Not just Bitcoin: How will multiple digital currencies compete, succeed, and fail?

Bitcoin surpassing a valuation of $1,000 yesterday is a real landmark, giving the currency a market capitalization of almost $12 billion and 75-fold growth in value this year.

However Bitcoin is not the only digital currency, simply the most prominent. As Bitcoin’s value has soared, partly driven by a positive response from Senate committees last week, participants have looked further afield to see whether there may be other alternatives that have not risen by so much already.

The second most prominent currency is Litecoin, with a market capitalization of over $1 billion. After that Peercoin and Namecoin currently have capitalizations of close to $80 million, followed by a number of others from $20 million and down in a long tail, with the 23rd ranked currency, Goldcoin, still valued at over $1 million.

Litecoin is over 10 times its value from just 10 days ago, with Peercoin growing 4-fold and Namecoin 12-fold in value over the same period.

The following chart is a snapshot from Coinmarketcap, which provides real-time information on digital currencies. The table shows the largest currencies by market cap, with the chart on the right hand side showing growth over the last 90 days.

Digitalcurrencies_Nov13
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Latest global comparison of household Internet speeds

The speed at which we can access the internet is important. Very important.

I’ve written before on the evidence that internet bandwidth is a key driver of economic growth and online participation, and there is plenty of other research to point to its role in social value creation.

A decent source of data on internet speeds across countries is Speedtest.net, which aggregates the data from all the tests it does for its users. In quite a few countries it does not have extensive usage, however with a few exceptions the data usually appears to be fairly representative.

It has just provided a new update of Internet bandwidth country comparison data on its NetIndex site, including a chart of speeds over the last 2 1/2 years.

A selection of the data is shown below.

Household_internet_Nov13
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The future of human endeavor: humans and computers together far exceed the capabilities of either apart

In my keynotes I often reference 1997 as the year that a chess grandmaster was first beaten by a computer, with Deep Blue outplaying Garry Kasparov.

Before that happened many believed that chess was the domain of ingenuity, imagination, and human insight that computers could never match. Yet brute processing power plus some improved algorithms did the job.

The power of computers has soared by around 1000-fold since then, and computers are moving deeper and deeper into the domain of what we consider to be fundamental human capabilities.

However, as I wrote in Chapter 11 of Living Networks:
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Could online lobbying be the future of government?

Last week I spoke on the potential of crowdsourcing at the EngageTech conference, an event focusing on how government can best use technology to engage with community and citizens.

One of the very interesting conversations that emerged at the event was on how interested and informed citizens are on government decisions.

It’s a truism that representative democracy is not very democratic.

One of the primary reasons that we elect representatives is that the vast majority of people do not have the interest or time to have informed opinions on the many things on which government must decide and act.

However the rise of a hyper-connected world has fundamentally changed the relationship between citizens and government.
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The case for the death of cash by the hand of digital currencies

This morning I gave the opening keynote at the ATM and Branch Automation Seminar run by Payments Consulting Network.

In my keynote I spoke about the broader trends in technology, society, and business, and then looked at some of the uncertainties impacting ATMs and branches. Clearly one of the most important is the future of cash.

I noted that while I’m happy to predict the timing of the death of newspapers, I’m not prepared to make firm forecasts on the death of cash. The uncertainties are simply too big.

There are many payment mechanisms that are replacing cash, notably mobile wallets and contactless cards, and in many developed countries there is clear evidence that these are beginning to reduce demand for cash.

However this does not mean cash will die.
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Why your networks and collaboration are at the heart of the value you create

I was recently interviewed for an extended article Networked Business: The wealth in your connections written by Nick Saalfeld for the Microsoft Talking Business series.

Here are some excerpts from the article, which provide a neat summary of some of my thinking on the space.

It’s a fallacy to think of networking as a sales tool. Firstly, it’s not. Secondly, it might instead be one of the defining sources of value in your business. Business strategist Ross Dawson, author of the (free and highly comprehensible) Future of Work Framework explains how.
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“Shoezam” app mimics Shazam to image, identify, and replicate shoes on the street

This morning I attended the Innovation Bay breakfast on Where to for retail now?.

It was a fascinating discussion, which was definitely useful as I develop my forthcoming Future of Retail framework. (Still working on it, I don’t know when it will be ready for the public, more later.)
Shoesofprey
Michael Fox, founder of the highly innovative and successful Shoes of Prey, spoke about some of what they envisage for the future of retail.

One of their internal initiatives is an app they dub “Shoezam”, which acts like Shazam in that people can take an image of a shoe they like in the street, which the app analyzes so that users can immediately order that shoe for themselves.
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The (in)accuracy of long-tail Wikipedia articles – can you help improve mine?

The quality of Wikipedia has been well established. A well-known study was carried out in 2005 by scientific journal Nature showing that the accuracy of Wikipedia articles on science was comparable to that of Encyclopedia Brittanica. A more recent study by Epic and University of Oxford again showed comparable quality of articles across many domains of study and languages.

These well-publicized studies have led people to believe that Wikipedia is always a reliable source of information. However the problem is that both of these studies compared articles of substance on academic topics. There are more than 23 million articles on Wikipedia, and around 130,000 on Encyclopedia Brittanica. There is no way to assess on a comparative basis the accuracy of the close to 23 million Wikipedia articles on topics that aren’t substantively covered elsewhere.
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Future of Media, Print, Publishing: Conversation with Gerd Leonhard

The latest in the Meeting of the Minds series of conversations between fellow-futurist Gerd Leonhard and myself is on the Future of Media, Print, Publishing, produced by Jonathan Marks. The video and some summary notes from the conversation are below.

Some of the things we discuss:
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