In 1995, Katie Couric didn’t want to “subscribe to the internet.” Katie, like most Americans, didn’t truly understand what the internet was, or even more importantly, what it could do.
Back then, the only thing anyone wanted to talk about was this thing called “E-mail”. Instead of embracing the idea of reducing communication lag, the technology was so foreign that it frightened people. It was seen as an invasion of their peace and privacy.
Now we can look back and laugh at how naive we all were; discussing email instead of the larger, inevitable implications of this new creation called the internet.
Well, 20 years later, we’re back at it again. This time the polarizing discussion centers around the application of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology upon which they are built.
History does indeed repeat itself.
You see, when the breakthrough is so large that it challenges established world views, people feel unsettled and often respond with backlash, criticism, and distrust. It’s only when they demonstrate the willingness to listen and learn that they finally embrace or reject the innovation on its merits.
The blockchain is today’s internet. It’s the internet of value exchange and bitcoin is its email. Yes, it’s cool that we can send money to one another without using a bank, just like it was cool we could send letters to one another without using a post office, but can we zoom out for a moment and consider the larger implications of said technology?
If bitcoin is email, what is the world wide web? What’s the next Google, Amazon, and apple?
Currently, there are over 1500 cryptocurrencies and some of them will be our generations AOL and Netscape while others go on to be our Microsoft. Only 4 of these cryptocurrencies act as a medium of exchange like conventional currency. This is why they are better thought of as digital shares/assets with a couple of added features.
The vast majority of these digital assets are targeting inefficient middlemen in existing industries. The goal is to build technologies that remove and replace brokers, whose only job is to connect buyer and seller (like iTunes, Airbnb, and, with blockchain smart contracts that do the job without taking a cut in the middle.
I know it’s difficult to imagine, but consider the difficulty in imagining today’s world back in 1995. Human beings tend to understand and extrapolate linear progression. The problem is, technology moves at an exponential rate. The next 20 years will bring about changes very few could’ve anticipated. The key is to keep an open mind, willingness to learn, and back the people who are building it.