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Does Higher Education need blockchain?, Chris Fellingham, Medium, Jun 15, 2018

As the Class Central report suggests, this article reminds us of Audrey Watters's outline of blockchain in education dating from April of 2016 (where she wrote "One Bitcoin is currently worth about $415" - heh). "Decentralised trust systems may well be the future but I don’t see that it solves a core problem," writes Chris Fellingham. "Edtech...  does not have a problem of trust in its credentials — it has a problem of credibility in its courses.&... [Direct Link]

Southern New Hampshire U Issues Blockchain Credentials to College for America Grads, Rhea Kelly, Campus Technology, Jun 11, 2018

"SNHU partnered with Learning Machine for its digital diploma project; the software company co-developed Blockcerts with the MIT Media Lab in 2016." I'm seeing quite a bit more of this sort of thing, though I have to say I think that digital certificates are the least interesting application of these new technologies to online learning. But in any case, there's this: "In some ways, this is piloting what a modern transcript would be: digital, portable, owned by the ... [Direct Link]

The Vast Potential for Blockchain in Libraries, Eric Hellman, Go To Hellman, Jun 08, 2018

There is no such potential, writes Eric Hellman. " All the good attributes ascribed to magical 'blockchain technology' are available in 'git', a program used by software developers for distributed version control," he explains. "The folks at GitHub realized that many problems would benefit from some workflow tools layered on top of the git, and they're now being acquired for several billion dollars by Microsoft, which is run by folks who know a lot about ... [Direct Link]

Towards a design philosophy for interoperable blockchain systems, Adrian Colyer, The Morning Paper, May 30, 2018

It's hard to dispute this proposition: "We believe the issue of survivability to be as important as that of privacy and security. As such, we believe that interoperability across blockchain systems will be a core requirement." There are numerous reasons why dependence on one single blockchain system might be a bad idea. But if there are multiple blockchains, they need to be able to interoperate. There's a parallel to be drawn here between the creation of a computer network, ... [Direct Link]

Blockchain technologies face a maturity problem, Dan Swinhoe, IDG Connect, May 25, 2018

The first problem is scalability, which shows up immediately in the amount of time it takes to verify that a transaction is authentic. Visa performs 40K transactions per second, while Ethereum and Bitcoin are capable of between 7-15 per second. You see the issue. The energy cost is another factor, "currently around 180 million KWh for just 200,000 transactions." Again, you see the issue. A third issue centres around hacking; while the blockchain itself is secure, the systems around ... [Direct Link]

Will Blockchains Revolutionize Education?, David McArthur, EDUCAUSE Review, May 23, 2018

The idea of blockchain has caught the imagination of decision-makers recently not only in finance but also in government and education. This article is a pretty good overview of how blockchain technologies might be applied in education (specifically, to support competencies and credentials, beginning maybe with badges), along with an outline of some of the costs and limitations of the technology. Some of the major differences between government and educational applications and financial ... [Direct Link]

Blockchain applications, Mike Loukides, O'Reilly, May 22, 2018

This is a survey article describing how blockchain is being used for various applications. "The killer application for blockchains is probably something we haven't thought of yet: something new and different that will surprise and astonish us when we invent it." See also: What is a blockchain? Related:Why blockchain isn’t magic and it won’t fix every problem you have. [Direct Link]

Blockchain for Peer Review, David Rosenthal, DSHR's Blog, May 21, 2018

This article describes an initiative in the UK called Blockchain for Peer Review, " a protocol where information about peer review activities (submitted by publishers) are stored on a blockchain." Although this may appear to make sense, argues  David Rosenthal, "implementing it with a blockchain is effectively impossible" because of GDPR. The reason is that the proposal would store personal information about reviewers in a permanent fashion, and GDPR requires that &... [Direct Link]

D-Cent, European Union, May 21, 2018

D-CENT (Decentralised Citizens ENgagement Technologies) is "a Europe-wide project developing the next generation of open source, distributed, and privacy-aware tools for direct democracy and economic empowerment." "The EU-funded project started in October 2013 and ended in May 2016." Here's the white paper (15 page PDF). The tools include: Decisions, to let people sign up to receive notification of recent decisions; Mooncake, an event notification system; ... [Direct Link]

YouTube and Facebook Are Losing Creators to Blockchain-Powered Rivals, Camila Russo, Bloomberg, Apr 10, 2018

The idea of blockchain-enabled alternatives such as DTube is that viewers can pay for content directly through tips or subscriptions, thus avoiding the tracking and advertising pervasive on platforms like YouTube and Google. But a quick look at DTube shows the risks as well - scam links in the comments, for example, or unsavory videos on the home page. Yes, it can be worse than YouTube out there.Still, as the article notes, " The less centralized platforms keep more power—and ... [Direct Link]

The authoritative guide to blockchain development, Haseeb Qureshi, freecodecamp, Mar 14, 2018

This is a fine example of informal learning. Haseeb Qureshi steps the reader through a series of references and resources that will take you to a decent understanding of blockchain (if you master all of this, you could probably get a job in the field). The pedagogy is far from perfect (at one point he says " I recommend watching more than one video explanation to get the idea seared into your head", which isn't exactly how learning works) but there's plenty of hands-on work (... [Direct Link]

Building a Blockchain, Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, Mar 12, 2018

We've all heard about blockchains, but what are they? It can be a complicated concept. The best way to learn, of course, is to roll up your sleeves and build a blockchain engine. That's what I did. (See also: Enterprise blockchain projects on GitHub). [Direct Link]

Blockchain and the Promise of an Open, Decentralized Internet, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Feb 22, 2018

Interesting commentary from Steven Johnson, quoted here: “We spent our first years online in a world defined by open protocols and intellectual commons; we spent the second phase in a world increasingly dominated by closed architectures and proprietary databases.  We have learned enough from this history to support the hypothesis that open works better than closed [but] the only real hope for a revival of the open-protocol ethos lies in the blockchain.” I'm not sure I ... [Direct Link]

Colony: Technical White Paper, Aron Fischer, Jack du Rose, Alex Rea, Colony, Feb 19, 2018

Just open-sourced: Colony. This is a link to the Colony white paper (55 page PDF), also just released. "The Colony Protocol allows developers to integrate decentralised and self regulating division of labour, decision making, and financial management into their applications... The Colony Network consists of a collection of contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. At the core of the network will be a ColonyNetwork contract. This contract is primarily responsible for managing the reputation ... [Direct Link]

A decade of living in the gift shop, Dean Groom, Playable, Feb 05, 2018

"Exit through the gift shop." The phrase says everything that needs to be said about the commercialization of culture and heritage. The same phenomenon seems to be inhabiting Ed Tech and things like the #EdTech discussions, suggests Dean Groom. "The culture of online discussions (especially those being directed by individuals (they call themselves ‘founders’) is to repeat the most popular ‘trend’ statements, rather than make any real effort to evaluate&... [Direct Link]

The punk rock internet – how DIY ​​rebels ​are working to ​replace the tech giants , John Harris, The Guardian, Feb 01, 2018

Count me as being among the punk rock rebels on the internet - even though my punk anthem might be something like Walking on Sunshine. As Laura Balkan says, " I want to be able to be in a society where I have control over my information, and other people do as well." And she adds, "Being a woman in technology, you can see how hideously unequal things are and how people building these systems don’t care about anyone other than themselves." The story focuses a lot on ... [Direct Link],, Feb 01, 2018

This is an alpha release of an application that uses blockchain technology to link the data in your various accounts around the internet.  "Most people have dozens of profiles online, many of which include information that is not up to date, resulting in lost time and opportunities. solves this by connecting different websites and apps you use, allowing you to save information to one source, and control how and where your information is used across the web," wrote ... [Direct Link]

Blockchain – don’t ask how, ask why, David Kernohan, Wonkhe, Dec 27, 2017

Why Blockchain? That's the key question. "In this case," writes David Kernohan, "the problem is trust." For example, what do you do if you don't trust your bank? "Cryptographic encryption (hiding information using the power of really difficult maths) lends anonymity and security, but the openly visible nature of transactions lends reliability." Except - it doesn't. In the cases where the currency fluctuates wildly, or where millions are stolen from ... [Direct Link]

Ten years in, nobody has come up with a use for blockchain, Kai Stinchcombe, HackerNoon, Dec 27, 2017

This is a pretty thorough debunking of the idea that blockchain technology will disrupt industry. Kai Stinchcombe looks at several putative use cases - payment and banking, anonymous transactions, micropayments, bank-to-bank transfers, smart contracts, distributed ledgers and storage, stock transfers, authentication - and in each case shows that the hard parts are not addressed by blockchain. For example, blockchain is no more efficient than the existing system of payments and ... [Direct Link]

Blockchain in Education, Alexander Grech, Anthony F. Camilleri, Joint Research Centre, Nov 23, 2017

This is a long (136 page PDF) and detailed report on blockchains in education. The authors work slowly and deliberately in their pursuit of accuracy and clarity, which results in a presentation that will be easily understood by most readers. There is a wealth of examples in the document describing use cases, scenarious and pilot projects, and companies involved in the space. The study is a result of a literature serach, desk reserach and interviews. The recommendations display a knowledge of ... [Direct Link]

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