Facelift: How Decentralized Social Networks Could Make Crypto Cool

Facelift: How Decentralized Social Networks Could Make Crypto Cool

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Social networking has become ubiquitous throughout much of the world but introduce decentralization, and the traditional network becomes something unrecognizable. The prosaic notion of an ‘egalitarian’ social network, where each user both controls and feels their power within it, on the surface fits well with the notion of decentralized technologies – the blockchain, decentralized ledger and cryptocurrency. Although the latter has only existed in the mainstream for six years or so, in 2015 decentralized networks are already making this notion a reality. Social networks used throughout the world – notably Facebook – tend to use advertising as their major source of revenue. Advertising manipulates users and gathers information about their lifestyles, and is in turn tied to fiat currency, which allows the network to continue operating. The manipulation element is key: users sign up to the network, which then uses their habits to generate revenue, while keeping them on the network through targeted advertising and by giving them a freely customizable interface which lets them feel ‘in control’. This mechanism of manipulation is one aspect of Facebook’s operation, in particular, which has generated criticism. Other aspects are notably the selling of user data to third party companies – a security …

“Popcorn Time has exploded over the last year as a free and likely illegal alternative to Netflix, with no monthly fees, more content, and in some cases better quality video.”

Why Bitcoin’s Killer App Is Going to Look Like Popcorn Time

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A recent WIRED article entitled “Popcorn Time’s Piracy App Is Sneaking onto iPhones” reads: “Popcorn Time has exploded over the last year as a free and likely illegal alternative to Netflix, with no monthly fees, more content, and in some cases better quality video.” In case you don’t know, Popcorn Time is built on the Bittorrent protocol. And many – if not most – Popcorn Time users have never heard of Bittorrent. Sound like a predecessor for Bitcoin’s killer app? Swap out a few words and see: “Fill-in-the-blank-Bitcoin-app has exploded over the last year as a free and likely illegal alternative to state-sanctioned banking, with no fees, more payment options, and in some cases built-in merchant discounts.” Peer-to-Peer Brings the Fear The evolutions of Bittorrent and Bitcoin closely mirror one another. Bittorrent was launched in 2001. Over the years, it’s weathered tiresome attacks by Hollywood’s political wing, the MPAA – attacks that were pushed all the way to the ISP level. Internet service providers began attempting to throttle torrent traffic, largely in response to legal threats from the MPAA. End users were even “fined.” The company that maintains the Bittorrent protocol, Bittorrent, Inc., went so far as signing a legal …

Why This Internet Pioneer Believes Bitcoin Has the Power to Break the Cycle of Poverty

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When millionaire Wences Casares speaks of poverty, and he often does, he’s not blowing hot air. He’s speaking from firsthand experience. The Argentina-born serial Silicon Valley startup investor and bitcoin entrepreneur grew up on his parents’ sheep ranch, 20 miles from the nearest neighbor and 100 miles from the nearest town. Isolated in the rugged Patagonia region, he watched his family lose their life savings, not once but three times due to hyperinflation. “I remember my parents losing everything,” Casares told TechCrunch. “I was 14.” Bearing witness to his parents’ devastating consecutive losses cut deep, fueling his ongoing global mission to leverage technology to help spare others from similar straits.   He set out to help impoverished and underserved people gain access to critical financial services that often only the well-to-do throughout much of Latin America are privy to. In 1994, at the age of 20, he made history when he founded Argentina’s first Internet Services Provider. In 1998, Casares founded the online brokerage Patagon, an Internet-based financial services portal. The startup was eventually scooped up for a cool $750 million. Casares later launched a successful video game development firm that gaming goliath Activision acquired. He also created a retail bank that grew …