To whet your appetite, imagine money completely redefined. Imagine different types of money – food money, energy money, temporary money, tiny money. Imagine you and your neighbors create and trade your own energy. Imagine only paying for insurance when you’re on the road. Imagine being paid for hitting a pothole. Technologists who understand this are building astonishing tools and systems for our future. Most of us, however, are woefully behind the curve.
We have to start somewhere.
Josh Wendroff, Director of Strategy for Seedpay, recently spoke on a panel to help answer these questions. What IS blockchain and why the hell should anyone care? Seedpay uses blockchain technology to increase efficiencies and decrease costs in a new payment system. There were others on the panel who were using a blockchain in other industries, from venture funding to locally created and distributed solar energy. Yet, all shared a common experience: When people hear “blockchain” either their eyes glaze over, or, they back away slowly thinking you’re talking about Bitcoin craziness.
Neither should happen.
A simplified summary follows: Blockchain is a catalyst for new ways of engaging with information and value. There seem to be three highest and best uses. Each alone is a Big Deal, but together, they are creating a revolution in thinking. The first is for transference and storage of value, which can be hyper-local or global, across a spectrum between fully open or completely private. The second involves the ability to program ‘rules’ into a transaction which can take humans out of the equation, allowing for autonomous action. These are called ‘smart contracts’. The third is radical decentralization which allows data transfer across organizational boundaries to bypass cumbersome processes of classic centralization.
We at Seedpay understand the power and value of blockchain technology. As such, we are interested in the injection of blockchain into environmental and community-serving projects when and where it adds substantial value.
We recognize, however, that without an increase in understanding, this impact remains unrealized. Certainly within the nonprofit, governmental, and entrepreneurial domains, blockchain is barely known, let alone understood. This means that people with deep understanding of community and environmental problems are not armed with timely and potentially critical knowledge to infuse into their strategies. We think that’s not only a problem, but alarming.
There are many arenas where blockchain could magnify environmental and social impact. To realize that value, leaders across industries and professions need to understand its power.
People designing solutions and systems for our future need to work together using the most valuable, timely, and powerful technologies and tools available, or we waste time and resources. Those in energy, housing, economic development, sustainability, food, small business, social work, financial services, etc… are missing a possibly key tool to apply, and thus, we have a serious disconnect. If this thing called “blockchain” is being described as “like the internet was in the 80s” by smart people, then we have a knowledge gap. In this day and age, we need every valuable tool at our disposal.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of resources about blockchain (and Bitcoin). There are not many great basic explanations, but these are a place to start. (We are developing an educational workshop on blockchain – stay tuned.) But first, a few snippets from an article that challenges us to think big.
“Bitcoin was the first “killer app” of a technology called blockchain. Bitcoin brought forth something innovative by creating a global system to digitally transfer and store value. It does this through its design by using decentralization, immutability, incentivization in novel ways that allow commerce transactions without the need of a trusted third party (i.e. like a bank). Moreover, the next generation of cryptocurrencies bring forth the capability of smart contracts (i.e. programmable money). These capabilities are new and they will spark an entire wave of technological improvement centered around how we globally generate, store and transfer value.”
“Just like in the last surge, the Internet was an important component of the surge, but not its core focus. It was an integral mechanism, but the revolution was about something bigger. It was the Age of Information. In the same way, this new surge is about autonomy. Cryptocurrency will be an integral component, but the revolution isn’t just about cryptocurrency. It’s the final pillar that will support a broader Age — the Age of Autonomy.”
“The paradigm shift is in the transformation of how we come together to produce work and how we govern relationships. The shift occurs through decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO’s), smart contracts and new governance models. This shifts the power and the reward from the centralized organization back to the individual.”
“There are three innovations that empower cryptocurrency to be the last pillar. The first is a new digital model for the global generation, transference and store of value. The second is the ability of smart contracts to allow for rules-based transference of value, programmatically. The third is decentralization which allows us to cross organizational borders and break the constraints of a centralized organization or a central authority.”
- Blockchain Explained. https://medium.com/financeexplained/blockchain-an-introduction-412cdb3d8b1e
- Still Don’t Get Bitcoin? https://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-explained-five-year-old
- Watch Bitcoin get created in real time. What does it look like?
- Blockchain for Technical Executives and Analysts. Free course from B9Lab.
- Bitcoin Under the Hood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_558919243&feature=iv&src_vid=l9jOJk30eQs&v=Lx9zgZCMqXE
- Cryptoassets: A Fundamental Analysis.
- MIT Technology Review Talk by Amber Baldet, ex-Project Lead for Blockchain Projects at JP Morgan Chase. Watch her. https://events.technologyreview.com/video/watch/amber-baldet-online-privacy/
Women in Blockchain. Who’s creating the future?
We are also interested in the lack of diversity/gender balance in blockchain. If you are interested in joining a new group of women to discuss this and other ideas, please let us know at amy at seedpay dot com.