This Week in Blockchain 01.18.19

Blockchain on WordPress

Since launching in 2003, WordPress has become the most popular website management system in the world. The recent addition of a block editor (which I’m using at this moment) is a big upgrade, bringing the blogging platform closer to ease of use and feel as systems such as Medium and RebelMouse.

This week, WordPress announced its first foray into blockchain. While major organizations like Time, CNN, and FiveThirtyEight use WordPress, Newspack is aiming for small- and medium-sized news organizations. Among the backers of this project are ConsenSys, which also is backing one of the most interesting blockchain-based journalism projects, Civil.

WordPress comments on this project, which will include blockchain features through Civil:

With many local news organizations struggling to find sustainable models for journalism, we’re seeing a need for an inexpensive platform that provides the technology and support that lets news organizations build their businesses and focus on what they do best — providing critical reporting for their communities. Our hope with Newspack is to give them a platform where they can continue to focus on what they do best, while we focus on providing world-class technology and support across their editorial and business operations.

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

Crypto Clean-up

While Venice Beach—or as it is now known, Silicon Beach—has long been part of the American imagination, I’m always amazed at how dirty it is. Walk along the stretch between Marina del Rey and Santa Monica on a weekend morning and you’ll find piles of trash left behind by night revelers. Fortunately there are numerous beach clean-ups by good-intentioned organization, so if you’re not here in the early morning hours (my favorite time to walk around), you’ll likely not see that much waste.

Residents of Manilla were offered a different reward than feeling good for helping clean up: ETH. A bounty network on the Ethereum blockchain paid volunteers in ETH last year to help solve the problem of the region’s polluted beaches:

The project is helping to hit two birds with one stone, cleaning up an environmental concern while also facilitating the transition from fiat to decentralized currencies. Inhabitants of less developed regions also need to get familiar with the new form of finance to facilitate global adoption, not just among rich first world citizens in modernized Manhattan bars.

Bank of Blockchain

Early adopters of blockchain cite the possibilities of decentralization as a main driver of interest, but corporations have other ideas in mind. Regardless of your feelings on blockchain governance, large companies will utilizes private chains; in reality, this will be an essential step in mass adoption.

Bank of America already holds numerous patents in blockchain technologies. Add a blockchain-powered ATM to that list. As Futurism reports,

According to the patent, Bank of America could use blockchain tech to verify and track ATM cash transactions and improve ATM performance. The move highlights the tension and irony of the contemporary blockchain ecosystem…That could be a sign that it’s positioning itself for a serious push into the same decentralized technology that was originally designed to take power away from big banks.

Managing the Opioid Crisis

Yet another lawsuit has been filed against a pharmaceutical company. This time the makers of OxyContin are being targeted. The Sackler family and Purdue Pharma are being accused of purposefully spreading misinformation about the addictiveness of the drug, which has led to more than 200,000 deaths in the United States over the last two decades.

Technologist Brian Behlendorf believes blockchain can address the opioid crisis. As he tells Big Think,

I tend not to blame the drug taker because I think they’re just medicating to meet their needs, it’s really the distributors and those writing fake prescriptions and others who are enabling a lot of this crisis, and I think distributed ledger technology can help us understand where there might be abuses in that system.

Watch the entire talk below.

Closing Thought

“Banking institutions thrive on a system of opacity in which our inability to trust each other leaves us dependent on their intermediation of our transactions.” — Michael J Casey and Paul Vigna, The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and the Future of Everything