Bitcoin Bits: 14 May, 2016

A roundup of some interesting articles on bitcoin and blockchain from the past week…

This is going to be my last post in this format for a while. I’d like to keep sharing links, but I’m going to experiment with other format. I’m even playing around with the idea of turning this into a newsletter. Yes, yet another one. I haven’t decided yet, though. What do you think?

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Startups’ Hopes Wane as Bitcoin Fails to Gain Currency With Consumers – Yuliya Chernova, for The Wall Street Journal

So, it turns out that bitcoin is not being as widely adopted as a currency for online payments as we all had hoped. And the startups that bet on helping merchants and users to onboard are having to adjust. This article is a sobering reminder that bitcoin startups are, surprise, like most other startups: big dreams and huge potential to start with, and then reality hits.

“But the vision of Bitnet and other startups that relied on consumer interest in bitcoin has been slow to pan out. Some companies are now looking for alternatives, especially in developing economies. Some have cut costs and waited, in hopes bitcoin adoption by consumers and retailers might pick up. Others, like Circle, that started out by offering mobile wallets for bitcoin alone have opened up to store fiat currencies.”

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Bismuth crystals, via My Modern Met
Bismuth crystals, via My Modern Met

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How the Blockchain Can Avoid the Perils of Futurism – by Martin Hagelstrom, for Coindesk

From Coindesk we have a great article on inflated future promises that distract from the value that the blockchain can contribute today.

“As a community, we have to be careful to avoid over-emphasizing futurism.”

We need practical solutions for real problems, not sci-fi dreams of a distant future.

“Bitcoin and blockchain can solve problems today, but instead of reminding the public of these examples, we often fall back on far-off ideas to state our case and reinforce our arguments.

Again, I am not saying we should stop innovating, or that such thinking is necessary for innovation. But, on the contrary, we need to use this technology to find clever ways to solve today’s problems for today’s users.”

And, you know all the predictions about future uses of the blockchain technology?

“By watching a few 30-year-old science fiction movies, we should realize one thing – People are terrible making predictions about technology.”

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Blockchain Is Part of the Solution, But It’s not the Whole Solution – by Leda Glyptis, for TABBForum

An excellent article, beautifully written, on how we’re not really grasping what the blockchain can do.

““What are you doing with the blockchain?” is the technology equivalent of: “Hammers are cool – what are you doing with hammers?” The concomitant of which is an inordinate amount of time spent looking for nail-shaped objects to hit with said hammer. But in DIY, only the simplest and least life-changing of projects can be tackled with a single tool, no matter how cool. And that truth holds in financial services as well: Even the coolest technology is not a story unto itself.”

We’re making the same mistake that we made with online media: thinking that the existing model could be applied to the new technology. Sure, it can, but that’s not the ideal outcome. It doesn’t use the real potential.

“Simply put, a lot of what we used to do to get from A to B is no longer needed. The blockchain is part of how we can re-imagine the entire value chain. It is also why rebuilding familiar processes on the blockchain is comforting but not useful.”

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Charted: The life and (many) deaths of bitcoin – by Joon Ian Wong, for Quartz


graph from Quartz
graph from Quartz

“But even as dozens of obituaries for the digital currency appear annually, its price has proved resilient. A long bear run in 2014 and 2015 saw the obituary count spike. But the price now appears poised for a period of upward momentum, having been on the rise all year.”

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