Thursday, July 20, 2017

That does it (or, suffering from technology fatigue)

Every once in a while, I see a headline that stops me dead in my very tracks. That was my reaction when I saw this one the other day on Bloomberg:

Ethereum Co-Founder Says Crypto Coin Market Is A Time-Bomb

The opening paras were more confounding than the headline.

Initial coin offerings, a means of crowdfunding for blockchain-technology companies, has caught so much attention that even the co-founder of the ethereum network, where many of these digital coins are built, says it’s time for things to cool down in a big way.

“People say ICOs are great for ethereum because, look at the price, but it’s a ticking time-bomb,” Charles Hoskinson, who helped develop ethereum, said in an interview. “There’s an over-tokenization of things as companies are issuing tokens when the same tasks can be achieved with existing blockchains. People are blinded by fast and easy money.”

Okay. I know what crowdfunding is. And blockchain technology. And, of course, crypto currency. Not to mention a time-bomb. But the whole thing makes my head hurt. Real bad. Having an organization that’s gone all e.e. cummings and dubbed itself ethereum doesn’t help much either, headache-wise. Because it’s just so much easier to figure out that ethereum is a proper-noun entity, rather than just another any-old-word, if you don’t capitalize it. (No wonder people hate marketing.)

That non-capitalization is almostashelpfultothereadingpublicasleavingoutthespacethatseparateswwords. And even more helpful to readers than the folks that decide that - despite the fact that, since Gutenberg printed that first Bible, the easiest way to read something is black lettering on white background - their website should use yellow letters on black.

Yikes! When I saw that headline I almost decided, then and there,that I was never going to read another word about technology. Which would be a tough go, given that I make my living writing about technology. Sigh.

It brings to mind one of my all-time favorite New Yorker cartoons (which, alas, I could not find online. Thanks, technology.) It goes back to the late 1960’s, when New York City was in shambles, and Mario Procaccino was running for mayor against incumbent John Lindsay. NYC in the late 1960s was a financial and just plain living disaster. Among other pleasant occurrences was a strike by the sanitation workers that lasted over a week and resulted in quite the trash pileup. Anyway, in the New Yorker cartoon, two gentleman are looking up at the Empire State Building, which is being attacked by a King Kong on steroids. And one says to the other, “That does it, I’m voting for Procaccino.”

Nearly fifty years on, this cartoon still makes me laugh.

So when I saw that Crypto Coin headline, my natural inclination was to tell myself, “That does it, I’m never reading about technology again.”

It’s mostly the topic, to which I say: Crytpo-Schmypto. What’s wrong with cash? Or credit card? Or PayPal. Krugerrands? An IOU scribbled on a cocktail napkin? Hell, what’s wrong with barter?

The Bloomberg headline just below the one that knocked me out of my gourd was a bit easier on my simple mind:

Chipotle's Tarnished Image Means Every Sneeze Is Under Scrutiny

Now that’s a story I can sink my aging teeth into!

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