This post explains how smart contracts work on the Ethereum Blockchain.
Related to my last. This is a good overview of Smart Contracts. Fascinating stuff.
Unless you’re drinking your flat whites under a rock, you’re likely seeing a lot of news about Bitcoin, it’s current exchange rate against the US Dollar, blockchain and it’s various applications, etc. You might even be getting sick of hearing about it (or, perhaps you’re sitting there earning hundreds or thousands of dollars per day from it). Either way, I must make one request of you, dear reader…
Please do not spread misinformation about blockchain and cryptocurrency. If someone asks you about these things and you don’t know, say so. They won’t think less of you. Explain to them that you too are interested in these things but that you still need to do more research before you’re willing to explain it to them. They’ll even respect you for being honest. Don’t make it up based on a few headlines or tweets you’ve read. If you are going to try to explain these things to people, especially youth, please dive in and get a deep understanding of some of these more complex technologies before you begin explaining them.
I think I’ve caught myself a few times, in recent conversation, going just a little bit further than my own knowledge and regretting it. I feel I have a fair understanding but I’m nowhere near qualified to teach on the subject. Which is why I’m bringing it up here on my blog. Fortunately, most of the conversations I’ve had about these things are with people that are also devouring every bit of information they can about it – and so I don’t think I pointed them in an incorrect direction. But I think we (the nerds among us) can easily misinform others if we begin to describe blockchain and crypto at parties.
So don’t try. Unless you know what you’re talking about.
Readers of my blog will know that I occasionally attempt to predict when certain technologies that I write about will hit the mainstream. While I’m very passionate about a few technologies, I try to temper that excitement with the experiences I’ve had, the wisdom that comes with age, and other factors. Usually, things take a little longer to happen than we’d like for the things we want to see most. And sometimes, sometimes, the things we want most never materialize at all.
For the purposes of this post, mainstream doesn’t mean critical mass but rather mass market adoption. With 7B+ people on the planet reaching critical mass is far easier than reaching mass market saturation. In other words, a company, product, or technology can reach sustainability and never truly hit the mass market. Examples: Tesla can succeed, be profitable, and have happy customers without the world moving on from fossil fuels. A company focusing on AI can make great livings, do compelling and challenging work, without every family having their own personal C-3PO.
Here are some stake-in-the-ground predictions on some of the most talked about technologies of our day. We’ll see in the next few decades if I was even close.
Check back in a few decades to see if I was even close.
On Tuesday, October 10 I attended October’s NEPA.js meet up. John George of NEPA Web Solutions was this month’s presenter and his topic was Bitcoin and the Blockchain: Democratizing How We Exchange Value.
I believe all members of NEPA.js would agree, John’s presentation was arguably the best presentation the meet up group has had to-date. Though the Blockchain can seem a complex topic, John did an excellent job describing how it worked, where it is currently being used, and its future potential. Though the meet up was relatively well attended, I left wishing that so many more people had heard his presentation.
To further the lesson beyond the walls of the Scranton Enterprise Center, John also gave each attendee a gift in the form of a wallet containing a single bit of BTC. He also incentivized attendees to claim that bit for themselves by awarding the first few that did so with $50USD in BTC. Those that did it were rewarded indeed since the value of BTC has jumped to new record highs this month. Those that didn’t claim their bit may be kicking themselves for dragging their feet.
Thanks to John for the amazing presentation, and for the bitcoin, and to the attendees for the active discussion.
Side note: My apologies for a terrible pano photo. I’ll try to do better next time.
Much like the term “cloud”, the term “blockchain” is heavily overloaded and oftentimes used incorrectly. Without delving into the historical origins behind the confusion around the term itself, let’s understand exactly what a blockchain is.
He goes on to clearly explain blockchain and Bitcoin. Be sure to read it if you’ve been fuzzy on the topic before reading further.
My take on this has been the same since I first heard about Bitcoin and blockchain and I’ve only touched on it lightly here on the blog. So perhaps this is a good a time as any to articulate my perspective on this.
I’m far more interested in blockchain technology and services than I am about Bitcoin. Think of Bitcoin as the US Dollar. Would you rather invest in the dollar itself or in technology and services around the dollar? The opportunity comparison isn’t very close at all. Now, imagine those same blockchain technologies and services could be used for other digital and crypto-currencies. Now imagine the myriad of other uses outside of finance there are for blockchain.
Bouchon appropriately points out that we’ll see a slew of misapplications of blockchain – likely the same way we saw the misapplications of web sites. The internet is awesome. But it will never solve every human problem. Blockchain is fantastic and has more applications than I can possibly list, but don’t be surprised if you see some dumb ideas that get funded and burn cash (or, Bitcoin).
When I’m speaking to someone about this I inevitably get the same question: “Yeah, but can’t you make money with Bitcoin?”. You can, yes. There are some that have made substantial amounts investing in Bitcoin itself. And there will continue to be some. But the number of people that will earn a return on Bitcoin itself compared to those that do on blockchain will be laughable in 20 years.
Or I could be wrong. 🙂
A must-read from Alex Payne, Bitcoin, Magical Thinking, and Political Ideology. Here is what he says is the general view of Bitcoin among many (including me):
Most charitably, Bitcoin is regarded as a flawed but nonetheless worthwhile experiment, one that has unfortunately attracted outsized attention and investment before correcting any number of glaring security issues.
There is an awful lot of noise around Bitcoin primarily due to a few overnight windfalls and people trumpeting the currency every time its exchange rate spikes. The current exchange rate of Bitcoin has little to do with anything at all.
Payne waxes on about many of the misunderstood advantages and disadvantages to Bitcoin spurred on by Chris Dixon’s post regarding Andreesen Horowitz’s recent investment in Coinbase. I recommend giving Payne’s post a read if for no other reason than to read a not-so-glowing piece on Bitcoin.
I also liked this bit:
Working in technology has an element of pioneering, and with new frontiers come those would prefer to leave civilization behind. But in a time of growing inequality, we need technology that preserves and renews the civilization we already have. The first step in this direction is for technologists to engage with the experiences and struggles of those outside their industry and community. There’s a big, wide, increasingly poor world out there, and it doesn’t need 99% of what Silicon Valley is selling.
Sometimes we lose site of that. Making something fun, or even valuable to use, for those of us that are always online, always in front of a screen of some size, picky coffee drinkers is fun and all but really we need to keep the bigger picture in mind. Those in the tech sector working on large scale issues (such as currency and exchange) shouldn’t focus just on make something good for us, it should focus on making something good for everyone.
Bitcoin is going a little nuts this week. But the price at which a bitcoin exchanges at isn’t the only factor by which you should value the currency. Far, far from it.
Everyone focuses on the price of Bitcoin these days and it is no wonder why. But for Bitcoin to be anything more than a store of value, we need to see a transactional ecosystem develop. When the citizens of the world will be able to buy and sell from each other and from retailers of all shapes and sizes via Bitcoin, then we will have truly realized the potential of a global digital currency.
The more transactions occur with Bitcoin, especially within very well established marketplaces, the more value a bitcoin can hold. Why? Because if the price of a single bitcoin is too volatile then the currency will never truly end up being a global alternative. No one can bank on it. (Pun intended.)
Bitcoins need to be saved and exchanged by entities that currently have real value and that have a real way of exchanging those bitcoins around the world. This currency can’t be reserved for the technophiles out there that are trying to simply by low and sell high. Imagine if, say, some of the largest corporations in the world began to accept this currency and had a few bitcoin in savings. This would help to both establish bitcoin in the marketplaces and stabilize it.
The real value will start to come in when a fair number of businesses accept bitcoin around the world for goods and services and people stop simply thinking about the current exchange rate.
We’re years away from seeing the true potential for and what will happen with P2P currencies. It will be exciting to watch.
Bitcoin is P2P Virtual Currency. I’m watching, closely.