AES-256 Encryption and similar Integer derivation algorithms ARE NO LONGER SECURE !!!!
In 2016, I wrote about a group of Students at the University of Toronto (i.e. in Toronto, Canada) on a website called AboveTopSecret titled: , We can finally break the WikiLeaks Insurance Files! University-of-Toronto Encryption Discovery: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1120355/pg1 , This group of students found out they could map the decryption key operations within the AES-256 encryption algorithm as RGB and Greyscale values displayed as a grid of pixels of various axis widths and axis heights. These students seem to have found HIGHLY SPECIFIC EVIDENCE that certain classes of AES encryption keys would correspond to derivable text inputs that corresponded to graphically-based Quadratic curves, simple elliptic curves and logarithmic curves that have a repeatable and provable mathematical relationship to the position and value of ASCII and UNICODE characters within actual and nearby plaintext inputs when the operations of an AES-256 encrypt operation is mapped as a series of bitmaps. , This means that certain input text containing characters of a specific ASCII and/or UNICODE value would create encrypted output data, that when graphed as 2D-XY and 3D-XYZ images and animation, create visible curves that would show up onscreen, and when back-propagated, would then correspond to specific characters within an encryption key! In consultation with certain members of the mathematics community within Canada (I'm Canadian!), my initial reporting was met with some significant skepticism within the Reddit community and the general computer science community. After this period and over a series of months (which turned into years!), I was able to confer with some computer science students and graduates in Vancouver, Canada who became convinced of the VALIDITY of my claims AFTER a series of demonstration rendering programs were designed and run which "rendered" the operations of AES-128, AES-192 and AES-256 as a series of real-time video imagery files. , After numerous discussions and design meetings with these individuals, we were able to collectively design and code (in C++) some breakthrough shortcuts which allowed us to use common vector-based line and curve detection programs run against the output imagery such that we could actually pattern-match and then correspond SPECIFIC input AES-256 encryption key characters and input key lengths to SPECIFIC plain text and SPECIFIC AES-256 encrypted output. , The specific outcome of our research SEEMS to allow us to shortcut the hard decryption process such that the 2-to-the-256th-power number of possible AES-256 key combinations, can be brought down to BELOW 2-to-the-128th-power key combinations which is VERY brute-force computable on a modern (2019) GPU-based grid network of less than 16GPU card's. , We have decided to TEST our theories and source code upon the following AES-256 encrypted Wikileaks Insurance Files: .wlinsurance-20130815-A.aes256 (3.32 GB):,HA256 Hash: 6688fffa9b39320e11b941f0004a3a76d49c7fb52434dab4d7d881dc2a2d7e02 , .wlinsurance-20130815-B.aes256 (46.48 GB):,SHA256 Hash: 3dcf2dda8fb24559935919fab9e5d7906c3b28476ffa0c5bb9c1d30fcb56e7a4 , .wlinsurance-20130815-C.aes256 (325.39 GB):,SHA256 Hash: 913a6ff8eca2b20d9d2aab594186346b6089c0fb9db12f64413643a8acadcfe3 , We EXPECT that passwords (not listed here!) which were previously sent to us and then shared elsewhere on the Reddit website may actually have some significance, but we are currently DISREGARDING them to ensure a valid scientific test and inquiry. , We will update the general public on this Reddit site as we find LIKELY candidates for the decryption keys. If we DO FIND the ENTIRE decryption key sets for ANY or ALL the Wikileaks Insurance files, we will IMMEDIATELY disclose them here and on multiple OTHER websites and to world-wide news organizations! So, please do download the Wikileaks Insurance Files NOW !!! And make sure you run the HASHING algorithms on them to make sure the downloaded files MATCH the above hash signatures! Then wait for our decryption key disclosures. Based upon current estimates, we MIGHT see some success by mid-to-Late-December 2019 up to February 2020, but we are NOT SURE AS OF YET how long this will truly take! We will update you on our progress over the next few months. BUT since this “discovery” was made, we have recently heard within various “SigInt Grapevines” and Cryptologic rumour mill circles that it seems just such a technology as we describe above IS ALREADY being used to break much encryption AND BREAK secure hashing algorithms such as SHA1, SHA2, SHA3, etc. , THIS HAS IMPLICATIONS for the security and veracity of various crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc. If we CANNOT trust the VERACITY of blockchain systems’ public accounting services, it means ANYONE who has such digital currency holdings AND/OR who has data encrypted using any type of RSA-style and/or Feistel Network-based or singular-curve-based encryption (i.e. AES-256, Blowfish, TwoFish, ThreeFish, CAAST, Elliptic Curve, etc) IS NOW INSECURE and needs to have their encrypted data and crypto-currency holdings revisited! , It is MY OPINION based upon 30+YEARS of coding experience that this discovery of using edge and curve detection on graphed AES-256 and OTHER internal encryption algorithms’ operations IS A VIABLE MEANS to derive and determine “Islands of Probability” for likely decryption keys that can be then brute force attacked by inexpensive GPU-based grid processing systems to get the ORIGINAL decryption keys! When you can bring down the impossible-to-compute 2-to-the-256th-power combinations DOWN TO a much more manageable 2-to-the-128th-power combinations, THAT IS A VERY SERIOUS ISSUE THAT NEEDS to be discussed within computer security circles as it affects EVERYTHING from online and ATM banking, to online and card-based payment services to BASIC internet SSL2-based web browser communications systems and even the basic security of your cars and trucks which NOW TEND to have keyless remote entry and startup! , Home and Business Systems and Services? This AFFECTS ALL OF THAT !!! , I will update this story as I get more information..
The International 2018 in Vancouver FAQ (Updated!)
Hey there again, you punks. So with a tip coming from some of the moderators on the board, I've decided just to quickly update this FAQ that I wrote a few months back since TI is next week and I'm sure many of you still have a ton of questions. I've gotten some more information that I can pass down to you in regards to Vancouver but also now TI as well, including updated marijuana laws and beer recommendations. Two quick notes:
This summer has been an extremely hot season in Vancouver (at least in Vancouverite standards). Like anyone who attended in Seattle last year, there is noticeable smoke in the air in the city due to the fires all over the Pacific North West. If you have breathing issues or health related problems do to particles in the air, be advised that there is currently an Air Quality Advisory in effect so act accordingly. Wind/Rain will most likely clear up any issues going into next week, but just a heads up in case new fires flare up or we aren't blessed with some light rain. Forecast is looking to be sunny through midweek and the finals, with an average of about 23-25C.
Yes, but it's not exactly regulated by AirBnB. Feel free to stay at one through AirBnB but know that it might be a little tricky to deal with issues if they come up with your rental. Also while you're at it, check out VRBO.
How far away from Rogers Arena should I stay?
The general piece of advice you'll get from any local about where to stay for TI is going to be anywhere that's on the Skytrain Expo Line (the line in dark blue). The Expo Line will take you to Stadium-Chinatown station, which is where Rogers Arena is 30 seconds away. As in Seattle, the closer to downtown you are, the more expensive it is to stay.
Where are the cheaper hotels like Holiday Inn, Mediterranean Inn or Travelodge like in Seattle?
Unlike Seattle Center, there aren't very many budget hotels left, if at all in the Downtown core. The cheaper hostels are available, though fair warning, many of them are placed on Granville Street, which is a place that many Vancouverites will tell you to avoid while you're here (Though I have never stayed at a hostel on Granville, if anyone has an experience, feel free to share). Check out the Ramada Inn and the Days Inn near Waterfront for some cheaper-ish options.
Are there any areas in Vancouver that we should specifically avoid?
In my mind, there are two places that I would keep a look-out for avoiding while you visit Vancity.
Granville Street. During the day time it's normally fine, filled with some cool shops (Golden Age Collectibles, The Rock Shop, Movieland Arcade) but it's packed to the absolute max with dumbasses at night due to the amount of night clubs. There's police around every weeknight, but since you're in Vancouver for a good time, head towards Gastown, Chinatown or Main Street for places to party.
Downtown East Side. If you've researched anything about Vancouver, you'll know that this area as where a large portion of the cities homeless reside. There is rampant drug use, poverty and sex work in this neighborhood, focused mainly between 5-10 blocks in the area of Main/Hastings. That being said, the community is an especially strong one, with fantastic human beings supporting the less fortunate. Though there isn't too much danger in terms of being robbed, you might want to just avoid the area at night. Be respectful to the people of this community and you'll have no problems.
Is there UbeLyft?
Sadly, no there isn't. We know, it absolutely sucks and everyone in Vancouver is aware. Your options are public transit or a taxi.
What's the parking situation like around Rogers Arena?
Super shitty if you don't like paying for parking. If you can, park outside of the Downtown core near a Skytrain and then head over to the Arena. Commercial Drive is pretty good for this if you can find certain spots. Tinseltown as well if you buy a movie ticket on non-event days.
How does Transit work? What do I need?
If you've ever been to any major city, you'll notice that Vancouver shares the same load-up card/tap system that places like London share. It's called Compass Card and it's fairly easy to use. Just load up money onto the card, tap it when you enter and tap when you leave. It'll do all the calculations for you. Note that certain zones will cost more just due to how far you're traveling.
Does Vancouver have car-sharing?
Yes it does! Car2Go and Evo are two of Vancouver's most popular car share services. Hot tip would be to register before you head over to Vancouver and it'll help mitigate the fact that UbeLyft aren't in Vancouver just yet. Just drive safely.
How do I get from the Airport (YVR) to Downtown Vancouver?
The easiest way to get to downtown from YVR, if you aren't getting picked up/taking a taxi is to take the Canada Line. It will take you directly to Waterfront station, from there you can take multiple buses, the Expo Line (the main line that will take you to Rogers Arena) or the Seabus (going to North VancouveLonsdale).
What's the drinking age in Canada?
19 years old.
I'm new to Canadian beer culture, what would you recommend?
Vancouver has an exploding craft beer culture and you'll be happy to find that the variety of different beers/ciders to drink is absolutely massive, probably to the point of being intimidating. Here are some of my favorite breweries and the beers that you should look out for when you're at the liquor store/pub: Twin Sails Brewing Dat Juice Pale Ale Two Straws MilkShake IPA Short Pants Mosaic IPA Brassneck Brewing Changeling Sour Passive Aggressive IPA Bjorn Again Farmhouse Ale Steel & Oak Changeling Sour Passive Agressive IPA Bjorn Again Farmhouse Ale Bomber Brewing Bomber Parklife Passionfruit Ale Bomber Pilsner Bomber Snow White IPA
Does Vancouver have any specific rules about drinking that I should know about?
Yes. First, there isn't any drinking in public if you already didn't know. Second, you must have TWO pieces of ID on you whenever you go to buy drinks in case you're asked for your ID. First piece must be photo ID, the second piece must be something with your name on it (in order for bartenders/servers to validate the first piece). I see a lot of tourists thrown off by this, so just know that Vancouver's liquor laws are much more strict than other places. I've heard from a few Vancouver residents that this isn't exactly enforced harshly, but just to note that it is an actual law. Piece of mind.
What's the legal drinking limit in Vancouver?
%.05. There will be a ton of pubcrawls and side events going on for people that are attending TI and I'm sure that you'll be blasted one night or another. Please don't drink and drive. If you need a cab, here are the numbers you can contact in order to grab a taxi from downtown. Yellow Cab: (604) 681-1111 Black Top Cab: (604) 731-1111 MacLure's Cabs: (604) 831-1111 Also, a note for people from outside of Vancouver: the cab drivers in this city are notorious for being hard to deal with at times. Broken debit machines, cash up front, not providing receipts. Use your common sense to get you through pushy cabbies. If they have a broken debit machine and they are still driving, kindly reject them and give your business to another cabbie that will. UbeLyft will be here soon and karma will bite them back. If at anytime you are in an emergency and don't know what to do, please DM me and I will provide my contact info.
This is not confirmed at the moment, but if the rules were anything like Seattle, you will be able to bring outside food into the arena. You are not permitted to bring liquids into the venue. You'll have to dump out your water bottle and refill it once inside. Rogers Arena might have different policies, but thankfully the venue has twice the amount of food stalls including a much more varied selection.
What's a secret you have from being a lifelong Canucks fan for eating in the area?
Everyone from Vancouver attending will hate me, but this is going to be one of the hottest tips I can give you: there is a Costco food court DIRECTLY across the street on the lower level of Rogers Arena that DOES NOT require a membership in order to buy food. It is the only Costco food court in Canada that doesn't need a membership to eat there. Hot dogs, poutine, pizza, soft drinks, ice cream and it's all lovingly Costco cheap. Enjoy!
What sort of credit card/tap options does Vancouver accept?
Visa/Mastercard are widely accepted everywhere. Cards such as American Express/Discover are also accepted most places, though a few places might reject them for whatever reason (higher charge rates, issues with their machines etc..) Best case would be to make sure you have a Visa/Mastercard with you at all times as a back-up in case you run into any issues. Most places in Vancouver also allow you to use Android/Apple Pay now as well. No bitcoin though.
How much money should I bring?
Well, that's entirely up to you. If you're staying the full week, a few hundred dollars in spare Canadian currency won't hurt you, especially if majority of your spending is going to be on plastic. There's going to be the Secret Shop, but that'll be done through online ordering and not cash payments. Just don't come with nothing. Worst case, always have at least $30-$40 cash on you just in case you run into a bind. It's really entirely up to you and how you plan on spending your time here. Do note that because of the low Canadian dollar, don't be surprised if the price of certain things is higher than usual.
Are there any huge cultural differences in Canada that I should know about?
Due to the amount of fires that have started in the Pacific North West the past month or so, please do not throw your cigarette/joint butts into the street, sidewalk, bushes or wherever that isn't a proper garbage. You'll get a ton of dirty looks by locals if you do otherwise. Canadians are known to be rather polite, we'll answer questions for you or guide you in the right direction (as long as we aren't in a huge rush). As long as you're respectful of the people around you, take care of your hygiene, don't spit on the ground, talk over people in conversation or just avoiding being a total dick, you'll be fine. Though Vancouver is a somewhat socially cold city, that's mainly in dating circles. Get some new Bumble photos up!
What's the tipping policy like in Vancouver?
Most places won't have the tip included in your bill. It's common courtesy to tip between %10-%15 of your final bill if you enjoyed your meal/drink/service. Feel free to go higher if you had a really excellent time. Some places do include the tip in the bill, but will have it noted usually at the bottom of the menu.
I'll be taking public transit while I'm here. Any tips?
A few. Remove your backpack when you're boarding a bus/SkyTrain in order to create more space for the people around you. Hygiene again is a big one. Remember to fill your Compass card and check your remaining balance at least once a day in case you're transiting a lot. If you see elderly/disabled/parents with strollers attempt to come on board, the polite thing to do would be to offer your seat etc..
My English isn't great and I need to ask a question, what should I do?
Don't worry at all! Vancouver is an extremely multicultural city and the residents here are used to hearing many different languages daily. Best bet is if you struggle communicating with anyone for any reason, download the Google Translate app and use it to answer questions you might have in a discussion.
I want to ask for a playetalents autograph and I'm standing right beside them. How should I ask?
Use common sense. Most players/talent would be more than willing to sign an autograph or pose for a photo with you. But also be aware that much of the on-screen talent (Slacks, Kaci, panel members) will often have to be running from segment to segment, taking in matches and so on. If they seem to have a minute, ask nicely, thank them for their time and cross one off of the bucket list.
I want to throw things at Slacks!
Don't throw things at Slacks.
Will there be an outdoor screen showing games?
No update on this. Rogers Arena is mainly a concrete concourse, surrounded by a viaduct and multiple lower roads. Unlike Seattle Center (which had multiple fields and smaller available venues), the only place large enough outside the Arena that could hold a large crowd with a big screen would most likely be the "main" entrance through Expo Blvd/Pat Quinn Way. There are a few other options in the area, but we're going to have to wait to see how creative Valve is with the space around the Arena. Perhaps they rent out the adjacent parking lots?
Will there be a beer garden?
No update on this also, but again, there's a lack of outdoor space beyond the concrete concourse. Sportsbar Live will be open, which also gives a view of inside the Arena while you're eating/drinking. But again, it's indoors.
Can I charge my phone inside of Rogers Arena?
From what I remember from Canucks games, yes, there are stations where you can plug your phone in to charge. But don't be surprised if a company like NVIDIA pops up a charging station outside much like in Seattle.
What is the capacity for Rogers Arena?
Where will I be able to see players? Will there be an open-area to ask for autographs?
One of the more obvious differences that most people will find from Key Arena to Rogers Arena, is that unlike Key Arena, Rogers doesn't have an open space concept between levels. Meaning, you won't be able to just look up to the third floor and see players hanging out like you normally would. This year, they most likely will be held in the boxes above or in the dressing rooms in the lower levels. Look for autograph times scheduled throughout the week to see your favorite players.
Is there anything being hosted at BC Place during TI?
The only thing right now is a Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS) game on August 18th and a BC Lions (CFL) on the 25th. So if you really feel inclined, now you know.
Where, how and when can we buy weed legally when we arrive in Vancouver?
When: On October 17th, weed will officially be legalized in British Columbia and most parts of Canada. How: Normally you need a medicinal prescription to purchase marijuana legally. Though, because of the soon to be legalization coming up in a few months, most dispensaries will most likely write you a prescription if you tell them a valid medical reason for the marijuana (Trouble sleeping, chronic joint pain, back pain, headaches, trouble eating etc.). My friends who smoke themselves told me that hot tip, so do with it what you will. Please DO NOT buy weed from a source that isn't verified by another trusted person or a licensed dispensary. You never know what your weed could be laced with. Where: Here are some dispensaries located close to Rogers Arena. Bloom Medical Dispensary The Dub Dispensary The Medical Cannibis Dispensary
Where can I smoke?
You can't smoke anywhere that frequents children, even if there aren't kids around. So no beaches, public parks, playgrounds etc.. So just, anywhere that's away from people that don't want to partake essentially.
Yo dude, thanks for that help, hit this shit real quick.
I wasn't able to buy any tickets. What should I do?
If you weren't able to buy tickets from Ticket Master, you have a few options. Post in the TI8 Vancouver Subreddit and ask if anyone has a spare ticket. Buying tickets from scalpers in front of Rogers Arena is fairly easy and shouldn't be difficult if you understand the basics of haggling.
Know what you're comfortable paying and stick to it. Always remember that number.
Be prepared to just walk away. The longer you stay negotiating, the more you show the scalper how important it is for you to buy the tickets. Play the long game.
The less you talk, the less information you give the scalper. If he says he's got a Midweek ticket for $300, shrug and say no thanks.
Have money in your hand/wallet when you're trying to buy tickets. When they see that the cash is right there, they'll be more inclined to just make the deal and move onto the next one.
You will most likely miss the opening ceremonies, but after that the prices for Midweek tickets will normalize and scalpers will want to just get rid of their tickets at a lesser price. The advantage you have in this instance is that Vancouver, outside of the LoL tournament at Pacific Colosseum, doesn't have much experience with esports tournaments. So scalpers themselves won't have the same level of patience. The longer you wait to buy your tickets from them, the cheaper you can get them for. Only downside is that you'll be missing games. The other thing you can do is literally just walk around the outside of the Arena and spot non-scalpers with extra tickets. There are always people who buy extra tickets and are just wanting to get their money back (friends flake on them, they couldn't flip them like they thought). DO NOT panic and end up buying an overpriced ticket from StubHub, Craigslist or wherever. Tickets will be available, you just have to keep your cool.
I'm picking up my tickets at the venue. Where do I go?
The box office at Rogers Arena is located at the bottom of the venue on Expo/Pat Quinn Way at the Toyota Ticket Center. You can pick up your tickets between these times: Mon, August 20th: 7AM - 9PM Tue, August 21th: 8AM - 9PM Wed, August 22nd: 8AM - 9PM Thu, August 23rd: 8AM - 9PM Fri, August 24th: 8AM - 9PM Not sure about the box office times for the Finals. Will update that when I know.
FIRST TIME ATTENDING TI
I'm coming to TI alone. What can I expect?
So first off, understand that EVERYONE there is going for the same reason you are, DOTA. Don't be afraid to go up to people, say hello and start conversations. If they shrug you off, fuck them, they don't deserve your brilliance. Enjoy yourself. Worst case, just create a thread on DOTA saying that you want to go shotgun a few beers. My first TI was pretty much by myself, but the combination of a beer + a garden really did wonders. Simply put, don't worry as much as your mind is telling you to worry. All the talent (casters/players) are incredibly friendly and are pretty much the same as us, just super stoked to be there. But do give them space if they're working or running around to the next thing.
What else do I need my Ticket/Badge for?
During TI, after every First Blood in a match, there are potential drops given to in arena attendee's who have registered their badge with their Steam ID. There will be a Steam Link kiosk/section OUTSIDE of Rogers Arena, so look out for it. You must have tapped into the Arena in order to be eligible for those drops. The link to register your badge to be eligible for these drops will be on the back of your badge when you receive it.
What sort of stuff should I be bringing with me on an average day?
Try to pack as lightly and efficiently as possible. My two main staples during the last two TI's were a water bottle (usually given out in a goody bag for midweek + finals ticket holders) and a portable battery pack for my phone. Also know that you might buy things from the Secret Shop, do some shopping downtown and the last thing you want to do is carry that stuff around with you all day. Though consider bringing a sweater for inside the Arena, as Rogers is a fairly cold one. HOT TIP Try checking with bell boys/concierge at any hotels if they can possibly check in some of your bags for you. I tried this at TI7 and was surprised how chill they were. I left them a $5 tip for taking my bags and was free for the rest of the day.
When should I go to the Secret Shop?
Avoid the Secret Shop on the first day or else you'll just spend the entire day waiting in line. Midweek the shop lines will be much more reasonable.
What else should I do in Vancouver beyond watching DOTA?
I have an emergency and I need help. Who do I call?
Depending on your situation, here are numbers for emergencies in British Columbia. Ambulance, fire, police: 911 Poison Control: Lower Mainland: 604-682-5050 Toll-free: 1-800-567-8911 Healthlink BC: 811 Deaf or Hearing Impaired: 711 Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention: Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) if you are considering suicide or are concerned about someone who may be. Mental health support: Call 310-6789 (no need to dial area code) for emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health.
Who's the guy with the statue outside the Arena?
That is Roger Neilson, former Vancouver Canucks head coach and the inventor of towel power. Please treat it nicely!
Where does Arteezy live? Where did he go to school? Where does he hang out?
How sweet of you to ask! That would be Lush by Snail Mail. Please, if you feel like you need to ask any questions, or there should be things added to this FAQ, post here or DM me. There are obviously some things that no one knows right now in regards to potential additions or subtractions from moving the event from Key Arena to Rogers. But I'll try my best to keep this thing updated if people bookmark it for future use. Enjoy planning your trip to TI!
I keep seeing bitcoin and cryptocurrency mentioned more and more. I’ve been “investing” in this space for ~3 years, and I want to clear a few things up.
The founder of Ethereum (the second biggest cryptoasset) put it succinctly:
There are some good ideas, there are a lot of very bad ideas, and there’s a lot of very, very bad ideas. And quite a few scams as well.”
Let me address those in reverse order. 1 - The scams. There are many. The biggest by a mile is Bitconnect, which is a pyramid scheme and not even trying to hide it. It’s going to implode very soon. There’s nothing to say here but stay away. There are also enormous red flags that the biggest exchange (Bitfinex) is insolvent and it’s substitute for dollars (USDT/Tether) is literally printing money and doesn’t have the dollars to back it up. If you decide to take a step into this space, stay as far away from these as possible. The only safe exchange IMO is coinbase. Edit: Another user brought this up, it's a good idea to mention. There is only one "true" Bitcoin, but because it's software anyone can copy that software and make their own version of Bitcoin. This has become very popular in the past few months, there is now Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold and many other Bitcoin this or that. This isn't a scam per se as many legitimate currencies have been created through this process since the dawn of cryptocurrency, but naming them Bitcoin X is becoming commonplace. Understand that when you are buying Bitcoin Gold or whatever you are NOT buying Bitcoin. They have as much to do with each other as American and Canadian Dollars - the only similarity is the name. 2 - The very, very bad ideas. I would put 95% of the assets created in the last 12 months under this heading. And you’ll never be able to tell which is which. Bitcoin is already volatile enough, so messing with anything that’s not already established is taking far too much of a risk. I’ve been doing this for years and I don’t even touch anything that hasn’t existed for at least a year. That doesn’t mean everything older than that is in the clear. Because of.... 3 - The very bad ideas. There are some established assets that I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Ripple/XRP being the one that stands out the most. The economics of the system are simply unacceptable for any sort of “investment” into it. It’s not even worth going into detail. 4 - The few good ideas. The first rule of crypto is “never invest more than you can afford to lose.” Because even though there some of the genuinely good ideas - Bitcoin and Ethereum are worth billions for a reason - none of this stuff is proven yet. I hope we can get to the point where enough people understand the technicalities and economics of the systems enough to intelligently discuss them and take them seriously as a new asset class. And I’m willing to engage anyone on any questions. I “invest” in this stuff because I understand what I’m investing in, not because I’m chasing a get rich quick scheme. But I know we’re not there yet in traditional investment circles. So of course no discussion about crypto is complete without addressing the elephant in the room. Is it a bubble? Emphatically YES. All the elements are there. It’s obvious to almost everyone at this point. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t consider investing in a small amount. Bubbles tend to form around technologies that change the world - railroads, telecom, the internet etc. This space is getting bubbly because a lot of very smart people see the potential and are investing considerable amounts into it. But I will be the first person to tell you that at some point in the future there will be a reckoning and the scams and bad ideas will implode, and it will likely drag down the good ideas with them to some degree. How much is unknown, but the implosion is a near certainty. But unlike housing, dotcoms and everyone’s favorite tulip bulbs - there are some unusual economic dynamics at play here. For one thing, there’s nothing else to peg this stuff to where you can definitely say we’re in the late stages of a bubble. People have been calling it a bubble for years because we have no idea what a reasonable real world value for this stuff is at this stage. Because nothing like it has ever existed before. It’s substantially different enough from existing assets that you can’t directly compare them. I know “this time is different” sounds like typical bubble talk - but these are literally as different from stocks as bonds and commodities are. They’re still bound by the same economic principles as everything else, but they’re a different type of asset. And within the broader context of crypto there are multiple different subtypes of cryptoassets as well. Another important dynamic that upsets the typical bubble paradigm is that the more expensive a cryptocurrency it is, the more secure - and thus valuable it is. That sounds bizarre, I know - but that’s how the economic incentives work out. It’s an abstract network of value. It’s virtual but it's still real and has intrinsic value - but ultimately the system is worth what the world collectively decides its worth. Security obviously plays a large role in that. If it was a stock you’d be able to say it’s fundamentally overvalued if it’s PE is too high. But it’s not a stock. That’s not to say that it can’t be overvalued. But because high valuation creates a positive feedback loop, you can’t just look at the massive returns and pricing and declare it a bubble on that alone. Right now bitcoin is worth $150 billion and altogether crypto is $250 billion. The dotcom bubble peaked at ~8 trillion and took years to get to that point. We could still be in the very early stages of the bubble and a conservative (in crypto standards) investment might still be worth quite a bit more than it is today on the other side of the implosion. The dotcom bubble gave us idiocy like pets.com, but the stuff that survived like google did go on to change the world. Another important thing to understand is that we’re not dealing with companies here - they’re open source, self sustaining decentralized networks. Bitcoin and Ethereum can’t go bankrupt any more than the internet itself can go bankrupt. As long as there’s at least one node in the world (and there are hundreds of thousands and growing) - they will continue to exist. There isn’t really a plausible scenario anymore whether your investment in them goes to zero, just as you could say the same for gold. It’ll always be worth something. Whether or not it’ll outperform stocks - literally no one can tell you that. The only really clear thing about it right now that they’re highly uncorrelated to other assets. On its own it’s risky but as a part of your portfolio a small investment in bitcoin can actually reduce your risk through diversification. A 1% allocation won’t derail your future in the worst case scenario and could potentially have enormous upside in the best case scenario - particularly if your other assets have a bad streak. That’s the only case I’ll make to a crowd as conservative (and rightfully so) as personalfinance. Get your emergency fund straight first, have a properly balanced and allocated portfolio of traditional investments first - but don’t write bitcoin/crypto off because you don’t understand it and the risk is difficult to quantify. Lots of very smart people are doing incredible work in this field right now and even though there will be a massive implosion at some point in the future - when the smoke clears the good ideas will stick around, and I think it’s unusually easy to spot the winners and the losers here. But in either case - don’t invest in anything you don’t understand. Learn about it first, then make up your own mind. At the very least if you’re into finance and economics it’s fascinating stuff. If you can’t take the time to do a little research on how it works and why it’s a good idea, then you shouldn’t be putting your hard earned money into it.
I think one of this series' fanbase's greatest strength and weakness is that there's no 'unanimously' chosen favorite game(s).
I only started playing Fire Emblem since Smash 4 (that's a Fire Emblem game, right?) and something I've noticed in the whole time I've lurked here is that there's no real crown jewel here that everyone and their intrusive mother's enjoy to circle around and bow down to. For example, with Mario games, just about everyone lists the same 3 games as their favorite in the series (i.e. Mario 64, Mario Sunshine, and Mario's Cement Factory). With lots of games, TV shows, movie franchises, you'll here the same few constantly praised as the best by the majority. I have not seen the same from Fire Emblem's fanbase. As far as general opinions go, nobody really agrees with anyone here on what makes Fire Emblem good (hence the very original 'we hate Fire Emblem' jokes) and even the most beloved games have factions against them. I originally thought FE7 was the crowd favorite, but like my seasonal depression, there comes a few months of "FE7 game is actually shit," posts with small, reluctant agreement. The Tellius games also seem to be the people's champions, but I think it's more that it's one of the least 'disliked' games than anything. Certainly not everyone's unanimous favorite, even to those who have played it. The closest thing to unanimity I've seen here is "Marth's games are ugly, only one guy loves Gaiden, and, I know this is a beaten horse, but can we talk about how bad Fate's story is????" So how is this disagreement about everything a strong weakness and strength? To start with the obvious, there's a LOT of disagreement here. From discussion about fanservice ("I love titties!"/"Titties piss me the fuck off!") to discussion about whether RNG should be true hit or not, no one really agrees as to what Fire Emblem should be or is. And that's okay. Going back to Mario, everyone agrees that Mario Golf is a great game, but can they see why kids love the taste of cinnamon toast crunch? That is to say, can anyone go into the science of why everyone favors certain games, episodes, entries compared to others? To a degree, sure, but not to an exact science. People can say Mario's Holy Cannoli is great because of good game design, but as Super Mario Maker has shown, no one knows what the hell good game design is. In the brief time I had with the game, not one level made me think "I can see this being in a Mario game." It's the same with writing and presentation. People can sense good things, but they sure as hell can't replicate it with what they think makes good design/writing (unless they're good to begin with). So how is this one of Fire Emblem's greatest strength? Since no one knows why Fire Emblem pulls you in an abusive girlfriend, everyone sort of dispersed and zoned in on the game that hearkened to their hearts most. As a result, there's a mixed bag of what games are considered good and bad. As another result, even though there are norms as to what's generally considered the game with the best story or gameplay or presentation, there is a healthy amount of opposing views and interpretations that give beloved games the critiques they deserve (FE7,9,10) and hated games the love they deserve(FE2,14). When Ghast fully praised Gaiden, there was a sense of "Well, this is a nice fresh of breath air!" among the community despite jokes and "But seriously, Gaiden is awful. Don't listen to this Canadian twinkie." There's a lot of variety with favorites in this fanbase and that stops discussion from being stale compared to other fanbases, I think. Sure, you'll gain ire from some for focusing too much on knights and archers, but I can't say it wouldn't be fun to try that someday. Despite all negativity around here, there's also positivity all around. There's no game that is praised to the high heavens or game that is damned to hell. I just want to say now that this is one of the most enjoyable fanbases I've been a part of. Fresh discussion is always brought up, despite the "Sorry for the dead horse, but let's talk about Fates" posts. You get a wide degree of games discussed, so no game is left behind. Differing viewpoints are actually interesting to read because they read more like "This is why I like Fire Emblem" at times instead of passive-aggressive persuasive essays, but even then, those passive-aggressive persuasive essays tend to bring up interesting points I never thought about. TL;DR As a consequence of no "This is everyone's favorite game", this fanbase can be split more often than not, but all games, characters, and aspects of them are discussed and treated relatively equally, which gives everyone's own personal favorite games, characters, and aspects a steady flow of attention, praise, and critique. Things are as volatile as bitcoin here, but I think it's more fun than repetitive positivity.
Crypto-Currencies Are Poised To Radically Change Finance … And Reshape Nations
Article by Forbes: Kurt Cagle & COGNITIVE WORLD In the 18th Century, a venture begun in England established an outpost in the New World around Hudson Bay. The Hudson Bay Company was given license by the crown to exploit the bounty of the Northernmost parts of North America, and eventually a trading network was built out, trading fur, woods, and mineral resources. This network manifested itself primarily through a series of forts that protected general stores, extending as far south and west as Oregon, along the Pacific Coast, forts that would in time become cities like Portland, Vancouver, Toronto and so forth. https://preview.redd.it/wpegk0kit6f31.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=f7a4300bc49b3ade91c544bdf0dc0677001ec863 An example of Hudson Bay Company Scrip WIKIPEDIA The Hudson Bay Company used its own special scrip within its territory, the scrip holding value because it could be traded for British pounds as well as establishing more or less standard prices for goods. When Canada was founded in 1867, it established its territory by buying the land from the HBC, and making HBC’s scrip fully convertible to the new Canadian Dollar. In effect, a privately held scrip became the de facto currency of a nation. Empires, kings and potentates have long coveted the right to put their face on coins, but until comparatively recently, the value of those coins was determined primarily by the assayed weight of the metal that made them up. Indeed, the Dutch, during the 16th century, actually scored their gold coins so that a person could break it apart into octants, from whence was derived the term “Pieces of eight” so beloved in pirate tales. They also created coins from the silver mine of Joachim’s Valley (‘Joachimsthal’ in Dutch) which were in turn heavily used by first the Spanish territories then eventually English North America, the name frequently shorted first to ‘Thaler’, and then via Spanish as ‘Dollar’. https://preview.redd.it/rw38upgkt6f31.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=eb4de09c64fb6fa7a70d2cde9a9e3cae4b8f2962 Pieces-of-Eight, so named because the Spanish dollar coin of the 1600s was frequently broken upon into eight bits or reals, which in time became known as pesos (pieces). JAMESTOWN REDISCOVERY Following the death of Louis the Fourteenth of France, the French economy was in tatters given the financial excesses of the Sun King. The Duke of Orleans, the regent of the new five-year-old King Louis the Fifteen, turned to a friend, Scottish financier John Law, for help. Law, for his part, made a proposal that had been tried on a smaller scale, but never really at a national level: the concept of creating a paper currency, backed by the government and in theory redeemable with silver. While the experiment worked for a little while, speculators made the currency unstable, which was then exacerbated by the government producing more Francs than it could support, causing the currency to crash and significantly diminishing the ability of France to compete in the colonization in North America. It also destabilized the French court by reducing the influence of the King over his aristocrats, many of whom had been severely burned in the crash, and not coincidentally laying the groundwork for the French Revolution several decades later. Despite this, as Europe went from Feudal vassalages to nation-states, the ability to control the minting of paper currency based upon its status as a promissory note became one of the key prerogatives of nations. It was one of the reasons, when the first American Confederation, created in the aftermath of the US Revolutionary War, realized they needed a stronger government, the one thing that the Federal government reserved to itself rather than allow to the states was the exclusive right to mint coinage and currency. https://preview.redd.it/bloq70ept6f31.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=af104c0e62286fbc3d2102b96c1ec2ba53ef851c Currencies have long been the prerogative of nations, though that may be changing as electronic coinage hearkens back to most currencies’ merchantile roots. GETTY Fast-forward two hundred and fifty years, and you can see that history is in fact repeating itself. A currency system works by having a few essential characteristics: A note of currency must be unique and non-duplicatable. Currency must be readily redeemable — if not enough people will accept the currency as having a certain value, it cannot be used as a medium of exchange. Currency must be relatively stable — it holds roughly the same value over some time interval. These three conditions place some real constraints on currencies, though not always obvious ones. For instance, if you increase the supply of a given currency, you might think that it would dilute the value of that money. Maybe yes, maybe no. If demand is high for money, increasing the money supply may actually accelerate economic growth, though if demand for money is low, increasing the supply may simply cause inflation. If currency is only redeemable in certain places, then it has less utility as a store of value. If a currency has only half the value today that it had yesterday, then people will get rid of that currency quickly in favor of something that is more stable. It turns out, in fact, that most paper currencies don’t completely satisfy the above constraints over a long time period, and what’s worse, the relationship between money and value can be quite non-linear. This is because currency by itself represents buying power. A gallon of gas in 1971 cost twenty nine cents in most places. Today, that same gallon of gas costs $2.90. Ironically, a loaf of bread cost $.29 and $2.90 respectively as well. The average wage in 1971 was $10,000. Today, its $50,000. This is worth highlighting, though more from an economic rather than technical standpoint. Put in stark terms, the typical worker’s wages went up 400%, but the price of most goods went up 1000% percent over roughly the last fifty years (or, the money you earn is worth 60% less today than it was in 1971, relative to the cost of living). The actual utility of a gallon of gas has actually not changed much in that time, which means that what has changed is both buying power for a given amount of money, and the change in wages relative to the cost of goods. Why? That’s a topic for another time. https://preview.redd.it/4dgrmrist6f31.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=7b110124483a8b8d7a986c5f226e6ca9c6ff0115 Electronic currencies, such as BitCoin and Ethereum, rank high in their ability to guarantee uniqueness, but are struggling with exchangeability and are still very heavily influenced by speculators, making them less than ideal for stable currencies. GETTY IMAGES So, where do cryptocurrencies play into all of this? At the moment, of the three points highlighted above, cryptocurrencies arguably are really, really good with the first point, are getting better (though still not great) with the second point, but really suck on the last point. Consider this. One of the biggest arguments in favor of cryptocurrencies is that they are hard to forge. It’s possible — throw enough computation power at it and you could in fact do it, but the salient point is that the cost to do so likely outweighs the value of the coin. Now the downside to that is that many of the current mechanisms for determining uniqueness (such as mining prime numbers) are also very expensive, not just in terms of computational cycles but in terms of energy costs. It’s one of the reasons why a few of the primary coins actually are too large by themselves to be used for currency — you have to divide a coin up to say a 1000 different micro-coins to get to the point where you can buy a cup of coffee and a sweet roll at Starbucks, and this in turn still requires effective uniqueness algorithms. However, even with weaker algorithms for division, such micro-coins are still orders of magnitude harder to forge than your average US $20 bill, which is far and away the most popular currency in the world in terms of forgery. However, this point is actually becoming less and less of an issue for the simple reason that paper currency itself is becoming obsolete, except among the very poor (who often have difficulty in being able to set up bank accounts). For much of the latter twentieth century, credit cards made significant inroads in eliminating paper currency, and most recently, the introduction of chipped cards, both credit and debit, have significantly reduced the incidences of fraud. The bigger issue today is online card fraud, though even there, the introduction of electronic wallets (and the growing liability that retailers are facing with each hacking incident via class action suits) are spurring much better encryption of data, as well as better control by consumers. This is not to say that credit card fraud isn’t still a problem, but it is a problem that shows signs of abating. Another, perhaps far more reaching consequence of the rise of credit cards, debit cards, digital rewards cards, gift cards and EBTs has been that it has been destroying the physicality of currency, and with it, one of the last vestiges of control that most nations have over their currency. The reason for this is simple. Today, it is possible to set up foreign exchange transfer accounts in which a given currency is in Yen, or Euros, or Pounds, and draw upon them as readily as you can a US funds account. You can set up a crypto account in much the same way, and can even, with some creative work, set up accounts that let you play currency arbitrage across multiple such accounts. If Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple or Facebook (or their counterparts in other countries) set up their own digital currency, you could do the same thing. Amazon is actually creating a highly synergistic ecosystem that is nearly a full bore economy in its own right. https://preview.redd.it/ybuj1fkut6f31.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=ee3c08e08e0f7621fea5d52bd0eff01c17f86ca0 In ten to twenty years time your paycheck could very well be made in private e-currency rather than a country’s native currency, which will send shockwaves in political circles. GETTY Put yourself ten years in the future. Amazon (as an example) puts out a cryptocurrency called the bezo (one bezo, two bezos, ….). You can continue to set up a US dollar account for Amazon prime, but you can also open up a bezos account, based upon a blockchain like construct under the control of Amazon. Prices begin to creep up when measured in US dollars, because the US economy has for the most part had net positive price inflation even during recessions, but prices in bezos stay fixed. Other companies look at this and offer the option of paying their employees in bezos. Some are resistant, but especially younger employees take the plunge, and after a while, older employees see that their net buying power continues to decline while the ones in the Amazon ecosystem are seeing wage power stability, and you see a shift as older employees begin to do the same thing. Other companies do this on their own, but discover that they don’t have quite enough people in their network to maintain stability, and so they reach out and affiliate themselves with the Amazon network. Banks have taken notice, and all of a sudden you see Amazon currency replacing the US Dollar in more and more transactions, many of them for millions or even billions of dollars. And then Amazon moves the Amazon Currency Network to the Cayman Islands. Overnight, the United States sees 35% of its tax base disappear. Too many people are no longer using US Dollars for transactions. The US Debt, which has been a ticking time bomb for decades, goes off as the US can no longer even pretend to service its deficits, let alone the total debt. States, given the conundrum of having a central Federal government that has become increasingly hostile and demanding (while providing less and less value for the tax money that their citizenry have paid) vs. working with a more stable currency and more autonomy, begin to think the unthinkable at a policy level: choosing to join a different political alliance based upon a common protocol for sharing currencies. https://preview.redd.it/au1ssbdwt6f31.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=bf6038a44188e96511ec0abc3d4f3ce4f60812a1 One very distinct possibility of the intermixing between private and public e-currencies is the possibility that it could very well exacerbate an already growing divide along geopolitical lines. GETTY Another scenario can be envisioned. Recently, Walmart announced that they had a patent on a new blockchain currency, with the implications that they would be issuing a currency within the relatively near future. Amazon and Walmart are seen as competitors in the general goods sector, and while there is some overlap they tend to service different regions (and their customers often have very divergent political leanings). Over time you end up with two competing currencies, the Bezo and the Walton. Each of which provides a premium within their respective networks and a double penalty within the opposite network — the double being the fact that in order to convert from Bezos to Waltons, you would have to convert one currency to USDs and then to the other currency, with fees at each transaction point (something often happens in existing currency exchanges, where you have to find a common currency to exchange between two different currencies that don’t otherwise have exchange rates). Over time, the economies diverge, with frustrations mounting as the Bezo and the Walton respond to different economic strategies, and changes in political power in Washington DC bring with it a distinct preference for one currency or the other, with all that this implies for policy. Attempting to peg either of the private currencies to the dollar ends up with a situation similar to that which the European Union experience in 2008, when economic policy that was right for the northern countries with strong industrial bases proved ruinous for the southern countries that were primarily agrarian in nature (and is in fact a part of the current problem between red and blue America). What is likely to happen in this scenario is the rise of compacts — agreements between states that standardize upon specific policies regarding economic action, taxation, representation, immigration, public programs, defense, ecological policy, education and so on. Put another way, the currency networks that emerge (and it is likely they will be networked, not just one single currency) will begin looking and acting more and more like autonomous countries. With this comes the reduction of power in Washington, DC and the federal government as states hew more closely to their compact alliances. Now, to be clear, these are both hypothetical scenarios, and I’m using Amazon and Walmart here just to illustrate the point. Nor are these the only scenarios that may play out. It’s also worth noting that what is at issue is not so much cryptocurrency by itself as it is the ability of currency networks to effectively capture the tax base of parts or all of a country. Will this result in civil war? Hard to say. We may very well end up in a situation where the US becomes a Confederation along the lines of Canada, with a weaker central government, a common defense agreement and stronger regional blocs. The US may split peacefully into several distinct regions based upon the degree of economic connectivity. It’s possible that smarter heads prevail and some agreement is worked out to keep the status quo. However, the likelihood of that decreases the more that mechanisms for separation get implemented, and eCurrencies, whether national based or privately based, have the potential to exacerbate an already stressed situation. https://preview.redd.it/y9c01xa1u6f31.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=9371cdc22a409b03230590b1b5e13a6e848b78af One of the major issues that most eCoins have is that they are still highly unstable, due to a comparatively small pool of investors, the potential for volatile speculation, and the potential that a government could make such transactions illegal. GETTY The primary mitigating factor from this happening now is the lack of stability of crypto-currencies, which is something of a chicken and egg problem. Stability ultimately comes from the number of participants involved, which in turn determines the degree to which speculation can take place within a currency. Speculation and stability are counter-weighted — most speculators prefer an asset class to be volatile, because such volatility can make for higher returns with less capital, though it can also lead to higher losses. You can speculate with stable currency (as George Soros managed to do successfully against the British pound in the 1970s) but it requires deep pockets and a great deal of leverage, and being unsuccessful can ruin you. Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies are still very unstable primarily because they lack both the installed base of users and because they are not yet fully convertible or redeemable. It is arguable whether any of the first generation of ICOs will ever meet that bar alone, though that changes once you begin seeing mergers and adoptions between ICOs and large financial or network concerns. This also moots one of the other major selling points that ICO promoters themselves try to make. No currency is going to survive if transactions in that currency remain anonymous, and keeping such transactions anonymous will become increasingly difficult over time. The reason for this is relatively simple — any transaction has real world implications, those implications can be tracked, and once one thread of a transaction begins to get picked apart, then it becomes possible to determine how these connect to other transactions. Government opacity (which is one form of anonymity) will keep many existing ICOs from ever being recognized as legitimate, and may very well be seen as perfect channels for money laundering and black market transactions, putting these ICOs under deep scrutiny. It is likely that currencies based upon (semi-) transparent block-chains (something you’re increasingly seeing developed by financial institutions) will likely overtake the anonymous block-chains currently being deployed. https://preview.redd.it/79i6dzb4u6f31.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=9ef3c872dc868e52e9b8454bf8403b0db7562152 The future of finance (and of bank accounts) may very well be that a typical account is, in fact, an index made up of different e-currencies, both public and private. GETTY In the longer term (fifteen to twenty years), it is likely that the average consumer will likely not interact much at all with ICOs directly. Instead, what I see happening is that banks (and bank-like-entities, such as credit unions) will controls portfolios of currencies and accounts will then consist of baskets of different coins on various networks. Consumers can then determine the mix of their coin holdings, and can designate the default currencies they wish to be paid in (or pay out) when they make a financial transaction. However, at the micro-level, these networks and baskets will be treated in much the same way national currencies do today, with the added wrinkle that these private currencies can push and pull on the national currencies at a level unprecedented until now. What happens when the Bezo replaces the Japanese Yen (or the US Dollar) as the primary instrument for carry trades. What if the Iranian eDinar becomes the preferred currency for pricing oil, or an international incident causes investors to buy up Chinese eYuan and sell the USD, raising the potential for price increases in the United States (or vice versa). What will almost certainly happen is that the distinction between international corporations and nations, already somewhat blurry, will erode even more with time. Businesses will increasingly find themselves having to establish comprehensive foreign policies, fielding security forces and dealing with issues that traditionally have been the domain of countries. At the same time, fundamental questions, including the deceptively difficult one of what constitutes citizenship, will become pressing sooner than we’d like to believe. The upshot of this is that Bitcoins and related electronic currencies are likely here to stay, will become progressively more influential in both political and economic policy as they become more stable, and will almost certainly introduce stresses and potential breaking points in economies globally throughout the twenty-first century.
Among the more frequently mentioned G+ alternatives at the Google+ Mass Migration community, and others, is MeWe with over 250 mentions. The site bills itself as "The Next-Gen Social Network" and the "anti-Facebook": "No Ads, No Political Bias, No Spyware. NO BS. It is headed by professed Libertarian CEO Mark Weinstein. As the site reveals no public user-generated content to non-members, it's necessary to create an account in order to get a full impression. I thought I'd provide an overview based on recent explorations. This report leads of with background on the company, though readers may find the report and analysis of specific groups on the site of interest.
Founder & CEO Mark Weinstein. Co-Founder & Chief Scientist, Jonathan Wolfe (no longer with company). Weinstein previously founded SuperFamily and SuperFriends, "at the turn of the millennium". Weinstein's MeWe biography lists articles published by The Mirror (UK), Huffington Post, USA Today, InfoSecurity Magazine, Dark Reading, and the Nation. His media appearances include MarketWatch, PBS, Fox News, and CNN. He's also the author of several personal-success books. His Crunchbase bio is a repeat of the MeWe content.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Inventor of the World Wide Web.
Jack Canfield: Legendary Founder, Chicken Soup For The Soul.
John Friedman: Founding Partner, Easton Capital.
Cullen Hoback: Director, Terms and Conditions May Apply.
Dianne Morrison: Partner, MorrisonMcNabb, LLC.
Colin Sebastian: Director, Equity Research/Internet, RW Baird.
Brett Shevack: CEO, Brand Initiatives; Former Vice Chair, BBDO.
Marci Shimoff: author, Happy for No Reason.
Sherry Turkle: Professor, MIT; author Alone Together.
Ownership & Investment
MeWe is the dba of Sgrouples, a private for-profit early-stage venture company based in Los Angeles, though with a Mountain View HQ and mailing address, 11-50 employees, with $10m in funding over five rounds, and a $20m valuation as of 2016. Sgrouples, Inc., dba MeWe Trust & Safety - Legal Policy c/o Fenwick West 801 California Street Mountain View, CA 94041 Crunchbase Profile. Founded: 2012 (source) Secured $1.2M in seed funding in 2014. 2016 valuation: $20m (source] Backers:
John Friedman, venture capitalist, founder & MD, Easton Capital, New York, NY.
Do you have friends still on Facebook? Share this link with them about Facebook wanting their banking information - tell them to move to MeWe now! No Ads. No Spyware. No Political Agenda. No Bias Algorithms. No Shadow Banning. No Facial Recognition.
MeWe provide several policy-related links on the site:
California Disclosures -- Do Not Track, 3rd-party cookies, and California Privacy Rights.
Your Identity: We protect it to the extent the law allows
Linking to Third-Party Sites: These are your decisions and responsibilities
Security: HTTPS and Encryption
Terms of Service
The ToS addresses:
Allowable Content and Acceptable Use
Who Our Services are For
User Content Ownership
Misuse of Usernames, Page names, Group names
Fake Accounts (pseudonyms allowed, misleading is not)
More on Spam
Our Commitment to Data Security
MeWe Content Data
MeWe Log Data
Your Data Portability
Deleting Your Account -- Right to Erasure
MeWe Secret Chat
MeWe Invitations and "Add Automatically"
Additional Policies for Pages, Groups, and Events Notifications of Requests for Account Information
Guidelines for Law Enforcement Seeking Customer Data (Worldwide)
Ownership In and To the Site and Services
Effective: November 6, 2018.
The FAQ addresses:
What is MeWe (emphasises privacy)
The Politics of MeWe ("absolutely no political agenda")
How can MeWe be free and make money? (additional services/freemium)
Which devices is MeWe available on? (Android, iOS)
What content can I share on MeWe (photos, videos, documents, voice messages, privacy mail, chats, gifs, memes, doodles)
What are some unique features of MeWe?
Who can see the posts I share?
Can I delete my MeWe account and is it easy to do this?
This emphasises that people are social cratures and private people by right. The service offers the power of self expression under an umbrella of safety. It notes that our innermost thoughts require privacy. Under "We aspire...":
MeWe is here to empower and enrich your world. We challenge the status quo by making privacy, respect, and safety the foundations of an innovatively designed, easy-to-use social experience.
Totalling 182 words.
Privacy Bill of Rights
A ten-item statement of principles (possibly inspired by another document, it might appear):
You own your personal information & content. It is explicitly not ours.
You will never receive a targeted advertisement or 3rd party content based on what you do or say online. We think that's creepy.
You see every post in timeline order from your friends, family & groups. We do not manipulate, filter, or change the order of your content or what you see.
Permissions & privacy are your rights. You control them.
You control who can access your content.
You control what, if anything, others can see in member searches.
Your privacy means we do not share your personal information with anyone.
Your emojis are for you and your friends. We do not monitor or mine your data.
Your face is your business. We do not use facial recognition technology.
You have the right to delete your account and take your content with you at any time.
There are a few mentions of MeWe in the press, some listed on the company's website, others via web search.
The following articles are linked directly from MeWe's Press page:
The page also lists a "Privacy Revolution Required Reading" list of 20 articles all addressing Facebook privacy gaffes in the mainstream press (Wired, TechCrunch, Fortune, Gizmodo, The Guardian, etc.). There are further self-reported mentions in several of the company's PR releases over the years.
Facebook Alternative MeWe Raises $5.2M, Los Angeles Business Journal (July 7, 2018) "The latest round, as well as MeWe’s total $10 million in fundraising, was predominantly backed by celebrity investors, such as author Marci Shimoff, Rachel Roy, and Lynda Weinman, founder of Lynda.com, which sold to Linkedin in 2015 for $1.5 billion. Jack Canfield, creator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, also invested in MeWe."
Is building a Facebook alternative worth the effort? MeWe thinks soVentureBeat (July 5, 2018) "[T]here are still companies hoping to make their mark in the social networking realm with “Facebook alternatives.” One of those is MeWe, a “next-generation” social network that positions itself as the anti-Facebook: “Your private life is not for sale. No ads. No Spyware. No BS,” its website proclaims." Continues to mention "modest $5.2 million" funding round. Also a "sister product", MeWePRO, a Slack competitor.
Startup MeWe Launches Free, 'No Ads' Social NetworkeWeek (March 16, 2016) "MeWe, a new network engineered with its users' data privacy built in, is betting that a lot of people will say yes to both of those questions. The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup, whose parent company is Sgrouples.com, launched its freely available social network out of beta March 9 with more than 200,000 members already using it.... Sir Tim Berners-Lee, co-architect of the World Wide Web, found out about MeWe on his own and approached the company about getting involved."
Facebook Alternative MeWe closes $5.2M Series A Yahoo/PR Newswire (July 5, 2018). "The investment brings MeWe's total funding to $10 million, to support the engineering of MeWe and the enterprise version MeWePRO.... The company has relied on high net worth individuals for all of its funding including Lynda Weinman, founder of Lynda.com ...; Marci Shimoff, a #1 New York Times bestselling author ...; Rachel Roy...; and Jack Canfield."
Exactis Data Leak 2018: 340 Million Records ExposedInvestorPlace (June 29, 2018) "'Today's cookies can link your mobile phone to your laptop, to your home monitoring devices, and much, much more. Creepy? Scary? Orwellian? Yes, yes, yes,' Mark Weinstein, the privacy expert and founder of social media company MeWe, told MarketWatch. 'So imagine that Exactis, like Facebook, knows everything about you — really.'"
MeWe Raises $3M in FundingFinSMEs (March 9, 2016) "Sgrouples, Inc., the Mountain View, CA-based developer of MeWe, a social network with neither ads nor tracking, raised $3m in funding."
This section is a basic rundown of the user-visible site technology.
The site is not natively accessible from a mobile Web browser as it is overlayed with a promotion for the mobile application instead. Selecting "Desktop View" in most mobile browsers should allow browser-based access.
There are both Android and iOS apps for MeWe. I've used neither of these, though the App store entries note:
MeWe Android 4.4 rating (13.1k ratings). Permissions: Contacts (read), Location (approximate/precise), SMS (receive), Phone (read status & identity), Photos/Media/Files (read, modify, & delete contents), Storage (read, modify, or delete), Camera (take pictures/videos), Microphone (record audio), Device ID & Call Info (read status & identity), and numerous elements under Other.
Crunchbase cites 209,220 mobile downloads over the past 30 days (via Apptopia), an 80.78% monthly growth rate, from Google Play.
Either selecting "View Desktop" or navigating with a Desktop browser to https://www.mewe.com your are presented with a registration screen, with the "About", "Privacy Bill of Rights", "MeWe Challenge", and a language selector across the top of the page. Information requested are first and last name, phone or email, and a password. Pseudonymous identities are permitted, though this isn't noted on the login screen. Returning members can use the "Member Log In" button. The uMatrix Firefox extension reveals no third-party content: all page elements are served from mewe.com, img.mewe.com, cdn.mewe.com, or ws.mewe.com. (In subsequent browsing, you may find third-party plugins from, for example, YouTube, for videos, or Giphy, for animated GIFs.) The web front-end is nginx. The site uses SSL v3, issued by DigiCert Inc. to Sgrouples, Inc.
The onboarding experience is stark. There is no default content presented. A set of unidentified icons spans the top of the screen, these turn out to be Home, Chats, Groups, Pages, and Events. New users have to, somehow, find groups or people to connect with, and there's little guidance as to how to do this.
Generally there is a three panel view, with left- and right-hand sidebars of largely navigational or status information, and a central panel with main content. There are also pop-up elements for chats, an omnipresent feature of the site. Controls display labels on some devices and/or resolutions. Controls do not provide tooltips for navigational aid.
My Cloud - Seamlessly organize all your content in My Cloud; it's your personal cloud. My Cloud offers an interactive dashboard for you to control everything you’ve posted or shared - making it simple to delete or reshare.
Unique profiles - Be yourself, free from any tracking and spying. Customize your profile for every group you create or join.
Voice integration (on any or all content) - Post pictures, videos, or documents and include a voice message. Respond to a shared post or just chat. MeWe’s voice integration works for you and your contacts throughout the entire platform.
Universal tagging - This is a new, convenient way to sort and organize all the content you receive and share, making it easy to find everything, anytime.
Enhanced permission control (patent issued) - Manage permissions on a granular level and decide exactly who sees what. You can also remove yourself from the search directory, make yourself invisible to other members online, and much more.
Much More – join MeWe today and take a look inside! MeWe is the next-gen social networking experience designed for you to have fun, stay in touch, collaborate, organize, and simplify.
A key aspect of any social network is its community. Some of the available or ascertained information on this follows.
Weinstein claims a "million+ following inside MeWe.com" on Twitter. The largest visible groups appear to have a maximum of around 15,000 members , for "Awesome gifs". "Clean Comedy" rates 13,350, and the largest open political groups, 11,000+ members. This compares to Google+ which has a staggering, though Android-registrations-inflated 3.3 billion profiles, and 7.9 million communities, though the largest of these come in at under 10 million members. It's likely that MeWe's membership is on the whole more more active than Google+'s, where generally-visible posting activity was limited to just over 9% of all profiles, and the active user base was well under 1% of the total nominal population.
MeWe do not publish active users (e.g., MUA / monthly active users) statistics.
MeWe is principally a group-oriented discussion site -- interactions take place either between individuals or within group contexts. Virtually all discovery is group-oriented. The selection and dynamics of groups on the site will likely strongly affect user experience, so exploring the available groups and their characteristics is of interest. "MeWe has over 60,000 open groups" according to its FAQ. The Open groups -- visible to any registered MeWe user, though not to the general public Web -- are browsable, though sections and topics must be expanded to view the contents: an overview isn't immediately accessible. We provide a taste here. A selection of ten featured topics spans the top of the browser. As I view these, they are:
Health & Fitness
Cars & Motorcycles
Fashion and Beauty
Specific groups may appear in multiple categories. The top Groups within these topics have, variously, 15,482, 7,738, 15,482 (dupe), 7,745, 8,223, 8,220, 1,713, 9,527, 2,716, and 1,516 members. Listings scroll at length -- the Music topic has 234 Groups, ranging in size from 5 to 5,738 members, with a median of 59, mean of 311.4, and a 90%ile of 743.5. Below this is a grid of topics, 122 in all, ranging from Activism to Wellness, and including among them. A selected sample of these topics, with top groups listed members in (parens), follows:
Activism: QAnon+++ (2,572), PATRIOT PREPPERS USA (2,430), Deplorables Republic (2,48), The War Drummer (1,898), Patriots for a United America. (1894), Anonymous (1,700).
Alternative Energy: Reiki, Crystals, and alternative healing (2,114), 💜Starseeds & Empaths💜 (345), Living in Colour (365).
Alternative Lifestyle: Natural Healing and Home Remedies (3,045), Backyard Farming of All Things (2,696), WeTheSheeple (2,251).
Alumni Connections: Google Plus Refugees (271), Google+ Refugees (186), Frog Pond (156), Carlsbad NM High School alumni (57).
Animals: I Love My Dog (4,421), Pussy Shots (4,619).
Astronomy: Spherical Earth Truth, Flat Earth is Wrong (278), Nibiru, Nemesis, Hercolobus, The Destroyer (187).
Biology: Trees (344), Field of Birds (104), Patriots of Australia (51).
Personal Improvement: For Introverts. (1,214), Anarchy, Philosophy, Psychology, and Spirituality (679), Positive Affirmations (447).
Philosophy: In5d Esoteric Metaphysical and Spiritual Database (1,764), Thought Bouncing (1,137), Obtectivists - Galts Gulch - Ayn Rand fans (561).
Poetry: Dead Poest (1,407), Palacio de Poetry (451), Poets Corner (412).
Politics: Donald J. Trump 2016 - Present (11,486), The Conservative's Hangout (8,345), Qanon Follow The White Rabbit (5,600), Drain The Swamp (4,978), Libertarians (4,528), United We Stand Trump2020 (4,216).
Pop Culture: The Loftus Party (116), The Walking Dead: The Stalking Dead (100), Tyler, Texas (71).
Privacy: Join the Open/Privacy Movement (3974), Kingsport tn gun trader (1,157), Safer Computing (555).
To be clear: whilst I've not included every topic, I've sampled a majority of them above, and listed not an arbitrary selection, but the top few Groups under each topic.
Google Plus expats (1,862)
Google+ Refugees (186)
G+ Refugees (101)
my Google+ expatriates
The Google Plus expats group seems the most active of these by far.
It's curious that MeWe make a specific point in their FAQ that:
At MeWe we have absolutely no political agenda and we have a very straightforward Terms of Service. MeWe is for all law-abiding people everywhere in the world, regardless of political, ethnic, religious, sexual, and other preferences.
There are 403 political groups on MeWe. I won't list them all here, but the first 100 or so give a pretty clear idea of flavour. Again, membership is in (parentheses). Note that half the total political Groups memberships are in the first 21 groups listed here, the first 6 are 25% of the total.
Donald J. Trump 2016 - Present (11486)
The Conservative's Hangout (8345)
Qanon Follow The White Rabbit (5600)
Drain The Swamp (4978)
United We Stand Trump2020 (4216)
The Right To Self Defense (3757)
Alternative Media (3711)
Hardcore Conservative Patriots for Trump (3192)
Bastket Of Deplorables4Trump! (3032)
Return of the Republic (2509)
Infowars Chat Room Unofficial (2159)
Donald Trump Our President 2017-2025 (2033)
Berners for Progress (1963)
Sean Hannity Fans (1901)
The American Conservative (1839)
I Am The NRA (1704)
Tucker Carlson Fox News (1645)
We Love Donald Trump (1611)
MAGA - Make America Great Again (1512)
news from the front (1337)
Basket of Deplorables (1317)
Payton's Park Bench (1283)
Convention of States (1282)
Britons For Brexit (1186)
MoJo 5.0 Radio (1180)
MeWe Free Press (1119)
The Constitutionally Elite (1110)
WOMEN FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP (1032)
AMERICANS AGAINST ISIS and OTHER ENEMIES (943)
#WalkAway Campaign (894)
ALEX JONES (877)
The Lion Is Awake ! (854)
We Support Donald Trump! (810)
The Stratosphere Lounge (789)
TRUMP-USA-HANDS OFF OUR PRESIDENT (767)
Official Tea Party USA (749)
Mojo50 Jackholes (739)
Yes Scotland (697)
"WE THE DEPLORABLE" - MOVE ON SNOWFLAKE! (688)
Judge Jeanine Pirro Fans (671)
Ted Cruz for President (650)
No Lapdog Media (647)
Q Chatter (647)
Daily Brexit (636)
Tucker Carlson Fox News (601)
The Trumps Storm Group (600)
QAnon-Patriots WWG1WGA (598)
100% American (569)
Ladies For Donald Trump (566)
Deep State (560)
In the Name of Liberty (557)
Material Planet (555)
Trump NRA Free Speech Patriots on MeWe Gab.ai etc (546)
Magna Carta Group (520)
Constitutional Conservatives (506)
Question Everything (503)
Conspiracy Research (500)
Bill O'Reilly Fans (481)
Conservative Misfit's (479)
Canadian politics (478)
HARDCORE DEPLORABLES (454)
Tampa Bay Trump Club (445)
UK Politics (430)
Bongino Fan Page (429)
Radical Conservatives (429)
RESIST THE RESISTANCE (419)
The Deplorables (409)
America's Freedom Fighters (401)
Politically Incorrect & Proud (399)
CONSERVATIVES FOR AMERICA ! (385)
Political satire (383)
RISE OF THE RIGHT (371)
UK Sovereignty,Independence,Democracy -Everlasting (366)
The Patriots Voting Coalition (359)
End The Insanity (349)
Coming American Civil War! (345)
Constitutional Conservatives (343)
United Nations Watch (342)
A Revival Of The Critical Thinking Union (337)
The New Libertarian (335)
Libertarian Party (official ) (333)
DDS United (Duterte Die-hard Supporters) (332)
American Conservative Veterans (331)
America Needs Donald Trump (326)
The UKIP Debating Society (321)
Coalition For Trump (310)
FRIENDS THAT LIKE JILL STEIN AND THE GREEN PARTY (292)
2nd Amendment (287)
Never Forget #SethRich (286)
Green Party Supporters 2020 (283)
It seems there is relatively little representation from the left wing, or even the centre, of the political spectrum. A case-insensitive match for "liberal" turns up:
104: Conservatives Against Liberal Beliefs C.A.L.I.B (273)
184: Progressive and Liberal Politics (119)
301: Liberalism is a Mental Disorder (33)
302: Resistance Against Liberal Socialism (33)
358: NOT For Liberals (17)
367: Drinking Liberally Houston (14)
400: Stephanie Miller's Sexy Liberal Army (6)
Mainstream political parties are little represented, though again, the balance seems skewed searching on "(democrat|republic|gop)":
391: Saving The Republic: Video News & Opinion (8)
The terms "left" and "right" provide a few matches, not all strictly political-axis aligned:
7: The Right To Self Defense (3757)
80: RISE OF THE RIGHT (371)
150: POLITICS ON THE LEFT (156)
157: 1st Amendment Rights Protected By The 2nd Amendmen (141)
209: On The Left With Jeremy Corbyn (84)
262: Eyes-Left Labour & PP - Social Media (49)
300: Gather Left (33)
385: Defend Washington State Gun Rights (9)
390: Left Coast Conservatives (8)
Socialism and Communism also warrant a few mentions:
121: Revolutionary Socialists United (204)
216: Socialist Thought (79)
220: Stories Of Communism (76)
262: Eyes-Left Labour & PP - Social Media (49)
288: Snuggly Wuggly Socialists (38)
302: Resistance Against Liberal Socialism (33)
And there are some references to green, laboulabor parties:
97: FRIENDS THAT LIKE JILL STEIN AND THE GREEN PARTY (292)
100: Green Party Supporters 2020 (283)
262: Eyes-Left Labour & PP - Social Media (49)
320: Green Party of Ohio Issues & Discussion Group (29)
Whilst there may not be a political agenda, there does appear to be at least a slight political bias to the site. And a distinctive skew on many other topical subjects. Those seeking new homes online may wish to take this into account.
Various typos and tagging corrections. 2018-11-29 - 30
Added G+MM references count for MeWe to lede paragraph. 2018-12-2