rDigital News: Bitcoin, 3D-printed guns, and a journalist who went offline for a year

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This week on rdigitaLIFE we took a look at newsmakersJeff Howe and Jesse Hirsh, and how technology is changing news creation and consumption. It seems fitting then, that the three stories selected for this week’s news roundup were chosen based on web popularity, social recommendations and the personal interest of our staff – in effect, we crowdsourced this week’s rDigital News.

This week in tech headlines forced us to consider what we do with technology. Bitcoin continued to rise in popularity, being adopted by more establishments and threatening the institution of credit card companies, the world saw it’s first 3D-printed gun, and journalist Paul Miller returned to the Internet after a year-long absence.

As you read through this week’s biggest stories, ask yourself, just because technology allows us to do something – should we?

Another Bump For Bitcoin

Bitcoin was in the headlines again this week and this time, it was because more establishments are buying into the idea of digital currency. Restaurants, dating sites and other services are reportedly starting to accept Bitcoin as payment, causing concern for how this will affect credit card companies.

“Bitcoin is the first currency on the Internet that has no connection to a national government, has no connection to anything but the Internet economy itself,” web strategist Jesse Hirsh told rdigitaLIFE. “[It] was created by an anonymous individual and is backed by anonymous collectives who want to see it rise. Not just because they like it as a technology, but because they distrust traditional governments. Because they distrust the way in which the current economy is controlled.”

Would you trade in your credit card for online currency? How will this change our idea of payment and the value of money? Will integrating Bitcoin into more businesses start to bring the digital currency away from the Internet economy and into the real world economy?

Read the full story on PandoDaily here: “One good reason to accept Bitcoins: It screws credit card companies

Also, learn about the idea of Bitcoin and social currency through the following (awesome) rdigitaLIFE interviews:

The first 3D-printed gun

Test firing of the Liberator pistol, put together using 3D printer blueprints (Defense Distributed)

Printing is no longer just for paper anymore.

3D printing technology is allowing people to print out entire objects, from sports attire to medical implants. But how far is too far? This week, gun rights activist Cody Wilson unveiled the world’s first 3D-printing handgun prompting serious questions about security. The gun, called the “Liberator,” fires 0.380 calibre bullets and the company’s Tumblr shows images of how it can be assembled from 3D printed parts.

The US government has since ordered Defcad to remove the blueprints for the plastic gun. However, by the time this order was issued, the plans had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times. Can anything ever really disappear from the internet? Is allowing people to print their own weapons taking technology too far? How will this change security and defence around the world?

Learn more from these links:

Going Offline

At 26-years-old, aspiring tech journalist Paul Miller wanted a break from modern life and “the hamster wheel of an email inbox, the constant flood of WWW information which drowned my sanity. [He] wanted to escape.”

Rather than load up a backpack and run away to Europe or get on a bike and head out on an adventure, Miller opted for a complete digital escape. No Internet for a year.

Shane Hankins, creator of the National Day of Unplugging, says that it’s “…pretty clear that, particularly for people who have grown up with technology as an invasive thing in their life, people in their 20s or 30s, that technology was kind of the main thing that was preventing people from being able to relax, from having a day of rest, having a day that’s kind of separate from others.”

One year later, Miller is back online and actively sharing his experience of what life without the Internet was like. Would being away from technology for that long be a source of relaxation or anxiety? How does the Internet determine with our behaviour and social interactions? How much do we really need the Internet?

Consider these questions as you check out Paul Miller’s story: “I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet

For more, check out Shane Hankins’ full interview “Unplugged” here.

By: Ishani Nath (@ishaninath


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