Everybody has heard about the blockchain by now. Although nobody really understands its significance or role in human history. Let’s try and put it into context.
Humanity, since forever, has evolved into larger, more integrated civilizations. From the cavemen to early settlements, to villages, then towns, then regions, and now nations with a world economy, we humans build larger and larger scale interdependencies.
The social and technical infrastructure underlying evolved civilization has also grown in scale. Travel was the first manifestation of infrastructure enabling interdependence. And now, we can fly halfway around the world relatively easily and somewhat affordably.
Since 1994 the communications and publishing infrastructure of the world has become fully global. It fails only when nation-states seek to block it. TCP/IP enabled it.
And since the invention of the blockchain and bitcoin a few years ago, the infrastructure for storing, measuring, and transacting has evolved to be government-free and global. Money no longer means only dollars or pounds. It can take many digital forms.
Suddenly our real interdependence has a foundation that is fully global and unlimited by borders. It also removes intermediaries from taking an unreasonable toll when we seek to transact.
Blockchain replaces the bank, the accountant, the debt-lender, the custodian of our wealth, and many other things. Each person can become their own bank, custodian, and trusted party.
It seems certain that some combination of blockchain technology and crypto or digital value is the foundation for the next step in our civilization.
At these moments, those with a stake in the old ways always resist change. So don’t expect a smooth transition from limited national frameworks into truly global ones. But like TCP/IP, blockchain and digital value are uncontainable and have now reached the moment of irreversible take-off. This new foundation for civilization grows in stealth through use and adoption. NFTs and personal tokens like those at Bitclout
are just the beginning.
Another old institution faced a threat this week - the English Premier League’s leading role in world football. The upstart European Super League attempted a palace coup and failed. But underneath the attempt was the same impulse driving blockchain. Sport is sold to TV cheaply ($2 billion a season for 722 games), and TV then sells ads to make a profit. That cheap sale is distributed to teams, while 90% of the value is captured in the ad revenues. Streaming gives clubs a way to deliver the game directly to fans and capture 100% of its value. But so corrupt are UEFA, FIFA, and the Leagues that they want to keep the existing system. The future was trying to be born. It was not the right future. But the urge to remove the past and move on is real and valid. I predict the change will come through streaming, sooner rather than later, with a very different economic structure. And the teams and fans and the sport, in general, will benefit. The 12 teams are only temporarily the bad guys. The current TV contracts, and the non-streamed broadcast model, should be the real enemy.
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