation with a track record of misinformation spreadingdata gathering and disseminating harmful body images….”…

>big tech, innovation, technoloy 10-2-2022 Techno-optimism and the rule-of-threes: why the world will soon enter an era of mass flourishing – Historically, periods of mass flourishing are underpinned by technological revolutions. Currently, we are undergoing a technological revolution unlike anything the world has ever seen – by Mark Mills

KEY TAKEAWAYS: Maturing technologies in the realms of information, machines, and materials are paving the way toward an explosion in human progress and productivity. In this excerpt from the book The Cloud Revolution, Mark Mills describes how “overnight success” stories like the iPhone are actually built upon previous technologies, which themselves often took decades to develop. Ultimately, technological revolutions of the kind we are now experiencing bring greater per capita wealth, improved health and well-being, and more conveniences and leisure.

>big tech, www, internet, energy 31-1-2022 Surfing the web isn’t just bad for your brain—it’s terrible for the environment – Here’s how consumers, designers, and companies can create a better Internet – by Katie-May Boyd, Caroline Jacob

Online activity has increased dramatically in the last two decades. Accelerated by the pandemic, nearly 60% of the world’s population is online, compared with only 8% in 2001. Although digital usage and accessibility will continue to rise exponentially, there remains little awareness of the hidden carbon emissions that are produced by our daily scrolling and its damaging impact on our planet

>big tech, digital currency, NFT 28-1-2022 Why I Transitioned From Being an NFT Naysayer to a Bonafide Believer – The NFT craze will no longer be referred to as a craze in the next year – by Melissa Jun Rowley

back to top 9-2-2022 What Comparisons Between Second Life and the Metaverse Miss – by Diami Virgilio

…”…Second Life has often colloquially been referred to as a metaverse, but that doesn’t mean it should be confused with what contemporary proponents of the idea have in mind. In some tellings, the metaverse represents the collection of hardware and software that makes virtual and augmented reality possible. In others, it’s a set of virtual experiences that vary in scope and scale, but that exist in a shared set of access points, not unlike Second Life.

But the scope of what Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has proposed goes beyond those definitions. Whether or not Zuckerberg is the best authority on the matter, it is his vision that has received the most attention and his name that has become most synonymous with the term metaverse. So, what precisely is that vision, and how is it similar to or different from what we’ve all heard before during various hype cycles for virtual life?

For Zuckerberg and Meta, the metaverse is a pitch for political and technical changes to the way we think of the internet itself. That requires an economic and regulatory system that is favorable to the enclosure of virtual spaces in order to create property. To this end, Zuckerberg and other metaverse evangelists have pushed the idea of Web3, a decentralized form of commodification reliant on blockchain technologies that would serve as verification of ownership, such as with nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. At present, Meta is encouraging users to freely create and share their creations in its own free basics world creation application Horizon Worlds, but it’s highly limited, suggesting that the purpose is merely to whet an appetite for a more sophisticated marketplace of user-generated worlds in Meta in the near future. Whatever the company is able to extract off the top of sales in this marketplace will presumably be bolstered by the behavioral data it can capture from gaze, voice, and gestures in immersive environments. Facebook already tracks what users respond to through scrolling, clicking, and sharing content, but in interactive VR, this could mean anything from measuring how long they stare at something to sharing data on what brand affinities their avatars suggest to mining their hand movements during intimate moments. In a recent interview with Wired, Rosedale described the picture Meta marketing materials paints as a “very, very bad outcome” for virtual worlds.

On the technical side, Meta has advocated for a common protocol or portal that links myriad virtual and actual objects. Meta is already laying the groundwork for this by acquiring a number of virtual and augmented reality companies to supplement its 2014 acquisition of virtual reality headset producer Oculus, and more closely integrating its Oculus products with Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. This allows users already familiar with or reliant on the company’s services to become associated with the metaverse before they even see the 3D version of it. But, as Second Life and others discovered, persuading users and companies to accede to a singular set of economic relations is a daunting task. Among early adopters to virtual reality, there has been a notable backlash against Facebook’s attempt to enclose and standardize virtual life, as exemplified by the hashtag #notmymetaverse.

But if Meta succeeds? That could mean a new internet, maybe even a new mutation of capitalism as we know it. The success of gaming experiences from FarmVille to Fortnite demonstrate how willing to work and pay for digital trinkets everyday people are. Barring motion sickness, the experience of entering immersive virtual worlds can be exhilarating to the point of becoming addictive. The influx of investment from people seeking to make a profit in this new space and the atomized conditions the COVID-19 pandemic has foisted on the entire world all but guarantee at least some increased enthusiasm for more integration between virtual and actual life. This could mean a further abdication of the problems of the “real” world as distracted users allow corporations to reach deeper into their personal lives. It could likewise give birth to new forms of exploitation as people’s data and even likeness can be appropriated for purposes they would find near impossible to fully understand or control.”

read whole article at or here

internet, web, metaverse, web3 8-2-2022 Zuckerberg threatens to shut down Facebook and Instagram in Europe—why – by Gavin Lucas 

“It’s been a rough start to the year for Mark Zuckerberg. First, he realized his firm is years behind on blockchain technology and joined Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) in its fight to steal Dr. Craig Wright’s intellectual property. Then Meta missed analysts’ earnings expectations leading to a 26% stock price drop and Zuckerberg losing tens of billions overnight…”…

>ALTcurrencies – commercial, crypto, bitcoin, Yanis Varoufakis 31-1-22 Former Valve economist calls Facebook’s metaverse ‘a Steam-like digital economy’ with Zuckerberg as its ‘techno-lord’Yanis Varoufakis also discussed “pay-to-earn” and the blockchain’s long-term consequences. By Ted Litchfield crypto-metaverse-web-Yanis Varoufakis

…”… I enjoyed Varoufakis’ refreshing perspective on NFTs and cryptocurrency. He combines an expert’s knowledge of their origin and the potential use of blockchain technology with an understandable and bracing contempt for their current function as speculative assets and vectors for fraud and exploitation. I particularly enjoyed his statement later in the interview that “…the idea that people must now play like robots to earn a living so as to be human in their spare time is, indeed, the apotheosis of misanthropy,” an absolutely blistering critique of the “pay-to-earn” concept currently being pushed by gaming companies like Square Enix and Ubisoft. … The entire interview is well-worth reading. Varoufakis’ discussion of his time with Valve and comments on games in particular give way to thought-provoking ruminations on the nature of our economy and exploitation. Either way, we appreciate another expert joining the chorus that the metaverse is bullshit. …”… 1-2022 Yanis Varoufakis on Crypto & the Left, and Techno-Feudalism – “Within our present oligarchic, exploitative, irrational, and inhuman world system, the rise of crypto applications will only make our society more oligarchic, more exploitative, more irrational, and more inhuman.” –

Rare is the person who could expertly comment – in a single interview! – on the rise of NFTs and their origins in the virtual worlds of gaming, the logic of the emerging regime of techno-feudalism, and the folly of El Salvador’s Bitcoin-heavy negotiating tactics with the IMF. Luckily, we have found this person in Yanis Varoufakis, the prominent economist, politician, and public intellectual, who is also former Greek finance minister. Yanis was kind enough to grant us an extensive interview, which provides a panoramic (and, at times, rather critical) view of what is going at the intersection of money, macroeconomics, and the digital. – by Evgeny Morozov

KW: CBDCs  Bitcoin  El Salvador  Techno-Feudalism  NFTs  games

>ALTcurrencies – big tech, web, metaverse 25-1-2022 I’ve seen the metaverse – and I don’t want it – The tech world has been overtaken by the seductive idea of a virtual utopia, but what’s on offer looks more like a late-capitalist technocratic nightmare – Keza MacDonald

…”… I have seen what virtual worlds can do for people. I have spent my entire adult life reporting on them, and what people do in them and the meaning that they find there. So the fact that I’m now the one standing here saying that we don’t want this, feels significant. Meta has patented technology that could track what you look at and how your body moves in virtual reality in order to target ads at you. Is that the future of video games and all the other virtual places where we spend time – to have our attention continually tracked and monetised, even more so than it is in real life? The virtual worlds of games and the early internet used to be an escape from the inequalities and injustices of the real one. To see the tendrils of big tech and social media extending towards the places that have been a refuge for me and millions of others is disturbing. I don’t trust these people with the future. The more I hear about the metaverse, the less I want to do with it.” 20-1-2022 How Facebook took over the internet in Africa – and changed everything – Western users are logging off, but across the continent the social media company is indispensable for everything from running a business to sourcing vaccines. How did it become inescapable? by Nesrine Malik 19-1-2022 Europe’s Move Against Google Analytics Is Just the Beginning – Austria’s data regulator has found that the use of Google Analytics is a breach of GDPR. In the absence of a new EU-US data deal, other countries may follow. by Matt Burgess 9-1-22 You’re Already Living in the Metaverse – Dave Chappelle is wrong. Twitter—and Instagram and Facebook and even this platform—are real life. by Antonio García Martínez 12-2021 What is Web3 and why are Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey attacking the ‘next phase of the internet’?

…”…Don’t we already have Web3? The idea of a decentralised Internet has been in the works for the last decade with the explosion of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, and there are arguably some early Web3 applications that already exist. Big tech companies are already betting big on it and even assembling Web3 teams. But we are not officially in the Web3 world.

Can Web3 be egalitarian? A decentralised and egalitarian Internet may sound far-fetched but it already appears doomed to fail. The people currently pouring in tens of billions of dollars into Web3 services are tech companies, software developers, venture capitalists and hedge funds. Meanwhile, many current blockchain networks are not equally distributed and are in the hands of venture capitalists and early adopters. Crypto company Hashed raised €175 million and venture funds Kraken Ventures Fund and Brinc have also raised millions.”  25/12/2021 Wall Street is pumped about the metaverse. But critics say it’s massively overhyped and will be a regulatory minefield – By Harry Robertson
…”Wall Street is hugely excited about the metaverse, calling it the next big theme in investing that could change the world. – But critics say the idea is hugely overhyped, and question whether virtual worlds will really take off. – Others say the whole idea is one big regulatory minefield, where platforms will have to closely monitor harassment and hate speech. “The metaverse is the talk of Wall Street, with investors desperate to jump on the trend that many think could be the future of the internet. Jefferies has said it could be the biggest disruption to human life ever seen. Meanwhile, Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood has said it’s a multitrillion dollar opportunity. But critics have warned the metaverse is getting wildly overhyped, and companies are applying the tag to any old project that involves gaming, virtual reality or non-fungible tokens. They say any metaverse will be fiendishly difficult to police, and will be one big regulatory nightmare…”… 12-2021 How Metaverse could change the way people work and live – By James Heskett

Futurist Cathy Hackl has described the Metaverse as “alternate digital realities where people work, play, and socialize.” That reminds us of the things that were promised us by futurists at the time of the development of the internet, many of which have exceeded expectations and some that have not. For example, it wasn’t so long ago that livestreaming was thought to be a luxury possible only when the capacity of the internet could be expanded to accommodate storage and uploading capabilities demanded by the new services. Now it’s commonplace; we take it for granted. …

The question here is how we can expect the Metaverse to affect productivity. Will it follow patterns associated with many new technologies—that is, disappoint us for a number of years? Or will the innovations in how we work and collaborate in the Metaverse be so profound that real (whether measured or not) gains in productivity will occur relatively soon?

This article is republished from Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. 12-2021 Big Tech poses a threat to a decentralized metaverse, according to the founder of The Sandbox – Big Tech poses a threat to the open metaverse, The Sandbox’s co-founder told The South China Morning Post. Sebastien Borget said the metaverse is about leaving the internet’s old guard behind via decentralized technologies. The Sandbox has been in the spotlight as virtual land deals accelerate. by Carla Mozée 9-1-22 You’re Already Living in the Metaverse – Dave Chappelle is wrong. Twitter—and Instagram and Facebook and even this platform—are real life. by Antonio García Martínez  22/12/2021 Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey are right to raise concerns about Web3 – They’re not buying the sales pitch

…”The next internet revolution is reportedly upon us, but two of tech’s leading luminaries won’t be in the vanguard. Tesla tycoon Elon Musk and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey have both put the brakes on the momentum around Web3, the somewhat vague vision of a decentralized internet…  Among the most prominent cynics is Stephen Diehl, a developer and blogger. Like Musk, Diehl distrusts the hype around Web3. He argues that the only problem it needs to solve is how to rationalize its existence:

At its core Web3 is a vapid marketing campaign that attempts to reframe the public’s negative associations of crypto assets into a false narrative about disruption of legacy tech company hegemony. It is a distraction in the pursuit of selling more coins and continuing the gravy train of evading securities regulation.

Who owns Web3? – While Musk questioned the very existence of Web3, Dorsey’s concerns focused on who controls it.

“You don’t own ‘Web3.’ The VCs [venture capitalists] and their LPs [limited partners] do,” he tweeted. “It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralized entity with a different label.”…”…   16/3/2021  Palantir Rising: War In The Garden Of Google   by Vincent Ventures   459 Comments   summary/excerpts

  • In the sequel to our Wintel Wars article, we offer the ultimate deep dive into the tectonic shifts happening in the tech industry, giving unparalleled context to Karp’s cryptic musings.
  • We lay out how Google and Facebook gradually created privatized versions of secretive DARPA programs, and why Palantir and Apple are leading a push for privacy as industry tensions ignite.
  • We discuss how Palantir threatens the current paradigm with software for a decentralized alternative. Europe’s GAIA-X offers significant upside potential as Palantir seeks a new European hub in Switzerland.
  • While the last decade focused on the consumer internet, the Palantir+IBM partnership is a harbinger of how the next decade will be shaped by software platforms for the industrial internet.
  • Calls for the US government to provide R&D funding for the technology sector provide an additional catalyst. These sentiments were recently echoed by In-Q-Tel employees writing for a Council on Foreign Relations publication.
Apple Ahead

This is not the story of ambitious young entrepreneurs. This is the story of how private versions of some of the most advanced defense projects ever conceived were built by a company that has sought to influence US politics, unilaterally engaged in clandestine activities, and developed its own foreign policy… all in the pursuit of creating artificial intelligence. It is a complex matrix of competing objectives, technologies, and business models that investors will need to carefully consider in order to navigate the 2020s.

This is a power struggle that will have significant consequences. The most powerful companies in the world are fighting for control over the world’s most important asset: Data. If the computer is the greatest tool mankind has ever created, then the outcome of this corporate conflict will inevitably define the future of humanity.

At the turn of the millennium, the internet was highly decentralized, relying on networks of servers connected by ISPs. By the end of the decade, much of the internet infrastructure had consolidated amongst the “big tech” companies. Their “hyperscale” cloud datacenters dwarfed the ISPs. Google and Facebook were able to leverage this grip on the infrastructure of the internet to create mass surveillance enterprises that put the Orwellian powers of programs like Total Information Awareness and LifeLog into the hands of private corporations.

wikipedia/metaverse  1/12/2021 Facebook risks meta flop, metaverse developers say  By Elizabeth Howcroft

“Facebook risks missing the point of metaverse – and a coming shift in consumers’ behaviour – if it fails to permit digital ownership, according to some of the virtual world’s pioneers…”…  19/11/2021 metaverse: how I built a virtual reality for my students – by Gary Burnett    9/2021 Metaverse Technology: Unpacking the Hype   by Jon Radoff   Building the Metaverse – There’s enormous hype surrounding the “metaverse.” This article is about understanding why — and more importantly — breaking it down to the elements so you can understand some of the specific technologies and experiences that are creating the excitement.   5/11/2021  Zuckerberg’s metaverse: Lessons from Second Life By Joe Tidy …”One resident I met was Rei.  Our avatars bumped into each other after teleporting to a seaside world modelled on a strange rundown 1960s Scottish fishing village. He told me he had been spending time in Second Life for about four months after “getting curious about all this metaverse stuff”. Rei is not a fan of Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse.  “They’ll want to control everything. But I think the people should be in charge and it should be fully open,” he told me. Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of the newly renamed company Meta, addressed these concerns when he announced his grand plans. “It’s a future that is beyond any one company. That will be made by all of us,” he said in his Facebook Connect keynote. Other large corporations, including Microsoft, Epic Games, Roblox and even Nike have announced plans to enter the metaverse in some form…”…   2/11/2021  Facebook wants to build a metaverseMicrosoft is creating something even more ambitious – Rather than ruling one metaverse, Microsoft wants its Mesh platform to be the glue that holds a multiverse of many worlds together  By Mark Wilson

“Microsoft Teams has 250 million users worldwide. And starting in 2022, they will be able to take meetings in virtual spaces, by donning virtual-reality and augmented-reality headsets.  Instead of simply streaming live video, people will be able to appear as cartoon avatars of themselves, with facial expressions expressed in real time, including smiles and frowns. And yes, they have permission—you have permission—to get as angry as your little cartoon heart desires….”…   2/11/2021  Mark Zuckerberg says he has a grand vision for the future, but he really just wants us to stay at home and spend all our time and money trapped in his virtual fantasy-land  by Paris Marx 8/10/2021  Why Zuckerberg’s ‘second realm’ is a potential $3.1tn opportunity by Sam Volkering  …”Over the last 12 months a schism has taken place…  A division between four of the most powerful and wealthiest men on the planet. On the one hand you have Branson, Bezos and Musk. All three of these world-famous billionaires have developed rocket technology to escape the confines of our measly planet.  Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX have all had their big, well publicised flights to the edge of space. On the other hand you have “the hoodied one,” Mark Zuckerberg. Instead of developing technology to leave Planet Earth, he’s working on something that could re-create it. What I mean by that is, Zuckerberg is creating a new form of internet. And it has one fundamental difference to the internet you and I use every day… You see, Zuckerberg’s re-imagining of the internet isn’t something that you simply read or browse to experience.  It’s a new sort of digital realm that you are INSIDE of. Scraps of news about this ‘second internet’ give us some idea of its scale: Way back in 2017, when the stirrings of this new breakthrough started to surface… Harvard Business Review called it a“foundational technology”, which could “create new foundations for our economic and social systems.” Forbes magazine claimed in July 2020 that this “will have massive implications for society”. Wired magazine said in January 2021 it is arguably “as big a shift… as the telephone or the internet”. I’ve been sharing tech opportunities with ambitious investors for a decade – and this has my senses tingling.  So, I recently recorded an investigation into this ground-breaking new tech. My investigation took me 132 miles across the country to the unlikeliest of places. Somewhere you would never expect a world-changing new technology to be hiding. You can  watch it here: “The New Money Secret”…”   8/2021 Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse already sucks – Facebook’s Metaverse ambitions reveal an alarming lack of imagination and a less alarming love of tech buzzwords   by Gian M. Volpicelli   30/7/2021  Mark Zuckerberg wants to turn Facebook into a ‘metaverse company’ – what does that mean?

….”The term “metaverse” is used to describe the vision whereby the internet will evolve into a virtual world. The idea was first conceptualised in 1992 by the American novelist Neal Stephenson in his science fiction classic, Snow Crash. It foresees the internet as a 3D virtual living space, where individuals dip in and out, interacting with one another in real time.

Many in Silicon Valley still view the metaverse as the future. For example, Google is heavily invested in augmented reality (AR), which is where you use technology to look at the real world but with digital 3D objects layered on top. And rumours swirl that Apple is building products like glasses for experiencing virtual spaces.

But Facebook appears the most committed of all to this new vision. In his quest to turn Facebook into a metaverse company, Zuckerberg is seeking to build a system where people move between virtual reality (VR), AR and even 2D devices, using realistic avatars of themselves where appropriate. Here they will work, socialise, share things and have other experiences, while still probably using the internet for some tasks such as searches which are similar to how we use it now….”… 29/7/2021 The Metaverse’s Emerging Economics – The coming media-internet – aka the metaverse – will change how economic value is created and distributed, says our columnist.  Lex Solokin …

”In an interview with the Verge, he tells us of Facebook’s plans to contribute to the “metaverse” – a development rooted in the company’s Oculus virtual reality division, but also connected to the DNA of social networks and identity. (For prior reading, see our essay here, interview with Outlier Ventures here or their full thesis, and Matthew Ball’s essays here.) …There is no discussion of the internet of value, of blockchain-based money and software. Given that Libra/Diem ended up as a collateralized USD bank money, perhaps deeper fintech and DeFi (decentralized finance) metaverse platforms are still under wraps. Or perhaps that is something for those other, non-Facebook metaverse participants to bring to the table. Zuck says this global community must be open-source and interoperable, connected to thousands of third-party actors, and it can and will not be built by a single player alone. It is multiplayer by default …For the cryptonauts out there, the interesting bits are the infrastructure plumbing. Something has to compute all that’s in the digital world. Something else has to deliver permissionless identity, financial services and exchange. Something else has to store all the data and serve it up to a billion people and a trillion robots. If you understand Ethereum, you understand where all this is going from an economic perspective. …For Facebook, however, it is about the mushy human psyche at scale – connected into tribes through social networking and pictures of sunsets and evening dinners. In that slice of the world, the company mediates identity through logins, battles the monsters of misinformation with more than 30,000 staff and who knows how many advanced machine learning algorithms, and sells the Oculus hardware bundled with modern entertainment experiences. If Facebook lives on a digital, decentralized blockchain in the future – likely not of its own making – then the least it can do is continue to own distribution and the human dopamine receptors. To advocates of universal basic income (UBI) like Andrew Yang, robots will automate both blue collar and white collar work, such that only the worst, most menial, frustrating and low-value emotional work remains. People will simply go nuts. Social inequality will continue to rise as capital accrues to robot owners (this part is pretty true), and the government will have no other path but to print out UBI checks. BRRRR! This is certainly the direction we are heading in.

What’s a bit more novel is to notice how the alternative to work is beginning to form. The venture capital bingo euphemism for making money in virtual worlds is called “the creator economy.” The brightest example of virtual worlds crashing through the legacy physical one is Axie Infinity, a crypto based Pokemon-like video game. Since the end of last year, if you lived in the Philippines, or likely anywhere else in the world, your local minimum wage paid you less than playing Axie. …The formula is pretty clear – a 10,000 generative print of digital avatars that look good on a Twitter profile, cost ETH (+4.28%) 0.1 to mint, and very quickly appreciates in value, leading to a speculative run-up. Everyone is buying the signal of participation in the non-fungible token game. In fact, it is the price of admission. A collective game to build social capital and credibility in the metaverse is well underway. Of course, Facebook wants in. It digitizes, mechanizes and weaponizes our connection to each other.” How Axie Infinity Creates Work in the Metaverse | Leah Callon-ButlerThe 5 NFT Trends to Watch | Lex Sokolin  29/7/2021  IMF intends to ‘ramp up’ digital currency monitoring – The fund will greatly expand to cover all aspects of digital currency while also working with related financial institutions. by Max Moeller 22/7/2021  MARK IN THE METAVERSE – Facebook’s CEO on why the social network is becoming ‘a metaverse company   By Casey Newton …”The metaverse is having a moment. Coined in Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel, the term refers to a convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared online space. Earlier this month, The New York Times explored how companies and products including Epic Games’ FortniteRoblox, and even Animal Crossing: New Horizons increasingly had metaverse-like elements. (Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has been discussing his desire to contribute to a metaverse for many months now.)  In January 2020, an influential essay by the venture capitalist Matthew Ball set out to identify key characteristics of a metaverse. Among them: it has to span the physical and virtual worlds; contain a fully fledged economy; and offer “unprecedented interoperability” — users have to be able to take their avatars and goods from one place in the metaverse to another, no matter who runs that particular part of it. Critically, no one company will run the metaverse — it will be an “embodied internet,” Zuckerberg said, operated by many different players in a decentralized way. …”…

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blockchain, crypto, digital currency, NFT  26-1-2022 Facebook’s Libra is still dead — Diem to be sold off for spare parts
26th January 2022 – by David Gerard 1-2022 Yanis Varoufakis on Crypto & the Left, and Techno-Feudalism – “Within our present oligarchic, exploitative, irrational, and inhuman world system, the rise of crypto applications will only make our society more oligarchic, more exploitative, more irrational, and more inhuman.” –

Rare is the person who could expertly comment – in a single interview! – on the rise of NFTs and their origins in the virtual worlds of gaming, the logic of the emerging regime of techno-feudalism, and the folly of El Salvador’s Bitcoin-heavy negotiating tactics with the IMF. Luckily, we have found this person in Yanis Varoufakis, the prominent economist, politician, and public intellectual, who is also former Greek finance minister. Yanis was kind enough to grant us an extensive interview, which provides a panoramic (and, at times, rather critical) view of what is going at the intersection of money, macroeconomics, and the digital. – by Evgeny Morozov

KW: CBDCs  Bitcoin  El Salvador  Techno-Feudalism  NFTs  games 1-2022 The race to dominate the DeFi ecosystem is on – Why Ethereum is losing market share  15-1-2022  Will blockchain fulfil its democratic promise or will it become a tool of big tech? by John Naughton 11-2021 The World Ahead 2022 – A three-way fight to shape the future of digital finance has begun – Regulators must preserve its potential while guarding against risk – by Rachana Shanbhogue  17/9/2021  Some early crypto enthusiasts have bailed on the sector, saying the movement has bought into hype without understanding the technology’s limits   3/8/2021 The Monetary System of the Future – The monetary system created by ruling elites, cherished by oligarchs and scorned by the rest of us can’t be fixed. Attempting to do so would only recreate some altered version of the status quo. Instead, we can create something new entirely.   By Brian Nibley

…”Rebuilding the system is the third option and the one we’d most like to see the world shift toward.   The monetary system of tomorrow could be based on a deflationary bitcoin standard rather than an inflationary fiat standard. Workers could see their purchasing power increase over time as a result. Other cryptocurrencies could be allowed to compete freely on the market. Central banks would lose their monopoly on currency creation. The monetary system of tomorrow could empower people to become their own banks and reduce or eliminate governmental influence over personal finances. Some economists have asserted that doing so could be key to creating a sound money standard. Famed Austrian economist and 1974 Nobel Laureate Fredrick Hayek once said:

“I don’t believe we shall ever have good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of the government, that is, we can’t take them violently out of the hands of the government, all we can do is by some sly roundabout way, introduce something that they can’t stop.”

Cryptocurrencies seem to fit that bill quite well. …”…   15/7/ 2021 — My wild ride into the crypto world. How I bought a virtual horse, raced him, and got a first-hand look at the delights and dangers of NFTs.  Frank Partnoy

Basel Legits Crypto  10/6/2021  Basel Committee consults on prudential treatment of cryptoasset exposures  11/6/2021  Global banking regulator urges toughest capital rules for crypto  27/5/2021  Diem plans to replace USD stablecoin with gov digital dollar – Christian Catalini, the chief economist of Diem (formerly Libra) said that the recently announced Diem USD stablecoin is only intended as an interim step until the U.S. Federal Reserve issues a central bank digital currency (CBDC) or digital dollar.  18/5/2021 I’ve reported on bitcoin for years. Here’s the harsh truth about crypto – The ultimate crypto buyer is likely to be one of the greater fools on Robinhood or Reddit, all of which are basically just updated versions of the Yahoo Finance message boards, which loved Overstock 17 profitless years ago by Tim Mullaney

… “Really, about the only thing you can do more or less easily with bitcoin is trade it. The ultimate buyer is likely to be one of the greater fools on Robinhood or Reddit, all of which are basically just updated versions of the Yahoo Finance message boards, which loved Overstock 17 profitless years ago. And they, in many cases, want bitcoin partly because Elon Musk gave it an aura of the new.  So, you say you want a revolution? Well, you know, you got to tell me what your revolutionary technology does in the real world. Amusing Elon doesn’t count. For crypto, t’aint much.”

crypto currency wars? 13/5/2021  facebook-backed-diem-partners-with-silvergate-bank-to-issue-us-dollar-stablecoin – by Nikhilesh De 

… “Diem, formerly known as Libra, will also move its operations out of Switzerland and withdraw its application for a Swiss Financial Markets Authority license, the press release said.

“We are committed to a payment system that is safe for consumers and businesses, makes payments faster and cheaper, and takes advantage of blockchain technology to bring the benefits of the financial system to more people around the world. We look forward to working with Silvergate to realize this shared vision,” Diem CEO Stuart Levey said in a statement.

The move represents a sharp departure from Diem’s origins as the Libra Association, which was announced by Facebook in the summer of 2019 and formally created as a partnership with buy-in from a host of different companies in Switzerland that fall. Diem hoped to launch a FINMA-approved product as recently as this past December.

The then-Libra Association abandoned the original stablecoin vision – as a token backed by a basket composed of different fiat currencies – after regulatory pushback from policymakers worldwide, instead choosing to launch a set of tokens, each backed by a single fiat currency.  The dollar stablecoin will be the first pilot project to launch, CNBC reported last month.”

ukuncensored 12/5/2021  Speaking of hustles by Kit Winder

…”It reminds me of a piece I read by Tim Harford, in which he details how a magician giving a TED talk in 2013 brought someone on stage, told them he was going to pickpocket them, and proceeded to take their watch wallet and anything else they had, while just distracting their mind. Even after saying “I’m going to steal your watch”, he managed to trick the victim’s brain into momentarily concentrating on something else, so that he could steal his watch.

This is what Dogecoin feels like. Elon Musk is hustling people. Some realise, some don’t. Then he says that’s what he’s doing and everyone must at this point be aware that it’s a hustle, it’s not real. But he carries on hustling and people carry on being hustled, worrying about other things like maybe, the value of the dollar or whether their energy bills are going to go up after the ESG-based attack on the Colonial pipeline. I don’t know, it’s all a bit weird. There is a great video though …” …

Kit Winder’s article is also about ESG’s – read it here  7/5/2021  CRYPTOCURRENCY HAS ‘NO INTRINSIC VALUE  SAYS BAILEY –  It comes as bitcoin and dogecoin investors recently saw prices skyrocket  –   The governor of the Bank of England has said that cryptocurrencies have “no intrinsic value” and people who invest in them should be “prepared to lose all [their] money”. Andrew Bailey, who has been in control of the bank since March 2020, made the comments as part of a press conference where he was asked about the future of cryptocurrency. “They have no intrinsic value. That doesn’t mean to say people don’t put value on them, because they can have extrinsic value. But they have no intrinsic value,” Bailey said. “I’m going to say this very bluntly again,” he continued, “buy them only if you’re prepared to lose all your money.”   5/5/2021 Wealth Inequality in Cryptocurrencies – Jeremy Neiman

FT 5/2021  bitcoin bubble too good to miss? – Eva Szala

FT 4/2021  bitcoin boom fuels fight over money creation – Brendan Greely  2/5/2021  Diem’s chief economist breaks down its plan for a central bank-centric stablecoin network  by Aislinn Keely 

The Diem Association’s top economist provided new insight into how it’s redesigning its stablecoin project and its plans to monetize it. Head economist Christian Catalini explained that the Diem stablecoin is intended to be a stand-in for CBDCs. Diem will then be monetized as a payments infrastructure wherein CBDCs can integrate with the protocol.   2/5/2021   Amazon hires ex-FCA officials ahead of rumoured cryptocurrency launch – The US technology company has grown its team of financial regulation experts over the past year –  by Hannah Boland

Amazon is poised to seize upon the recent surge in interest in cryptocurrencies, bringing in a team of British financial regulation experts amid speculation it is on the brink of launching its own digital token….   17/4/2021  You can’t talk about blockchain and not bring up CBDCs and stablecoins  –  Economies are currently experiencing the development of brand new ideas around CBDCs, stablecoins or private digital currencies.    by  Steve Billinghurst

There is continued significant interest in central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, at this time — not from the blockchain and crypto community but actually from a core group of some of the most influential central banks, including the Bank of England, the Swiss National Bank, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of Canada, the Swedish Riksbank and the Bank of International Settlements.

Related: Did CBDCs affect the crypto space in 2020, and what’s next in 2021? Experts answer

The confirmation in late 2020 from the United Kingdom’s chancellor of the exchequer (the head of Her Majesty’s Treasury), states that the United Kingdom will draft regulations for private stablecoins and research CBDCs, demonstrating the momentum that this topic currently has. China has undoubtedly emerged as a leader in its development of CBDCs, having recently proposed that there be a global set of rules that addresses issues such as interoperability between jurisdictions.

Related: How the digital yuan stablecoin impacts crypto in China: Experts answer  20/4/2021  Bitcoin’s Catalyst: Dogecoin Is The Real Threat To The USD – by Vincent Ventures 

Valued more than Barclays, Dogecoin is making a mockery of the USD-backed global financial system. It’s a joke. Dogecoin reflects the dangerous nihilism of Gen Z. –  Dogecoin’s ‘parody of money’ is enough to make bitcoin look like a serious and disruptive financial innovation, galvanizing the view that Bitcoin can become a powerful reserve asset. – The recent sell-off is a measure of ‘regulation paranoia’ among bitcoin investors. These fears are overblown, particularly in the context of the IMF’s laissez-faire views on cryptocurrency.

To be sure, dogecoin is little more than an internet joke, which is why you can’t trade it on the Winklevoss-backed Gemini. This precisely the point. An entire generation of investors is speculating on their own meme currency, which is essentially a parody of money. Behind dogecoin is a rebelliously nihilistic and perhaps dangerous idea that meme money is no more real than actual currency. It may be a joke, but it’s a powerful one.

…because the FinTech revolution questions the two forms of money that we just discussed, coins and commercial bank deposit. And it questions the role of the state in providing money.

We are at a historic turning point. You–young or not so young–doesn’t matter. But bold entrepreneurs gathered here today, You are not just inventing new services. You are reinventing the history of money. You drawing a completely new future actually, and we are all in the process of adapting.

A new wind is blowing and it is that of digitalization… …and this is key: Money itself is changing. We expect it to become more convenient, more user friendly. Perhaps even less serious-looking. We expect it to be integrated with social media, readily available for online. And person-to-person use including micro payments. And of course we expect it to be cheap, safe, protected against criminals and prying eyes.

So what role will remain for cash in this digital world… …even cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, etheruem, and ripple are vying for a spot in the cashless world, constantly reinventing themselves in the hope of offering more stable value and quicker and cheaper settlement.                  -Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, 11/25/2018

Every buyer of dogecoin is (perhaps unwittingly) making a statement about the legitimacy of the Bretton Woods world order, something we have discussed at length previously. The zoomer generation is having a good laugh while exploring the intersection of central banking and technological disruption.  2020  The stablecoin printing press that’s just getting warmed up By Stephen McKeon, Derek Schloss

Earlier this year, Collab+Currency established a position in LUNA, the token backing the Terra ecosystem of stablecoins. We are long term holders who are bullish on stablecoins generally and Terra specifically. In this article we will abstract from the technical complexities (which can be found here and here) to focus on an overview of the market for stablecoins, why we’re excited about Terra’s approach, and what the future holds. Bank of England to consider digital money plan   5/4/2021   Here are two other great forms of cryptocurrency that are currently performing well and are worth looking at when you’re considering investing in cryptocurrency.

Cardano –  This is a form of cryptocurrency that many people aren’t actually aware of despite how good it actually is. It was created and backed by plenty of research with an in-depth approach by engineers, mathematicians, and cryptography experts. Funnily enough, Cardano was actually co-founded by Charles Hoskinson, one of the five initial founding members of the booming cryptocurrency Ethereum.  He became upset and disheartened when he saw the direction that Ethereum was taking so he decided to leave and that was when Cardano was created. Essentially, people like Cardano because it is backed so heavily by experience, research and scientific formulas and is an attractive currenct to invest in. It is said that the in-depth research is the reason behind its rapid success that is essentially the backbone of the entire cryptocurrency. In years to come, Cardano is definitely a cryptocurrency to look out for.

Bitcoin Cash –  One to keep in mind and to consider for your potential crypto portfolio is Bitcoin Cash. It was one of the first on the scene and also one of the most successful hard forks of Bitcoin and still remains this up to the current day. Bitcoin Cash has played a significant part in the history of altcoins and is one of the main reasons they are still successful.  In the world of cryptocurrency, a fork takes place when debates and arguments commence between the miners and developers and both sides are looking for an agreed outcome that cannot always be reached. In these circumstances a digital currency is then split, the original chain remains true to its original code and the new chain then begins life as a new version of the prior coin, complete with changes to its code.   12/2020   You can’t have your cryptocurrency and spend it too (without somebody noticing) – Are crypto-assets going mainstream or staying in the virtual shadows? Common sense dictates that increased and transparent regulation is inevitable –  by Tyler Cowen  – The more utopian scenarios for crypto, whether proponents realise it or not, rely on the notion that crypto remains simultaneously fringe and mainstream. That will be a hard trick to pull off.   2017  Cryptocurrency Might be a Path to Authoritarianism – Extreme libertarians built blockchain to decentralize government and corporate power. It could consolidate their control instead.  by Ian Bogost, 

The Social Life of Bitcoin  2017  Nigel Dodd – LSE  –  Abstract  – 

This paper challenges the notion that Bitcoin is ‘trust-free’ money by highlighting the social practices, organizational structures and utopian ambitions that sustain it. At the paper’s heart is the paradox that if Bitcoin succeeds in its own terms as an ideology, it will fail in practical terms as a form of money. The main reason for this is that the new currency is premised on the idea of money as a ‘thing’ that must be abstracted from social life in order for to be protected from manipulation by bank intermediaries and political authorities. The image is of a fully mechanized currency that operates over and above social life.

In practice, however, the currency has generated a thriving community around its political ideals, relies on a high degree of social organization in order to be produced, has a discernible social structure, and is characterized by asymmetries of wealth and power that not dissimilar from the mainstream financial system. Unwittingly, then, Bitcoin serves as a powerful demonstration of the relational character of money.  –  read or download article here

The Social Life of Bitcoin 2017  Nigel Dodd  LSE  – Abstract  deutsch  (google &caw transl) 

Dieses Papier stellt die Vorstellung in Frage, dass Bitcoin „vertrauensfreies“ Geld ist, indem es die unterstützenden soziale Praktiken, Organisationsstrukturen und utopische Ambitionen hervorhebt.

Im Mittelpunkt dieses Papiers steht das Paradoxon, dass Bitcoin, um als Ideologie erfolgreich zu sein es in der Praxis als eine Form des Geldes zum scheitern verurteilt isr. Der Hauptgrund dafür ist, dass Bitcoin’s Währung auf der Idee vom Geld als einem „Ding“ basiert , ein Idee die abstrahiert vom soziales Leben um vor dessen Manipulationen durch Bank- und Staats-Intermediäre geschützt zu sein. Es ist eine vollständig mechanisierte Währung, die über dem sozialen Leben und operiert.

In der Praxis hat die Bitcoin jedoch eine florierende Gemeinschaft hervorgebracht Um seine politischen Ideale zu verwirklichen, ist ein hohes Maß an sozialer Organisation erforderlich um die Wahrung zu produzieren, hat eine erkennbare soziale Struktur und ist gekennzeichnet durch Asymmetrien von Wohlstand und Macht, die sich nicht vom Mainstream-Finanzsystem unterscheiden. Unbeabsichtigt dient Bitcoin insofern als ein starke Demonstration des relationalen Charakters von Geld.  –   hier 2019 Artikel bei Mittelweg lesen oder runterladen   2019  Facebook’s Libra: Does the World Need Frictionless Money?   by Michael Pettis  –  Facebook seems to think its new digital currency Libra will be used mainly for purchasing goods and services and for current account transactions. But it will probably be used mainly for capital account transactions. Do we really want to eliminate frictional costs on the capital account?    2019   A Chinese digital currency is the real threat, not Facebook’s Libra   10/2019   Payments giants abandon Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency      10/2019  How the wheels came off Facebook’s Libra project   2/2021   k/news/amazon-set-to-launch-its-own-bitcoin-rival    10/2019  Royal Mint unveils solid gold debit card – but is it worth the £18,750 price tag?   3/2020  MMT, Crypto and the New Nature of Money    by Sofia Blikstad

It is ironic that quantitative easing is reinforcing Bitcoin when it was born in opposition to a policy of scarcity, says Arcane Research’s Sofia Blikstad.

“Since leaving the gold standard, money has essentially been backed by faith in the issuing government. This would be the preface to now-fashionable Modern Monetary Theory. No longer having to fear the shortage of gold, governments are free to print the money needed to fully employ their available resources. In other words, MMT views currency as a public good rather than a medium of exchange.”   2019   Bitcoin, The Alternative to the Modern Monetary Theory

“The problem is not too much money printing, the problem is too little debasement because inflation remains very low.”  So argued Nouriel Roubini, a left leaning economist who effectively in one sentence has somewhat summarized a new Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) that is gaining traction among the Davos men.

“The experience with the money printing of the central banks in the past decade has led to a rethinking for many observers. Although central banks have pumped trillions of dollars into the markets and have created new debt for states, companies and households, inflation is slowing down and interest rates are still at extremely low levels. … Not a few experts demand a general inventory of economic theories of money in the face of paradoxical conditions. The printing of money by the central banks and debt of the states is no longer a danger in this brave new world, but rather a promise. The new formula that combines both is MMT. That stands for Modern Monetary Theory.”    ….  Bitcoin, cryptos, and the idea of free market money more generally where everyone is free to issue a currency and to manage it, are an alternative to this command economy because the value of money here is not implemented by the force of taxation, fines, or licensing requirements, but by the free choice of potentially billions of actors around the globe who by the regard of their own interest judge every second whether the service cryptos provide is useful to them or otherwise.    …   So within the very limited constraints of the current financial system, we have no interest in taking any position regarding MTT. But if the view is enlarged to include potential alternatives, it appears somewhat clear that MTT – or whatever other centrally commanded fiat system – will go wrong and as that is the case, then it appears somewhat clear that cryptos are at least an insurance which guarantees freedom for there is no abstraction here beyond: let it be 21 million coins. scroll down  4/2020   Bitcoin’s luster grows  Bitcoin has never looked more like “digital gold” than it does now.  By Galen Moore    –    Consider: Despite the popularity of the “gold 2.0” narrative, for most of its recent life bitcoin has shown a negative correlation with the price of the yellow metal. …

… If that surprises you, it shouldn’t. Bitcoin is a risk-on asset, a venture bet on a future technology that most people in the world have never used. Unlike most such investments, bitcoin is fairly liquid. It makes sense that in times of crisis, it’s one of the first things sold to raise cash. That’s what happened in March, apparently, and bitcoin’s safe-haven narrative took a hit.” …   2/2021  Is bitcoin’s huge price rise the canary in the global coal mine?  The price of bitcoin has surpassed $50,000 for the first time, as institutional adoption makes it an increasingly mainstream asset. But could its huge price rise presage serious and fundamental changes to the global order?  by  Alex Rankine

Bitcoin’s fans love the fact that it is decentralised and supply is limited: only 21 million bitcoins will ever be created. That is attractive in “an era of extraordinarily loose monetary policy”, says Eoin Treacy of Yet in other ways it remains painfully limited. Transaction speeds are so slow that it is impractical as a way of making payments. One day engineers may solve the scalability problem and create “a much better product”. But “right now it is what we have”.    … No one knows which digital currency will ultimately be king, agrees Rana Foroohar in the Financial Times. It could be bitcoin, a competitor such as ethereum or “some yet-to-be-invented” cryptocurrency   1/2021  Bitcoin may “break down altogether”, according to BIS general manager Agustin Carstens, who has also poured cold water on stablecoin projects such as the Facebook-led Diem and argued that if digital currencies are needed they should be issued by central banks.  Bitcoin is “more of a speculative asset than money” that should perhaps “be seen more like a community of online gamers, who exchange real money for items that only exist in cyber space,” says Carstens in a speech on digital currencies to the Hoover Institute.     2/2021  How Institutions Will Take Crypto Mainstream –  If bitcoin is anti-establishment, what happens when the establishment joins the party?  by Eva Lawrence

We have seen significant players from the traditional finance sphere starting to recognize this paradigm shift. Morgan Stanley is considering betting on bitcoin with its $150 billion investment arm. BNY Mellon and Deutsche Bank are offering crypto custody. And JPMorgan concedes it will have to be involved in bitcoin. Banks are receiving interest from their clients, seeing the gap in their offering and not being involved is now too much of a risk.  2020   Bitcoin (BTC) Predicted by Henry Ford 100 Years Ago   3/2021   ‘Absurd’ video of bitcoin mine hooked to an oil well sparks outrage – but it’s complicated – ‘We want to accelerate away from fossil fuels. We don’t want to make fossil fuels more profitable,’ one critic told The Independent    3/2021 Do one in five Britons really now hold crypto? With interest in bitcoin surging once more, one speculator urges newcomers to ‘do their research’ –  new report suggests as many as a fifth of Britons could now hold bitcoin – up from around 3% in 2019   2020    Bitcoin’s bumpy revolution may be only just beginning    1/2020 Tesla CEO Elon Musk Blasts the One Thing That ‘Gets Crypto People Angry’

“I’m neither here nor there on Bitcoin… I thought [the Bitcoin whitepaper] was pretty clever.”  Musk says crypto supporters should acknowledge a hot button issue – that digital assets are used for illicit as well as legitimate purposes.  “This sort of gets the crypto people angry…  How Bitcoin’s vast energy use could burst its bubble  By Justin Rowlatt    Bitcoin consumes ‘more electricity than Argentina‘  By Cristina Criddle   2019   Bitcoin hailed as success by China in dramatic shift in attitude

8/3/2021   2021  ‘Digital tulip’ or new asset class? Bitcoin’s bid to go mainstream   27/2/20121   Coinbase Mafia Shows How Tight a Circle Holds Sway Over Bitcoin     By Matthew Leising 

Most of the U.S. crypto power players have links to exchange –  Bored at work, Ehrsam traded Bitcoin from Goldman’s bathroom

Coinbase Global Inc.’s filing to become a publicly-traded company provides a glimpse into the remarkably small circle of mostly men who command the incredibly lucrative digital landscape.  This U.S.-based power list starts with Brian Armstrong, the now billionaire chief executive officer of Coinbase, and his co-founder, Fred Ehrsam, who went on to create Paradigm Operations. Fellow billionaire Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz’s Chris Dixon, are among the original venture capitalists that will reap large windfalls from the direct listing of the exchange.

Even though verified users of Coinbase, the largest U.S. digital-asset exchange, jumped 34% to 43 million last year as Bitcoin more than quadrupled, control of the largest cryptocurrency remains narrow. Less than 2% of the anonymous ownership accounts that can be tracked on Bitcoin’s blockchain control 95% of the digital asset, according to researcher Flipside Crypto.

Included in the influential group of U.S. holders is Dan Morehead, who founded Pantera Capital Management in 2003 and launched the first U.S. crypto fund in 2013. Digital Currency Group founder Barry Silbert has created an empire that touches every corner of the crypto world. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss bought their first Bitcoin stake in 2012 when it traded as low as $8 and then co-founded Gemini Trust Co., the first crypto firm to be regulated by New York state as a trust.

Like many within this select circle, Ehrsam seemed perfectly poised to adopt the new digital world. He played video games professionally in high school, then studied computer science at Duke University before becoming a foreign-exchange trader at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York. Yet he grew bored at the bank and as he looked for things that interested him after work, he discovered Bitcoin through a Georgetown professor’s blog. He was instantly fascinated.

“I would literally trade Bitcoin in the bathroom on my phone at Goldman,” Ehrsam said in an interview. Bitcoin was going for about $6 at the time, compared with a record $58,000 last week. Back then, the main way to buy it was on the now bankrupt exchange Mt. Gox or through intermediaries, and Ehrsam realized there needed to be an easier way to buy and sell crypto.

After meeting Armstrong on the Bitcoin subreddit forum, they started Coinbase in 2012 out of an apartment in San Francisco. Armstrong declined to comment.

Morehead remembered the early days of Coinbase as he was creating the Pantera Bitcoin fund in 2013. He’d been an investor for a while, taking huge macro risks on things like Russian privatization and farmland in Argentina, bets with very steep downside potential but that could also pay off enormously if successful.

“I was first attracted to Bitcoin as an investment, it was something really interesting to learn about,” Morehead said. In 2013, however, amassing a large stake in the new digital currency wasn’t easy.

“I sent $2 million to Coinbase, and I started trying to buy $2 million of Bitcoin,” Morehead said. “My daily trading limit was $50.” Pantera has grown into one of the largest holders of cryptocurrencies and has invested in over 50 startups, including Circle, Bakkt, Polychain Capital, Shapeshift and Zcash, according to its website.

In the early days, though, Morehead had to contend with the drugs and criminals narrative that dogged Bitcoin. He went to every major university endowment in 2015 when Bitcoin was at $100 to tell them they should have it in their portfolio.

“The conversation was all Silk Road, drugs, whatever,” he said, referencing the early black-market exchange shut down by U.S. authorities.

That dark element to Bitcoin didn’t deter Wilson at Union Square and DCG’s Silbert, both of whom were series A investors in Coinbase. The company’s shares changed hands in recent private transactions at levels that would value Coinbase at close to $100 billion, a person familiar with the matter have said.

Union Square has focused its cash on about 15 firms in two main areas, infrastructure providers like Protocol Labs and Helium and in other crypto investment funds like Polychain Capital and Autonomous Partners. Wilson declined to comment.

That’s a far cry from what Silbert has created at DCG. Among its nearly 300 investments and acquisitions it touches upon every part of the crypto market. Among them, it has stakes in Etherscan, the block explorer used for the Ethereum blockchain; Coindesk, a crypto news service; Genesis Global Trading, one of the largest over-the-counter crypto dealers and lenders; Chainalysis, a blockchain forensics firm; Decentraland, a virtual world built on Ethereum that sells plots of digital land and has its own cryptocurrency Mana.

Silbert also created the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust in 2013, which is the largest crypto investment product with assets of about $31 billion. Silbert declined to comment.

A lack of a career on Wall Street helped the Winklevoss twins approach Bitcoin with an open mind, Cameron Winklevoss said.

“Tyler and I didn’t have 20 years of capital markets experience when we came to Bitcoin,” he said. “We were very open to this possibility and that’s how we’ve always been, driven by curiosity.”

The brothers famously battled Mark Zuckerberg over the early fate of Facebook, an experience that left them with lessons about Bitcoin.

“In the early days of Facebook, in watching and being a part of that ride, we saw the power of networks, and so many people dismissing social networks as a fad,” Winklevoss said. Yet he’d watched as 90% of the Harvard University student body signed up for Facebook within 48 hours. When Bitcoin came around, the twins recognized the same forces at play.

“It’s a money network,” Winklevoss said. “What happens when you put an economic incentive around that network? That’s possibly the most effective network in the world.”

For Paradigm’s Ehrsam, the size of Bitcoin and crypto in general has exceeded his wildest dreams. If you’d told him in 2012 that Bitcoin would top $1 trillion as it did at one point last week, “people would think you were absolutely insane,” he said.

“The idea of a new digital money seemed very strange to most people because a new money has never come about in our lifetimes, at least as Americans,” Ehrsam said. “So you’re not used to seeing a phenomenon you’ve never seen before.” That will eventually change.

“It just takes time for a powerful new idea like that to permeate society and build trust in it,” he said. 2019 Money and Democracy: Why You Never Get to Vote on the Most Important Part of Society by  Jamie Redman