Is Social Media Bad For For Good Journalism?

Is Social Media "Bad" For For Good Journalism?

Mr. Eve Williams, CEO of Medium.com, thinks that social media fundamentally bad for good journalism. 

Why does he think that way?

He says, in this article, that the basic reason is because good journalism doesn't fit in well with the corporate funded necessity built into social media.

In his article entitled, "Renewing Medium's Focus", Mr. Williams does into more detail and say:

"Our vision, when we started in 2012, was ambitious: To build a platform that defined a new model for media on the internet. The problem, as we saw it, was that the incentives driving the creation and spread of content were not serving the people consuming it or creating it — or society as a whole. As I wrote at the time, “The current system causes increasing amounts of misinformation…and pressure to put out more content more cheaply — depth, originality, or quality be damned. It’s unsustainable and unsatisfying for producers and consumers alike….We need a new model.

Mr. Williams goes on to say the basic problem is that journalism needs ad revenue to get their product in front of readers. But ads are paid for by companies and commercial interests which usually are not interested in truth and accuracy (my words…not Mr. Williams') but rather in their own agenda which may or may not be good for the reader.

Almost all of that advertising comes from social media and…well..we all know what a banal cesspool social media has become, don't we? Most social media content is just an arms race of competitors to see who can be the most shocking, sleazy, ridiculous, trite, sensational, and outright crazy in order to 'get the click'.

Truth and critical thinking is not encouraged or generally rewarded. In fact, it is generally scorned and criticized.

Medium says they are shutting down two of their offices, laying off lots of people, and now working towards a better model which will continue to work toward their original goal of, "…defining a new model for writers and creators to be rewarded, based on the value they’re creating for people. And toward building a transformational product for curious humans who want to get smarter about the world every day."

Sounds like a noble goal to me.

Addressing Medium's announcement in his own article on another platform, Sean Blanda, Co-founder of @TechnicallyM., noted that although the younger generation unquestionably prefers to consume news online, their trust in it is at an all-time low.

Sean agrees with Mr. Williams on the reason for the problem but expresses it thusly: "…the incentive structure of online news is fundamentally broken."

His article is a longer read but gives a more detailed explanation of what he and Mr. Williams both agree is happening with online news and journalism today. The two articles fit well together.

I'm wondering if an answer to the problem of separating quality journalism from the taint of social-media could be to get more news and journalism from Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO) where the possible advantage of a might be that the DAO has its own built-in producers, consumers, delivery system, and payment system.

If you're not familiar with what a DAO is, read this excellent article by Tom Prendergast, CEO of Markethive, one of the emerging successful DAO models on the internet today. 

Markethive is an online community for entrepreneurs and has just recently achieved a major funding objective for continued growth. It already has several unique proprietary technologies, with more on the way, and is ideally suited to enable the entrepreneur trying to establish and build a product, service, or brand. It is also free to join…here

 

Art Williams
Freeland Copywriter
Case Studies and eMail Copywriting
email me here

 

Coinbase Gets Legally Involved In IRS Summons Issue

Coinbase Gets Legally Involved In IRS Summons Issue

If you have any interest in bitcoin or the world of cryptocurrency you will know that the IRS has submitted a John Doe Summons to require San Franciso-based, digital asset exchange company Coinbase to submit a complete list of all their clients covering a period of 3 years from the years 2013-2015 inclusive.

In case you're not up to date in this continuing saga, here's the basics:

  1. In November, 2016, the US IRS filed a John Doe Summons, demanding three years (2013-2015) customer database records from Coinbase on the suspicion that some Coinbase users/traders may not be paying their cryptocurrency taxes. 
  2. Subsequent to this filing, Coinbase says they were aware of it and looked forward to discussing the matter but had concerns about the privacy rights of their customers.
  3. Subsequent to Coinbase's statement, on of their customers, Jeffrey K Berns of the Berns Weiss law firm in California, filed a request that the court intervene to stop the summons on grounds that is was overly broad and invasive of Coinbase customer privacy. Note: Mr.Berns also was and presumably still is a Coinbase customer.
  4. Next, the IRS tries to dodge Mr.Berns' filing by stating that since he is now officially known to them as a Coinbase customer he is therefore not a subject of the summons and therefore has no standing in the issue.
  5. Mr. Berns then says that that doesn't make any difference because the John Doe Summons statue do not prohibit him from making an inquiry into the issue, he still thinks the IRS is overstepping its legal authority, and he will still fight the matter in court.

So that's where the issue is as of today. Note that all of this has taken place within the last 90 days.

The latest news is that whereas Coinbase itself has not had any official, legal response to the IRS's filings, now it says it has something it wants to say in court too.

The big question is…."what and why"?

One could reasonably wonder what point Coinbase could make that Mr. Berns hasn't already made.

1.  The stated justification for the IRS's John Doe Summons is overly broad. But Mr. Berns has already said that.

2.  It is an invasion of privacy (in a commercial sense) but Mr. Berns has already mentioned that too.

3.  Not specifically mentioned but also true is that if the IRS can do this, it sets a very bad precedent for even more and potentially broader nefarious IRS demands in the future because it presumes guilt on a sub-set of Coinbase customers. For example, what's to prevent the IRS from demanding records of everybody who bought art supplies from an art supply store because they thought somebody was selling home-made paintings in garage sales and not paying their taxes?

Or, could the reason that Coinbase wants to got to court be that they are trying to set the stage to look like they are trying to stand up for the rights of their customers when they really are perfectly willing to give the IRS all they want?

After all, one way or the other the cryptocurrency business is here to stay. Coinbase could rationally say to themselves, "Our customers don't have any choice but to use or somebody like us if they want the kind of services we provide. So we'll just, under feigned protest, to keep the IRS happy and off our backs."

Nobody really knows exactly what it is that Coinbase wants to say in court but it will be interesting to find out because this whole industry of cryptocurrency is still in its infancy. Exactly how it will fit into our daily lives has yet to be defined either by governments or in terms of consumer acceptance.

It would be nice if those who think that we are seeing the dawn of a grandiose new era of free enterprise and laissez-faire entrepreneurship were right. But all the chips haven't fallen into place yet and cryptocurrency could just turn out to be an excuse for more government intrusion and intrusion into the affairs of normal people.

For more details on these proceedings, just Google, "Coinbase IRS John Doe Summons".

Art Williams
Freelance Copywriter
Case Studies and eMail Copywriting
email me here

 

Why You Should Keep A Copywriting Swipe Notebook

Why You Should Keep A Copywriting Swipe Notebook

 

A Copywriting Swipe Notebook is a notebook wherein you copy down examples of copywriting that you find as you read other writers' copy. It's a personal collection of what you consider good copywriting.

I think everybody who writes should have a Copywriting Swipe Notebook and here's a case in point to show you just one of the potential instances where you might want to do it. 

It's Saturday morning here in beautiful Barranquilla, Colombia where I live and I just got up. As usual, the first thing I do is check my email.

In my email I see an email from some guy who I could have sworn I had already unsubscribed from…but I read it anyway.

As I'm reading through it I very quickly realize that I have absolutely zero interest in anything its talking about and my immediate impulse it to DELETE it.

But wait!

I do notice one thing.

I notice a phrase that pops out at me and I think, "I've heard that phrase a million times before". 

The phrase is, "Believe me when I say that you've never seen anything like it."

Of course I think to myself, "Yeah….Bullshit!"

But nevertheless I realize that if I have seen that phrase so many times before that there might be a reason copywriters are using it. Maybe the reason is because it works in 'getting the click'. 

So what did I do?

I wrote that phrase down in a spiral notebook that I recently started specifically for the purpose of capturing copywriting phrases that 'the BIG dogs' use. I figure that if it's making money for somebody else it can make money for me too.

The point of this story?

The point of this story is that I may or may not ever use that phrase in my own copywriting. Very possibly it will soon be buried in pages and pages of similar notes (if I really get into the habit of taking copywriting example notes like this). 

But at least I'm making an effort to train my mind to be perceptive to the techniques of other copywriters. After all, the person who wrote that email is probably making money doing it, right?

I think that you can always benefit from copying success but you have to learn to recognize it first. In copywriting, you can just be observant of what other successful copywriters are doing.

Experts know that it's OK to copy success. I'll never forget one of the learning techniques taught in the first writing courses I ever took from AWAI (American Writers and Artists Institute). The course was, "Six Figure Copywriting", one of their biggest courses on copywriting. 

One of the things which that course recommended was taking recognized masterpieces of copywriting and copying them out by hand. Sure, that's a lot of work. But the physical act of doing it also embeds those words in your mind.

And that's the object isn't it…i.e. you want those words and phrases to become part of your skills inventory, right?  

If you do this, I think you'll gradually become increasingly perceptive to what good copywriting is. After all, the basic formulas don't change. They make other copywriters lots of money every day and if you learn them, they'll make money for you too. 

Regards,
Art

Does A Drained Swamp Look Like This?

Does A Drained Swamp Look Like This?

Much has been said by Trump and his supporters about “draining the swamp” but I’m wondering if the picture we see shaping up is really what a drained swamp is supposed to look like. When you drain the swamp, is it the water you want to get rid of or the dangerous animals in it?

I will admit that I supported Trump as best I could during his campaign but that was not only because I have some regard for what I know of his record but also because I had a great distaste for what I know of Hillary’s record. And Bill’s record too.

Note: Only a fool would have believed that Bill, were he to become the 'First Philanderer' in the White House, would exert a very negative influence on our nation’s affairs.

So now Trump is ‘in’, lots of people are excited, the economy appears to be bullish again, and lots of people are excited about their future.

But….

Let’s look at the animals we see in Trump’s ‘swamp’. I’ll admit I haven’t been closely following Trump’s picks these short few weeks that he’s been interviewing and picking people for his staff, Cabinet, and various government positions but I did do some homework on the subject.

First of all..… this article that I just read makes a good point: one could be reasonably suspicious of at least some, if not all, of the people Trump has tagged for his team so far. Let's look:

How about his appointment as Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin. As that Wikipedia link mentions, Mr. Mnuchin was a former partner at Goldman Sachs.

But wait a minute!

Isn’t Goldman Sachs that outfit that we blame for a lot of the nefarious financial crap that has been going on in our economy? And isn’t it true that Mr. Mnuchin is also very close friends with that other fellow, the confirmed Nazi collaborator in WW2, who totally looks like Death Warmed Over….George Soros?

Yeah…that’s the guy!

So, if modus operandi is any clue, aren’t we seeing the same modus operandi here that Goldman Sachs (and the Rothchilds and the Rockefellers) are famous for….i.e. seeding the deck with their own loyalists and alumni?

Trump will argue of course that these are the people he needs to ‘drain the swamp’ properly because they know where all the leaks are and how to row the boat around in the murky water of Washington D.C. without hitting a submerged stump.

Well….maybe. We’ll just have to wait and see.

And what’s Gary Cohn, President of Goldman Sachs, doing as the newly anticipated Director of the National Economic Council?

Nobody else, not a real outsider, was available for that job?

And then there’s Steve Bannon. Mr. Bannon also is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker alumni although not at the same high level as some of Trump’s other appointments.

In his favor, Mr. Bannon has a host of ‘rightist’ activities and is clearly very anti-globalist. And if nothing else, his resume shows him to have been a thorn in the side of many liberals and very much anti Obama and Hillary.

Other appointments to Trump’s team include:

Billionaire businessman Elon Musk who joins the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a group that advises the President-elect on economic matters. Musk joins other business leaders such as former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon, and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

Note: Take a look at Jamie Dimon’s background and then try to tell yourself that he’s the kind of guy who would want to ‘drain the swamp’.

Also joining Trump’s Forum is Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon and I will admit that I’m not a big fan of many of the things I’ve heard about Wal-Mart in recent years. They are a major, MAJOR factor in keeping lots of Communist Chinese factories going.

Non-fans of Walmart include factors such as cited here and here.

These new Trump team members may or may not be patriots but my point is that they are tainted. Draining the swamp and refilling it with the same breed of alligators isn’t what the American public really expected.

And when you consider that Trump roundly criticized Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz, because of her former ties with Goldman Sachs and that both Elon Musk and General Electric have benefited greatly from government money over the years, one could be excused from thinking that it looks like, “business as usual in Washington.”

Tesla, when you factor in Musks’ SpaceX and SolarCity companies, have received approximately $5 billion in government subsidies (frequently in the form of tax rebates) over the years and the company probably would not have survived without them. And GE has long been a company in favor with with POTUS office holders.

Does that sound like free enterprise?

When is it cronyism and when is it not?

I’m not concluding that these appointments are unequivocally unreasonable. I remember specifically that US industrial leaders have long complained that their companies are at an international competitive disadvantage against companies headquartered in certain foreign countries who get massive support from their home governments. Case in point would be the difficulty American aircraft manufacturers (e.g. Boeing) have long had in bidding wars (for aircraft purchases from US airlines) with France’s Airbus.

Trump has picked Wilber Ross to be his Secretary of Commerce. Mr. Ross is a billionaire investor and a committed protectionist on trade who also happens to have large holdings in steel and textile manufacturing. It’s probably just coincidence that both these industries will benefit fom Trump’s protectionist trade policies.

But like I said, foreign companies have had the US at a disadvantage for many years so maybe this is international economic poetic justice.

So…we’ll just have to wait and see what these guys do.

 

Art Williams
Freelance Copywriter
Case Studies, eMail Copywriting, and Blogging
eMail Me Here

 

Me Here

The Pervert – Bad Company Publicity

 

The Pervert – Bad Company Publicity

I’ve actually been wanting to write another article for a few days now. I have a few ideas lined up on the subject of cryptocurrency but I’ve written several of those lately and I just couldn’t find the motivation to write another one. Not right now anyway.

But then tonight I saw an article in The Daily Sheeple which I thought I could milk for multiple purposes, such as:

  1. It was a chance to get back to something a bit lighter in subject material than what I’ve been writing about lately.

  2. It’s got a bit of dark humor or poetic justice in it….the type that George Carlin probably would have appreciated.

  3. It’s a chance to make a point in my “How To Write” group in Markethive.

  4. And last but not least, in these days when “MAGA(Make America Great Again) is on everybody's mind…it makes a good point about something that still works rather well in our American justice system.

You can read the article for yourself but I’ll just summarize:

A guy in Ohio, by most outward appearances fairly normal, was going to shopping malls, parking in the mall parking lot, masturbating, filling up a syringe with his semen, and then going into the mall and squirting women with the syringes .

Sounds like something any red-blooded Tom Sawyer type would do, right?

He actually had been doing this for two months, approximately twelve times, before he finally got caught. And that was because somebody finally remembered his company truck.

Yeah…he was using the company truck. After he was caught, he said he got the idea off the internet. And I like the way the article’s original author put it:

“I mean, other people go to Pinterest and get ideas to build shelves out of repurposed wood or something… but this guy… wha???”

This is a guy who seemed to have a pretty normal life but he sorta reminds me of Herbert Philbrick.

Herbert was real person who went undercover in the 1940’s to penetrate the US Communist Party for the FBI. Probably nobody who reads this will remember the black and white TV program based on his life. It was called, “I Lead Three Lives”.

But this guy really had his alter identity going. He was actually on his way to have dinner with his wife when they caught him. The author cracks another funny-ha-ha when he writes:

He was also on the way to have dinner with his wife. (You can only imagine what that phone call was like… “Uh, hi honey, sorry I’m gonna be late for dinner… I’ve been arrested… um…”)

The article doesn’t specify precisely when this event happened or whether the guy has been sent to prison yet. But I would think that’s a surety, wouldn’t you?). But it does close is a way that George Carlin would appreciate:

Can you imagine that first conversation Blake’s gonna have in prison?“What are you in for?”

So, in summary….. You can see that this article pretty well covers points #1 and #2, right?

Point #3 is covered by what I consider to be the article’s very good title and subtitle. I love it. Look at it yourself….here.

And for Point #4 (which I thought of myself)…this guy (Blake) is probably going to find out how ‘smoothly’ American justice really works…his first day in prison.

Make America Great Again!
 

Art Williams
Freelance Writer
Case Studies and eMail Copywriting
eMail Me here

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Going On With Coinbase vs. IRS?

What’s Going on With CoinBase vs. IRS?

 

Most people doing anything with cryptocurrency or Bitcoin have at least heard of the fracus going on right now between the IRS and the popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.com . For those who might not be familiar with the situation or its significance, this is my summary based on the research I’ve done.

The IRS, as the Pursers of the Dark Side, is most assuredly a not big fan of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Apparently they recently identified 3 tax evaders who didn’t pay what the IRS thinks they should have in taxes. Since 2 of these 3 were Coinbase users, the IRS is stalking Coinbase now.

Note: (Note: “evasion” is illegal but “tax avoidance” is not)

Almost anybody who deals with government agencies or bureaucrats knows that the often don’t distinguish between what they have the legal authority to do vs. what they have the power to do. Frequently they do what they want anyway.

In the case of the IRS and cryptocurrency, the IRS does have some regulations regarding cryptocurrency reporting but they are muddled and unclear. The regulations (as I understand them) give various reporting requirements to cryptocurrency exchanges but rely on the ‘honor system’ (plus the IRS’s confused and complex regulations thus far) for declarations from the individual taxpayer.

In this case, Coinbase contends that it already complies with IRS regulations as they presently exist and further says that the IRS demand is too broad and burdensome and presumes the guilt of the entire Coinbase customer base.

Note: Looking at this IRS behavior it’s easy to see that Irwin Schiff, was right. Irwin was an expert on the US Constitution and US jurisprudence as it relates to the Federal Income Tax and its enforcement. His contention to his dying day was that was that the federal income tax was totally misunderstood by the average citizen and illegally interpreted and enforeced by the IRS… with the connivance of the US court system. He successfully defended himself from the IRS for years and also assisted many of his students in doing so he yet was eventually arrested and tried in an illegal “show trial”, illegally imprisoned, denied proper medical care, and died after over 10 years in prison.

Irwin’s great book, The Federal Mafia, still downloadable for free in PDF form on his website, www.paynoincometax.com, is a guaranteed eye-opener and gives a better understanding why cryptocurrency is surely something which keeps IRS agents, government fat-cats, and the industrial elite awake at night because it is a direct challenge to their control over the affairs of men and nations.

Many observers agree that the IRS will eventually get Coinbase’s records but it might be a short-lived Pyrrhic victory. If the general public continues to learn about and adopt the cryptocurrency and the blockchain, they eventually simply won’t need ‘big government’.  

What has recently rekindled interest in the IRS vs. Coinbase situation is that since the IRS has not thus far been able to intimidate Coinbase into giving up their customer records (because Coinbase knew the law), the IRS is using something it does have the power to do…i.e. Issue a “John Doe Summons”.

A John Doe summons is the type of summons which allows the IRS to force a company to surrender their customer records because the IRS says the suspect somebody (but they don’t know who) within the group is guilty of tax evasion.

Many people interpret the IRSs’ actions as simply a witch-hunt designed to intimidate the general public and virtual currency sellers into the charade of “voluntary compliance” and if the IRS gets away with this tactic with Coinbase, one can only wonder what they might do next.

Note: Irwin Schiff often correctly said that the US tax laws are extortion… not voluntary compliance. Anybody interested in this subject should delve into his excellent and timeless videos on YouTube.

But that what the ongoing saga of the battle between Coinbase and the IRS is about. Now you know. Is it a good idea to be a Coinbase customer right now? IMHO…. Probably not.
 

Art Williams
Freelance Writer
Case Studies and eMail Copywriting
eMail Me

 

Microsoft Announces Availability of R3’s Corda Blockchain Platform on Azure

Microsoft Announces Availability of R3’s Corda Blockchain Platform on Azure

R3’s blockchain software Corda, developed by the Fintech startup alongside 70 of the world’s biggest banks forming the R3 consortium, is now available on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure.

Announced quietly last week, the revelation comes soon after Corda’s code was contributed to the Linux Foundation-led Hyperledger Project on November 30. R3 first announced its decision to go open-source with Corda, the product of its Concord blockchain product, in October this year.

Elaborating on R3’s year-long development, Richard Brown, technology chief at R3 claims:

Corda is a distributed ledger platform designed from the ground up to record, manage and synchronize financial agreements between regulated financial institutions. It is heavily inspired by and captures the benefits of blockchain systems, without the design choices that make blockchains inappropriate for many banking scenarios.

Corda’s availability is the latest offering and addition of Microsoft’s blockchain services toolkit called Project Bletchley. First announced in June 2016, Project Bletchley is Microsoft’s endeavor to push for “an open, modular blockchain fabric powered by Azure.” Fundamentally, Microsoft is looking to provide comprehensive solutions with blockchain technology for customers on various platforms, as Blockchain as a Service (BaaS).

R3’s Blockchain Demo Available

Microsoft’s announcement includes a demo offering of Corda via virtual machine image. While this author hasn’t tried the demo prior to publishing, Microsoft claims the demonstration will showcase Corda’s capabilities through real-world scenarios such as interest rate swap deals. Details reveal that deployment will take 3-5 minutes for the virtual machine to be created, one which will deploy a multi-member Corda demo network. The demo isn’t charged, but usage of Microsoft’s resources including storage, networking and computing will be billed.

R3’s blockchain software Corda is now available on Microsoft’s clould computing platform, Azure.

Brown’s comments above point to a marked difference in the ‘design choices’ made by Corda compared to a public blockchain, like bitcoin’s ledger. These choices include developing the Corda blockchain platform within the confines of legal and regulatory frameworks, a focus on privacy and the means to achieve a modular consensus.

R3’s CTO added:

By making simple Corda demos available on the Azure Marketplace, R3 and Microsoft are making it easy for newcomers to experience Corda for themselves before joining the community.

R3’s efforts to push its blockchain product for wider adoption (with its notable call to go open-source) comes during a time when the New York-based startup is losing some of its notable banking members. The likes of Goldman SachsMorgan Stanley and Banco Santander have all decided to exit the consortium after a year’s membership.

Images from Shutterstock.

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Chris Corey 

CMO Markethive Inc

 

Bah! Who Needs These Pesky Humans Anyway!?

Bah! Who Needs These Pesky Humans Anyway!!??

I think it’s ironic that we are seeing such a rise is labor-saving technology, i.e. Blockchain, and that we’re also in times when so many people need jobs. Seriously now…how many people really think blockchain is going to put more of those people to work?

I’m a bit skeptical. It might turn out that the people who lost their jobs from all the McDonalds automation will now be able to meet the very same in the unemployment office lines that they used to service at the drive-through window at McDonalds.

It was just today that I became conscious of this aspect of the dawning blockchain revolution. Although cryptocurrency is the area that most people associate with blockchain technology, when one looks deeper into the news, one finds that the banking and finance industry loves blockchain too.

Why?

Because it’s not only going to make much of their work more secure and accurate, it’s also going to allow them to eliminate a lot of jobs. One quote I pulled from the internet phrased it this way:

“a way to validate transactions through little or no human intervention.”

Yeah sure….humans are known for being terrible interventionists, right?

Undoubtedly there are reasonable applications of blockchain technology to provide better value to the consumer. Everybody complains about paperwork and bureaucracy in finance…and government.

Waitta minute!! Did I just say…GOVERNMENT??

Now there’s a niche that’s ripe for elimination of waste and bureaucracy!! (not to mention good ol’ “corruption”.

In fact, there probably is a dividing line somewhere… a demarcation between where blockchain is a net improvement vs a net detriment to the employment situation. But I don’t think anybody is putting much consideration into where that line is…right now.

But for the number crunchers in the financial services sector, blockchain comes at a good time. Their industry has become extremely competitive. It has been forced to become very service intensive because they’ve pretty much long since reached the limits of what they can do with bland numbers.

They all work with the same commodity and within the same mathematical system and to a large degree they even work with the same data. So, their only recourse (other than ‘inside deals’) is to try to focus on internal efficiency and creative branding.

Blockchain is good for them but not necessarily for the thousands of people who will be ‘liberated’ from the drudgery of their mere “jobs”.

Blockchain is specifically attractive to bankers because it tends to alleviate what they call their “Liquidity” challenges.

The term liquidity refers to the degree to which an asset or security can be quickly bought or sold in the market without affecting the asset's price and this is a growing concern in financial product trading activity. Blockchain technology can alleviate liquidity challenges by providing a way to reduce friction.

What is ‘friction’?

Friction simply refers to the limitation or resistance injected into a process by another factor, i.e. from paper-shuffling or other bureaucratic processes. Blockchain, because it automates so many of these processes, reduces ‘friction’ and improves the bottom line of the company.

Money (or Value) is everywhere, therefore buying and selling is (potentially) everywhere, therefore transactions are (potentially) everywhere. Thus, because blockchain is a decentralized technology, it can reside in decentralized devices much closer to where the actual work is being done and increase the speed that work is processed (and verified).

Thus allowing everyone more time to wander to…whatever.

Some very complex transactions might still require more humans in the loop. In fact, this whole process might go ‘full circle’ and human verification might eventually turn out to be an extra added service.

But the reality of blockchains and how they’re being used points to a future in which human third-party transaction validation and recordkeeping could be the exception rather than the rule.

Ain’t technology wonderful?

 

 

A Simple Explanation of Blockchain

A Simple Explanation of “Blockchain”

Sometimes it takes a while to thoroughly understand a new concept. Blockchain is such a term for some people. One of the things that process difficult is the fact that it sounds like something that it isn’t….or it seems so at first.

In the case of blockchain….It’s not actually a ‘block´. Or is it?

And it sure isn’t a ‘chain’. Or is it?

Actually, when the term is explained the way that I’m going to, it is a block and it is a chain. But first, let’s try a definition of blockchain from another angle. An angle of use or utility.

Blockchain is, like many other great technological advances, a tool designed to solve a problem. It was invented to make certain things easier to accomplish and more efficient.  

In the evolution of capitalism, we see that many great inventions and advances were efforts to make something easier… such as these advances in computers and the internet….

  1. The internet made it much easier for specialists to publish.

  2. Blogging made it even easier for everybody else to publish.

  3. WordPress revolutionized blogging and publishing even more.

  4. Google revolutionized information search and retrieval.

  5. Facebook dramatically changed social dynamics (some would argue for the worse).

  6. YouTube revolutionized media creation, entertainment, and distribution.

  7. The ‘cloud’ made it easy to store digital material and eliminated some IT resource problems.

  8. Outsourcing sites like Fiverr, Odesk, et.al. revolutionized outsourcing.

And there are probably other ‘advances’ that could be added to the list too. But the point is that each step forward made something easier that it had been.

So….Blockchain needs to be seen as a tool for making something easier.

But…. making what easier?

Blockchain makes recording transactions (i.e. anything that could be described in finite terms) easier. Currently the most publically topical type of transaction that blockchain is used for is cryptocurrency transactions but it can be used for many other types of transactions too.

The important connecting factor here is that transactions need to be recorded in some way…especially financial transactions and blockchain specifically makes that process easier, faster and more secure. Even to the point of total anonymity.

The unique aspects of a blockchain include the following characteristics:

  • Blockchain is decentralized

  • Blockchain has no central controlling authority

  • Blockchain Is owned, maintained and updated by its component the nodes…i.e. the members.

  • Block is much more efficient and trustworthy.

Note: Not always mentioned by public relations representative of various industries touting blockchain in their operations is the fact that it has great potential for reducing the number of 'humans' on their payrolls.

To summarize thus far…blockchain is an advance in efficiency. Especially in multiple attributes related to saving time and user confidence.

Now…onward to the terminology to which most people cannot attach a mental image.

The term ‘blockchain’ comes from the way that blockchain transactions have been illustrated as being sequentially and carefully been added to one another… somewhat like a chain of connected items, each lending strength to the other, and then packed in a box. The beginning and end of the chain relate to the transaction itself.

It is also enlightening for consumers who think that blockchain only relates to cryptocurrency to realize that many experts in the financial community see blockchain as having other and far greater application to banking. To their minds, most of the bitcoin media buzz misses the point or at least doesn’t mention the full benefits to established financial institutions.

And here’s one more definition:

A member of the audience at the Fintech Week in London in September 2015 ask the panel, “Can you define blockchain in one or two sentences?” Panelist Lee Braine, a computer science PhD in the CTO office of Barclays, responded, “It’s a way of chunking transactions into a batch, called a block, and then a way of hashing them with the previous block block to ensure immutability.”

In final practical summary for the average user of blockchain technology, the more you try to define blockchain the more confusing it seems to get. It’s better to just keep it simple. And then suddenly you realize that you really don’t care about ‘the definition’. You understand that it just works and you just want to use it.
 

Art Williams
Freelance Copywriter
Case Studies and eMail Copywriting
eMail Me

 

PoW vs. PoS – What’s The Peoples Choice?

PoW vs. PoS – What’s The People’s Choice?

Because Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is still so new, it’s hard to say conclusively what ‘customers’ actually want. And even if one wanted to venture an opinion (like I will here) it’s still important to remember that blockchain and cryptocurrency is not a totally homogeneous market and there certainly are different niches within the overall market too.

But if you are, or plan to be, a cryptocurrency user one thing you most likely do want is security and speed. That’s where these two terms, Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS) may confront you.

When I started hearing those words, it seemed like they were important. Since the definition wasn’t really specified in the context where I heard them, I did some searching. Here’s what I found. I’m not a guru in this stuff but I think this is pretty accurate:

First of all, remember that blockchain is an algorithm (albeit a very unique one). Within and around the Bitcoin algorithm there are peripheral and subset algorithms. Two of those are PoS and PoW. My understanding is that the two never occur simultaneously but every cryptocurrency uses either one or the other.

What Are PoS and PoW Used For?

PoS and PoW have to do, in varying degrees, with the security and speed issues of cryptocurrency. Specifically relating to the security issues, remember that one of the core unique benefits of the blockchain is that the transactions that take place within it are supposedly true and authentic.

How did they get that way?

Because they were verified.

How or by whom?

The transactions were verified by the other people or entities on the blockchain. In the case of PoW, that number of people is fewer because the coins are mined by a relatively small group of people.

In the case of PoS, that number is larger because PoS systems employ a more decentralized/dispersed mining and verification system. It’s more of a communal system while still maintaining the anonymity that cryptocurrency users usually like.

Both processes have been adequate up to now but the reason (as I understand it) that some well-known cryptocurrencies (Ethercoin) are switching from PoW to PoS is because the PoW is less democratic, more centralized (comparatively), much more resource intensive (read “expensive”), and more susceptible to corruption via what is known as a 51% atttack.

Note: In a 51% attack, a person or (more likely) a group of people (in this scenario…miners) taking over the system for their own nefarious purposes.

In a PoS system, the strength of it is not so much the fact that the people who mined the coins are doing the verification but the fact that the people who currently actually posses the coins mutually share the transaction verification process.

In both methods the objective is to ensure an authentic, fast transaction but many users and experts now seem to feel that a PoS system give not only quicker transaction verifications but also is less vulnerable to ‘takeovers’ by 51%’ers.

Note: My understanding is that a 51% attack is, up to the present time, only hypothetically possible. But when you consider the amount of money going into the cryptocurrency environment, you can’t blame decision makers for being cautious.

To state in another way, PoW is strong on trust because the validations come from the people who did/do the mining. PoW is strong on validation because the validations come from massive consensus.

This validation power, as you will see, is also sometimes referred to as “agreement”. But, as I understand it, it means the same thing in most contexts.

One soon-to-be-launched altcoin, MyCryptoCoin (MCC), will use a totally new, very versatile and robust eWallet based on the PoS algorithm. The MCC eWallet will be truly revolutionary because its speed will match current credit card processing times yet it will be far more functional with its interface with multiple payment systems and financial institutions–to include not only cryptocurrency but also fiat currency and institutions.

And… it will offer privacy features that current credit/debit cards do not.

Summary and Recommendation

In my neophyte opinion, the average cryptocurrency user would probably be wise to make sure that whatever cryptocurrency they use is based on a PoS algorithm. As I understand it, PoS systems have faster, safer, and more accurate transactions.

 

Art Williams
Freelance Copywriter
Case Studies and eMail Copywriting
Email me here

 

 

 

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