The 10 Most-Read Posts of 2014

by on December 30, 2014 · 0 comments

As 2014 draws to a close, we take a look back at the most-read posts from the past year at The Technology Liberation Front. Thank you for reading, and enjoy.

10. New York’s financial regulator releases a draft of ‘BitLicense’ for Bitcoin businesses. Here are my initial thoughts.

In July, Jerry Brito wrote about New York’s proposed framework for regulating digital currencies like Bitcoin.

My initial reaction to the rules is that they are a step in the right direction. Whether one likes it or not, states will want to license and regulate Bitcoin-related businesses, so it’s good to see that New York engaged in a thoughtful process, and that the rules they have proposed are not out of the ordinary.

9. Google Fiber: The Uber of Broadband

In February, I noted some of the parallels between Google Fiber and ride-sharing, in that new entrants are upending the competitive and regulatory status quo to the benefit of consumers.

The taxi registration systems and the cable franchise agreements were major regulatory mistakes. Local regulators should reduce regulations for all similarly-situated competitors and resist the temptation to remedy past errors with more distortions.

8. The Debate over the Sharing Economy: Talking Points & Recommended Reading

In September, Adam Thierer appeared on Fox Business Network’s Stossel show to talk about the sharing economy. In a TLF post, he expands upon his televised commentary and highlights five main points.

7. CES 2014 Report: The Internet of Things Arrives, but Will Washington Welcome It?

After attending the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in January, Adam wrote a prescient post about the promise of the Internet of Things and the regulatory risks ahead.

When every device has a sensor, a chip, and some sort of networking capability, amazing opportunities become available to consumers…. But those same capabilities are exactly what raise the blood pressure of many policymakers and policy activists who fear the safety, security, or privacy-related problems that might creep up in a world filled with such technologies.

6. Defining “Technology”

Earlier this year, Adam compiled examples of how technologists and experts define “technology,” with entries ranging from the Oxford Dictionary to Peter Thiel. It’s a slippery exercise, but

if you are going to make an attempt to either study or critique a particular technology or technological practice or development, then you probably should take the time to tell us how broadly or narrowly you are defining the term “technology” or “technological process.”

5. The Problem with “Pessimism Porn”

Adam highlights the tendency of tech press, academics, and activists to mislead the public about technology policy by sensationalizing technology risks.

The problem with all this, of course, is that it perpetuates societal fears and distrust. It also sometimes leads to misguided policies based on hypothetical worst-case thinking…. [I]f we spend all our time living in constant fear of worst-case scenarios—and premising public policy upon them—it means that best-case scenarios will never come about.

4. Mark T. Williams predicted Bitcoin’s price would be under $10 by now; it’s over $600

Professor Mark T. Williams predicted in December 2013 that by mid-2014, Bitcoin’s price would fall to below $10. In mid-2014, Jerry commends Prof. Williams for providing, unlike most Bitcoin watchers, a bold and falsifiable prediction about Bitcoin’s value. However, as Jerry points out, that prediction was erroneous: Bitcoin’s 2014 collapse never happened and the digital currency’s value exceeded $600.

3. What Vox Doesn’t Get About the “Battle for the Future of the Internet”

In May, Tim Lee wrote a Vox piece about net neutrality and the Netflix-Comcast interconnection fight. Eli Dourado posted a widely-read and useful corrective to some of the handwringing in the Vox piece about interconnection, ISP market power, and the future of the Internet.

I think the article doesn’t really consider how interconnection has worked in the last few years, and consequently, it makes a big deal out of something that is pretty harmless…. There is nothing unseemly about Netflix making … payments to Comcast, whether indirectly through Cogent or directly, nor is there anything about this arrangement that harms “the little guy” (like me!).

2. Muddling Through: How We Learn to Cope with Technological Change

The second most-read TLF post of 2014 is also the longest and most philosophical in this top-10 list. Adam wrote a popular and in-depth post about the social effects of technological change and notes that technology advances are largely for consumers’ benefit, yet “[m]odern thinking and scholarship on the impact of technological change on societies has been largely dominated by skeptics and critics.” The nature of human resilience, Adam explains, should encourage a cautiously optimistic view of technological change.

1. Help me answer Senate committee’s questions about Bitcoin

Two days into 2014, Jerry wrote the most-read TLF piece of the past year. Jerry had testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in 2013 as an expert on Bitcoin. The Committee requested more information about Bitcoin post-hearing and Jerry solicited comment from our readers.

Thank you to our loyal readers for continuing to visit The Technology Liberation Front. It was busy year for tech and telecom policy and 2015 promises to be similarly exciting. Have a happy and safe New Years!

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