Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold
There is a moment in time where a rubicon is passed; where what is to be shall come. If you believe in centralization, in the idea that the more concentrated power among fewer people makes for a better world, your time is coming to an end. Right now, at the very moment, some of the brightest, most innovative minds of our time our creating systems that will knock the ivory pedestal from under you. Those great minds are creating systems that will not just destroy individual centralized systems, but the whole concept of it. This rubicon is being crossed as this is typed. These words are being made on a system that holds the ability to bring ruin to centralized variants of it, like so many other centralized systems. This rubicon is called the Blockchain, and it is the beginning of a revolution.
When does a world altering moment happen that reshapes all of history after it? For our world, one such moment was in January of 2009. In that faithful month, the first Bitcoin was mined by its creator "Sataoshi Nakamoto," a pseudonym name that still elicits mystery about who the ingenious creator is, even to this day. What Satoshi created was a two part system, the first was the ability to verify transactions across a unified, decentralized, distributed ledger. The second was the ability to produce value though complex computational algorithms and assign it to packets of information that can then be traded as a commodity or currency. We knows these two systems by their more common names today: The Blockchain and Cryptocurrency. Though the latter is what has garnered the most public attention over the past decade, it is the former that enables it, and what is potentially the most important invention in computer science. The blockchain allows absolute trust in an environment where trust is ever so fleeting. The ability to have a distributed, unified, decentralized, immutable ledger is a revolution in computer science and data engineering. What it enables, already being called Web 3.0, is the future of the internet.
There are many cryptocurrencies that have come to be since Nakamoto's Bitcoin: Ether (the cryptocurrency that powers the Ethereum network, created by Vitalik Buterin), Monero, Litecoin, Dash, Bytecoin, Burst, the list goes on. They all share one common trait, however, they all operate on a blockchain system, albeit with many of the coins operating on their own specially designed blockchain. The abilities of the blockchain are not just limited to cryptocurrencies though. New blockchain systems have appeared for a variety of services. The largest of these blockchain networks is Ethereum, created by Vitalik Buterin. Ethereum enables the issuing and fulfillment of smart-contracts on the blockchain that automatically execute once certain requirements have been fulfilled, bypassing the need for any lawyers or legal expenses normally associated with contracts. Bitcoin also has this ability to a degree, but Ethereum's is much more fleshed out, with this ability built into the core of the language. Ethereum also has its own programming language called Solidity, which enables the programming of apps to issue smart contracts on the Ethereum network, allowing them to take advantage of the blockchain system. Alongside Ether, the Ethereum blockchain allows the issuing of other "Tokens" by apps and users. Such tokens, officially called ERC-20 tokens, are what gives Ethereum its flexibility. Services that wish to use a specific token to reward its users can do so via the Ethereum network, and those tokens can often be traded for other cryptocurrencies or tokens like Ether or Bitcoin on cryptoexchanges. This is one the true powers behind Ethereum.
Another blockchain network designed for a whole variety of uses is Blockstack, created by Muneeb Ali. Blockstack is built on the Bitcoin network, but acts very similar to Ethereum. The primary difference is that Blockstack handles most of the computational power off of the blockchain, using it only for verification and authentication while data is held on normal servers such as Dropbox, AWS, Google, etc, in encrypted files. Ethereum, by contrast, uses the blockchain for its computations, and interacts with the blockchain for all operations. This gives an edge to Blockstack for use in smaller apps that only need the blockchain for authenticating data. Blockstack already has a number of apps available on its "Blockstack Browser," including apps for encrypted messaging, cryptocurrency wallets, social media, document and spreadsheet creation, and more. The entirety of this was written in Graphite, an online document and spreadsheet creator running on Blockstack that aims to be the open-source, blockchain replacement for the G-Suite Apps and Microsoft Office. The Graphite experience so far has been a highly responsive and clean one, that is easy and pleasant to use (This is coming from someone who normally dislikes online document editing apps). It is all the better to use knowing the data stored within it is encrypted and inaccessible to no one except myself. It also has capabilities such as collaboration and sharing via the encrypted messaging apps on Blockstack. Another decentralized app, dApp for short, on Blockstack is Afari. It is very much so a clone of Twitter, and Gab to a lesser extent, but based around privacy and security. Links to this writing will be posted on Afari when it is uploaded. Blockstack shows enormous potential for expanding the sphere of decentralized, blockchain-based services, but it is not alone in this endeavor.
Among other online services building blockchain-based solutions are STEEM, who's blockchain powers such services as the blogging platform SteemIt (A blockchain clone of Medium), the streaming platform Vimm (A clone of, and alternative to, Twitch), and the video platforms DTube and BitChute (Clones and alternatives to YouTube). Users on the STEEM platforms are rewards with STEEM tokens when their content get's upvoted or reposted. Those STEEM tokens can then be traded on cryptomarkets and cryptoexchanges for other coins such as Ether and Bitcoin. Minds is another platform that started out being centralized, but has been moving towards being decentralized and blockchain-based for the past couple of years. They just recently launched their Minds Tokens, ERC-20 tokens that are powered by the Ethereum blockchain network. They offer Reddit/Facebook style posting, Medium style blogging, and video uploading capabilities. The whole of this writing will be uploaded to both Minds and SteemIt, both of which will reward me for the number of votes and reposts I receive on it. It will also be posted on Medium as well, but only a privileged few on the platform are able to be rewarded for sharing content, and even if I could do that it would be hidden behind a paywall that only another set of privileged users could see. SteemIt and Minds will reward me for engaging others in active participation through reading, liking, and reposting my content. Medium will do none of this, along with giving me no guarantees of privacy or security. With that being said, the only reason to post this on Medium is because I have posted my other writings there before and it helps with viewership of my material, even if no reward is directly obtained for it. This is the power that blockchain has, and what it is capable of doing for individuals who are willing to harness its power. It can return power back to the individual to reap the rewards for their creativity and intelligence, their entertainment and their knowledge. No centralized platform has come close to achieving this, and most likely never will.
One other area that blockchains could solve is the issue of large media companies wielding undue influence over content online. The blockchain completely invalidates the mainstream media's strategy of debasing and demanding the removal of those that attempt to argue against them. A good example is Alex Jones and his InfoWars network. He and his network were all but banished from the wider internet through media intimidation and influence over social media companies. An Alex Jones on a blockchain network would have little to fear from these tactics. The same goes for an alternative social media site like Gab, who have had repeated attempts to censor and remove content from their site by outside influencers, including attempts to remove their DNS registration. I may have my issues with the two examples I gave on political and ideological grounds, but I'll stand firm in defending their right to not be silenced by the "4th Estate." Blockchain systems hold two keys to completely invalidating the media's strategy, immutability and reward distribution. Immutability means that what is on the blockchain can't be censored, no matter how much some spokesman or spokeswoman sits behind a desk and screeches on about they dislike it and how it "hurts their feelings." The other way blockchains invalidate this strategy is by insuring that rewards are distributed directly from content consumers to content creators, bypassing all middlemen in the process.
I am an Objectivist. I wholeheartedly support and believe in a fully capitalistic and individualistic world. I know that only in a fully capitalistic world can the fullest potential of the rational individual be achieved. What I have glimpsed over the past months and years in the growing blockchain and cryptocurrency movements is nothing short of beautiful. I now know that the future of capitalism lies in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. I have seen a glimpse of the future, a glimpse of a true "Galt's Gulch," and it is truly beautiful! However, there are many who are against these advances and this future. Big companies who's future is staked on the principle of ever more centralized data. Governments who demand ever more control over the wallets, lives, and very thoughts of its citizens. Powerful media companies who seek to retain their influential power over what they deem to be truth or not. All of these forces despise the very fundamentals of blockchain technology, and they will do whatever they can to stop it, whether it be lies, intimidation, or oppressive laws. However, I fully believe that as more and more individuals come to realize the potential of blockchain technology and what it has to offer, that many people will see the same future I do, and refuse to give ground back to those centralized authoritarians.
The blockchain revolution has begun!
Thank you for reading my writings above! If you would like to support me, please upvote and repost this on Minds and SteemIt (Links Below!)
If you would to support me directly, you can tip me a small amount of Bitcoin or Ether at the addresses below. This is completely voluntary, just as it should be. Give what you think my content and creativity are worth. :)
A special thanks to George Gilders and his new book Life After Google for helping to inspire me to write this, and for helping me find the ever incredible Blockstack project! Another special thanks goes out to both the Blockstack team and the Graphite development team for making a service I can trust and an application that made writing this most enjoyable! :)
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