Given the average age of crypto investors is under 30, the majority of the crypto community will have heard of MySpace and AOL but I bet a fair few have no idea what Netscape or Alta Vista were. Two of the biggest players in the early days of cyberspace have been all but removed from the living memory of the collective mind that is the current internet meta.
For those of you who were not around in the early days of the internet, AltaVista was the homepage of most people’s browsers. It allowed a new world to open up before our eyes and allowed us to search for anything we wanted in a way that had never been possible before. The browser we were all using? Well, that would be Netscape! It came as a free CD on almost every computer magazine in the 90s and was bundled with most internet service provider packages.
You see, back then you had to use a CD to install your ISP settings onto your computer yourself. There was no cable guy coming around to install your fiber line and connect up your router. You just had a modem built into your PC and would dial a number to get onto the internet using your ISP CD. Netscape was the window to the world.
So why am I rattling on about Netscape and AltaVista? It is because they failed and disappeared into obscurity. Further, they weren’t just “another search engine” or “another new browser” they were THE search engine and THE browser (granted there was healthy competition from Yahoo, Internet Explorer, etc) and they fell from the highest point to nothingness. At the time you could NEVER imagine Netscape, AOL, AltaVista, or Myspace going away. They were too big to fail and the technology was too revolutionary…
…wait a minute where have we heard that recently? Bingo…crypto.
So am I bearish on crypto? Do I think it’s all going to zero? Well, how are you reading this article? You are using mostly likely Chrome, Firefox, or Safari over either a fiber, 3G, 4G, or 5G connection from an ISP that is less than 20 years old. The internet, the technology, everything that these failed companies stood for has become even bigger than we could even have imagined back then in the 90s. However, it is not the pioneers of the 90s who survive at the top today. When you look around the internet you quite often run into confirmation bias and echo chamber communities simply shouting about things that promote their own agenda. You only have to visit r/cryptocurrency, r/bitcoin or r/dogecoin to see posts that are unapologetically pro-crypto to the detriment of all other points of view. Conversely, if you visit r/buttcoin or r/cryptoreality you’ll find people who believe bitcoin and blockchain will ultimately go to zero no matter what. If you try to argue the opposing points in their echo chamber you will likely be ridiculed, mocked, banned or all of the above (trust me I’ve had it happen from both sides). However, if you look at both sides of the argument you can start to paint a completely different picture, one that looks a lot like something out of the mid-90s to me.
Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) is slow, energy-inefficient (compared to other cryptos, I’m not shilling the Elon argument here, I believe he’s completely wrong on that), unregulated, volatile, easily manipulated, and has taken 12 years to get to where it is today. XRP (CRYPTO: XRP) is a lot faster, Ethereum (CRYPTO: ETH) has smart contracts, and we could go on with a list of crypto projects that are moving the blockchain space forward.
Still, is blockchain really the answer?
Many in the opposing corner argue that decentralized ledgers are nothing new and, in fact, centralized ledgers offer much more benefits than a decentralized system and that trustless architecture is never going to allow big business to scale.
From reading both sides of the argument my personal conclusion is that Blockchain may not be the final solution to changing the world that I originally thought it was. However, I do believe that it is the catalyst for a change as big as we saw in the 90s.
Blockchain has shown us that decentralization in entertainment, finance, supply chain management, art, music, and a hundred more industries have massive benefits when linked into an immutable record system like a ledger protected by either proof of work or proof of stake mechanisms.
However, no blockchain project comes close to the number of transactions per second possible on, say, the Visa network as it stands today. No company is going to accept slower payments, they want faster, more secure… better.
It is here that I started to learn more about Hashgraph. Now I’m not a Hedera shill by any means. However, Hashgraph is better than blockchain in pretty much every way except one… it is proprietary and patented by Hedera. Hashgraph can perform up to 5 million transactions per second compared to 100k on ETH 2.0 or the 7 on Bitcoin currently. There are talks that Bitcoin’s lightning network could reach billions of transactions per second and Cardano claims it will reach 1 million. However, these are currently only theoretical for real-world implementation. My point? We are earlier than you might think to this next stage in our digital evolution. Could bitcoin disappear completely? Absolutely. Do I expect that to be the end of decentralized ledger-based data solutions? Not a chance. We are at a tipping point.
Personally, I have a stake in the traditional blockchain projects like Ethereum and Bitcoin but I’m hedging in other projects like Hedera Hashgraph (CRYPTO: HBAR), Vechain (CRYPTO: VET), Cardano (CRYPTO: ADA), Binance Smart Chain (CRYPTO: BSC) and keeping my ear to the ground for what comes next.
When it comes to investing in crypto projects, you can definitely get rich if you time the right investment into the next altcoin pump and dump project. But you’re just as likely to lose it all on your next bet in the sh*tcoin casino. I have stopped referring to it as cryptocurrency as I feel it is wholly reductive to do so. Crypto and blockchain projects offer so much more to the world, why focus on one aspect, payments? Even DeFi doesn’t really fit into the ‘currency’ sphere in the most part. We’re not talking about CAKE, AAVE or UNI as being tokens to replace fiat. That talk only tends to really happen around a few projects, namely, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, USDC, Dogecoin, Litecoin, BitcoinCash, BitcoinSV and XRP to name the major players.
Instead, I prefer “crypto” as a catch all term of everything decentralized ledger tokenization. I’m not trying to force terminology on anyone, I just think it’s important to understand the stakes here. We have the potential to do amazing things with the basic tenants of this technology. A new monetary system is just one of them. Satoshi had a vision, but he had a vision of a tree, not the forest it could become.
So what to do? Well, right now? Read, watch, and listen. Take in everything that is going on around the space from all sides. I really think we’re at the equivalent of the internet in 1994 (and there’s data to suggest that) or even earlier than that. We’re a long way off seeing what this technology can really do when it’s sufficiently challenged and tested. Either way, I’m going to continue to produce content so feel free to follow me if you’re interested in this. Alternatively, drop me a message on Twitter.
All of this means that the Facebook, Google, Amazon, and eBay of the decentralised ledger space hasn’t been born yet! I want to watch out for the next game changing tech projects… because they are coming and it’s highly likely it’s not going to be the projects most people are betting on today.