Sunday Seven: bitcoin, college and art

Been travelling! A lovely few days in Copenhagen with my daughter, with oodles of walking, talking, walking, talking and eating the most divine open-faced sandwiches I’ve had in my life. Oh, and Christmas ale. I could go on for a while about Christmas ale, but I’ll spare you.

So, instead of the Friday Five, we have today the Sunday Seven.

And I’m opening with an article that wasn’t from the past week, but that I have just come across and has one of the best quotes about the fintech sector that I’ve seen:

Bitcoin Bucket Shop Kicks Bucket – by Matt Levine, for Bloomberg

“Tech is an industry of moving fast and breaking things. Finance is an industry of moving fast, breaking things, being mired in years of litigation, paying 10-digit fines, and ruefully promising to move slower and break fewer things in the future.”

A really amusing and sharp article about the craziness of innovation and the importance of Doing Things Right.

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Running a Business without a Bank – via The Atlantic

The Atlantic features a World Bank-sponsored photo competition launched to highlight the struggles of businesses in emerging economies that have to manage without secure banking. The stories are moving and the photos are stunning. Take a look.

by Lê Minh Quốc via The Atlantic

by Lê Minh Quốc via The Atlantic

by Loc Mai via The Atlantic

by Loc Mai via The Atlantic

by Tran Van Tuy via The Atlantic

by Tran Van Tuy via The Atlantic

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Liquid Bitcoin – by Jon Evans, for TechCrunch

A great summary of the main issues buffeting the Bitcoin world right now (about which I write at fintechblue.com). Jon Evans describes the block size debate, sidechains and smart contracts in his usual straightforward, easy-to-understand and witty prose.

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Equal vs. Equivalency – by Brett Berry, via Medium

This is beyond geeky, but blew my mathematical mind. 5 x 3 is not the same as 5 + 5 + 5. No. And equivalent does not mean equal. I didn’t know any of this, and I studied maths at a good university (perhaps I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have…). Part of me is screaming “So???”. But then I remember that the heightened requirement for attention to detail is one of the many things I love about programming, and I realise that maybe kids should be taught this exaggerated level of specificity.

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Rethinking college: Innovative reform, not disruption, is needed – by Stuart Butler for The Brookings Institute

I’ve read a lot of “let’s innovate college education” articles over the past few months, so many that even ever-so-patient I have started worrying about the ratio of words to action. Which may be why I found this article from the Brookings Institution hopeful, albeit short. It suggests reforms (not perhaps the radical innovation the headline suggests, but close) that sound do-able without too much legislative hand-wringing and status-quo defending.

1) Some college level courses taught during high school…

2) More use of online material…

3) Degrees based on performance rather than “seat time.” Certifying progress on successfully completing course work and examinations, rather than in-class credit hours, means students can take courses in non-college settings…

4) New ventures assembling customized, low-cost course packages…

Surely it’s time to stop writing about how little relevance college degrees have in tomorrow’s workforce, and how hard it is to recover the cost/pay down the student debt with the ever-lower wages college degrees now bring? Or rather, time to spend less time writing and more time talking to universities, local governments, businesses that do the hiring, etc.? Not to mention the time we should spend talking to students, the ones who will use and benefit from the reforms and technological changes?

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The Story of One Girl – by Sophia Bush, via Medium

A lovely article about a cause that matters, even more than the article hints at. Get more women access to education, and you are a huge step forward on the path to eradicating poverty.

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Technology fears – from The Brookings Institute

This is anecdotal but interesting, and appropriate for this Halloween weekend: our biggest technology-related fears, from The Brookings Institute.

via The Brookings Institute

via The Brookings Institute

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Gaming platform Twitch gets Creative

The live-streaming gaming platform Twitch has launched its Creative channel, where you can now watch paint dry. Actually, you watch artists paint, glass blowers blow, designers design… And, it’s fascinating, in a totally hypnotic sort of way. Don’t try it unless you have some serious time to kill, but if you are feeling low on inspiration, it’ll definitely get your juices and ambition flowing again. Some artists even have more followers on Twitch than certain games. Inexplicably appealing.

landscape artist Bob Ross on Twitch

landscape artist Bob Ross on Twitch

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My favourite hangover cure, if you celebrated Halloween last night: sushi for breakfast. Just sayin’.

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