Michael J. Casey is chairman of CoinDesk’s advisory board and a senior advisor of blockchain study at MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative.
The following post initially appeared in CoinDesk Weekly, a custom-curated newsletter delivered every single Sunday exclusively to our subscribers.
OK, Ardor fans. You have your want. Your favourite token is obtaining a mention on CoinDesk.
Not, probably, for the causes you want. But they do say all publicity is excellent publicity. So, there you have it. The response to my column last week on layer-two options was mainly optimistic with the usual dose of critics, but it was the Ardor tribe who caught my consideration when one reader’s tweet, complaining that I hadn’t mentioned the blockchain platform, prompted other people to pile on with accusations of my bias and ignorance.
It got me considering about how monetary self-interest, which has constantly skewed people’s perceptions of the media they consume, is becoming taken to a new level when crypto tokens are involved.
I do think blockchain technologies and connected tips around prediction markets and reputation will 1 day assist us sort by means of the free of charge-for-all of competing truths that the social media age has created. For now, although, I be concerned that all we’re performing is generating a worldwide brawl of angry folks, all believing that they and only they own the truth.
This is genuinely not about Ardor. (From what I can tell, Ardor’s framework for enabling “youngster chains” makes an interesting contribution to the evolution of crypto technologies.)
What this is about is how folks invested in the numerous tokens attached to competing projects that similarly claim to be creating some quantum leap in blockchain capability come to passionately believe that theirs is superior to every person else’s and deserves far more prominence than it’s acquiring.
In Ardor’s case, it is the holders of the principal platform’s ARDR token as nicely as these invested in the youngster chain Ignis token. But I could just as effectively be speaking about holders of ETH, XRP, IOTA, BCH and yes, BTC.
Fanatical, blinkered investors are practically nothing new, of course. It as soon as was the case with GE’s shareholders &ndash certainly, not any more. It really is constantly been so for investors in Warren Buffet’s holding firm, Berkshire Hathaway, and in this previous decade we’ve seen it with Tesla. But there are two variables that make the phenomenon much more extreme in the age of cryptocurrency.
The 1st is the sheer volume of coins and the huge retail investor base they attract.
The second is that social media is now the main means by which marketplace-relevant data is distributed. And social media, for greater or worse, is primarily anarchy.
Combine these two and you end up with something worse than the troll armies that currently cause such public angst about social media. You get monetized trolls.
The scammiest way this plays out is with bots. Bailey Reutzel’s wonderful tiny survey of some classic spam bot moments in “Crypto Twitter” shows how distorting the combination of crypto and social media can be.
But there is also lots of human-led ugliness: anonymous trolls disrupting healthier dialogues with ad hominem attacks and coin-pumping tweets filling our news feeds.
Now I think that, sooner or later, anarchic social media may evolve to point where it’s far superior to the standard media model that preceded it. And, as I talked about, blockchain-based “proofs” and skin-in-the-game staking systems may possibly one day help us sort via this mess.
Beneath the old, centrally-managed technique, where news organizations filtered the important public data prior to it reached its intended audience, there was an inherent constraint on the amount of data obtainable. And there was an access issue.
So, just as ICOs have shown how access to capital may possibly be democratized, 1 could argue that social media has also produced a potentially more democratized model of access to publishing systems. (I say “potentially” due to the fact in numerous respects what has happened is we’ve shifted energy from the old news establishment to a new form of media behemoth: the follower-rich celebrity &ndash think Donald Trump, or Justin Bieber.)
However, with no viable, decentralized mechanism as yet for rewarding honesty and great behavior, or for processing data so that some kind of consensus can be formed about it, we’re left with noise. Worse, there is a broken feedback loop in which metrics such as the market place cap of a token or the followership of a social media account reinforce and confirm people’s biases.
We saw it with the XRP mob that jumped on the New York Times’ Nathaniel Popper following he cited bankers saying they weren’t making use of the token connected with Ripple. The mob was unleashed, ironically, by a former co-editor of TechCrunch and now vocal investor &ndash Michael Arrington &ndash who vehemently claimed that Popper should have made up his quotes.
The swarm of XRP fanboys was unmoved by the logic that for a reporter at the Times to do such a factor would be professional suicide &ndash study about Jayson Blair for background on this.
Or there is the IOTA gang that collectively pumped out an option narrative that my colleagues at the MIT Digital Currency Initiative who’d discovered flaws in IOTA’s hashing algorithm were conflicted by company interests. Or the gang of ethereum supporters who took as gospel truth Vitalik Buterin’s claim that CoinDesk is complicit in enabling crypto scams.
Attacks on the press have happened for as extended as it has existed. That is not a undesirable thing per se. Any functioning society maintains a vigorous critique of media organizations. Some form of bias is unavoidable in media coverage. It deserves to be questioned.
But news organizations are no longer the all-crucial filters they once have been. They represent a single, increasingly little sector of a vast array of sources claiming to supply relevant information.
And unlike those other individual and corporate sources, news organizations &ndash the excellent ones at least, these that can get beyond their owners’ and their advertisers’ interests and practice sound journalism &ndash should not be captured by the same heavily economic biases.
So it’s disturbing that we’ve gone from discovering Facebook’s #fakenews difficulty to the appropriation of that term by these who peddle the view that mainstream media is the main supply of disinformation, to the even much more extreme scenario in which a market place for details is composed of participants with tokens whose worth they want to protect.
If we’re going to tokenize every little thing, which might or might not be a very good notion, this cacophony of competing truths peddled by various self-interested mobs will most likely get even worse. What happens when celebrities and businesses and dictators have their personal coins, with armies of rabid supporters performing their bidding in this battle for truth? Decentralized options to this are nevertheless a extended way off.
I’m not entirely certain how we quit this train for now, except to make a plea formed by my own, unavoidable pro-journalism bias. I humbly ask that men and women in the crypto community have a small much more respect for journalists who, although far from best, are at least attempting to make news and content material that’s not skewed by their or anyone else’s investments.
Without having them, what have you got?
Burning statement image by way of Shutterstock
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Published at Mon, 04 Jun 2018 13:00:24 +0000