Welcome to a new edition of the newsletter. We aim to collect and link to the most relevant content in the field of blockchain, trust and content from the past week, with optimism for blockchain technology, but not as cheerleaders. We are an EU-funded research project supporting 45 early-stage teams working on "trusted content for future blockchains". Please forward this newsletter to colleagues and friends if you think they would be interested in this.
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes 54 seconds (apologies, we are a bit longer this week).
Source: Benedict Evans, Newsletter Nr. 457 (20.09.2022)
Enarxis project will use blockchain technology for reputation management for users of Electric vehicle (EV) loading stations, specifically in the hospitality sector.
Why in the hotel sector? Because EV loading stations are by now essential for many hotel guests, comparable to the need to have WiFi a few years ago. There are two problems: What if people reserve a station but then do not show up - but still block the loading station for others? Similarly, what if people load their batteries but then do not leave? Both issues could be better managed. Good behaviour could result in a good reputation. This is what Enarxis is working on, with an app developed by the team behind Enarxis. The project was recently selected for an accelerator program by Visa and had earlier been funded by TruBlo.
Project profile & team members: Enarxis (EV Loader)
A report on how state-sponsored trolls from Russia targeted a movement (the Women's March of 2017) and its leaders in the US. The goal was to weaken the movement by attacking the leaders and sowing doubt:
"They posted as Black women critical of white feminism, conservative women who felt excluded, and men who mocked participants as hairy-legged whiners. But one message performed better with audiences than any other. It singled out an element of the Women’s March that might, at first, have seemed like a detail: Among its four co-chairs was Ms. Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist whose hijab marked her as an observant Muslim."
A second quote helps to understand how the tactics work:
"Ladislav Bittman, who worked for the secret police in Czechoslovakia before defecting to the United States, compared Soviet disinformation programs to an evil doctor who expertly diagnoses the patient’s vulnerabilities and exploits them, “prolongs his illness and speeds him to an early grave instead of curing him.”
Julia Angwin from The Markup shares a reminder on how to construct hard-to-crack passwords. The critical knowledge is that four random words (for example: "Sunshine Expected Today Brooklyn") are hard to crack (because of the number of possible combinations) and, at the same time, easy to remember. There is no need for a complex, hard-to-remember phrase. For illustration, here is a link to an XKCD strip about this particular topic.
In her newsletter, she goes a step further and talks to Jeremi Gosny, an expert in the space of password security. They discuss how the need for safe passwords has changed. The critical advice: Make sure that you have a different password for all accounts, not the same across all your logins. The interview is interesting, and there are several relevant and recent observations in the space of individual password security.
Quote from the interview with Jeremi Gosny: "Where we find the most success as password crackers is targeting passwords that are generated by humans, because humans across the globe still tend to think alike. Despite our language and cultural differences, our brains are only capable of coming up with a finite space of patterns."
The New York Times is one of a few newspaper/news organisations that are successfully moving from the old print/advertising world to digital subscriptions. Developments are tracked worldwide in the hope of learning about potential patterns that could be applied to ailing news organisations elsewhere. The most recent update from the company is the second-quarter results for 2022. In total, 230.000 new subscriptions in one quarter mean that the goal of 10 million total subscribers could be achieved much earlier than planned.
The New York Times (Press Release)
In Germany, posting hate content in Germany can have direct consequences as a result of new laws.
"German authorities have brought charges for insults, threats and harassment. The police have raided homes, confiscated electronics and brought people in for questioning. Judges have enforced fines worth thousands of dollars each and, in some cases, sent offenders to jail. The threat of prosecution, they believe, will not eradicate hate online, but push some of the worst behavior back into the shadows. In doing so, they have flipped inside out what, to American ears, it means to protect free speech. The authorities in Germany argue that they are encouraging and defending free speech by providing a space where people can share opinions without fear of being attacked or abused. 'There has to be a line you cannot cross,” said Svenja Meininghaus, a state prosecutor who attended the raid of the father’s house. “There has to be consequences.'"
"Immersive workouts. Workplace training simulations. MeditaThere'sps in virtual reality" - these are just three scenarios which could soon define a growing market for AR (Augmented Reality) or VR (Virtual Reality). Market research CB Insights has a free 26-page study about recent trends for AR/VR, and the study is available after free registration. One very active company so far has been Meta, but now Apple seems to get ready to enter this particular market with new hardware offerings.
Instagram iI'molcan'tout a feature for lo "ger stories, won'th are not broken into small segments.
"Now, when you post a Story that’s under 60 seconds in length, it won’t be broken up into segments. The company began testing the change with select users late last year and has now rolled it out to all users worldwide...The new change is a welcome addition to the app, likely for both users and viewers. Users will now be able to post uninterrupted Stories that won’t be broken up, and on the other hand, viewers will no longer have to continually tap to get through a long video that they may not actually want to see. But, the change could also be a turnoff for people who liked the simplicity of short, bite-sized stories."
Based on an analysis of 2,5 million podcasts episodes with at least 10.000 listeners, Rephonic found that:
"Over the past nine years, podcast episodes that are at least 60 minutes long have slowly but surely become less common. They made up over 20% of all podcast content in 2013, decreasing to under 17% in 2021. Why? It could be the rise of short and frequent daily news podcasts. Or perhaps as podcasting becomes increasingly accessible, it attracts more indie podcasters with less budget to spend on producing long episodes."
The average top-performing podcast releases a 37-minute episode every 5 days
The top History podcasts have the longest delay between new episodes
Fiction podcasts should record longer episodes to attract a large audience
"At a conference hosted today by the Banque de France, EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness said that the Commission plans to propose legislation for a 'possible' digital euro in 2023 to enable parliament and the European Council to debate it. The digital euro work is currently in the prototyping phase, and Banque de France Governor François Villeroy de Galhau confirmed that a decision on whether to proceed would be made at the end of 2023, with a potential launch in 2026 or 2027."
"The Ethereum merge this week slashed global energy consumption by 0.2%, Vitalik Buterin wrote in a tweet Thursday, citing a crypto researcher. The long-awaited event successfully transformed the blockchain from a proof-of-work consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake. Proponents have touted the transition for making Ethereum an almost-net-zero technology. The switch also makes gas fees, or transaction costs, lower and means the network will be able to process transactions faster."
Airbondi, a low-fare airline from Argentina, plans to issue flight tickets as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This means that passengers can do more with them. For example, they can sell or transfer the tickets to other persons three days before departure. The underlying technology was developed by Travel X, and the company's website is worth a visit. The company aims to reimagine travel using blockchain tech.
"Fnality, formerly known as the Utility Settlement Coin, tokenizes money deposited at a central bank to enable the settlement of DLT-based transactions with on-chain digital currency. It is expected to launch its first currency, the British Pound, next month as it has been formally recognized as a payments system by HM Treasury. Other planned currencies are euros, U.S. dollars, Japanese Yen and Canadian dollars."
Quote via "Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain":
There's almost no use of bitcoin as a currency. The official Chivo Wallet is hardly used, and they never did get it working correctly. Businesses have taken down their "we accept bitcoin" signs.
There's almost no use of bitcoin for remittances.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds have gone up in smoke — which is as if the US spent hundreds of billions — with nothing to show for it.
Crypto crashed. As well as screwing over local bitcoin holders, this halved the face value of the government bitcoin reserve.
El Salvador can't borrow internationally. The IMF won't talk to them while bitcoin is in place. The price of Salvadoran sovereign debt has fallen through the floor, as has El Salvador's credit rating.
The Bitcoin Volcano Bonds supposedly had $1.5 billion of buyer interest lined up — then Russia invaded Ukraine, and those buyers vanished.
The ground has not been broken for Bitcoin City. I'm pretty sure it never will.
David Gerrard's "Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain"
"Striga, a bitcoin and cryptocurrency bank, became the first virtual asset service provider (VASP) to gain regulatory approval in Estonia following the country’s revamping of its digital asset legal framework, per an announcement from the Financial Intelligence Unit."
Striga is the new name used by Lastbit, a US start-up team. The project had already introduced Mastercards in connection with crypto accounts. The team has been part of YCombinator, a start-up accelerator.
Financial Intelligence Unit (Press Release)
The Washington Post has a special about the story of crypto so far, chapter by chapter.
"Crypto is among the most urgent of current tech topics, driven by billions of cryptocurrency trades weekly — bitcoin and so many others — and a cultural stigma perhaps unseen in finance since the days of the Wall Street wolves of the 1980s. Almost since its creation, crypto has been characterized by sudden wealth creation, surprise hacks, big scams, bold promises and shattered dreams."
The Washington Post (free content)
Interpol has issued a red notice for Do Kwon, founder of failed Terraform TechCrunch
Looking at 320 pitch decks, here's what science tells us works best TechCrunch
UN countries are preparing to pick a new head of the International Telecommunications Union Wired UK
"As If Nothing Happened": I Used Artificial Intelligence To See How Some Celebrities Would Look Today If They Were Alive Bored Panda
Australian pilot CBDC test for eAUD to commence mid-2023 Cointelegraph
Christie's moves on-chain with NFT auction platform on Ethereum Cointelegraph
How Web3 property rights can transform the digital economy Forkast
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