What the hell is blockchain?

Why are we writing this blog?

Imagine for a moment that you were transported back in time to the early 1990’s. Back then, the internet was still in its infancy and Average Joe and Jane had little to no understanding of how it worked.

In 1993, the total number of worldwide internet users was around 14 million and the internet consisted of roughly 130 web pages (ourworldindata.org). Most people had heard of the internet, but it’s potential was still difficult to grasp for the vast majority of people. Imagine trying to explain the infinite possibilities and numerous use cases of the internet to 1993 Average Joe and Jane.

Around 1995, the internet moved from obscurity to mainstream as venture capitalists started to realize the enormous potential of the world wide web. Millions of dollars were poured into start-up companies, often consisting of little more than a small team of programmers and an idea involving the internet. Still, the internet had its skeptics, and mass adoption seemed far from certain.

“I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.”

— Robert Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet, in InfoWorld, 1995

On 27 February 1995, Newsweek, an American magazine wrote:

“The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”

— Newsweek, 1995

A year later the internet had 75 millions users. By 1999 it had grown to 280 million users worldwide.

Robert Metcalfe famously had to “eat his words” two years later at the World Wide Web Conference when he blended a copy of his column with some water and proceeded to consume the mixture in front of his audience (Wired). Newsweek ceased print publication to become exclusively available online in 2012…

So what did Robert Metcalfe and Newsweek get wrong about the internet? In our opinion, they grossly underestimated the internet’s capacity to reduce inefficiency, thereby increasing humanity’s ability to generate value. If the internet consisted of only cat videos and Reddit forums, There is no doubt it would still exist in some form, but the real reason why the internet now permeates every aspect of our lives is that it makes so many tasks infinitely more efficient for both private individuals and businesses.

Today, humanity is standing at the crossroads of another potential leap in efficiency due to a technological innovation called blockchain. It is difficult to know exactly how many blockchain users there are today but our best estimates are somewhere around the 10 million mark (Coin Journal). In the last six months, venture capitalists have started to realize the enormous potential of blockchain and are pouring millions of dollars into start-up companies often consisting of little more than a small team of programmers and an idea involving blockchain (weusecoins.com). Meanwhile, 2017 Average Joe and Jane has little to no understanding of how blockchain works.

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