I might be missing something here, but when I read stories about (centralised) entities announcing their own blockchains and cryptos (as Facebook has recently), I can’t help feeling a mix of annoyance and puzzlement. It’s like everyone’s missing the underlying point of the new technology. I guess that’s maybe because it’s just that: underlying… it’s inherent…
…Trustless. You don’t need to even bother to trust it. That’s Bitcoin. No one is at the wheel.
I wrote something earlier about crypto in 2019, including thoughts about Facebook integrating with blockchain. And here are some more.
You have to understand the unique network behind Bitcoin, before you can start looking at any other cryptocurrency concept.
Bitcoin as the ‘the people’s money’ is at odds with all of this, and stands for freedom and decentralisation. Yes, it too is always in danger of being centralised and semi-manipulated, but it’s getting less and less possible for this to happen, and besides all the miners and participants are incentivised by its existence (and probably care more about what it stands for too). There are developments in Bitcoin too.
Bitcoin has experienced huge growth partly due to everybody wanting something new, something different; something with no figurehead controlling it, or getting pilloried down the line.
Facebook used to be impressive with the features it rolled out in the early days, destroying Myspace and creating a new market that has always been a strange one; a young one; for young people. ‘Social Media’. ‘Online Presence’. The older generation got involved and played around with it. We were all fascinated, and all got infatuated with silly features, and experienced its dark side. These included the sudden dramatic phrase posted by a friend, the endless smugbook posts, the misunderstood comment or reply, and both the forces of collaboration and competition that are fused within our nature as a species. Ahh… newsfeed….
I’ve still no idea how they make money. Personally I rarely touch an advert on Facebook, but obviously, they have tons of ‘users’ and therefore use sneaky methods to sell or target stuff to folks. They track us and sell us to advertisers behind the scenes. Nothing is for free. (And Google Plus has shut down already.)
But that age is ending, the age of ‘the wall’ or linear newsfeed of posting etc. onto Facebook. Plus, it’s time to get on with our own lives again. Call people directly, or just drop a message. Text-based messages and emails will continue, in the right context, maybe for eternity, for quick insights or for spelling things out. Blogposts. Discord or Telegram Groups are less emotional, more secure, and more constructive.
What can Facebook do? It can stick around to help develop VR and AR. The social context should become more interesting and real again with VR. Seamless AR and VR. I can see this happening, and with less issues. I agree with Mark Zuckerberg’s direction there, pushing the hardware etc. Platforms will arrive that truly break down physical barriers and distances. We may even get to communicate again, with gesticulation, real-time expressions, and ok, a few gimmicky animations (I guess).
But even then, there are already decentralised VR projects that are highly community-run, open-sourced. I hope more and more that communities will make effective network and blockchain-related decisions, and not companies and leaders. It’s difficult to imagine no figureheads though: there’ll still be many of them.
What do I like about Facebook as a tool?
I like that people are available if I were to really need them. It’s a yellow pages.
I dislike everything else. It’s stopped being fun. Sharing photos stopped being fun a long time ago. But I still share one myself, whenever I’m happy, and somewhere cool, and want my ‘clan’ to know where I am, what I’m seeing, what I’m doing. But then… I wonder why I’ve shared it. They’re not here.
There used to be times when it was genuinely useful or fun, or funny. But you grow up. Nowadays I’m just a ghost online, but I’ll stick around in case of resurrection. I’ll minimise my data and wait for the platform to die or evolve, or something to change inside me.
But I’m not sure it’ll trap me much again. Technology stops being fun the older you get, because your brain just wants to go outside, and do some gardening. Experience that next, final big thing. Nature. Reality. That thing that used to bore the pants off us. That thing that takes contact and time, and fresh air. It doesn’t have to be gardening. Just some kind of contact beyond a screen.
But… one can never be free from control, from technology that offers us this, over many aspects of our lives, including our friends, and now… over value and money.
Chat App coins incoming…
Telegram are looking to launch the TON blockchain and GRAM token for their chat app. Their values and libertarian history are far more interesting than Facebook. I want this project to succeed. Telegram is already well integrated into the crypto community and encourages high encryption and innovative features.
Facebook doesn’t want to miss out on such big splashes, and are said to be hot on their heels, integrating a crypto into Whatsapp, but… something feels weird. The crypto community will find it weird, for one thing. Will normal chat users jump into this, before more crypto-savvy people? Facebook’s ‘blockchain team’ have a difficult task, and it just looks like a problem waiting to happen. How can it disrupt its very nature? It will be interesting to see things unfold, because Facebook are ‘huge’, so mainstream media report about it, people get excited, and cryptocurrency looks set to be ‘re-invented’ by Facebook. Um…no….
But that’s fine, because I think they may end up doing crypto a favor, and bring more validity to more trustless, decentralised projects. Bitcoin is certainly no closed concept, and has always been open to imitators. Just look how many there are! However… it still smiles down on them all. The crypto community still has a very hard time trusting XRP, and Ripple.
If you could put all of Facebook onto the Bitcoin blockchain, well… that would be interesting.
But I’m bored of using Facebook, so I wouldn’t use the coin.
The tide was turning against Facebook long before it became part of a wider problem inherent in Web 1-2.
Bitcoin too goes back to banking crisis and a movement alive in the shadows for many years.
But what we have now are such alternatives… Bitcoin, Ethereum, Brave browser, Steemit etc.. that have risen up and disrupted with their new ideas. And people are ready to trust this type of infrastructure; this new type of technology that cannot be targeted or breached.
How can something like Facebook adapt its own inner workings? To truly adapt, and become an ecosystem, it would have to change… radically.
Should it try to adapt? It may integrate blockchain-based log-ins and payments etc, even Bitcoin itself one day, for those wishing to swap or store value. Most people have no care for what the infrastructure looks like, or who controls what… until it affects them. Until there is a major hack or if Facebook goes down in a fire of real heat or scandal… a much bigger one next time.
Or else, it will just get more and more eclipsed by more exciting dapps and by public, monetized platforms/networks like Tezos.
People say that a cryptocurrency may ‘re-invigorate’ Facebook. That’s a bit ironic. They’re opposites. Cryptocurrencies really thrive inside a whole ecosystem; a very funky vending machine that no-one can attack, and produces all sorts of magical things, and bells and whistles. Steem is creating one. Eos is beginning to. Tron is telling everyone it is.
Is the totally new compatible with the old? Facebook is not a dApp, but it’s still a platform. Can that continue? I don’t see how it can change its nature and apps.
If you ask me, it needs to keep moving into other territory, as the landscape around it is changing. It needs to start moving into territories that benefit from company-structured, swift decision-making and income generation. This is because decentralised heads shake slowly and steadily, but their decisions are careful and based on encouraging trust, and reduced advertising.
Bitcoin and real dapps, blockchains and ecosystems, that are becoming more and more decentralised as their networks grow bigger, will simply become far more interesting.
As I write this, everything lies ahead. We’re on the cusp of big changes and integrations. Monetization in major platforms. So we’ll see.
But trust now matters.
I hope some mainstream journalists read this. It’s been said before. Maybe it will start to sink in soon, as people look more under the hood. So please share if you agree. Or try out/join Steempeak.
[12th March 2019.]