Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ’s Digital Group members. These are articles we’ve read and liked, things that made us think and things we couldn’t stop talking about. It’s an eclectic mix this week:
Here’s a list — building on and including Chris’ last roundup — of crypto readings and resources. It’s organized from building blocks and basics; foundations (& history); and key concepts and beginners’ guides — followed by specific topics such as governance; privacy and security; scaling; consensus; cryptoeconomics and investing; fundraising and token distribution; decentralized exchanges; stablecoins; and cryptoeconomic primitives (crytocollectibles, curation markets, games). We also included a section with developer tutorials, practical guides, and maker stories — as well as other resources, such as newsletters and courses, at the end.
We’ll soon be updating this regularly at crypto.a16z.com, for now we’ll keep it updated here. You can also find most of a16z’s writings, posts, and videos on the topic at a16z.com/crypto.
“Blockchain technology has the potential to solve some of the most prominent issues currently facing scholarly communication, such as those around costs, openness, and universal accessibility to scientific information [see full article here]. According to Dr. Joris van Rossum—who will be keynoting the NFAIS Annual Conference—one of the promises of blockchain is the creation of a unified but decentralized, transparent database that tracks every stage of the scientific process, from data collection to publishing findings.”
The year 2020 is just three years away, and technologies are aligning for a perfect storm that could either make or break established media houses. Live video, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Augmented Reality have all been buzzwords of the “next big thing.” As standalone products, none of these have been the silver bullet. But at the intersection of all these technologies, new storytelling formats and platforms are emerging that will fundamentally shift the way we publish.
While you may not be familiar with the term “Blockchain,” I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of bitcoin. The crypto-currency is getting a lot of attention lately, as some early adopters and investors are seeing massive returns.
Each year, tech consulting giant Accenture makes predictions about the kind of technology we’ll see at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. I interviewed Greg Roberts, managing director for Accenture’s North American high-tech industry practice, about the predictions for CES 2018, the big tech trade show that will take place in Las Vegas in the second week of January. Continue reading “Accenture predicts the top tech stories of CES 2018”→
Plenty of startups are trying to reinvent the news business by adding features such as micro-payments or mobile video. But a startup called Civil is trying to take a quantum leap beyond these efforts: It’s not just inventing its own platform for news and journalism, it’s also inventing its own currency. Civil, founded by Matthew […]
by David Berkowitz, chief strategy officer, Sysomos
Social listening has evolved tremendously over the past decade — and the next couple of years seem poised to present even more massive technological breakthroughs in the industry. In particular, marketers should keep an eye on these three areas — visual search, artificial intelligence, and blockchain. Continue reading “Sounds of progress: The future of social listening”→
It suddenly feels like blockchain is everywhere — and that includes media and advertising. Here’s what to know.
What it is
Blockchain is the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like bitcoin; it’s essentially a massive Excel sheet that operates in a decentralized network format. That means that the data can have large amounts of information that can be transmitted and added onto, without compromising on security. You can’t change the blockchain — and for data purposes, not one person or entity can destroy it.
What it isn’t
Blockchain is not bitcoin. While that’s what it is best known for, bitcoin is basically a digital currency that operates on blockchain. The blockchain developed for bitcoin was developed specifically for it — which is why other uses for it were only developed much later. And while bitcoin works because it is anonymous, blockchain for other types of businesses don’t have to be anonymous. In fact, they shouldn’t be: Participants are able to tell where data came from so they can trust that it’s real.
Use in media
Monetization: This week, blockchain content distribution platform Decent announced the launch of Publiq, a “rewarding” process that will let writers and creators distribute content on the blockchain and get paid immediately.
Advanced TV: A new technology by Comcast’s advanced advertising group lets brands make ad buys on both broadcast and OTT TV using blockchain technology. The group, which has brought together Disney, Altice USA, the U.K.’s Channel 4 and TG1 Group in Italy, plans to — in 2018 — let marketers, publishers and programmers share data without having to pool it in any one place. A CPG marketer, for example, would be able to use data from a content producer like Hulu to understand how to target its ad buys without receiving the actual data itself.
Fraud: In June, MetaX and the Data & Marketing Association launched adChain, an open protocol on the Ethereum blockchain that tags a piece of creative and follows it on the internet to make sure someone sees it, determining who it was as well as what actions were taken afterward. Like Comcast’s approach, adChain lets multiple parts of the industry, from agency to publisher to marketer, work together without dependency.
Whitelisting: MetaX also runs an adChain registry in collaboration with the DMA and ConsenSys that uses a cryptocurrency called “adToken,” which incentivizes people to determine whether a publisher can be whitelisted or not (or is deemed reputable or not). Brands can then decide to spend money only on those publishers.
Ad buying: This year, Nasdaq plans to launch the New York Interactive Advertising Exchange, which will be a marketplace where brands, publishers and agencies can buy and sell future ad inventory. The idea is to automate contract execution as long as conditions are met. It plans to first support only digital ad buys.
The problems Blockchain isn’t widely adopted: Fred Askham, associate director of analytics at IMM, which is looking into using adChain, said while fraud is a big concern, the big problem in the industry is adoption. Blockchain relies on multiple “nodes” and players, and if people don’t participate, it doesn’t work. “In the advertising industry, we’ve seen this happen a few times where the tech to measure something comes out and then there is some lag time,” he said.
It’s too theoretical: Comcast’s platform won’t launch until 2018, while NYIAX is still in the proof-of-concept phase. Most moves in blockchain are in the theoretical phase, with their realization expected to be years away, if they even happen.
It won’t scale: Dave Morgan, CEO of Simulmedia, whose investor Union Square Ventures recently announced a major blockchain investment, said blockchain’s biggest promise is in ad delivery, but scale remains an issue. “It’s good for problems that are easy to solve on an individual level but hard to compute overall,” he said. “It’s really about five years away, if not more.” For example, an Ethereum-based blockchain processes 20 transactions per second — light-years away from how quickly real-time bidding works. Research firm Gartner places blockchain right before the “Trough of Disillusionment.”
It won’t work for many types of transactions: Jon Heller, co-founder of FreeWheel, which worked on the insights platform and is owned by Comcast, said that where there is no secondary market, like in the premium video space, blockchain for smart contracts doesn’t make sense. “Premium inventory doesn’t have this commodity-like feeling,” he said. “The parts where it makes a ton of sense is that it lets you trust a transaction without having to trust the counterparty. So that’s not everywhere in marketing, but it’s in a decent number of things in marketing.”
The counterargument “There are few technical barriers. Blockchain has proved itself robust and adaptable to dozens of high-impact use cases. Companies need to develop compelling-enough applications that it can make a real impact. This is already happening,” said Alex Tapscott, author of “Blockchain Revolution.” “As I say, the future’s not something to be predicted; it’s something to be achieved. We’re seeing people achieving amazing things already.”