Blockchain technology, explained.

By el Prof
December 16, 2021
Image: SXSW

I believe there is a general misunderstanding among the general public about the value of blockchain/crypto/web3 technologies that is severely warping our discussion of them. The discourse is all about how DeFi is disrupting the financial markets and how NFTs are the gateway to the Metaverse and will disrupt and blur the lines of virtual/reality. Both of are true, but miss the forest for the trees. 

At its core, the major innovation of blockchain is providing a simple way to create a record keeping process, witnessed (digitally) by every other computer on the network using it. Secured by an almost impenetrable cryptographic algorithm, with direct links to each previous record encoded in the next, blockchain is considered unhackable. You’d need to gaslight 50% +1 of the computational power to overwrite the existing history and rewrite it for every block of data linked in the chain of records. 

So who is this technology actually disrupting? Well, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, to name a few, and just about everyone else who provides a cloud environment for developing scale Internet tech solutions. Why? Their centralized server system is prone to outages, while a blockchain network like Ethereum or Solana is not. Outside of Ragnarök or the plot of Revolution, Web3 is immutable.

Moreover, everyone who uploads their files to the blockchain cloud, even for storage, is creating an NFT of that item. You know them as cash grabs and fetish art, but an NFT is really just a unique ID in a database. Because, theoretically at least, all data is entered by a known user initially, that data would be owned by said user, unless assigned to an asset (say, a furry drawing) and sold (on, say OpenSea). This, more than anything else, poses a threat to the big data status quo. It represents a major paradigm shift in the control over data, the most vital Internet resource needed to deliver the majority of solutions delivered by current technology companies today.

What’s exciting for me is how well this technology is positioned as the free-market answer to the current political grievances of both parties against web2 technology companies today. A good get, considering massive data silos (and management thereof) comprise a lot of the problems we now collectively face. The rest of those problems, however, are comprised by human nature, which no technology can change, but might explain why money laundering resources and artificially generated status symbols make up the vast majority of current use cases on the blockchain.

So, no, there’s not a whole lot to report on Web3 these days outside of Sean Ono Lennon’s cringeworthy skull porn fascination. Like Copernicus and Aristarchus before him, we know truly cutting-edge ideas never flourish in their own time. But please don’t for a second think that dragging the Lazy Lions DAO and appreciating the potential of the technology are mutually exclusive. And if you have a better idea for blockchain utilization than a Discord channel raising money to buy the four corners of the flat earth, please, tell us. We want to be told. 

el Prof

el Prof

hey, i'm el prof, but most people call me Connor. Thanks for reading.

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