The Revolution’s here

Yesterday I attended the release of Don and Alex Tapscott’s new book “The Blockchain Revolution”. There are very few books worthy of a must-read recommendation. This is one of them. If you are an innovator, entrepreneur, or simply interested in the future of the world economy, this one’s for you.

As far as I can tell, the greatest single innovation the blockchain represents is the introduction of distributed, independently verifiable authenticity to that thing we call the Internet. Authenticity used to be provided by intermediaries or authorities, and has been notably absent from much of the development of the public Internet. I like the term authenticity because it harkens back to Walter Benjamin’s seminal 1933 paper called “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. In it, Benjamin pointed out that machine reproduction separated originality and authenticity from instances of things. For example, there any number of prints could be created from one original oil painting. The advent of mass digital duplication in the Internet age went even further. It rendered the very idea of authenticity almost meaningless- no one asks if they have the authentic version of a song downloaded from iTunes because they’re all identical.

Blockchains can change all that by creating trustworthy, authentic versions of digital things without recourse to an authority beyond blockchains themselves. While these features may be immaterial to an everyday music listener, authenticity, uniqueness and trustworthiness are essential qualities for things like land titles, bonds, equities, and money itself.

This book is an excellent primer of what blockchains really are and how they can be used to make our future world.