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Blockchain Revolution

The big question facing technology following the huge changes brought by the expansion of the internet is what will be the “Next Big Thing”? The Blockchain Revolution seemed like a good juxtaposition to the open hardware revolution detailed in Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (My Review Here).

The Tapscotts make the problem the Blockchain Revolution will address clear: there are too many middle men collecting and exposing our personal data. Why expose all our data when only some is needed? Why have a middle man determine our credibility when we can work one-on-one with another person? Blockchains (Bitcoin being the most famous) are the solution.

So blockchains are anonymous but still public. They’re encrypted and … *begins mumbling* … math … Bitcoin … algorithm … *indistinct mumbling*

But Brian, how did you read an entire book on blockchains and still can’t explain it?

Well, dear reader, that is a good question. The short answer is I did not read the entire book. I read fifty-two pages (the first of three “Parts”) and learned that blockchains are like a ledger. But that’s about it. I skimmed the rest of the book – and boy was I vindicated.

Perhaps the Tapscotts make sense to someone who already knows about Bitcoins and blockchains, but to someone who isn’t already well-versed, their attempts at explanation are more confusing than informative.

…also expects to see bitcoin applications in the Metaverse (a virtual world) where you can convert bitcoin into Kongbucks and hire Hiro Protagonist to hack you some data. Or jack yourself into the OASIS (a world of multiple virtual utopias) where you actually do discover the Easter egg, win Halliday’s estate, license OASIS’s virtual positioning rights to Google, and buy a self-driving car to navigate Toronto. (38)

The book doesn’t rely on a narrative and is largely composed of independent sections, subsections, and lists. Several lists even get names: the seven design principles of the blockchain economy (27), the golden eight (61), the big seven (128), and ten implementation challenges (253).

So I read the jumbled explanation that is Part 1. Part 2 looked to be essentially “What if everything used blockchains?” Blockchain finance. Blockchain real estate. Blockchain voting. Blockchain justice. In this section, the Tapscotts wonder what if Airbnb used Blockchain (115-7)? What about Wikipedia (130-2)? Uber (164-5)? The music and art industries (chapter 9)? Part 3 looked to be: Will Blockchain succeed? Maybe!

I hate to be so negative because a good deal of my dislike of the book stems from mismatched expectations. I needed a book that would walk me through what blockchains are, how they are used, how they can be used, and why they will benefit people in the future. I needed to be converted to the gospel of blockchain. This book is for those already converted. Unfortunately for me, the Tapscotts are simply preaching to the choir.

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World

Next time: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

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Published in Brian Reads Monday Review Technology

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