Price stagnating, peers indicted, perennially bad press, mass apathy — just what the hell is wrong with Bitcoin, anyway?
After almost two years in this space, I’m convinced that Bitcoin is not — as even I’ve said previously — like the Internet of 1993. It is a very different animal altogether.
Firstly, Bitcoin is not a replacement for a brochure or a checkout counter, like early web and e-commerce sites. With a little cheerleading at the start, those applications eventually disrupted spacetime in ways that made life more convenient, timely and inexpensive. Economies of scale made sense and actual benefits were apparent in just a few years. Even from the early Internet days, we could shop or work in our pajamas. We could research and plan better. We could communicate instantly, we could drive down production costs. After all, to business, the Internet was simply a media-based reproduction of the industrial age. It was new, but the plan could be mapped. It wasn’t scary, just seen as irrelevant by the less forward thinking, who paid a recoverable tax for late entry. What was unforeseen by businesses were the sweeping changes information immediacy and omnipresence would bring. So far, it’s made a lot of changes in how we do things — and that is just really getting started.
Bitcoin (and by Bitcoin I mean most Digital Currencies) does all that — and much, much more. Importantly, it was born out of a hyper connected world. It acts in ways that transcend physicality. It disrupts on a deep and visceral level; not just the on the physical plane but at the heart of socio-psychological synapse. It impacts money, which in turn disrupts the time-entrenched concepts of safety and security – that means food, clothing, and shelter to many people. No amount of fanboy zeal is going to cut through that Mazlovian fog without some tangible proof of good ol’ brick-and-mortar value — but that ain’t happening. The truth is that if you apply the level of disruption the Internet created, to the potential of digital currency value creation, it is possible to understand that not only would it change the world in seismic ways, but it would tilt the existing power balance right off its axis.
This new Bitcoin promise is less like the Internet and more like the invention of fire, the wheel, the exploration of the “New World” or, the Crusades, except we can now leave Queen Isabella and the Knights Templar out of it. Our collective view of the world is shifting; flat is becoming round, a matter is becoming atoms, a value is becoming globally attainable, witches are no longer blamed for a blood moon and a new baby Jesus is being born (not Roger Ver… probably). It’s THAT level of the paradigm shift.
Hence, we need to upgrade the Bitcoin dialogue and fast. More so, we need to demonstrate how it actually works. People need to see decentralization in action before it’s adopted even in principle, and once it is they never need again know it’s there — indeed (and sadly) they really don’t want to know. It needs to be there and functioning, but almost completely invisible to the public eye. Like decent Ramen places.
All that said, there are some realizations to be made before we can lay siege to the gates of high finance, or even fully realize an Internet of Things.
1) Speculation Is Becoming A Problem
So, this wonderful technology has to actually DO something to earn its value. This is where the decentralizes have it spot-on right. The problem is that they’re taking their sweet time about getting MVPs out there. We need to take our lean-start-up-thinking, fast-company-praising, ready-fire-aim asses to task and start pumping out the progeny that we’re so yet-unduly proud of. There are a few smart solutions out there like MaidSafe but they riff on existing ideas. What we need is a Supreme Revelation Of The Art Of The Possible. Not a killer app, and not a cool toy made by the Wizard of Oz. We need to build something so huge-minded, so outrageous, so ridiculously far-reaching that it would startle the Big Bang itself and force superior alien races to rush to our sides and fully accept us as members of the hyper-exclusive Star Club. Maybe just draw a decent schematic of how a decentralized bus picks up passengers, buys its own gas and pays its own bills. Don’t just say it – show it.
3) Stop Splintering
We may already be too internally divided for any of this to matter. BTC purists against Altcoiners; Funds against DApps; Libertarians against governments. This is the most pivotal time in modern history and most of us are complaining that somebody else is messing it all up, like Pee Wee Herman dissing Bruce Springsteen. We have immense power, potential, and momentum – and we can lose it, too. Let’s cover down for each other like the dysfunctional Asperger-brushed family that we are and let the market, or multiple markets, decide which solutions work for them. Bitcoin is only one brand of digital currency – there are almost 600 others. It may be the biggest and strongest right now, but so was the Japanese Yen two decades ago. Things change fast in a hyper connected world… right? Let’s get behind one Digital Currency Rights banner — then march ahead.
In Closing… Be The Future We Claim To See
The Digital Currency movement has introduced me to a lot of new friends and colleagues. These are good, decent, intelligent men and women who truly care about where the world is heading. They care whether people have places to eat and sleep, whether women are treated well or not, whether folks in far-flung places have the means to improve their lot. They want to make a good living doing well by the world — and that’s ok by me. This is the real heart and soul of our movement – the promise of the millennium. And it’s ours to screw up, or not.
If we do screw it up, then this time will be remembered as the most spectacularly devastating fail since, well… Gangsta Fail (like, if you get it).