Or Perhaps a More Prescient Question Might Be: Is Primetime Ready for Blockchain?
“Primetime”, for those who may not know, is the peak audience time for broadcasters, generally after evening dinner is over but before normal bedtime. Primetime is, well, primo, the top, the slots that series producers and executives want to air their work and where advertisers pay the highest prices because these generally three-hour slots promise maximum viewing audiences.
Unless, of course, if you happen to be talking about blockchain.
Most of us geeks have been there. You’re with friends or family, having a great time (hopefully), laughing, cutting up, until someone mentions something that reminds you of something else that ultimately causes “blockchain” to enter your brain, and out it comes. Before the words are even out, you wish you hadn’t bothered.
The room goes silent. Smiles turn to some kind of painful expression that would normally be associated with constipation. Those eyes that just a few seconds ago had tears of joy now have this glazed-over look. Then someone asks: “You say . . . you said . . . block . . . what?”
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m not a marketing person, but I believe in the world of biz this would be called an “image problem”. Does that sound about right? This hardly seems fair because we’re not talking brain surgery or rocket science here. Oh, I see.That can’t be right because in order to have an “image problem” . . . you first must have an image!
Where Do You Fit?
If you’re reading this, then you may fall into a couple different categories. Either you know all about the new blockchain technology released absolutely free with no strings attached by Satoshi Nakamoto via a White Paper in 2008 not long after the Great Depression 2.0 brought the planet to its knees. (Note: I realize the link calls it a ‘recession’ but, come on, if something walks like a duck and talks like a duck . . . )
Or you’ve heard precious little about this revolutionary technology that could quite easily be likened to the invention of the printing press or the internet. Yes, dear reader, that’s right. The printing press ended the feudal system in Europe as knowledge was finally accessible to the masses. And the internet, in my estimation, was merely the first volley in an as-yet unfinished trend to wrest knowledge from central planners/gatekeepers.
History of Ideas
Allow me to digress here a little by stating that since the Great Depression 2.0 global economic growth has been lopsided, lackluster, on-again-off-again, less-than-stellar, take your pick. If everything’s so hunky-dory why are my local banks paying a paltry 0.26% interest on savings? Ouch! The situation is worse in the EU where they’ve instituted negative interest rates. Yikes!
Even though the first few years of Bitcoin saw slow, incremental growth, the power and potential of Satoshi Nakamoto’s gift to the planet has a combined market cap today of over $200 billion USD. (And this figure will be outdated even before this article’s published. Guarantee it.) In eight years. Without any central bank involvement. Without any bank involvement. Without any governmental involvement. Without any stocks or bonds or futures contracts or derivatives nor any of the traditional systems and structures man has devised to package and sell stores of wealth.
So what’s the “secret sauce” behind this-here blockchain? Blockchain is what makes Bitcoin tick. If Bitcoin were a car, when you opened the hood you’ll see the blockchain, the engine that makes it run. Simple, huh? As I said, this ain’t rocket science. Blockchain technology itself is a bit geeky, I’ll admit.
What Satoshi Nakamoto did was create a technological breakthrough whereby any one person can transact business with any other person, person-to-person, or peer-to-peer, without any intermediary such as a bank, financial institution, government nor anyone else. And the system is safe, hack-proof, can’t be counterfeited, creates its own permanent record, and is not centralized.
That last attribute is arguably the most important. Because it’s not centralized, it can’t easily be shut down. Some would argue it can’t be shut down. Period. Unless the internet were to suddenly go belly-up across the entire planet. Not inconceivable, but also not likely.
Of late we have to toss in Vitalik Buterin, a Russian-born Canadian who gave the world Ethereum. Let’s just say that Ethereum is Bitcoin . . . on steroids. This technological innovation opened blockchain to a near infinite potential for solving problems or making our world a little more secure and efficient. We now have “smart contracts” entering our lexicon.
Since blockchain is so safe, hack-proof, can’t be counterfeited and creates a permanent record, we now have the technological ability to vote using blockchain. I dare say there’s hardly any human-to-human activity on the planet that will escape the disruptive forces of blockchain innovation.
Are We Ready?
So which is it? Is blockchain ready for primetime? Or is primetime ready for blockchain? I feel primetime is more than ready for blockchain… most people don’t know it yet.
How or why, you might ask? Blockchain technology offers near unlimited potential to remedy many of our most intractable problems, such as offering economic opportunity to the majority of the planet who currently don’t have access to banks or banking.
As global wages remain stagnant and we enter our second decade of near zero or even negative central bank interest rates where savings across the globe has been decimated, we can look to blockchain to not only offer value, but also offer an unprecedented return on investment. These are just two concrete examples, but you get the idea. And to think we’re still in the beginning phase of this revolution.
More and more, Bitcoin is becoming a household name. Does it really matter if “blockchain” draws blank stares as long as Bitcoin and other crypto-assets stay in the spotlight? Nah. I haven’t the foggiest notion how the engine of a jet-plane operates… but that’s never stopped me from flying.