"The very institutions whose charter is brokering social trust—banks and governments—have in many parts of the world spectacularly failed to do so." - Natalie Smolenski
I just finished reading The Starfish and the Spider. The book derives its name from the fact that Starfish are decentralized organisms, they have no central nervous system. If you were to cut a starfish in half, it would live on as two separate organisms. And that's what the book is all about - how decentralized structures are more resilient, flexible and powerful than centralized structures. This book helps put the events of the last decade into a broader context and defines the global movement we are witnessing and participating in.
As each day passes, our reality is becoming more like a sci-fi book, and less like non-fiction. The policies described in 1984 are debated in the halls of government, the tools from the original Star Trek are all around us, and the centralized institutions we understand to be staples of our society are fighting for survival as they are disrupted by decentralized organizations (examples include Uber, Wikipedia and PirateBay, to name a few).
Much of the talk about how financial institutions are being disrupted comes within the context of "Bitcoin." Yes, Bitcoin has proven to be a powerful global monetary force, but Bitcoin is just one of over 2000 digital currencies. Unfortunately, the current focus on Bitcoin revolves around its market valuation, not the infrastructure that makes it possible.
While it is exciting to watch Bitcoin's value rise, I am far more excited about the technology Bitcoin is built upon and its implications. I am talking about the blockchain (a.k.a distributed ledger technology). The blockchain is creating more resilient communities, a more secure digital life and expanding access to services of all stripes to anybody with an internet connection. This technological evolution we call "blockchain" is about social equity at its core.
1992 is to the internet as 2017 is to blockchain. But with the blockchain, we all have the opportunity to benefit from and participate in the global evolution towards disintermediation, decentralization, and equity (in all senses of the word). If you want to learn more, please check out the below links:
If you have any questions about the blockchain, please let me know. If you have friends, colleagues, parents or students who want to learn about the blockchain, let's organize a workshop. If you want to brainstorm potential crypto-investment opportunities, let's grab a drink. If you want to wax philosophic about the implications of the blockchain, let's get it on the calendar!
So to tie this all together... for Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, Solstice and all the other winter gift-giving holidays I am unintentionally leaving out, consider getting that special someone a blockchain wallet, some coins/tokens or this book. All these are foundational tools to help that special someone thrive in 2018 as our global economy and industry evolves onto the blockchain.
Have you read Thomas Friedman’s new book, Thank You For Being Late? It is all about how we can thrive in the age of acceleration; this period of time when change is gaining momentum at ever-increasing light-speed pace. This break-neck evolution of all systems -- globalization, technology, migration, etc. -- is the new normal.
If you think 2017 has been a crazy year, just wait for and see what’s around the corner in 2018. While I am not a futurist, I am an early adopter, and if 1% of the global economy and my intuition are right, we are in for an exciting transition that began in 2007, has been gaining momentum over the past 10 years and in the next decade will be reaching mass adoption.