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Janine @J9Roem
, 24 tweets, 8 min read Read on Twitter
I read the whitepaper for Civil sometime last year as part of my research into reforming journalism. Thread on several things that they are still getting wrong:
1) I know it's just a marketing puff piece, but it bothers me when people / projects don't mention their predecessors in an area. Forbes is not the first to try publishing stories on or using a blockchain, nor even the first "major media" player to do so. See: Steemit, WikiLeaks
2) They mention that skepticism exists, but not *what* & *why* it exists. They don't acknowledge that all of their predecessors -- except for those who used blockchains in very minimalist but effective ways -- have either died or will die due to inherent sustainability problems.
3) People still refuse to acknowledge that blockchains -- which are useless & insecure if not open / permissionless -- have extremely limited use as content storage systems. "Proprietary" is just another word for permissioned, licensed. Not only boring, but centralised & trusted.
I hate to break it to you, but... Google Sheets is not decentralised. And their "cloud" is only as distributed as all of the servers controlled by, uh, Google.
4) And there are tokens involved. Pre-sold last month, of course, to "registered purchasers" -- name, email, only via USD or ETH, KYC jazz etc. There will be a "transparency report" about this, apparently. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯…
It's even stricter than just KYC, because the "council," which will normatively judge whether you abide by its "constitution," requires you to pass a private test first. Even if it plugs into a real decentralised blockchain, your platform itself is still centralised.
5) Another popular but dangerous misunderstanding. Establishing "identity and credibility" is NOT what blockchains do. They are NOT "truth machines" in this over-broad sense. A censorship-resistant, secure blockchain ONLY establishes: __ data existed before / on __ time.
Open blockchains rely on a very limited and explicit set of rules. Anyone who thinks that identity / reputation or credibility can be "indelibly established" by publishing metadata to blockchain really does not get how complex both of those things are.
Can publishing metadata to a blockchain be useful? Yes. Is using a blockchain for timestamping useful? Yes. But does publishing metadata into a blockchain make it true? No. It only matters if what you publish needs some time-sensitive / time-dependent quality to be meaningful.
Or if the thing you want to publish will be censored. In this Civil system, a centralised "council" would defeat that feature, as they can be censors / avenues for censorship. But if the underlying blockchain is censorship-resistant, you ignore them & publish the metadata anyway.
So what has basically happened here? They have taken the one potentially valuable content storage use case of open blockchains (timestamping metadata), over-hyped or at least not properly articulated its benefits, and created a token within a pretty permissioned "ecosystem."
6) The 'constitution' is 🤨. It states that it will "lay out Civil’s purpose and values" for "self-governance," then says "specific, real-world interpretation of the purpose and values is beyond the scope." So when they say "ethical journalism," is that real-world ethics or...
Not to say this isn't all very nicely written, but in the end, the contract owners (The Civil Media Company) are the final line for decisions and this "council" is just a much more complicated implementation of an editorial board.
Hyping the benefits of using blockchains this early, doesn't give me confidence in their ability to determine "truthfulness." Everything rests on their token incentive system being better at producing "factual" journalism on average than other options.
It depends on them being able to convince enough readers why their 50%-majority voting system (of platform participants) is even trustworthy in terms of establishing truth, and how publishing metadata on a blockchain even matters. If they can't do that, the whole system fails.
There is actually no mention of "reader" in the constitution. They are not considered participants within the governance model, unless they are simultaneously Newsmakers / Officers within registered Newsrooms (these are the terms used).
Except, in the real world, readers are participants. Journalism is accountable only in so far as readers make it so, can only be effective if journalists respect their readers enough to provide them with as much room as possible to verify independently. Hence, my focus on OSINT.
I don't know if this is a miscommunication, but Bustillos says that they will be storing more than just metadata. Ethereum fainted under the load of CryptoKitties, and that was mostly just "DNA" hashes, so... good luck with that.…
Transparency report is in:…
TL;DR: Assuming ~$800k in "commitments" actually comes in, still must sell ~$6 million worth of tokens for soft cap minimum. In five days.

Otherwise, ConsenSys has a 51%-majority position, which means they alone could determine votes on protocol changes. #YoureDoingItWrong
Why... is this wiki published on Google Docs, instead of IPFS (that distributed content storage protocol you claim Civil will use) with an HTTP gateway?
It's very important that Forbes' "not fact-checked" content is made immutable to protect it from censorship.

... wait, who is trying to censor Forbes again?
From the former co-founder, head of journalism operations & "eco-system growth lead" at Civil, who seems to have left in July 2018:…
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