the greatest minds of my generation were lost to the blockchain hype train

"blockchains" are very vaguely defined, and cover ground with a lot of useful ideas and a lot of serious costs and tradeoffs. Weighing costs and tradeoffs for your use case: great. Thinking "blockchains will solve everything" without doing analysis on "what do you mean by blockchain" and once you do that "what are the ramifications to the these choices" is... erm...

Nothing is a magic cure-all, not even blockchains.

BTW I had a big revelation at the last Rebooting Web of Trust when I was talking to someone about the decentralized tech stuff I work on and they said "I'm very excited about blockchain and how much it can change humanity" and it took a bit in the conversation to realize that they thought *all* distributed networked technology was "blockchain" technology.


Anyway, my suspicion is that for people not working on this stuff (and maybe even for starry-eyed brand-new people to this space) that misconception is common

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by the blockchain hype train,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through silicon valley at dawn looking
for an affordable lease,
angel investor capital burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to distributed consensus in the GPUs of night

who indebted and desperate and hollow-eyed and caffeineated sat up coding
in the supernatural darkness of studio apartments floating
across the tops of cities contemplating riches,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the coffee shop window and saw
VC angels staggering on tenement roofs

who drop out of universities with radiant cool eyes
hallucinating proof of work and crypto cure-alls handed down from the
hackers of yore,








@cwebber David Gerard is v. good on blockchain/bitcoin etc but I don't know if he's in the fediverse

@telent Via email: "please let them know I waved hi but have enough social network timesucks at present ;-)"

Resistance is futile!

(Resistance is V/I!)

(V/I is futile!)


@cwebber Similar to military people using "cyber" to refer to anything that has a computer involved. Or "the cloud"

@cwebber I seem to remember predicting this very thing over dosas w/you this spring..

@cwebber I get a bit of that too (especially with decentralised web in one job title). On the other hand, some things are close enough to blockchains to allow it - eg git.

@KevinMarks Arguably git is a non-consensus blockchain. Again, blockchain is very loosely defined, and hence my post here:

Blockchains are both massively over-hyped and also massively ridiculed incorrectly. But a lot of that is due to vagueness.

But it's the "get rich off of blockchains" hype that's making that whole space unbearable right now.

@cwebber @KevinMarks That inspecificity is why I prefer to say words like "distributed hash table". I'd been looking for a word to the describe "(non-)consensus" lever for a while. I'd wanted it to describe the difference between SSB and other DHT stuff. I hadn't even realized that git is more or less the same mechanism (with different opinions about the importance and method of dealing with differences). Thanks!

@valeg @cwebber @KevinMarks The question with blockchain is: What will be left once all of the hype and fud subsides..

@cwebber This is extremely common. Most enthusiasm for, and envisioned applications of "blockchain" relate to simple non-consensus (usually even asynchronous) distributed databases with some usable PKI for access control. Git + ssh + cron.

We just fell so far down the centralized services hole that there are generations of users for whom any such system is science fiction amazing, must unfortunately require burning countries full of electricity to collide hashes for. "But worth it!"

@cwebber when I counter this with "you know SMTP email is distributed, right?" I tend to get nothing but blank stares....


Aye. I define “blockchaining” as applying popular new tech to the problem at hand, regardless of applicability. 😀

@kevinmarks I didn't say that *everyone* embracing blockchains is a great mind :)

@kevinmarks But I do think blockchains are frequently sucking the air out of the room and are distracting from a lot of other decentralized tech opportunities.

You only need a blockchain in one case of decentralized/distributed systems: where the ordering of events is *critical* to the functioning system.

@cwebber @kevinmarks this is effectively the "Bitcoin not Blockchain"/Bitcoin maximalist argument. Blockchain only makes sense when it is specifically designed with the right incentives in place, where security and ordering is extremely important, such as money.

@cwebber "Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use blockchain." Now they have two terabytes of problems."


The greatest minds? Really?

I don't know any great #mind working on a #Blockchain.

The only one that I appreciate as an #hacker full of deep #irony is #SatoshiNakamoto (whoever he/she actually is).

@pierut yeah I didn't get to that line, but what a line

not sure how I would have converted that one


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by post-modernism,
starving, hysterical, bearded,
dragging themselves through the Hackney streets at dawn
looking for just one more tune.
Angelheaded hipsters,
burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the blacked-out sub in the machinery of the night.

My god; It's full of stars.

@cwebber narrator: they weren’t the greatest minds to begin with

I like how well "blockchain hype train" rolls off the tongue.

@cwebber Today I met a young man who tried to pitch me an idea for a platform. He showed me a click dummy, explained the functionality, then mentioned "It will use block chain to be decentralized". I couldn't help but ask "How exactly will that work? Please describe a decentralized system and how it will be central to your platform."

The young man gave me a confused look. He mumbled something about Ethereum no longer scaling(?), then he departed. I hope I saved him from the hype.

@wasamasa @cwebber Decentralised system being central to your platform, you sure put him on the spot!

@cwebber but hey! There are a whole bunch of smart people who dismissed bitcoin back in 2010 for all the reasons that are now obvious, who've learned that there really *are* people with more money than sense–millions of them. I'm sure that generational revelation can only lead to good things in the future.

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