Two articles appeared almost back-to-back in the New York Times during the month of February, in a stunning display of cognitive dissonance. First, it was this story about elite business school grads who aren't "happy" in corporate finance, despite their fat paychecks--because (surprise!) the work feels meaningless. (In the article, a shallow discussion of "the meaning of success" ensues, but the author, a Harvard Business graduate, finds no resolution.) In an unrelated article one week later, the Times rolled out the red carpet for a rumored Facebook cryptocurrency, seeming to downplay the importance of Bitcoin. (Facebook workers, for the record, are also struggling with nihilism and worse at work, says the Verge.)
Bitcoin is an antitode to meaningless technical work; it is a Facebook-destroyer, not a Facebook-competitor. As financial infrastructure for free and open source software development, Bitcoin was built to enable developers and designers to choose their own work and execute it in private, on their own terms, outside of a full-time-employment context. A 2005 MIT study showed this style of self-directed career development is critical to happiness for technical workers. At scale, ad hoc skilled labor may eventually undermine the economics of traditional employment, making mega-corps like Facebook slow and uncompetitive in the face of small, loosely-allied developer groups who share common infrastructure. To learn more about how that future might come to pass, check out Section VII of the Iterative Capital thesis.
Facebook and Telegram Are Hoping to Succeed Where Bitcoin Failed
"The most anticipated but secretive project is underway at Facebook. The company is working on a coin that users of WhatsApp, which Facebook owns, could send to friends and family instantly, said five people briefed on the effort who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. The Facebook project is far enough along that the social networking giant has held conversations with cryptocurrency exchanges about selling the Facebook coin to consumers, said four people briefed on the negotiations."
Wealthy, Successful and Miserable
"He earned about $1.2 million a year and hated going to the office. 'I feel like I’m wasting my life,' he told me. 'When I die, is anyone going to care that I earned an extra percentage point of return? My work feels totally meaningless.' He recognized the incredible privilege of his pay and status, but his anguish seemed genuine. 'If you spend 12 hours a day doing work you hate, at some point it doesn’t matter what your paycheck says,' he told me. There’s no magic salary at which a bad job becomes good. He had received an offer at a start-up, and he would have loved to take it, but it paid half as much, and he felt locked into a lifestyle that made this pay cut impossible. 'My wife laughed when I told her about it,' he said."
Why Facebook Still Seems to Spy on You
"I tested my suspicion by downloading the What to Expect pregnancy app. I didn’t so much as share an email address, yet in less than 12 hours, I got a maternity-wear ad in my Instagram feed. I’m not pregnant, nor otherwise in a target market for maternity-wear. When I tried to retrace the pathway, discussing the issue with the app’s publisher, its data partners, the advertiser and Facebook itself—dozens of emails and phone calls—not one would draw a connection between the two events. Often, they suggested I ask one of the other parties."
Grim Stories of Ethical, Privacy Abuses Emerge About Coinbase’s New Partners
"Hacking Team’s RCS technology was used by the Ethiopian government (which ranks as one of the most oppressive in Africa, with a penchant for silencing free speech) to surveil and interfere with the operations of Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio, a news outlet run by Ethiopian expats. The technology helped the Turkish government to spy on an American, and it was also sold to the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service in 2012 for a whopping €960,000 (around $1,210,000 at the time)... It also played its part in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia and the assault and arrest of UAE activist Ahmed Mansoor."
Coinbase Users Struggle to Delete Their Accounts in Protest
"The acquisition was met with widespread condemnation in the cryptocurrency community, which kicked off a hashtag—#DeleteCoinbase—aimed at fomenting a groundswell of account closures in protest. Some #DeleteCoinbase participants were met with roadblocks when trying to close their Coinbase accounts, however, and are now helping each other move off of Coinbase. To close a Coinbase account, you have to have a balance of zero. Some users with infinitesimal fractions of cryptocurrency called “dust” in their accounts, which are usually leftovers from various transactions, were reportedly met with an error message when they tired to send these small amounts to an external wallet, saying the amount was too small to send. "
How to See Exactly Who Google Thinks You Are — And Then Turn off Their Tracking
"Google keeps all your calendar activities, email, notes, files in drive and photos stored, even after you have deleted them. So practically, Google knows everything that needs to be known about your digital life. Google has created an advertisement profile for you based on the information it has collected, click here to see your ad profile.
To download all your information gathered by Google, click here. (Data package from drive and photos are huge in size, because of the files you have uploaded to them)."
The five camps of crypto
"The industry is littered with varying opinions on what Satoshi meant, what blockchain enables, how much decentralization matters, and (perhaps most contentiously) what is realistically achievable. It’s our belief that the voices in the space can be boiled down into five primary schools of thought, or camps. Each camp has a unique motivation and defines success differently. Note that camps are not mutually exclusive, they are simply coordinates along a spectrum. Yes, projects can live between multiple camps. Don’t get mad."
Ethereum Upgrades as Hard Forks Activate on Blockchain
"At 19:57 (UTC), the sixth and seventh system-wide upgrades to the software, dubbed Constantinople and St. Petersburg, respectively, rolled out on the main network at block number 7,280,000. As seen on blockchain monitoring website Fork Monitor, there is so far no evidence of a chain split that would suggest a portion of ethereum users are still running an older ethereum software. ... With today’s release of Constantinople and St. Petersberg, four different ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs) have been officially activated on the ethereum network – one of which does introduce a new “corner case” affecting smart contract immutability."
Ethereum Developers Start Search for New Hard Fork Coordinator
"Following the departure of core developer Afri Schoedon from the open-source project in late February, ethereum developers discussed the issue of who would take his place in coordinating hard forks, or system-wide software upgrades, in a meeting Friday. Schoeden left just last week after favorable remarks he made about another blockchain project sparked social media outcry. The role as highlighted by Ethereum Foundation community relations manager Hudson Jameson would consist of '[deciding] on hard dates for submitting [Ethereum Improvement Proposals] for consideration, deciding on those EIPs, implementation and testing and then finally what day the hard fork would be.'"