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Long on crypto
todo: Come up with a great subtitle so that people don't need to be bothered with reading the full thing
To this day, Bitcoin is by far the greatest meme I’ve come across in my lifetime. Although most of my attention has been devoted to things built on top of Ethereum and its derivatives/compliments, I bow down to the few people who have started this movement not knowing if, let alone to what extent this whole thing was going to blow up.
At its core, Bitcoin has digitized money. That’s it? Yes, that’s it. But what does it mean to sit at the center of transactions between two people? It means everything and nothing:
Everything is that it is the medium through which value flows from point A to point B. If it wasn’t for Bitcoin, it would have to be some kind of surrogate. But what to pick? US Dollar, Gold, or IOUs? All these and others work under specific circumstances, be it your location or your ability to determine the genuineness of the asset or how creditworthy your counterpart is. That’s fair enough if the circumstances work for you. For a Bitcoin transaction to be successful, the sender only needs to have an Internet connection which we might want to take for granted from this point going forward.
Nothing means that this medium shouldn’t come with any strings attached. No hassle, no censorship, no fees, no risk. Bitcoin certainly hasn’t fixed all of these in one go but at its core, it is still the best monetary experiment people have come up with to this date. And it seems to be working out for a large group of people already.
[If you happen to be a “crypto person”, now you might be inclined to put me in the Bitcoin maximalist corner or show me a list of 100 coins that have outperformed Bitcoin by some growth metric. To you I say: “I’m not” and “That’s great, but I’m talking about something different”. To everyone else: “Relax – these things only matter to people on Twitter.”]
With efficient money being established, new things become thinkable. “What if” is a strong force in people when given full freedom that isn’t limited by “... if xyz gives us access to that”. Multiply this a few times and you might arrive at the conclusion that the future of crypto and blockchain is bright.
Enter Ethereum. In the crypto world, Ethereum is a pretty big deal. It gave people the reason to even consider asking engineers if their scrappy website would also work as a Dapp1. Probably, but it probably doesn’t make it a lot better either.
The reason why most current businesses pass the crypto test is because they were designed to solve particular problems. If the technology of choice ended up being software running on a server it is likely because that’s how the problem and the solution were conceived in the first place – without any trustless form of incentives, payment, ownership, coordination or whatever needed. But what if this isn’t the battle we should be watching?
Just like the early Internet used to be a more annoying copy of paper-based promotion material, crypto technology seems out of place for most things we can think of right now. And that is until someone comes around the corner with the Web3 version of Facebook. It might not come in the form of a social network that eventually eats our souls but in a form to be determined.
Until then, a lot of projects will look awfully close to things we’ve already seen, except way worse: Slower, more expensive, not as well-connected – just a terrible user experience. And nothing I’ve come up with so far changes that (yet 😉) but this takes me back to the meme from the beginning.
The sentence “what was once thought can never be unthought” appears to have a thousand originators and as much as I would like to hug the first genius to say it out loud, he or she is probably dead by now. Anyway – the ideas of blockchain, crypto, Bitcoin, Ethereum and so on cannot be unthought any more. The concept, the meme seems to be alive and breathing vibrantly. This in and of itself isn’t bringing you the next spark of genius just yet, but it does something different.
When you imagine software with money built-in and software without money built-in, which one would you choose as a software creator? Even if I made it a bit less suggestive, you will probably still pick the former. And this is what a lot of really smart people know by now and next time they conceive an idea, they are able to have one fewer constraint in their equation. This doesn’t make every crypto project great, not at all. But this choice is likely the powering mechanism you are going to see the next milestone in social tooling being developed.
There are lots of reasons people will come up with why it all will fail. Some are justified and still need to be fixed, but the loudest voices seem to come from people who don’t seem understand how technology or memes work. And just to be sure: I rarely use the term “memes” in the joking way.
I thought about writing this post for a long time. Too long, actually: It started to feel like the opus magnum I had to write at some point, not only to come to terms with myself (I’m fine) but also to convey a point to people I care about. On the latter, I have come to realize that the task is too big for one person or article alone to handle and that it’s also not necessary to do so. Most people I’ve talked with in person either end up finding some aspect of it relevant or don’t care about how their software works all that much.
As such, the article isn’t the all-encompassing answer to it all and I’m glad it’s not. At best, it’s a starting point for your curiosity or – in case we haven’t seen each other in a while – a good hook into our next conversation. If you were looking for the short answer to whether you should pour your savings into some weird token, you weren’t supposed to find it in here (you won’t find it elsewhere, either).
My personal reasons for going long on crypto as a whole are manifold by now but primarily because I believe its ramifications will go well beyond what we can imagine at this point. Being able to coordinate software more efficiently than today might be one important ingredient the world needs and that alone seems to be a good reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Another thing that excites me is the thought of blockchain technology moving into the background again. There are far too many people concerned with crypto these days than should be (hi mum 👋) and I’m hoping for the dust to settle as applications become more centered around serving the needs of humans (again).
Over the past months, I’ve discovered a few gaps in the market and found a few applications where crypto might make sense to some people. I’m not sure yet which of them will survive closer observation but I set out to investigate the most promising ones and pick the one that seems most relevant. I don’t follow trends all that much and I’m focused on working on things that have a positive, long-term impact on a large group of people that are affected by it – sorry, no shitcoin from me…
With that and all the negative aspects outlined above, this journey might take a bit of time but I’m fortunate to have enough gas2 in my tank to move forward. Let’s do this.
If this has taught you something novel, raised a question, or if there is something off – I’d love to hear from you. Text me, DM me (@_ajascha), whatever... Or subscribe if you like to stay in the loop on articles like this:
Dapps is short for “decentralized application”; simply put, a web app that is using blockchain as a core component. More on dapps.