With the new levels of innovation and creativity mankind has reached, there is no better time to learn about Blockchain and Bitcoin than today. Both have potential to transform your world as a technical, business, or fiction writer, or as a business person. As a consumer, you will be empowered by the millions of applications, about to be created, much more than you have been touched by Amazon, Google and Facebook combined.
Understanding Blockchain and the cryptocurrency Bitcoin today, still requires a leap of faith, and a healthy dose of imagination. But luckily, as writers, we have both.
Why do we need imagination? There are two main reasons:
- Low adoption: We are still in the infancy stages of adoption. The chain infrastructure Blockchain, and the digital coins that travel on the chain, like Bitcoin, are not as widely used as say, the Internet as infrastructure, or the US Dollar, as money.
- Volatility: The currencies are too unpredictable for the average user to stomach the risk, but soon they will move beyond the experimentation phase and into the utility phase.
If you learn now, you will be ahead of the general adoption curve. All large corporations are investing in this area and there are thousands of Blockchain startups looking for funding. All major universities are teaching courses; our kids will know more than we do.
So let’s break down the elephant, and see if we can understand all of its parts.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain, in the simplest terms, is a structured ledger that cannot be modified. For your intellectual property, the immutability of the record can serve as proof of ownership.
Blockchain is a disruptive technology that will change the world. Unlike the Internet, where we published pages of words, and then Google built massive search engines to find information, the information we put on a Blockchain is already structured and indexed, like in a library. Therefore, Blockchain data will be searchable and usable much faster than the Internet, generating transactions at a lower cost, and enabling businesses to flourish by lowering their expenses.
The use cases of this digital ledger go way beyond our current imagination. It will disrupt every industry: manufacturing, distribution, cargo shipping, finance, medical, retail, wholesale, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, gaming and more. Take a look at the vast research repository by CBInsights.
If you are a visual learner, check out this two-minute video which gives a really simple explanation of Bitcoin and the Blockchain.
What is Bitcoin?
In the simplest terms, Bitcoin is the equivalent of digital gold. Think of it as programmable money.
The three most important things you need to know about Bitcoin are:
- It has a fixed supply (~21 million coins by year 2140)
- It is hard to mine: computers have to solve problems with increasing complexity, for a diminishing reward
- It can be trusted, because it is encrypted digitally
So, in summary, Blockchain is the infrastructure, like freeways, and Bitcoins are the cars, traveling digitally on the freeways.
As a writer, there are three main ways to enter this new field today, sorted by level of difficulty.
- Write about Technology, Digital Currency and disrupting the world
If you are a technical or business writer, you may want to start writing about Blockchain and cryptocurrencies. It is a road less travelled, most writers are afraid to touch it, and you would be helping the world understand and adopt the next wave of innovation.
You don’t have to be an expert on blockchain to write about it. You only have to understand the basics, and then layer your existing industry knowledge. You can write articles, create videos, and use any existing media to publish your work. This will help with consumer adoption.
If you are looking for a career change, this is a great new place to start.
- Create fictional stories with Blockchain or digital currencies
If you are a fiction writer, one quick search of Amazon will show you that there are no thrillers nor mysteries on Bitcoin and Blockchain; only technical books. Even the sky is not the limit.
Here are some ideas:
- What if a group of drug dealers stole a bunch of Bitcoin? You don’t really have to know much about the how, you need to know why. In fiction, many things are possible.
- What if a homeless girl in a poor neighborhood, like in Venezuela, received a donation of Bitcoin from a company like Coinbase via GiveCrypto? That could be a story many would be inspired to read.
- What if Bitcoin miners in Bulgaria were caught using the power grid illegally? True story, right from the headlines.
- What if a thief stole a patent for Blockchain from a big digital media company? Imagine the law-suits and drama that would follow.
- Use some of the new platforms built on Blockchain
If you have an Indie author business, there are many platforms for writers you can try, in addition to your current distribution channels.
- Publica – buy and sell books using tokens, crowd-fund, pre-sell copies of your work.
- Smoogs – use micro-payments for your content.
- po.et – timestamp your digital assets, by publishing them on a blockchain.
There are many more platforms still to come. Let’s use a writing analogy to understand the possibilities.
Today, you publish a book. A book has many pages of text, which are not practically searchable. So today, you put keywords on Amazon or Google, for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
How do you make the contents of books searchable? Artificial intelligence can help, but most indie writers don’t have access to AI at their fingertips.
What if in the future you don’t publish books anymore? Mind-spinning, right? What would you publish? What if you could publish characters, fictional worlds, stories, back stories, etc.?
Imagine a world where a fictional writer can create on-demand what readers want to enjoy this week. Imagine a world where readers can vote on a story-ending like Game of Thrones, or story-mashup, like Colombo meets Monk.
There are many technology professionals exploring these ideas, so keep your imagination going and stay tuned for more developments in this area.
Eli Potter ( [email protected] ) is a technology executive at Coinbase, a crypto-exchange company, and an aspiring fiction writer. This article is not sponsored by Coinbase nor any other business.