Last year, a ton of new books about cryptocurrencies were published, but few were kind.works like numbers go up and proceed to infinity It uses the trajectory of FTX’s Sam Bankman Freed, a financial genius turned convicted fraudster, to brutally ridicule the crypto industry and invite readers to dance on its grave. Ta.
This isn’t surprising, considering the industry has produced a mind-boggling number of scam cartoonish villains. But the cryptocurrency industry is here to stay, and so is blockchain, the technology underlying Bitcoin and which still enjoys the support of an influential following.
Those supporters include Chris Dixon, best known in Silicon Valley circles as the entrepreneur-turned-venture-capitalist whose companies include companies like Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, It placed bets on a number of crypto companies early on.Debut book from longtime blogger Dixon Read, write, own: Building the next era of the internet It provides a concise history of how the web evolved and passionately advocates blockchain as the logical future.
Whatever your views on blockchain and cryptocurrencies, it’s hard to disagree with Dixon’s premise that there’s something wrong with the internet today. For proof, look at the examples in this book, such as the fact that the 10 most popular apps on our phones are all more than 10 years old. Or think back to your own experience. Perhaps you’ve noticed that Google’s search results are becoming increasingly poor, or you’ve seen the crippling anxiety inflicted on young people by harmful social media algorithms.
To explain how we got here, Dixon says, we need to understand the power of networks and who controls them. In the early days of the consumer Internet, the web was an open place thanks to protocols such as HTTP (for web pages) and SMTP (for email). These protocols were created by academics and were designed to be free for anyone to use and outside of anyone’s control. The gatekeeper of a company.
So early read In the age of the Internet, it was free, although there were restrictions.compare it write Next came an era where anyone could easily publish messages and photos, including on social media. This made the Internet a more interesting place, but the dominance of corporate networks came at a cost. Huge platforms have emerged to make it easier for consumers to participate in their own version of the town square, but at the cost of consuming large amounts of data and sharing their content and social connections with others. It is no longer possible to bring it into the venue.
The current era of digital monopoly has created a difficult experience for consumers in recent years, but it has also led to a drought in innovation. As Dixon explains, companies like Facebook and Google built their empires on the open protocols of the early web, but then refused to inherit that open culture. A series of startups like Zynga and Vine discovered the hard way that anything they built on a corporate platform could be stripped away in an instant, so much so that no one today bothers to try it.
According to Dixon, solving this predicament requires a new technology architecture centered around the third verb in the title. Ownallows anyone to build on the network and control the data they produce. In other words, blockchain.
Dixon argues that blockchain can replicate the existing web’s most popular features, such as social media, gaming, and finance, without relying on Big Tech’s overlords. He pointed to Ethereum, which has emerged as a giant public computer where anyone can build applications and where users can control things like their username and social connections.
The key element in all of this is the token. It’s a digital asset that critics deride as magic beans sold by charlatans and bought by fools. Dixon offers a different perspective, explaining how tokens create new incentive structures and provide ownership forms that give users a greater say in how the internet is run. In this token-based version of the internet, people will receive fair compensation for their work and Big Tech will ultimately lose. In Dixon’s words:
“Token incentives for developers have multiple benefits. First, anyone in the world can contribute, broadening the talent funnel and network stakeholder base. Contributors can earn tokens and become part owners. , you have an incentive to help the network succeed by building software, creating content, or otherwise helping the network.Second, token incentives give you an incentive to compete on a task-by-task basis. This means that users will be able to choose from multiple software options, as well as multiple web browsers and email clients. Third, tokens, unlike company stocks, are They can be paid transparently and programmatically in a fairer, more open, and smoother way.”
These are not new ideas. Variations of them appear in previous books such as: The era of cryptocurrency and blockchain revolutionBut Dixon makes the best case for blockchain, thanks to his crisp explanations of Silicon Valley economics and concepts like “take rate.” The latter phrase describes the fat margin (or tax, if you prefer) that monopolistic companies like Apple and Facebook collect from other companies and consumers, and their control of networks. It highlights how we can extract economic value created by others.
read, write, own Although this is the most elegant and sophisticated discussion of blockchain to date, the book falls short in terms of addressing the numerous and often well-founded criticisms of the cryptocurrency industry. Dixon makes some random admissions to skeptics and blames the “casino” mentality that dominates much of the ecosystem, but leaves some difficult questions unanswered. , or not even posed: If blockchain is such an obvious solution, catch up on why it’s taking so long to resolve? Why do so many high-profile blockchain projects fail to materialize or turn into outright scams? And so on?
Meanwhile, Dixon has not discussed his role in supporting high-profile cryptocurrency failures. These include Dfinity, the “world’s computer” that has raised nearly $170 million but has little to show for it, and a company that takes people’s names and likenesses without their permission and buys and sells them like stocks. Including the abominable BitClout ($200 million), which solicited social media site. And in the moment he spit out his coffee, Dixon tosses his WiFi token scheme called Helium (which has been exposed as a huge profiteer) as a success, but conveniently firm, Andreessen Horowitz, was unsuccessfully identified as responsible for the project. Major investor.
Similarly, the book does not mention the crypto industry controversy surrounding Andreessen Horowitz and other venture capital firms. Critics say these companies are abusing their power and influence and, much like Big Tech companies, are flooding the market with new blockchain project tokens before retail investors can do the same. He is accused of doing so. Accusations of self-dealing and hypocrisy may or may not be fair, but Dixon refuses to raise any of them. Had he done so, his book would have been much more powerful.
Despite these shortcomings, read, write, own Very worth reading. This book is not only the clearest overview of blockchain ever, but also an excellent history of computing and the Internet. Dixon deftly positions the rise of blockchain as part of an ongoing tug-of-war between closed corporate networks and public goods such as open source software, and he has a flair for useful analogies. The old practice of paying for time on mainframe computers, for example, comparing the gas fees paid by Ethereum users to the gas fees paid by Ethereum users.
The book is also elegantly written, benefiting from Dixon’s background as a philosophy major, and effortlessly sprinkles in references such as “Tyranny Without Structure” by feminist writer Jo Freeman. is completed. This is a welcome change from the empty executive narratives that permeate other blockchain-driven books. And on page 230, read, write, own Its brevity will be appreciated.
Even the most strident crypto critic would have a hard time completely rejecting many of Dixon’s ideas. His book comes at a time when the current version of the web feels like it’s getting worse by the day, and his call for blockchain at least offers a potential solution. read, write, own is likely to become the next standard-bearer for cryptocurrency enthusiasts and find a home in computer science and economics syllabuses for years to come.