A welcome and a warning for some, and a reminder to others in the ICO Age.
What drives innovation in a crypto-world or any other tech-related industry? With so many chasing success in a faceless space, it’s vital that we take a step back and catch a breath before trying to gauge: What defines success? Do most industry developers aim to improve humanity through design, or is the objective financial gain?
Of course, the answer isn’t cut and dry. For industry newcomers and veterans trying to time markets, it’s vital to remember a few consistent themes that drive this field forward before gold-rushing into what you may have heard is the new Wild West:
There’s now a market for exactness and proof, especially when money, votes or privacy are on the line.
Trustlessness, a basic tenet of decentralization, was bound to result from repeated violations of trust. People are inclined to trust in the good intent of our institutions, leaders and fellow voters until that trust is broken. Now a system has come into existence that operates without the need for such faith via transparency in open code and without a leadership structure.
Proponents of trustlessness, like followers of any ideology, fall across the spectrum. Some moderates accept that even in a distributed world, defacto industry leaders with track records of innovation and deliverability may have disproportionately loud voices, while others will remain vigilantly fundamentalist in their adherence to code or in the original intent of a chain. It’s important to keep in mind that both positions are reasonably grounded. Truth is in fact still truth, but many can’t trust right to consistently succeed over wrong, and it’s because of that realization that we’ve reached this point:
Code is Law. This tale you should already know. It has nothing to do with the foundational code of Ethereum, yet it remains the most famous story in the technology’s short life. A single error in code resulted in a bad actor claiming $55 million dollars in user Ether, today worth $1.3 billion USD. The funds would be easily retrieved with a change in code that only affected two parties: The users to be made whole, and an accused thief who exposed the coding error. The result was obvious, and the problem was resolved.
Code is law. We, the majority, ran the code, and we, the majority, changed the code. It’s human nature to make things right and we did. Errors were exposed, but the intent of the code was understood. A thief stole millions, but without disrupting the chain all users were refunded. Hard lessons were learned, and the ecosystem emerged stronger for it.
Code is law. We, the majority, ran the code, and the attacker used the code. It’s human nature to make things right and we did. Errors were exposed, and a bounty was claimed. Whitehats counter-attacked, and without disrupting the chain many users were refunded. Hard lessons were learned, and the ecosystem emerged stronger for it.
The first “contentious hard-fork” resulted in alternate and competing realities: Just vs. Just, Right vs. Right.
Ethereum Classic was born out of developer wedlock, backed by philosophical hardliners, and pumped by deep pockets still seeking to profit off of a dead snakeskin of an advancing technology, but can one side truly represent just or right? Is there room in DLT for good, or is this industry exclusively market-driven?
Good is Great. Well, if an objective good judged through the lens of kindness is what you’re looking for, then yes, it does exist here too. Meet Doge. Doge has been with us for a long while. Doge is adorable, it’s fun, it’s a tipping currency, a community, it’s occasionally profitable, and they do good work. Why? Why not!
…………………..Water for Kenya!
Avenues for good work exist in all of us, in all industries and in all walks of life, but benevolence itself will never be the exclusive driver for a mega-corporation that occasionally holds a clothing drive. Societal betterment may result from distributed ledger technology (and that may have been the goal of Ethereum, IOTA, Bitcoin and other developers), but something in a similar form was bound to result as society had long had an appetite for their existence. Developers with formidable integrity, capability and drive were demanded by the situation and market. Good is great, but as we race toward scalability and security, one age old-truth stands as firm as ever:
Cash is King.
Welcome to a future wasteland. Remember the high and the good times? Good projects and projects for good still exist, but so many people messed up. You read the warnings: Failing applications with shrinking userbases didn’t need to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, freelancing developers with no code and plagiarized whitepapers didn’t need tens of millions. You looked back at the first well-publicized rise of Bitcoin in 2013 and saw that 95% of top projects just a few years old were long dead, but that market… The market was so hot.
There are bad actors here just as there are everywhere. Some well-timed traders will change their lives on projects doomed to fail and on the backs of the bagholders, and that’s not new. The unfortunate truth is that most blockchain projects now being released daily fit that bill and they always have. The informed among us knew that too because they trusted not in a market direction, but in the core principles of trustlessness itself.
So do industry developers aim for revolution, evolution or simply to profit? That depends on the developer, and it’s for each of us to weed through as we become involved and invested in a rapidly expanding space.
With recent news of SEC warnings, government acceptance and nonacceptance it can be hard at times to keep pace with it all. Still, we’ll know that we’re in the right as long as we follow strong communities and transparent development teams with clear roadmaps and open code, even when the market tells us that truth is dead. We hold (hodl) through understanding that code is law, and that developers with this underlying knowledge will build the scalable and secure applications that we’re vetting and incentivizing them to create. While the good within the next generation’s tech icons is great, innovation is driven by need and opportunity. And so for as long as these ideas carry value and there is success to be had remember this: Cash is king.
Truth is Dead. Code is Law. Good is Great, but Cash is King was originally published in The Ether Review on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.