Interview Simon Cocking, Editor-in-Chief at Irish Tech News & Technology Blockchain Leading Personality
Simon Cocking is the Chief Editor of Irish Tech News and Editor in Chief at Crypto Commonwealth. Simon has been working as an advisory board member for several other successful ICO launches who have achieved their ICO targets, to help with marketing, media, PR and strategy. With the opportunity to leverage my digital footprint of 115,000 followers on Twitter (31% in US) and 22,000 on LinkedIn.
He has been included on many global influencer lists of people to follow for fintech, blockchain, AI and other tech related topics. He has been based in Ireland for 25 years.
1. About your background and professional experience.
2. Can you tell us about Irish Tech News and your role as Editor-in-Chief?
3. In today's world, there are major media conglomerates that tend to dominate the market. Being an independent and successful media portal is therefore challenging. Can you tell us about your experience running Irish Tech News and this trend in the media sector?
4. Social media and algorithms now channel the information that users consume. This has brought challenges such as fake news and algorithm-driven content being the most popular and consumed. What do you think of this from your experience as a technology and media leader?
5. You have been writing about technology for years, and recently more about blockchain and crypto. How do you see the evolution of cryptocurrencies and blockchain?
6. What do you think of the new forms of financing that use blockchain solutions, like STOs for example? And what are your thoughts on blockchain as a standalone technology?
7. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing a key role in today’s technology innovations. What are your views on AI?
8. Dealing with AI in the future is also another challenge. How do you see the future of AI?
9. COVID-19 is the biggest disruptor in recent years. How do you see the challenges and opportunities that this crisis has brought?
· About Simon’s background. I studied American history in the 80’s and 90’s in the UK and Washington DC. After that, I continued my education in developing countries globally including Asia, Central America and Africa. I was also involved in some NGOs, such as the red cross and doing humanitarian work.
Then I came to Ireland to keep developing my professional career. What I saw there was that Ireland actually lacked funding for environmental initiatives. Instead there was more funding for community development so took that path to ensure funding for our environmental projects, now combined with a community development aspect.
It was a great way to meet many interesting and inspiring people in Ireland who wanted to help encourage and support positive changes. Including several great mentors, this resulted in founding or cofounding several environmentally facing companies which are still running almost twenty years later. After those entrepreneurial experiences I was approached by Irish Tech News and took the role of Editor-In-Chief.
· About Irish Tech News. Irish Tech News was initially more focussed on gadget reviews but it has evolved to embrace and evaluate green tech, clean tech and those technologies which aim to deliver tech for good.
We are interested in featuring thought leaders and industry experts. These are the people with interesting and challenging visions about technology and how could we do it better.
Take blockchain and Bitcoin, for example. I am far more interested in knowing how blockhain can help the world, not only the disruption that it can bring but also the opportunities. That is our editorial approach: the more you learn, the better you are to communicate. If we are open to learn and communicate, that's the answer to the importance of education.
We decided to pivot on the green tech clean tech philosophy. We should focus on the areas that help the planet to work in a sustainable way. As Steve Jobs would say, we have to join the dots backwards to realise how we got to where we now are. Editorial curiosity drives us towards these stories.
· About your experience running Irish Tech News and the media sector. When we get traffic from India, it is because they relate to the content. In fact, 50% of our traffic comes from first-timers. That is a good sign because it means people are able to find us online. Sometimes, there’s a bit of push and pull that stops us from growing that we don’t even realize, especially as web search engines drop their updates to the code. And despite the technical part of an online media, I want our readers to be satisfied with what they read on our media. In that regard, I like going as far away from tech as I can, yet have some connection with tech. That is why we talk about other sectors and industries from a tech perspective.
· About fake news and digital literacy. After Trump got elected, CNN, BBC and other media went on a campaign to show how do you cover the reality behind someone like him. Print media have their own filters too. So the main questions for readers and users are: What do I believe in? What are their values?
There are issues around that and we are doing our best to provide the most accurate information out there. For example, we will not accept articles from anonymous authors. We should all try to do what we can, validate the information. We have leaders and political actors, companies, organizations that are going to come forward and express their absolute truth. What matters is how we articulate their views.
Social media is playing a great part in today’s information and how that information reaches the audience. Facebook is no longer an outlet that I find important to push content to. You could only reach the audience that you pay for. In some ways, I feel that we shouldn’t spend too much time trying to chase the algorithm, it simply won’t work. Let people find you organically.
· ICO’s to STO’s journey and about the blockchain technology. After some issues with ICOs, they lost their initial thrust and STOs are the natural evolution. The transition did not have criteria as to who is responsible, who did what, etc. It'll be about KYC and other forms of valuation. EY auditing, where we are going is a micro-form of cheques and balances.
Digital transformation is the best context where innovation can actually take place. And in that space, emerging technologies such as blockchain can help in a myriad of ways. For example, in the healthcare sector, you can have a personalised medical report and data. Things in the cloud offer a lot of opportunities that we couldn’t use before. But now we can, thanks to blockchain. Unlike crypto, blockchain holds a very valuable part of our life. If you see emerging technologies and AI. A lot of companies are leading there.
· About Artificial Intelligence. With predictive text and other algorithms, we do have some examples of AI working in the background already. AI is a massive risk. People, many humans find it hard to conceive, and it has impressive exponential growth. It’s all a game of AI, you probably have to find what's the best that you're looking for. As of today, AI may be able to do a certain task very well, but may not be able to perform what is not taught. There is no consciousness. In a wider context here that is misused too. The singularity? What happens when machines lose it, I wonder.
AI is important now to gather and understand data, which basically it is the most important asset. On of the important things to keep in mind with populist leaders is that data-based decisions can sometimes help people who are doing it for negative reasons, for AI we need to use these resources for the better. AI can help entrepreneurs, professionals and users create a better narrative of our time, a more accurate approach to reality and that is what we should use AI for, to help make better decisions and improve the quality of life of the people.
· About COVID-19. A very interesting aspect is before this kicked off, there was a rising talk about climate change. That hasn’t gone away. Plus then suddenly we have this real issue where airplanes stopped working. And then this lab phase happened, we didn’t stop. We did things differently, but we never stopped. We adapted to these new circumstances and embraced digital transformation.
The digital transformation could’ve happened sooner, but we were the barriers. Yes, some things need to be done face to face. But a lot of things donn’t. If someone is a real worker, they don’t need to be in your office before you and after you. If their productivity is right, that's it. If we tie the two together, the last 6 months have shown we can do things. How can we measure the two together? We need to assess more ruthlessly what can be done physically and what can be done virtually. Therefore it would only have ourselves to blame if we can’t live sustainably in the future. There are a lot of ways in which we could be living, we can be positive and a part of it.
Besides his current role as Editor in Chief at Irish Tech News and Crypto Commonwealth, Simon Cocking has been the Editor in Chief at CryptoCoinNews, while he freelances for Sunday Business Post, Irish Times, Southern Star, IBM, G+D, and other publications.
He is also a business mentor and advisor working with 200+ successful ICOs to date. He also been named on many global Twitter influencer lists.
He is an accomplished public speaker at events including TEDx, Web Summit, Dublin Tech Summit, and overseas in Dubai, Singapore, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Tbilisi, Riga, Porto, Dublin and Helsinki.
· Co-founded Global Action Plan
· Founder of Active Art Creations
· Initiated idea for Dublin Bikes scheme
· Cofounder of Rediscovery Centre
· Founded Irish Flying Disc Association,
· National Irish Ultimate Frisbee Coach: 1996 - 2011