Images via Pixabay, Twitter.
Every so often, corporate business blushes its latest fad speak. Disruptive. Paradigm shift. 2.0, 3.0. Game changer. For about half a decade now, blockchain technology has been the phrasing du jour among ecosystem corporatists and assorted scammers. It’s weak jingoism employed to disguise against real innovation, cryptocurrency. Blockchain is just a damn database, a giant spreadsheet. I’ve officially had an ass-full of it. Knock it off already. WARNING: Language quite salty ahead!
Blockchain Without Bitcoin is Just a Database
Stanford University Computer Science Lecturer Cynthia Lee created a bullshit detector. Dr. Lee answered an off the cuff provocation by Wall Street Journal columnist, Christopher Mims. Exasperated, he Tweeted about the possibility of “a browser extension that replaces ‘blockchain’ with ‘multiple copies of a giant Excel spreadsheet.’”
She went to work on Google Chrome. The result instantly sweeps away mounds of stupidity, shelves of inane TED Talks, and bullets god awful gurus of modern finance. And it’s glorious. Fuckery from Porsche, for example, loses its heart-pounding intensity: Porsche becomes the first auto manufacturer to utilize multiple copies of a giant excel spreadsheet.
Her fanciful github project worked so well, it turned meta once she jumped back on Twitter to share the hilarious product, correcting even her previous Tweets. Articles suddenly lost their edge. Initial coin offering projects immediately were revealed for the mostly fraud they are. It’s especially helpful for those new to the space, the crypto idea.
In the mainstream press and the global corporate world, cryptocurrency is reviled. It is hated. Its users are thought to be straight trash. Don’t ever forget that. That it derives from distinctly polemical anarchists who were bent on leaving government forms of money makes it all the worse. There is absolutely no reason for the financial system undergirding media and business, insulated and protected by the status quo, to do anything other than what they’re doing: portray cryptocurrency as a plaything for geeks, drug losers, terrorists.
Blockchain Tech Talk is Insidious and Undermining
This is why blockchain tech talk is so insidious. The legacy financial world cannot stop the phenomenon, as it jumps, memetically, from person-to-person. It constitutes exactly no threat now, especially when at the height of its popularity late last year, cryptocurrency’s main brand, bitcoin core (BTC) laid a colossal egg through retarded wait times and ridiculous fees, souring the first user experience of millions — millions who won’t return. But also do not for one second peg traditional financial pros as stupid.
They were saved by bitcoin core stubborness, no doubt. We cannot know how many would’ve held on or been inspired by decentralized currency if their initial experience was pleasurable. The run-up, however, is there. It is a fact of history. Bitcoin was ready to break out and do something huge.
Part of the quell, much worse than the bitcoin core debacle, was foundationally put forward years prior with blockchain tech talk. Forget the stupid currency, bankers and financial elite scowled. Mom and grandfather are not ‘anarchists,’ icky anti-government folk. They just want a faster way to pay for products. Blockchain this and blockchain that allows the financial elite community to participate in the spectacle and entrepreneurial awakening by having their cake while eating it too: blockchain, blockchain, blockchain; bitcoin is soiled, ugly, gimmicky.
A cursory reading of what now amounts to a near religious document, Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, reveals no mention of blockchain. Chain appears 27 times, block 67. The two words get close, circling one another, but never consummate. I’ve mentioned it before in polite company as some suited fellow attempts to bedazzle me with blockchain talk. Face scrunches in response. “Really?” they inevitably ask.
It’s the Currency, Stupid
Yeah, you’d imagine if the entire point to Satoshi’s work was a damn blockchain that it’d get a mention. Like one. Nope. Instead, the focus is entirely upon a way to get to decentralized currency, peer-to-peer, as cash but without a government middle person. The entire bother, grand affair, is for you, fool, to become your own bank.
Invade any bank boardroom, and you’ll get a shit-ton of gab about blockchain. Nary a peep will be about bitcoin, unless as a point of derision and scorn. Bitcoin? The drug dealer thing? Created out of thin air by some imaginary dude? Are you mental!
That is the fundamental misunderstanding, which again I believe at higher levels to be quite purposeful: there’s literally no reason to run the distributed software if people didn’t first spend bitcoin as a currency. A spreadsheet copied many times without a spendable currency is just the banking system as we now know it … maybe mildly more efficient. And literally no one would have hailed bitcoin as a history changing technology if it were just a bunch of private, distributed accounting ledgers.
While many of the previous bitcoin evangelists now sit on banking boards and are toasts of Wall Street, commanding nice speaking fees, book deals, and guru status, it’s time for bitcoin to return to danger. Cryptocurrency is punk rock. It’s fast. It’s here to knock things over. It’s here to starve bankers, fiat whores, who’re funding wars and massive police states. It’s borderless, permissionless. It’s everywhere and nowhere all at once. It has the chance to become the greatest transfer of wealth the world has ever witnessed, from entitled, politically connected hands to those who’ve never had a chance at financial freedom. Your fakakta blockchain talk won’t ever do any of that. Knock it off.
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