Opinion | Why the Latest Layoffs Are Devastating to Democracy – By Farhad Manjoo – The New York Times

Fifteen percent of BuzzFeed’s employees, including dozens of journalists, are losing their jobs.
Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By Farhad Manjoo
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 30, 2019, 375

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Fifteen percent of BuzzFeed’s employees, including dozens of journalists, are losing their jobs.CreditCreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images
Working in digital media is like trying to build a fort out of marshmallows on a foundation made of marbles in a country ruled by capricious and tyrannical warring robots. I’ve toiled in this business for nearly 20 years, and even in the best of times it has been a squeamish and skittering ride, the sort of career you’d counsel your kids to avoid in favor of something less volatile and more enduring — bitcoin mining, perhaps.

It might be tempting, then, to dismiss the recent spate of media-biz layoffs as unfortunate but otherwise not concerning. Two hundred workers, including dozens of journalists, were given the slip last week at BuzzFeed. About 800 people are losing their jobs in the media division of Verizon, the telephone company that owns Yahoo, HuffPost, TechCrunch and many other “content brands.” And Gannett, the once-mighty newspaper empire that owns USA Today and hundreds of smaller outlets — from The Bergen County Record to The Zanesville Times Recorder — is letting go of 400.

But it would be a mistake to regard these cuts as the ordinary chop of a long-roiling digital media sea. Instead, they are a devastation.”

David Lindsay: This is so complicated. I agree with many commenters who do not accept Manjoo’s thesis as to how important Buzz Feed is. I am very concerned about local independent news organizations though, and Facebook and Google might be major reasons for their demise. Amazon is guilty of using its monopolistic power to force companies like Diapers.com to sell to them, when they didn’t want to. Amazon should be broken up. Facebook has been guilty of letting some of their advertizers hijack our democracy. Facebook should be forced to let go of Instagram and WhatsApp. Google is guilty of putting their interests at the top of their searchs. Perhaps that problem can be fixed with Federal and international regulations.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. His duo performs a folk music and readings concert and sing-a-long about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Civil says the future of media is blockchains and cryptocurrencies – By Mathew Ingram – Columbia Journalism Review

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Civil’s infrastructure, including its version of a crypto-currency, is based on Ethereum. When the platform launches in the spring, it will do an “initial coin offering” that will give its staff—including a number of journalists the company is in the process of signing up as contributors—an ownership stake. And Civil tokens will also be used to pay journalists who distribute their content through the platform.

Iles says he originally got a journalism degree and wanted to become a journalist, but then got pulled into the marketing industry. He and his wife created a digital marketing company they later sold, and he started looking for something else to do.

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“I had continued to follow the discussions around the state of journalism, and I was struck by how far off the mark everyone was as far as the next thing that was going to save journalism,” Iles says. “No one went to the root cause, which was that journalism needed a new business model. The leading digital advertising companies [Facebook and Google] were the distribution point, and they were just continuing the spiral journalism was going down.” As he learned more about Bitcoin, Iles says he became convinced that it provided the opportunity to reinvent journalism for the Internet era, and to wean the industry off what he believed was a toxic reliance on advertising, onto a crowdfunded model.

“I thought we’ve wrapped the world in beams of light with the Internet, and that structure should be a boon to journalism, and free and independent journalism for that matter,” says Iles. “I thought we needed to think more radically, that the existing business model couldn’t just be tweaked back into the service of journalism.”

Civil has raised a total of $5 million from a fund called Consensus Systems that specializes in crypto-currency investments, including a startup called Ujo that is focused on bringing blockchain to the music business.

Maria Bustillos, a writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times, is one of those who has signed on to be part of the platform, where she will be running a Civil-based digital magazine called Popula. Among the writers she has lined up are Sasha Frere-Jones, a former writer for The New Yorker.

via Civil says the future of media is blockchains and cryptocurrencies – Columbia Journalism Review

What Is Bitcoin- and How Does It Work? – The New York Times

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What is Bitcoin mining?
Bitcoin mining refers to the process through which new Bitcoins are created and given to computers helping to maintain the network. The computers involved in Bitcoin mining are in a sort of computational race to process new transactions coming onto the network. The winner — generally the person with the fastest computers — gets a chunk of new Bitcoins, 12.5 of them right now. (The reward is halved every four years.)

There is generally a new winner about every 10 minutes, and there will be until there are 21 million Bitcoins in the world. At that point, no new Bitcoins will be created. This cap is expected to be reached in 2140. So far, about 16 million Bitcoin have been distributed.

Every Bitcoin in existence was created through this method and initially given to a computer helping to maintain the records. Anyone can set his or her computer to mine Bitcoin, but these days only people with specialized hardware manage to win the race.

via What Is Bitcoin, and How Does It Work? – The New York Times

Bubble- Bubble- Fraud and Trouble – Bitcoin – by Paul Krugman – NYT

The other day my barber asked me whether he should put all his money in Bitcoin. And the truth is that if he’d bought Bitcoin, say, a year ago he’d be feeling pretty good right now. On the other hand, Dutch speculators who bought tulip bulbs in 1635 also felt pretty good for a while, until tulip prices collapsed in early 1637.

So is Bitcoin a giant bubble that will end in grief? Yes. But it’s a bubble wrapped in techno-mysticism inside a cocoon of libertarian ideology. And there’s something to be learned about the times we live in by peeling away that wrapping.

If you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard of Bitcoin, it’s the biggest, best-known example of a “cryptocurrency”: an asset that has no physical existence, consisting of nothing but a digital record stored on computers. What makes cryptocurrencies different from ordinary bank accounts, which are also nothing but digital records, is that they don’t reside in the servers of any particular financial institution. Instead, a Bitcoin’s existence is documented by records distributed in many places.

via Bubble, Bubble, Fraud and Trouble – The New York Times

In China’s Hinterlands- Workers Mine Bitcoin for a Digital Fortune – The New York Times

“DALAD BANNER, China — They worked as factory hands, in the coal business and as farmers. Their spirits rose when a coal boom promised to bring factories and jobs to this land of grassy plains in Inner Mongolia. When the boom ebbed, they looked for work wherever they could.Today, many have found it at a place that makes money — the digital kind.”

 

Over my head I’m afraid. I never invest in anything that is so complicated I can’t understand it. My best understanding is that this is a con job of sorts, useful mostly to terrorists, gangsters, drug dealers, and tax avoidance types.

It reminds me of when the US was young, and every state had its own currency. I believe some cities had their own currency. If there is no limit to who can start a currency, the players in such games must be at great risk of excessive competition.

On the other hand, there is a great demand for an underground, untraceable currency, especially for the illegal drug and sex markets. I continue to advocate for the legalization of almost all illegal drugs, which would stop the destabilization of national governments and courts and police forces with a $50 or $100 billion dollar a year illegal drug market. The future of bitcoin and its competitors would also decrease.