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The Trash Moat: When the Media Lies About Crypto – Coindesk

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(Allef Vinicius/Unsplash, modified by CoinDesk)
Dr. Paul J. Dylan-Ennis

No one said understanding crypto would be easy – the technology is complicated, the slang impenetrable, the interfaces in need of improving. Sending an on-chain transaction for the first time is hard enough without having those you trust – the media, your entertainers – distracting you with scams or misdirections.
The committed heavy users of crypto have largely learned to tune that out, but for those outside the Citadel or Crypto City, much of the information they consume is a veritable trash moat. By that, I mean the dubious promotions of meme coins and the content creators looking to cash in on crypto with paid-in-kind endorsements.
Dr. Paul Dylan-Ennis is an assistant professor in the College of Business, University College Dublin.
There is a gap of quality information regarding this nascent industry that has money and intrigue enough to capture the attention of Average Joes – a gap that hucksters are only too willing to exploit.
What happens in the trash moat rarely reaches the shores of mainstream crypto. It occurs in the sweet spot just beyond the attention of the clued-in observer, who is typically focused on high-minded talk of regulation, venture capital funding and whatever is currently hot, like non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and yet it happens right there in public.
What happens when you dredge the channels? As a pioneer in trash moat dredging, I find two types of detritus tend to bubble up: red-top coverage and YouTube influencers.
Let’s start with red-top coverage. Red tops are cheap and popular tabloid newspapers. Most crypto observers get their news from a combination of industry news websites, Crypto Twitter and Telegram groups. That means they are oblivious to the fact that Safecoin is important enough to have its own section in The Express. Or that The Sun dedicates most of its coverage to shiba inu. While serious folk spend their time solemnly debating whether journalists should own crypto, the wily red topper turns the Average Joe onto the next Dogecoin clone.
Unfortunately, this practice has on occasion even spread to such venerable institutions as the British Broadcasting Corp. After all, the trash moat preys on the gap between total immersion, those who know their Taproot from their Arbitrum, and those on a day trip, who are just visiting and might not know all the tourist traps.
Much of the trash filling the moat is comprised of YouTube influencer scams. Those seem to almost entirely escape the notice of the crypto media. Logan Paul (5 million subscribers), for instance, has explicitly endorsed a “shitcoin” (his words) called Dink Doink that trades at $0.000000000045 and seems to have simply been abandoned by Paul and the developers, as if it never happened.
For Paul’s fans, this is what crypto now means: a pump-and-dump scheme where everyone thinks “well, that’s just crypto!” You won’t be surprised to learn that Paul also created an NFT project called CryptoZoo that was so lazy it used stock images, rather than original art.
Arguably the most egregious example of the YouTube Crypto hustle – and there are many to choose from – was Save The Kids coin. That coin, on crypto’s version of Mad Max, the Binance Smart Chain (BSC), was presented as a charity venture and had the backing of an extremely impressive roster of YouTube influencers, including four members of FaZe Clan, a professional esports and entertainment organization. On launch, most of the influencers involved sold their tokens immediately or “rugged” the users. It caused enough of a scandal that the four involved members were suspended or fired. That happened only because of the dogged investigative work of YouTube detective Coffeezilla. Coffeezilla is also known to cover scandals close to home, such as his video on Tether (900,000 views).
For an entire generation that gets its content from YouTube, crypto is encountered more as a Coffeezilla exposé than the cultured vibes of a Web 3 conference. Crypto is when your celebrity hero rugs you the day after you learn how to use PancakeSwap.
What does the moat tell us about contemporary crypto? The moat phenomenon is almost certainly a byproduct of the wider diffraction of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. It is now impossible to cover the industry in any comprehensive sense. Journalists, researchers and critics alike all must choose their lane. Once there, they deepen this specialist knowledge until the entry points disappear.
See also: Balaji Srinivasan: Bitcoin and the Search for Truth
That leaves the Average Joe in a precarious position. To enter the Citadel (or Crypto City), they must first cross the moat, but the crossing is dangerous, the support beams weak. If they fall in, they might get swept along and never heard from again. They are still in crypto, but in some twisted, late-night casino version, populated entirely by speed freaks and con men.
And really, what is on offer with the trash moat is an old confidence trick, the pig in a poke. In that scam, the con man turns up in the village and offers a discounted pig in a small sack (a poke). Blinded by the allure of securing a cheap pig, someone will inevitably buy it fast – before someone else does! – before checking the bag. The con man slips away and the villager opens the bag to discover a cat (“letting the cat out of the bag”).
Today the trick is selling meme coins as real coins, leaving our poor Average Joe holding the bag.
DISCLOSURE
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.
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The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.
@2021 CoinDesk

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Bitcoin miners flocked to an upstate New York town for cheap energy — then it got complicated – CNBC

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Bitcoin miners flocked to an upstate New York town for cheap energy — then it got complicated  CNBC
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The 10 Fastest-Growing Cryptocurrency Ecosystems In 2021 – Forbes

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As the cryptocurrency industry grows more fragmented, new data shows which platforms software developers are flocking to.
Two years ago, bitcoin dominated the cryptocurrency market, gobbling up 70% of its market value. But as crypto has ballooned to exceed $2 trillion in assets, the industry has fragmented. Today, bitcoin’s share sits below 40%, and new crypto networks are popping up every day. One way to sift through the clutter and see where the industry is going is to follow the software developers who build and maintain crypto networks. 
“Developers tend to be pretty rational. If there’s something they can play with that has real utility, developers have this ability to go find that thing,” says Avichal Garg, a managing partner at crypto-focused venture firm Electric Capital. He views the number of developers who are working on a crypto network “as a leading indicator of where value will be created and accrue over the next 10 years.” 
Garg co-authored a report with Electric Capital partner Maria Shen that reveals which cryptocurrency platforms attracted the most developers in 2021. They used data from GitHub, the go-to online repository where developers store their code, to estimate how many engineers work on each platform. Their data underestimates the total number of developers, since it doesn’t capture code that’s written privately or the many engineers that work at companies like Coinbase. 
Their research says 18,000 active developers (including both full and part time contributors) are working on cryptocurrency platforms, up from roughly 10,000 a year ago. Garg sees that surge as a validation of the industry’s growth and longevity. Kinjal Shah, an investor at Blockchain Capital, agrees: “When people are voting with their feet and their time, it’s a strong signal that there is something they’re building for the long term,” she says. 
Electric Capital’s research analyzed nearly 500,000 sets of code and 160 million code updates. It compared December 2020 to December 2021 to calculate growth. For the list below, it counted a developer as full time if he or she made at least 10 software updates in a month. 
 
The fastest-growing platforms are all competitors to Ethereum, the second-largest crypto network launched in 2015 that has 1,300 full time developers creating applications on it. Ethereum acts as a decentralized computer that applications can be built on, and it’s maintained by more than 5,000 “nodes” or computers that help validate transactions. One downside of being so widely distributed is that Ethereum can only process about 15 transactions a second (the Nasdaq stock market averages about 20,000 transactions per second), and a single transaction fee can sometimes exceed $100.
All of these fast-growing crypto networks take different approaches than Ethereum to decentralization and “consensus,” the algorithmic process of validating a transaction. They settle transactions faster and have lower fees, and most aren’t as widely decentralized as Ethereum. 
Korea-based Terra was founded by entrepreneur Do Kwon, 30, and launched four years ago. Its UST “stable coin”—a cryptocurrency pegged to the value of a U.S. dollar–has grown quickly to reach a market value of $10 billion, putting it in the top five stable coins in the world, according to crypto data site Messari. San Francisco-based Solana surprised many crypto insiders over the past year as it attracted hundreds of developers and vocal support from crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried. A variety of applications built on Solana, ranging from crypto trading exchanges and lending products to music apps, have become very popular. Solana’s SOL token went from $1.85 in January 2021 to $170 by the end of the year, hitting a market value of $53 billion. 
Near, a protocol founded in the Bay Area in 2017, was launched by Alexander Skidanov and Illia Polosukhin, two engineers who worked previously on the highly regarded MemSQL distributed database system and Google’s TensorFlow machine learning platform. Both Solana and Near were built in Rust, a popular programming language that’s more widely used than Solidity, which Ethereum is based on. Solana and Near have also been aggressive about offering grants to software developers if they agree to build applications on their respective systems. Near announced an $800 million grant program in October, and former Circle CMO Marieke Flament became the Near Foundation’s CEO this year. 
One platform that lost a significant number of developers was EOS, which dropped from about 125 total active developers (including full and part time) in December 2020 to 80 a year later. In 2018, EOS famously ran a $4 billion “initial coin offering” fundraise and was later fined $24 million by the SEC for running an unregistered security offering. The company didn’t admit or deny wrongdoing.  
In addition to the fastest-growing networks, Electric Capital’s research shows which have the largest number of total developers. Ethereum has long retained the top spot, and about one in every four new crypto developers who entered the industry over the last year chose to build on Ethereum. 
 

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Crypto scams are the top threat to investors 'by far,' say securities regulators – CNBC

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Crypto scams are the top threat to investors ‘by far,’ say securities regulators  CNBC
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