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Decentralization

Welcome to The New Internet, Decentralized and Free

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Last week we reported that, in a post on the official BitTorrent blog, CEO Eric Klinker announced a private alpha test for a P2P web browser called Project Maelstrom, based on BitTorrent technology. Project Maelstrom is one of the ongoing initiatives aimed at building a new Internet that works like BitTorrent.

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That is, decentralized and free.

Also read: BitTorrent Moves to Decentralize the Web

When you download a torrent and open it with a torrent client, something magic happens: you start downloading file referenced by the torrent not from a central server, but from all the users who have downloaded the file. Each user sends you bits and snippets of the file, and before you know it, you have downloaded the whole file. The BitTorrent technology for distributed file storage and Peer to Peer (P2P) transfers was one of the biggest developments in Web technology since the Web itself, and opened the way to a distributed, fully decentralized Internet.

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BitTorrent is an ideal technology for P2P file transfers – once a torrent is released and seeded by many users, there is no way to stop the wave. But the weak link is the Web: if the authorities don’t like a website, they can take over the central server and shut it down. Examples: The Pirate Bay, Silk Road, and WikiLeaks. But if there is no central server, the authorities can’t take down the central server.

As reported by Reason magazine, BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker said about BitTorrent’s Micro Transport Protocol:

It’s the best example we have of technology being used to solve what is perceived to be a policy problem. It’s only through the technology that the Internet’s rules are written.

Before announcing the developed of Project Maelstrom, BitTorrent launched the P2P chat application Bleep, currently in open alpha testing, which works through a server-less architecture built around a distributed hash table (DHT). Bleep is fully encrypted, with messages and other data only stored locally on users’ devices. Users can entirely delete their message history if they want. That shows how a distributed, peer-to-peer architecture like BitTorrent uses is more secure than one built on a cloud-based architecture.

Websites Streamed by Thousands or Millions of Personal Devices Worldwide.

BitTorrentBleep and Project Maelstrom are two elements of a new Internet, decentralized and free, which we will start using in 2015 and, hopefully, will take over the Internet of old and its intrinsic vulnerability to hostile actions. Imagine: websites don’t live on central servers that can be blocked, switched off or seized by bankers and bureaucrats, but are streamed by thousands or millions of personal devices worldwide. It is easy to see that, by extending this approach to message boards, it will be possible to develop free and anonymous communication platforms. Once that happens, there is not much that the enemies of Internet freedom can so, besides licking their wounds and denouncing those filthy free people.

I signed up to be a Project Maelstrom alpha tester, but I haven’t been invited yet. Not much is known at the moment beside the initial announcement, which doesn’t have many technical and implementation details. Fortunately, PC World has an article with more information about Project Maelstrom and BitTorrent’s vision for a P2P web, based on exchanges with BitTorrent’s communications chief Christian Averill and product manager Rob Velasquez. Some highlights below:

Maelstrom is based on Chromium, the same open-source project found underneath both Chrome and Opera. In order for publishers and developers to take advantage of Project Maelstrom, they have to publish their content as a torrent. Project Maelstrom will support normal web browsing via HTTP/S, so that users will be able to browse normal websites as well. The Maelstrom browser adds the additional support of being able to browse websites distributed via torrents.

The project is focused static on HTML and Javascript apps at the moment, but the developers plan to add support for web applications such as storefronts and productivity apps like Google Docs. HTTP requests can be made inside of a torrent and BitTorrent requests can be made inside of normal HTTP/S websites, which will permit mixing the two types of content. For example, an HTTP/S served blog could serve images or videos via a torrent and display them inline, or a torrent website could embed live tweets via an HTTP/S API.

Developers will be able to embed anything in a torrent website that can be embedded in an HTTP-served website, like Google Adsense, Facebook like buttons and video streams.

Not much more is known at the moment, but make no mistakes:  this is the beginning of a new and better Internet, decentralized and free.

Images from BitTorrent and Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.




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Decentralization

JP Morgan’s Surprise Cryptocurrency Fees are a Reminder of Why Decentralization Is Sorely Needed

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JP Morgan Chase & Co has been hit with a class-action lawsuit by cryptocurrency traders over allegations of unannounced fees and higher interest rates on purchases of digital currencies. Though the allegations have not been proven, extra fees are a tactic routinely employed by traditional banking institutions. In the case of JP Morgan, this has karma written all over it given the way its chief executive has ridiculed digital assets by associating them with fraud.

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Class Action Lawsuit

Traders from across the United States are seeking statutory damages of $1 million for unannounced interest charges and fees on cryptocurrency transactions between January and February of this year. The named plaintiff in the lawsuit is Brady Tucker, an Idaho resident who paid a total of $163.91 in fees and surprise interest charges over a six-day stretch.

According to information obtained by Reuters, the lawsuit accuses the bank of violating the U.S. Truth in Lending Act, a piece of legislation that requires credit card issuers to inform customers in writing of any notable change in fees.

The lawsuit asserts that Tucker tried to resolve the dispute by calling Chase’s customer support service directly. His request was turned down, prompting him to seek legal help. According to Bloomberg, the case in question is Tucker v. Chase Bank USA NA, 18-cv-3155, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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The Growing Case for Decentralization

Depending on who you ask, the allegations against JP Morgan are akin to cryptocurrency fraud not unlike the kind Jamie Dimon talked about while ridiculing bitcoin. But the irony in Dimon’s comments extend far beyond Chase’s latest dealings.

As the actions of Chase bank and other financial institutions have clearly demonstrated over the years, those who control the size and growth rate of fiat money cannot be trusted to do the right thing. As Nassim Taleb argues in The Black Swan, banks have a tendency of losing as much money as they make in the long run due to shady business practices and high-risk ventures. Decisions like these are easy when you are Too Big to Fail.

Decentralization, like the kind advocated by blockchain startups and cryptocurrencies, allows users to trade directly with each other without having to go through a (predatory) middleman. Decentralized systems not only help participants avoid unnecessary fees, red tape and other forms of unwanted intervention, they are virtually impossible to shut down. In this vein, decentralized currencies give people a fighting chance in their battle against never-ending inflation. As we’ve argued before, this is not only a prudent fight, but a noble one as well.

Cryptocurrencies that rely on decentralization offer society a unique value proposition unlike anything we’ve seen in recent history. What’s more, their adoption is not contingent upon us leaving the realm of traditional finance – at least, not yet. That’s because cryptocurrency started off as an obscure and esoteric asset class but has since become a value store for investors. Tomorrow, it will become a viable medium of exchange accepted worldwide.

That said, we are still in the very early days of the crypto revolution and it may be a while still before we can conclusively prove people like Dimon wrong. But crypto backers and investors should take comfort in knowing that big banks rarely lead in disruption these days. They have the resources to play catch-up, which they are clearly doing with blockchain.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 414 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Bitcoin

Valuing Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Applications

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Arguably the most interesting financial trend of 2017 is the spreading of cryptocurrencies, especially in the Ethereum ecosystem. With the ICO boom of this year, a lot of different business models have been connected to tokens or blockchains of their own. This brings up several questions in the mind value-conscious investors, as given the special properties of these coins, and especially considering the various distribution and usage schemes of the tokens, valuing them is tricky, to say the least.

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Whether or not we are in a bubble currently is a layered question, as we are definitely in a huge speculative wave that will end badly for several coins, but the segment is in the early phase of adoption, and the market as a whole will likely multiply in the coming years.

As I concluded in my comparison with the Dot-Com bubble, selective investing in the ICO-boom is vital for long-term investors. To make things more complicated, traditional valuation models generally fail with cryptocurrencies, because of the hybrid stock-commodity properties of them and the novelty of the technology, coupled with the questions regarding the future usage patterns.

Is it possible to set up a framework to analyze all the different business models and value the connected coins? Or is it possible to, at least, determine hard guidelines to follow when selecting the coins to hold or forget? I will answer that question below and in the coming second part of the article.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 256 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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Analysis

ICO Analysis: EOS

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EOS.IO software by block.one wants to “Decentralize Everything”. Mr. Larimer has already put two notable blockchain systems live: BitShares and Steem. Both of these systems remain online and recently benefited from increased interest in the crypto-asset space in general. To this date, EOS has raised $200 million in revenue from token sales.

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Brock Pierce, co-founder of block.one, told Reuters that EOS is designed to be a foundation for blockchain business applications. Attendees heard a lot about EOS at last month’s Consensus conference put on by Coin Desk. Block.one claims its platform has eliminated transaction fees and can process millions of transactions per second.

The startup, which recently started selling the EOS token to create a decentralized distribution of tokens to be used with the EOS.IO software has introduced the concept of automating business processes, monitoring assets, and creating multiple applications based on prior technology introduced by Mr. Larimer, who is the inventor of the “Proof of Stake” and the “Decentralized Autonomous Corporations” concepts.

According to its website,

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(…) block.one provides end-to-end solutions to bring businesses onto the blockchain from strategic planning to product deployment.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsJustin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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