The Blind Men and the Blockchain Project
On its tenth year, Bitcoin has given us blockchain technology. What have we learned and how can we know what the whole ecosystem might look like in the next few years? I would visualize the ecosystem as a blockchain elephant we are still trying to grasp blindly figuring out the best solutions for mass adoption at a global scale. There are several online versions related to blockchain, on the parable of the blind men and the elephant. Here is my take on it. Five blind men heard for the first time about the blockchain elephant. They were curious about what it is. They touched a different part and had their own interpretation.
The first blind man touched the ear. In the blockchain community, these are the consumers whose sentiments were heard through the grapevine or social media. They touched the broad ear. They wanted to jump into the first big ICO on to another. They went to Telegram communities. Dive deep into what the next big trend is. In the early stages of the ICO, the bandwagon effect became prodigious.
The second blind man touched the tusk. These are mostly the first developers of Bitcoin, who know that the technology is trustworthy. Those who believe that Code is law and no centralized institution should take control. Just as the tusk is made of ivory, it is like code. It is a beautifully written algorithm. Its technology is impenetrable and strong. No one can hack into it.
The third blind man touched the big broad foot. These are the financial institutions. They fear that the crypto-elephant’s foot would stomp on them. When Wall Street fell under its own financial weight, on the deep dark web what emerged was the Bitcoin whitepaper. They underestimated the power of a meme. They underestimated how the Internet has evolved into a grassroots movement more powerful than any centralized authority. This is the network effect.
The fourth blind man touched the tail that would be government institutions. They feel the tail will never topple the government regulations and that holding on to its long tail is not really a threat. But they have to swing with it. So they create legislation and regulatory procedures while punishing the early stage innovators of this technology. They put in jail the creators of Silk Road, who started using bitcoin to trade in the black market and Charlie Shrem, who was aiding its operations, was imprisoned for 2 years. The government knows the threat of blockchain and it’s growing grassroots movement. They have to swing by the tail and claim to protect citizens and their “rights.”
The fifth blind man is touching the trunk. The companies who are conducting ICOs. They hold onto the trunk. Its long, flexible nose extends to the community. They tell the public their ICO is a game changer and spew tokens with airdrops. They believe that their platform is the next revolutionary technology that will change the way we live by sharing their idea and asking for money. Just as the elephant’s trunk is used to feed itself, these blockchain project leaders feed themselves off consumer sentiment, luring them in with hopes and promises of seeing their investments go “to the moon.”
There are 4,000 ICO projects out there that came out of the crypto-elephant trunk and have raised a lot of money, but most of them have failed within months.
The ecosystem is still evolving and we are at the cusp of it. From a deeper understanding of what blockchain is we have to un-learn what we were taught in school, which is having a centralized authority structure in our daily life. Creating a global paradigm shift of a decentralized community in the 4th Industrial Revolution is an enormous undertaking. Which part of the blockchain elephant are you touching?
Written by Kristine Mallari
Kristine is a former flight attendant from an international airline, based in South Korea. She became interested in Blockchain and began researching the technology while working as an Advertising Executive for San Francisco Media Co. As Chief Communications Officer, she manages media promotions and community outreach, such as the placement of BlockchainBTM machines at various events and local meet-ups. Kristine is known for her tenacious drive, a wild curiosity with technology and the social impact it can create. Her passion for new emerging technology and the trust that is created within communities has led her to create positive collaboration with key influencers in the space. Kristine has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management (University of the Philippines), a top university in the Philippines.