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Blockchain was the winner of SXSW 2018

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Bitcoin on the brain.
Image: kerry flynn/mashable

Do you know anyone in blockchain

Ask any attendee of this year’s South by Southwest, and they’re bound to say they came across “a guy.” When my friend and I asked that question to entrepreneurs and investors at an Andreessen Horowitz cocktail reception on the first Saturday of SXSW, we were told to find “Kyle.” We ended up meeting “John.”

John Lin is an associate partner at Trinity Ventures. That night on the rooftop of Bob’s Steak & Chop House in Austin, his friends and colleagues around him called him an expert in blockchain. But despite their verbal and physical enthusiasm, Lin did not come off as a blind champion of the technology. 

“I do think blockchain is a little bit overvalued, but long-term it will enable amazing technologies,” Lin said. “Now it’s in this new form of digital currency, but in the future, it could enable much more, like real estate and ticketing.”

SXSW of yesteryear was dominated by mobile apps. It’s where Twitter, Foursquare, and Meerkat had their viral moments. In 2018, the SXSW hype bubbled around blockchain with conversations on the best whitepapers, worst ICO scams, and cutest cryptokitties. More than ever before, blockchain-themed discussions were hosted throughout the annual conference. There were at least 38 official panels, along with side events run by software company Consensys, the Token Agency, and The Founders Organization’s Initial Taco Offering.

“At SXSW everyone comes together around tacos, so tacos and crypto seemed like the perfect combo,” Anoop Kansupada, cofounder of The Founders Organization, told Mashable. 

For some attendees, blockchain at SXSW has been an opportunity to learn. For others, it’s an eye roll, filled with hot air from a community dominated by men. 

Experts in the blockchain industry weren’t surprised by the technology’s dominance at the show. In 2017, we saw bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies garner mainstream attention. Blockchain-based startups have filled the inboxes of the tech press. 

“People are like, ‘Yeah let’s blockchain this, blockchain that,'” said Patrick Chang, early stage venture investor at Samsung NEXT. 

Samsung NEXT’s head of investment Brendon Kim added, “Today every business plan you see has some type of blockchain. Last year and two years ago, it was all about AI.” 

Still, Kim’s team is paying attention to which ventures are worth their dollars and what use cases will be important. Kim has directed investments in connected devices and suggested that blockchain could play an important role in helping different machines, produced by competitive companies, speak to each other.

SXSW is famous for an abundance of tacos and house parties, and in 2018, blockchain was among them. 

But conversations around connected devices and business-to-business efforts isn’t really what SXSW is known for.

“At SXSW, the vibe is more consumer focused, and I think a lot of the lower hanging fruit is on the enterprise side. Outside of SXSW, the companies that have pitched us involve around identity and blockchain and supply chain,” Chang said. 

SXSW is famous for an abundance of tacos and house parties, and in 2018, blockchain was among them. Blockchain startup Consensys, led by Ethereum cofounder Joe Lubin, hosted panels and parties in a house on Rainey Street. Across from discussions on AI at Pinterest House and storytelling at Twitter House, blockchain experts and enthusiasts gathered at Consensys House to chat about smart contracts and blockchain solutions to misinformation. 

Consensys House also had cryptokitties, and by that, we mean live cats:

The enthusiasm around Lubin and blockchain was clear by the thousands of people who waited in line to see his official SXSW keynote on Friday. On that day, blockchain was the third most tweeted about theme in reference to speaker discussions throughout the festival, Twitter shared with Mashable. 

Inside a packed theater of one of the Convention Center’s biggest ballrooms, Lubin spoke with crypto reporter Laura Shin about blockchain now and in the future. 

The theater, like the majority of blockchain-related events at SXSW, was packed mostly by men. And yet, Shin was a presence throughout many of the blockchain-related events at SXSW. Formerly of Forbes and now the host of the Unchained podcast, Shin moderated panel discussions at the Initial Taco Offering and in Consensys House as well. 

She’s far from the only female expert in blockchain. Brigid McDermott has been focused on IBM’s blockchain strategy since 2015. As VP of blockchain, she manages the tech company’s work with the technology such as work with shipping company Maersk. 

“Think of [blockchain] as a trusted, shared digital layer. It doesn’t need to be 100 percent open, but there’s a continuum between trust and public submissions. We look at the potential for addressing all sorts of business transformation issues,” McDermott told Mashable. 

But the blockchain industry is still very much nascent. 

“It’s important for [women] to be involved … using this technology for a more equitable society.”

“If you think about back to VCRs, when Betamax made this fantastic technology, but it’s not interesting if you don’t have any content to watch. Blockchain is similar,” McDermott said.

Since blockchain is still in its early days and without any clear leaders, yet, some women in tech have taken it as an opportunity to make a significant impact. 

On Monday morning, about 20 women stood in a room of the JW Marriott for the SXSW official women in blockchain meet up.

“Historically women have been ignored in the definition of systems and products. It’s important for us to be involved … using this technology for a more equitable society,” said Karen Ottoni, co-organizer of Women in Blockchain. 

Ottoni and her co-organizer Nataliya Stanetsky spoke about attendees’ ability to lead. 

“Blockchain isn’t male dominated because they know more about it. We all need to get involved and share our knowledge,” Stanetsky said. 

Not every event looked as inclusive, however. At the Crypto Summit, hosted inside the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt on Monday and Tuesday, women were featured in the front of the event’s informational pamphlet. And yet, their images came off as sexualized rather than empowering.

While SXSW lasts only 10 days, the problems in and the presence of blockchain aren’t going to disappear.  

“You’re going to see a fluctuation in enthusiasm,” said Kim of Samsung NEXT. “This is not going to go away in the same way the social networks and the internet itself didn’t go away. You can argue if the world has become better for it or not, but there’s no arguing that it’s becoming a part of our lives.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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What’s up with Agile, anyway? Learn why it’s the ‘it’ methodology in tech and engineering

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Why do Agile and Scrum work so well? Pay $39 and find out.
Image: pexels

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When you were a student, you probably had a few memorization tricks up your sleeve when it came to studying for exams. Whether it was using flashcards, singing songs, drawing diagrams, or leaving yourself a gummy bear trail, there was probably always one study hack that almost guaranteed you an A.

For project managers, however, the highly revered method that’s deemed as the key to getting things done is called Agile. And no, it’s not just some term tech people use to make everyone around them feel alienated. Agile project management is a completely legit methodology, and you can learn all its secrets with the Agile Project Management Training course, which will only set you back $39 — way less than a year’s supply of gummy bears.

What is Agile anyway? Well, to put it simply, it’s an iterative approach to project management. Instead of the traditional waterfall system where a team works on a project in a strict sequence, Agile allows for more flexibility and adjustment. With the Agile Project Management Training course, you’ll find out just how innovative this method is by exploring different case studies. Across ten comprehensive modules, you’ll get to have a working understanding of the principles of Agile so you too, can apply it in your own work. Because guess what? It’s not just solely used in tech.

Throughout the training, you’ll wade through lessons on Scrum, the most popular Agile framework, and how to best implement it across projects. You’ll learn how to create timelines, how to set up sprints, and how to conduct stand-ups. And unlike other online programs, this course does not involve watching a droning instructor for hours on end. Instead, you’ll get schooled using visual demonstrations, multimedia presentations, and exam simulators, allowing you to digest the material better. You can even learn through online flashcards!

Want to find out just how valuable Agile Project Management is? This online course usually costs a whopping $1,295. But for a limited time, you can pick it up now for only $39.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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Google Photos can now recognize the lovable faces of your cats and dogs

I wish this was one of the approximately 8,000 dog photos on my phone.
Image: Ruud Lauritsen/Kennel Club/REX/Shutterstock

Google knows that your phone holds untold gigabytes of snapshots of your favorite animal friends. So the search giant is making it even easier to group those pics all together.

The algorithm behind Google Photos will now be able to recognize your Very Good dogs and cats automatically, and will group the reams of photos you’ve taken of them just like it does with pics of people. Google announced the new functionality in a blog post, which is alone worth a read for the sheer number of paw puns pulled off in five short paragraphs. 

You’ll also be able to assign a label to each grouping of pet photos, so when you’re in need of an Instagram-worthy pupper shot, you can just search your photos by your dog’s name. 

Image: google

Google claims you’ll be able search your photos by breed, too, but the company acknowledged to BuzzFeed that the algorithm could have trouble differentiating between multiple animals within that parameter. You’ll also be able to search using 🐶  and 🐱 emoji through all of your animal images, whether they’re actually your own, or just the funny cat pics you download from the internet.  

The new search and organization features are only available for dogs and cats, though. If you love your horse or iguana or massive rideable python, you’re sadly out of luck. You’ll have to organize those pics yourself.       

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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