In the glitzy Dolby Theater in Hollywood Heights, with stars dressed in hundred thousand-dollar garbs, Parasite — a film about inequality, class tension and the fault lines of capitalism — won big. I couldn’t help but recall South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s earlier 2013 film, Snowpiercer.

Starring a rugged Chris Evans, the positively demonic Tilda Swinton and Bong’s erstwhile collaborator Song Kang-Ho, the film tells the story of a post-apocalyptic future where the world is frozen in a forever winter, where the last remnants of humanity survive in a perpetually moving train called the Snowpiercer.

All is not well in…

You know what I am talking about. It’s when you are sitting down or lying in bed doing nothing in particular. Your mind both is and isn’t present as you scroll on Instagram or Youtube or Facebook. A string of snippets from hit tv shows with the same few annoying license-free music drowning out the dialogue, cats/ dogs/ pigs doing dumb things, “inspirational” videos from whatever mindfulness or kindness guru out there.

You scroll and scroll and scroll and an hour goes by without you even registering or moving. …

The way I pace back and forth in my living room while thinking of things to write. That I have a habit of waking up half an hour before my alarm rings, going back to sleep, and end up waking up half an hour late anyway.

That I order in usually on Friday lunches and my favourite combo is the chicken burrito with extra hummus and habanero sauce. That I religiously read Wired. That I prefer American spelling for diarrhea but British spelling for everything else.

These are the intimate details, the quirks of a person usually known only to…

Photo: Astronaut and silver Bitcoin on the moon by Marco Verch under Creative Commons 2.0.

A rocket roared into outer space as the electronic beats of Daft Punk were blasted at a deafening volume. A montage of various tech billionaires — Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk — flashed while the audience sang to the warbled robot-voice chorus of:

“We’re up all night for good fun

We’re up all night to get lucky”

It was November 2017 at a blockchain conference in Singapore: The attendees were convinced that Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, was going to breach the US$20,000 mark and make them all fabulously wealthy.

Sitting silently in the audience…

Dreams on PS4.

For the longest time, gamers have dreamt of the Everything Game — the game that would have so many things to do, so many places to go, so many characters to meet — that one could theoretically play it forever and forever. It’s a quixotic quest to go into a virtual world so expansive that one would never get bored. The Ultimate Game so to speak.

There have been attempts. Bethesda (The Elder Scroll and Fallout series), Rockstar (of Grand Theft Auto fame), and other pioneers in the open world roleplaying genre have all promised sandboxes where player choice and…

Promotional flyer for Breakout. From The Arcade Flyer Archive.

I’ve been reading An Illustrated History of 151 Video Games by Simon Parkin and it has made me think a lot about the relationship between video game history and a broader history of tech.

What I find odd is that often, they’re told as almost parallel, separate stories when in truth the history of video games is deeply embedded in the history of tech at large.

Take for instance, the Jobs-Wozniak partnership that defined decades of computing history. …

“Liberal governments always develop into aristocracies. The bureaucracies betray the true intent of people who form such governments. Right from the first, the little people who formed the governments which promised to equalize the social burdens found themselves suddenly in the hands of bureaucratic aristocracies. Of course, all bureaucracies follow this pattern, but what a hypocrisy to find this even under a communized banner. Ahhh, well, if patterns teach me anything it’s that patterns are repeated.”

-Frank Herbert, God Emperor of Dune

We began as little people.

It was 2013, the year of the 13th Malaysian General Elections. The words…

“This piece of plastic here has saved lives. It was a revolutionary product. I have no doubt about it.”

Years ago, I went to a talk by a top executive from a bank which had proven incredibly successful in pushing for credit card adoption in Puerto Rico. An audience member asked her a pointed question about the role of banks in society and whether her work had social value, especially given the predatory practices that had led to the subprime mortgage crisis. Totally unfazed, she answered that credit cards had made Puerto Rico a safer place by reducing the need…

As of the time of writing, bitcoin prices are down more than 50% compared to the beginning of this year. Some altcoins have seen their value collapse by more than 90%. Parallel to this plunge, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has yet again rejected all applications for Bitcoin Exchange Traded Funds (ETF), while Bitcoin Cash has forked due to disagreements within the community.

The result has been a few months of tremendous volatility and uncertainty. Even within the industry, blockchain experts do not have a consensus over what the next few years hold for the nascent technology.

By adopting…

Yesterday (14 January), the Malaysian government announced that the Capital Markets and Services (Prescription of Securities) (Digital Currency and Digital Token) Order 2019 would come into force today (15 January). The whirlwind announcement was preceded only by a statement a month ago by the Securities Commission that “the SC will regulate issuances of digital assets via initial coin offerings (ICO) and the trading of digital assets at digital asset exchanges in Malaysia”.

An infographic portraying the main thrusts of the new legislation.

Blanket regulation

So…are we under this regulation? By those definitions…isn’t everybody? Utility tokens, asset tokens, whatever tokens…we’re all in this?”

-A protocol coin

With a very broad definition, it seems…

Ong Kar Jin

Exploring the world of policy, culture, and politics through the digital.

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