On Connecting Users and Devs
and on tapeworms
When I think of the current crypto space—and I call it crypto to include the various blockchain technology (some of which is not blockchain by definition) and communities and everything that comes with it—I am invariably reminded of John Updike's quote on the New York literary scene and Hemingway:
Hemingway describes literary New York as a bottle full of tapeworms trying to feed on each other.
Everything that is today under the umbrella term of blockchain—from cryptocurrencies to DAGs to Hyperledger frameworks—is a vast territory of life shifting technology. This space, with all its turmoil and trials and tribulations, is fantastic because all of it has a straightforward and thus elegant solution to the idea of how to have a trusted ledger in a trustless environment. And that it's even possible. This very solution—first proposed by Satoshi and implemented in Bitcoin—has sprouted in a great variety of approaches to real-life applications.
And that we are all still very very far from having it all level off and fall into place—the prospects of what we have yet to see excite me.
However, when trying to chart this impressive space, I can't help observing that we are currently in a very similar position to the one described by Hemingway of the New York literary scene of the past and recounted by Updike.
Today there are developers, entrepreneurs of all sorts—which is not inherently bad as the presence of a high number of venturers of all shades and colors is always a reliable indicator of explosive growth—individual investors and speculators, real businesses, and enterprises as prospective customers.
I am not going to go through each of these figures in detail as they are all too familiar types for anyone who's been in crypto for at least a few months, but instead I'm going to do a little charting.
Developers develop, that's what they do and in the majority of cases because they like doing it—getting to the core of the tech, optimizing, and coming up with new approaches.
Entrepreneurs are here to make something of themselves—be the first, make money, help bring ideas to life, many times it's the ideas they believe in.
Individual investors are curious both about the tech and making some wealth as well. They are often autodidacts.
Speculators—here to make money.
Real businesses—these are here to stay, with roadmaps, thorough planning and traditional budgeting approaches (as in not riding the high of the Ethereum price all the way to the ceiling and then dumping in panic when everybody else starts doing so). Real businesses. Businesses that had their prospective customers pretty much signed up before they started an ICO (if they ran one at all).
And finally enterprises—the most lucrative ones on this chart. Big names that give heart palpitations to every crypto asset holder. The enterprises that are going to use the blockchain solutions developed by indie devs or real businesses, and to do so, they will come to the exchanges and buy the coins in droves. That's what every speculator, individual investor, and entrepreneur is hoping for, and this is what's driving them.
So it's enterprise adoption—which is slow and is justifiably so—versus everyone else. There's no room in this space—it's devs, speculators, entrepreneurs, and enterprise adoption expectations all trying to feed on each other.
But what about the user? For the first time in a very long time, the user—assisted with blockchain—can no longer be treated as the consumer sheep. The user can become a full member of any platform they choose to join; they can be a real customer of any dapp with real value—not a perceived market differentiator value—but the real one.
The user is not your ICO fuel. The user is the one who makes all that blockchain tech adoption possible. The user needs an easy and frictionless onboarding—not the marketing slang type “onboarding” which often means hooking up an unsuspecting consumer to hidden regular payments, but real onboarding to the world of blockchain and dapps where the user has equal rights with everyone else; where the user is always a full member, an equal citizen, instead of a tied up sheep for marketeers.
The user is what's important today. All the dapp devs would love to let the user try out their dapp. The majority (if not all) of the blockchain protocols would love the user to become a part of them, use the protocols in their daily lives like they do with all the other centralized tech.