Feb. 28 to March 6, 2021
I'm starting a little experiment in journalistic transparency here. Beginning with this edition of the newsletter, you can now view a revision history of the content, including all the earlier drafts, on GitHub.
In essence, this allows you to track my workflow as I add interesting links throughout the week, then write and edit the final version of the content to send out.
This is an expanded use of the repository I've always maintained of the newsletter's HTML on GitHub. It was mostly there as a long-term archive before, but now I'm committing to using it regularly throughout the week as a drafting tool as well, so you can "watch" the content evolve over time if you wish. I'll also include a link to this revision history each week from here out.
I've been toying with this idea for a long time, to be honest. Back when I was a Wall Street Journal reporter in the aughts, I suggested to the newsroom's first social media coordinator that we should maintain and share publicly revision histories of our stories, Wikipedia style, to increase readers' trust in our work.
People's trust in the press was already starting to wane in that era -- a problem that has only mushroomed since. I figured additional transparency into our daily workflow might help to remedy the problem. However, word came back that this approach would make the WSJ higher-ups too antsy at the time.
With the newsletter these days, I don't have that problem. So why not give it a shot, finally? ☺️
We'll see how it goes from here. Let me know what you think anytime.
On to the latest headlines:
- Amazon's managed blockchain service now supports Ethereum. The new integration within the popular Amazon Web Services suite should help enterprises experiment and adopt distributed applications more widely.
- The Internal Revenue Service clarified its crypto rules for individual investors. Buying crypto with fiat currency does not trigger the tax agency's crypto reporting rules, it said on a new FAQ page.
- Wall Street really, really ❤️ crypto now. Goldman Sachs is relaunching its crypto trading desk after a three-year hiatus. Citi said in a research note that bitcoin could one day "become the currency of choice for international trade." Charles Schwab is weighing whether to get into the crypto brokerage business. Discover, the the third-largest U.S. credit-card company, is looking for a strategist to help it launch new crypto products. And Fidelity published a whitepaper for clients exploring the pros and cons of holding bitcoin in their portfolios.
- Meanwhile, some small investors still hate Wall Street. A group of moderators from the Reddit group WallStreetBets, which recently organized a user revolt against hedge funds shorting GameStop shares, launched an effort to reorganize as a distributed organization using blockchain-based governance. The push is aimed at giving WallStreetBets greater independence than it has on a company-owned platform like Reddit.
- An acute chip shortage is affecting all major U.S. auto makers, with no end in sight. Soaring demand for semiconductors has halted auto production in three U.S. states. President Biden ordered a review of how the government might help alleviate such supply-chain bottlenecks for chips and other economically critical goods. Nevertheless, the current crunch seems unlikely to abate anytime soon, the Washington Post reports.
- Can't escape Big Tech's data collection? Sabotage it instead. So says a group of researchers from Northwestern University in a new research paper -- perhaps a surprising source for such a punk-rock idea. The authors suggest that users systematically provide inaccurate information, sometimes with the help of automated browser extensions and other software tools, to reduce the effectiveness of Big Tech's ad-targeting algorithms.
- Audience metrics show journalists how people behave, but not why. Slate's Future Tense project looked into the increasing use -- and sometimes misuse -- of readership data by news organizations.
- NASA is using Linux to explore the surface of Mars. The open operating system runs Ingenuity, a small aerial drone launched from the recently landed terrestrial rover Perseverance. The deployment of Ingenuity is the first time NASA has used Linux on the red planet. All its previous unmanned probes on Mars, including Perseverance, have used a proprietary OS from Wind River Systems.
- No, that wasn't really Tom Cruise playing golf on TikTok. Uncannily realistic "deepfake" videos of the actor posted on the popular netowrk highlighted the societal risks associated with this new form of misinformation.
- The band Kings of Leon released their new album as a non-fungible token. The crypto offering, which the group is using alongside more traditional distribution methods as well, is a first for the music industry, according to Rolling Stone.
That's it for now. Thanks for spending some time with the newsletter today! If you'd like to get updates like this in your inbox every Sunday, please join our email list here.
— Peter A. McKay
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