The 3 Types of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies people I’ve met

I’ve been in the crazy Blockchain space for quite a while now. I’ve had a lot of conversations and people I’ve met online and in-person to talk about it. Over and over, I see patterns on the people I interact with whether they do it as part of their job, an enthusiast, developer, investor, or simply just a person.

I’ve probably had hundreds of interactions already and most likely, they will belong to either of these 3 buckets. I know generalisation is bad because not all people are the same, but it helps my brain to become more structured on what approach and ideas that I use during these conversations.

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Hyped with cryptocurrency

It’s no denying that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum made Blockchain more popular as it brought hype around it from 2016 onwards. There is a monetary aspect of it. Stories of those who got rich because of cryptocurrencies spread like wildfire. The fear of missing out was everywhere, and everyone wants to have a piece of that pie. Of course, it’s natural for people, in particular not in the technology domain to be curious around it as having money and wealth is a “pragmatic” aspiration for everyone.

These are the people who frequently ask me what coin to invest, where is the money going to, how can you 10x your liquidity and valuation. Some conversations are fun like challenging values of a cryptocurrencies, what factors drive the volatility, and what can actually drive the value of that coin. However, when the conversation is purely on “becoming rich quick”, it always gets in to my nerve to avoid this conversation. Talks around putting in life savings, retirement funds, and what not, it’s just a very destructive conversation. For one, I am not a financial advisor, but, if you oversimplify things, it’s nowhere different to stock market, only it’s 24/7, and it’s much more volatile.

During 2016 and 2017, I also spend a part of my day-to-day time observing and researching the market, however I don’t see it precious for me anymore. The market is so volatile and the amount of mental real-estate that you have to invest in order to have gains, at least for me, is not worth it. I did some simple math back then that if I spend 4 hours a day of observation and research to have 1% chance to make $100 to $1000 but 80% chance that my $1000 can become $100 overnight then I’d rather find the avenue to earn those gains somewhere. Of course, a lot of factors will be at play like luck (survivorship bias and fooled by randomness), pure understanding of the coin value, time in the market (hold vs sell); but the space it occupies on my head still does not justify the gains.

Nowadays, this hype still occurs and having a second wave of hype because of DeFi (Decentralised Finance). It’s a very novel and interesting concept as this is a second attempt to make these coins as a proper liquidity asset. I’m actually writing a book about it. So watch out for this space. 🙂

The Technologist

I belong to this group and this is the angle I’m always gearing towards to when talking about Blockchain. As someone who is in the technology space, it was fascinating back in 2014 for me to see how this type of infrastructure and architecture can be at play. Prior to knowing Blockchain, I am very intrigued on “Distributed Systems” and “Database Sharding” as they are simple concepts but very hard to implement!

These are the people I met where they challenge me on “Why not just use a Database?”, “Why is it slow and expensive?”, “Do you really need Blockchain?” “What’s ‘onchain’ and what’s ‘offchain’?” Jargon after jargon, technology after technology, more questions than answers. Of course, the answer will always be “it depends” and it’s on a case to case basis. As someone who is maturing in Information Technology, it’s a natural cycle to be skeptical of a technology (or process) rather than just accepting them and hype around it. I enjoy having these conversations, as I also learn a lot from these people beyond Blockchain concepts - their brains are working as engineers, scientists, and technology entrepreneurs.

Nowadays, I’m having less of these conversations. This is because of a lot of factors: programming on it is not very fun or relatable (a lot of unlearning), they understood it and wants to move on, they are not impressed on the technology, a lot of the good use-cases have already been researched and piloted, and “there’s always a new hype.” There are still those dazzling set of individuals who are actively pushing the boundaries of this space, and the technology and industry around it is nowhere closer to dead.

The Philosopher

Ah! These peeps. Since philosophy and social structures are subjective to a lot of interpersonal relationships, for me it’s always a hit or miss when “this philosopher” talks about Blockchain. In a nutshell, these peeps believe Blockchain will change the way we live our world right now. They talk about disrupting the finance industries like living in a future with no banks, taking about not needing to have government and we can just rely on AI + Blockchain for judiciary systems, and a lot more extreme examples.

There are those who are less extreme like talking about process improvements such as removing the erroneous approval processes in streamlined systems. One solid use case is a passport-less future where we have a decentralised identity and proving your identity is much more straightforward but understanding the complexities of it in the backend technologies. Another less extreme example I had a conversation with in the past is the concept of decentralised marketplaces where P2P transactions will become a norm instead of paying the heavy retail tax. I enjoy talking to these people who are more problem and solution oriented, rather than those who are talking about extreme examples.

I get that in the future there would be more and more Blockchain use cases that will happen, but they will be more niche and like slam-dunk use cases like consortiums: multiple parties agreeing on contracts. My view around it is very fractured as I see different angles around it depending on a lot of factors at play. I just know that the technology (as infrastructure and architecture) is here to stay, more business processes will be challenged and be a melting pot for innovative ideas (that may include Blockchain), the concept of cryptocurrency is here to stay but not betting that one specific coin will last in 200+ years (just like how social media is constantly developing). It’s still interesting to question where our lives will go because of technologies, including Blockchain.

Conclusion

  • There are those who are in Blockchain because of money and cryptocurrencies.
  • There are those who are curious about the technology behind blockchains.
  • There are people who believes that Blockchain will change the world.

Are you into Blockchain? Let me know if you want to have a chat.