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Options March 26, 2018: Explaining cryptocurrency w/Alex George, Popular Mechanics - and Mark on #deletefacebook

Listen to this show: MP3 - 128K | | Add or read comments


(Above, explosm by Rob DenBleyker. See also this one.)

...or as the joke puts it:
Dad: Timmy, what would you like for your birthday?
Timmy: All I want for my birthday is one bitcoin.
Dad: What? $11,228? Don't you know that $15,475 is a lot of money! What do you need $8,498 for anyway?

This evening, Alex George, who covers technology for Popular Mechanics. (See his articles.) Alex wrote The Beginner's Guide To Bitcoin And Cryptocurrency for the current (April 2018) issue of Popular Mechanics, and he's here to help explain this timely topic.

See also, on bitcoin:

• The John Oliver video on bitcoin.

• And in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Bitcoin Is Ridiculous. Blockchain Is Dangerous by Paul Ford, who argues that like the Internet itself, the cryptocurrency fad is a bubble that will burst, but will eventually yield something useful.

- - -

But first,...

Tech in the past week:

• I deleted my Facebook account last week. I mainly used it to post anti-Facebook articles, but I no longer want to be there at all.

• Billionaire Brian Acton, who sold WhatsApp to Facebook, feels similarly. He posted: It is time. #deletefacebook

• Elon Musk replied to Acton: "What's Facebook?" and then announced that he was deleting Tesla's Facebook presence.

Here's how to delete Facebook, thanks to the helpful site deletefacebook.com. (See also this piece by LibrarianShipwreck, arguing that deleting Facebook is a good start, but we have to do more.)

• Douglas Rushkoff, our first Skeptech speaker last year (and past WFMU host): on CNN.com, I ditched Facebook in 2013, and it's been fine. ("You can ditch Facebook. It's OK. You will survive. And.. your life will get better.") ...and in the Los Angeles Times, How Facebook Exploited Us All:

Facebook figures out who or what each of us fears most, and then sells that information to the creators of false memes and the like, who deliver those fears directly to our news feeds. This, in turn, makes the world a more fearful, hostile and dangerous place. . . .

When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, a friend of his expressed surprise that people were surrendering so much personal data to the platform. “I don’t know why,” Zuckerberg said. “They trust me. Dumb ...”

We may have been dumb to trust Facebook with our data in the first place. Now we know they've been using the data to make us even dumber.
• WFMU's own Amanda Nazario posts: "I'm hopeful for a society totally free from Facebook. Without feels so much better than with."

• A research paper explains: in Quitting Facebook Leads to Higher Levels of Well-Being, researchers found that quitting Facebook has "positive effects on the two dimensions of well-being: our life satisfaction increases and our emotions become more positive." (from the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking)

• And by the way, you need to delete Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp. Zuck owns them all. As Zeynep Tufekci put it, "You’d be surprised how many people don’t know that Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp."

• TechCrunch's Josh Constine: Facebook has allowed so many worst-case scenarios to come true there’s too many to count, but I’m going to try *deep breath*... see also his accompanying TechCrunch piece.

• Google's Francois Chollet posted an anti-Facebook thread: "If Facebook gets to decide, over the span of many years, which news you will see (real or fake), whose political status updates you’ll see, and who will see yours, then Facebook is in effect in control of your political beliefs and your worldview." Good point, Francois! (And don't worry, we'll get to Google soon.)

• Matt Yglesias puts it well in Vox: The case against Facebook is "not just about privacy; its core function makes people lonely and sad." Yglesias suggests that Zuck "simply walk away from it, shut it down, salt the earth, and move on to doing something entirely new." Unrealistic, yes, but let's state the case: Zuck should just shut down Facebook.

• Unfortunately, Zuck is digging in: it's all someone else's fault! In this NYT interview, Zuck asks: "were there [other] apps that could have.. done something that violated people's trust?" I don't know, Zuck, maybe you should rack your brains to think who might have violated people's trust. As Open Markets Institute's Matt Stoller puts it, Zuck's defense is "increasingly bizarre. He sees himself as the victim here, that he, a powerless man worth $70B+, was tricked. He still thinks Facebook is a 'community'. And he doesn't acknowledge he threatened to sue the newspapers reporting the scandal."

• Then yesterday, Zuck bought a full-page ad in the NYT, WSJ, Washington Post, and six papers in the UK - claiming the breach was caused by "a quiz app built by a university researcher." Lame attempt to reframe the story away from his own culpability. In other words, "pay no attention to my surveillance of you - we're going to punish that bad, bad 3rd party for misusing the data we surveilled!"

• Fact is, Facebook is toxic. As Mike Caulfield put it, forget the tobacco-industry comparisons, as it's more accurate to compare Facebook to Union Carbide: "Facebook is in an industry with a lot of risk and they seek out countries with low regulation and low institutional power to experiment in."

As Kelvin Yu put it, "In retrospect, it might have been a mistake to give Facebook all of my personal information in exchange for seeing what my high school friends eat for dinner"

...and news from TODAY, Monday:

The FTC Is Officially Investigating Facebook for the Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal: The Federal Trade Commission announced on Monday that it has opened an investigation into Facebook and whether it violated its stated privacy policy. Here's the official FTC statement.

- - -

Finally, another thanks for everyone who showed support for Techtonic and WFMU in the recent fundraising marathon: you can still make a pledge to get the first-ever official Techtonic Tshirt (for $10/month or a one-time pledge of at least $75): check the box for a "DJ Premium" and on the following page, you can check the box to choose the Techtonic t-shirt.

Subscribe to the Techtonic podcast to catch up on past episodes.

And go ahead and delete Facebook! (Here's how.)

Artist Track Images Approx. start time
  Explaining cryptocurrency w/Alex George, Popular Mechanics - and Mark on #deletefacebook
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Options    
  Mark's intro  
Options
 
  Interview with Alex George, Popular Mechanics  
Options
0:17:51 (MP3 | )

Listener comments!

Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:02pm listener james from westwood:

Evening, Mark and all! Slow past seven days, huh? :D
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:03pm Michael 98145:

time -does- seem to be accelerating, doesn't it?
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:03pm Warren from Australia:

Hey Mark and all Techtonic listeners, from across the pond!
Avatar    Mon. 3/26/18 6:05pm βrian:

Damn, I'd forgotten about Popular Mechanics. These days, it almost sounds like some kind of swimsuit issue.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:05pm foofs:

We're going to have a great time this evening! But first-
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:06pm Ken From Hyde Park:

There appears to be a new app called Wag! where a person comes to your house, takes your dog for a walk and locks up again when they're done.
Avatar    Mon. 3/26/18 6:06pm βrian:

Facebook always smelled funny to me, so I steered clear.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:06pm queems:

hell yeah
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:07pm Robert Tables:

@Ken: oops fortune.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:08pm Jackie:

This 2010 Zadie Smith piece on fb is as relevant as ever:

www.nybooks.com...
Avatar    Mon. 3/26/18 6:10pm βrian:

#DeleteAnyNonOpenSourceSocialMedia
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:10pm Ken From Hyde Park:

@RT - Well, there ya go. What could possibly go wring?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:11pm herb.nyc:

hi. just tuned in. and fyi: several state attorneys general will write to FB asking when it knew of data leaks. as per wnyc
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:11pm Patty D:

Over the weekend I deleted all facebook and fb related apps off of my phone. The next step will most likely be account deletion.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:11pm queems:

i haven't been able to delete instagram yet
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:12pm queems:

too attached
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:13pm Adam West Coaster:

I also made the jump from two disabled accounts to full deletion this past weekend, and know that I will be just fine.
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:13pm ?:

facebook can chew my hairy nutsack.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:14pm Patty D:

Too many people that I know rely on fb for planning events and get togethers which is why i am hesitant to delete my account in full. But soon I'll probably just do it anyway and notify everyone that I can not be reached there any longer.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:15pm listener james from westwood:

Oh, that FB ad in the Times was the weakest of sauce.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:17pm northguineahills:

Never had FB on my phone. I barely use FB except to connect w/ family, and on my laptop there is more control then w/ my phone.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:17pm TedfromOakland:

have you had the author of 'Surveillance Valley' on your show? his recent piece in the Baffler: thebaffler.com...
Avatar Mon. 3/26/18 6:17pm Andrew S:

big "amen" so far, let them have it
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:18pm Buffalo's Tom:

Next Zuck will say he's helping OJ find the real killer.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:18pm Robert Tables:

@βrian: maybe Usenet could be modernized.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:19pm Michael 98145:

^ :)
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:19pm Hannah:

I've just stopped using Instagram instead of deleting it for now. Looking for a better way to showcase a photo project online
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:20pm Patty D:

What about stay-at-home mom groups who need to post about where to find gluten-free food in the area? Where will they all go?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:21pm queems:

@hannah i used to use tumblr for more serious photo stuff but i don't really know the status of that anymore
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:21pm Buffalo's Tom:

Haha, maybe Glutebook?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:21pm queems:

and by "that" i mean tumblr
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:21pm Jackie:

@Patty the cesspool that is urbanbaby
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:22pm Hannah:

Thanks @queems
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:22pm Patty D:

@hannah, have you ever considered creating your own website and hosting your photo project there?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:23pm Jackie:

@Hannah not sure if free, but there's behance
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:23pm Ken From Hyde Park:

If you trust Yahoo! to not data breach, they have Flikr for photos. www.flickr.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:24pm Hannah:

All good options. Thank uuuu chatboard peeps
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:25pm queems:

@hannah you're welcome! if you find any good alternatives, please let us know!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:26pm Robert Tables:

"shitcoins"
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:26pm melinda:

We really need to think about viable alternatives. This issue came up in a discussion on my cousin's fbook wall when she brought up the topic of deleting her account, and a couple of people made the point that it had been a lifeline for them in dire times. I have felt the same way but I don't want to let that blind me to the privacy issue, and there was a general sense that no one should expect privacy on the internet, which I found frustrating.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:26pm Bas NL:

Most I've never even heard of(?)
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:26pm listener james from westwood:

Such money. Many servers. Wow.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:28pm Michael 98145:

so much energy consumed generating =wealth=
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:29pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Yeah, how many gigawatt-hourss of electrical power are consumed by data mining? How much in the future?
Avatar Mon. 3/26/18 6:29pm Number Six:

Ha! Love the photo! But instead of Data shouldn't it be ZuckerBorg?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:30pm Michael 98145:

@Ken, a whole lotta clean coal
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:31pm chris:

i guess Alex just mentioned this, but the winkelvoss twins took zuckerberg's payout from facebook and invested in bitcoin - www.nytimes.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:33pm herb.nyc:

i just bought 5 Hurstocurrency coins. from a guy at washington square park. seriously: 2,3 yrs ago someone had a stand w/sign "get a free bitcoin". i didn't ask how or what.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:33pm Bas NL:

Money and bitcoins work to the same principles.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:36pm Robert Tables:

There's JavaScript malware which runs in your browser and uses your CPU to mine coins for others, and the criminals profit. krebsonsecurity.com... Simple solution: run an extension like uBlock Origin - it's got a whole category of filters called "Resource Abuse" enabled by default with hundreds of websites in it.
Avatar    Mon. 3/26/18 6:36pm βrian:

By the same principles? Is the value of a bitcoin guaranteed to be redeemed by a government at face value? Like, say, one US dollar bill?
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:37pm Gregg:

The most important aspect of cryptocurrency is how the distributed ledger pulls the rug out from under the banks. This is as big a deal as the printing press, according to Max Keiser.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:37pm Michael 98145:

wow -- remembering Iceland experienced a drastic financial crash back in 2008 ...
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:37pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Bitcoin chart: finance.yahoo.com... Down 3.07% today.
Avatar    Mon. 3/26/18 6:37pm βrian:

Sometimes I think *all* javascript is malware.
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:38pm Gregg:

Crypto may very well make this world a better place. If Jamie Dymon is worried, it's got to be a good thing.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:39pm Robert Tables:

Unfortunately in many cases unless you allow _some_ JS all you get is a blank page.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:41pm Bas NL:

@βrian: How does a government redeem money? Many money systems have exploded in the past..
Avatar    Mon. 3/26/18 6:41pm βrian:

@RT: That's what we call catastrophic failure. Fashion in place of good design.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:42pm Robert Tables:

Yep, back to gopher then!
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:42pm Gregg:

The thing about crypto is that it's not fiat. There will only be so many coins made. And it's not controlled by governments/reserve banks. This is huge.
Avatar    Mon. 3/26/18 6:42pm βrian:

No, just good design in place of sheer laziness.
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:43pm medson:

Great show Mark.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:44pm Bas NL:

The US dollar for instance isn't controlled by the US government. It's the FED; an external entity.. it is a trust based system, like bitcoin.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:45pm Michael 98145:

are folks buying gold with bitcoin, and vice versa ?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:45pm northguineahills:

@Michael: but they also did something about it and drastically changed their banking laws in the Thing, unlike the US Congress.
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:45pm moontana:

" . . . the end of the hype cycle . . .?" yer dreamin. Why can't speedier computers keep up with demand by bitcoin miners?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:46pm Bas NL:

Hi Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:46pm Michael 98145:

China is probably trying to corner the bitcoin market
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:47pm listener james from westwood:

China has experience from Warcraft gold farming.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:50pm listener james from westwood:

Didn't a hip-hop artist who got paid in a few bitcoin years back suddenly recall he had them, only to realize he was up $$$ since then?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:52pm TDK60:

I know nothing about this stuff. I'll listen.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:52pm herb.nyc:

didn't NKorea have people play video games to make money? money then channeled to the govt.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:54pm Michael 98145:

▁ ▂ ▃ ▄ ▅ ▆ Wow. Thanks again for this program.
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:54pm JeremyB:

great graphic novel about gold farming in games called In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wango
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:55pm JeremyB:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2017-11-30/so-it-looks-like-nobel-economics-laureates-don-t-like-bitcoin
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:56pm geo in jc:

Check out this cool archive
archive.org...
Avatar Mon. 3/26/18 6:56pm Andrew S:

great show
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:56pm northguineahills:

Thanks Mark and Alex, getting of work soon!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:56pm listener 126464:

Thanks Mark and Alex!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:56pm chris:

thanks, Mark and Alex!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:57pm melinda:

Thanks Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:57pm Bas NL:

Thanks Mark, Alex!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:57pm Tommy in Neversink:

Can we pledge in bitcoin ?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:57pm listener 126464:

heard this somewhere recently...
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:58pm melinda:

@Tommy yes
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:58pm Michael 98145:

wonder if ISPs accept bitcoin?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:58pm Ken From Hyde Park:

I wonder if the adult entertainment industry will be using buttcoins?
Avatar    Mon. 3/26/18 6:58pm Mayuko:

This reminded me of an article about a father who issues domestic currency used among him and his sons, which is photographs of baseball players they cut out of magazines and ad flyers. kids pay with this currency to play video games at home. the worth is determine by the size of the photo. sounds more tangible to me than all these cryptocurrencies... enjoyed the discussion nonetheless!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:59pm Michael 98145:

stormycoin
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:59pm Tommy in Neversink:

The bitcoin peep shows
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 6:59pm Robert Tables:

Great performance at the Hoof and Mouth, Mark!
  Mon. 3/26/18 6:59pm herb.nyc:

this is the second time i've ever heard this song. first time was because mark sang it 2 sundays ago. and very well too.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 7:00pm Tommy in Neversink:

The second time ?? really ?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 3/26/18 7:01pm Michael 98145:

time for coin fry
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