Two statements rear their head each time anyone breathes the word ICO. The first goes something like this:
- The Blockchain is revolutionary. This changes everything.
The second goes something like this:
- ICOs are a fad, it’s a bubble, and it’s all going to end badly.
So, which camp is right?
The answer is: who knows? The observation, however, should be that both of these statements are in no way incompatible.
The Blockchain Concept
Don Tapscott, author of the best-selling Wikinomics, a work which analysed the implications of the internet (that old chestnut) for humanity, has sat down once more – this time with his son, Alex, a Financial Analyst of some renown and who also has a background in technology – to write a speculative volume on the Blockchain’s implications for our future.
Whilst the book is itself a little bit too verbose in places, repetitive in others, it otherwise serves its purpose by explaining in very clear terms how and why the author believes that a large range of industries are set for some major disruption.
This is not a book that you read to understand the conceptual inner-workings of Blockchain technology. There is no deep discussion here of the technical ins and outs of the Blockchain as a mechanism. This is simply a work that starts from the premise that this magic mechanism is now here – Pandora’s Box has been opened – and it is all now a question of determining where this is going to lead.
Whilst the Blockchain Might Seem Perfect…
The Tapscotts do let their imaginations run wild occasionally – that’s entirely justified given the nature of the subject – but there are perhaps signs of over-celebration in parts.
Remember, the Blockchain itself offers two profound properties – process/activity transparency and an immutable record of states and state changes (data, for the most part).
Where the Tapscotts engage in some excess is in their tendency to forget that the Blockchain itself is not a front-end for services and products. It underpins platforms which leverage its magical properties. Platforms, unlike the Blockchain itself, are not guaranteed to be infallible. That is why it is important not to get too carried away at this stage.
Whilst the book does generally manage to capture the Blockchain’s zeitgeist, it also falls down on a second question – the ICO bubble which it failed to foresee. Published just before the first spurt of ICOs in the second half of 2016, the authors (like everyone else, it should be said) failed to appreciate that many Crypto-currency enthusiasts derive their enthusiasm less from the Crypto aspect of things and more from the currency aspect.
The result, of course, is that we now have hoards of less-than-discerning investors who are ploughing money into projects that appear, at face value, to have the potential to bag it to the moon when, in reality, there is little appreciation for the fact that the ICO phenomenon is largely becoming a hyper-sale of concepts. In an absence of regulation, only a minority of ICOs out there that we have studied here at ICO Examiner have demonstrated something more concrete than a well-presented white-paper.
So, if you can get your hands on a copy of the book, it is worth a browse. We are not saying that you will find yourself blown away by its contents. But you will come away with a better appreciation for where we might be headed. If, on the other hand, you want a more concise introduction to the Blockchain and its potential implications without a few too many overworked platitudes, we recommend Melanie Swan’s Blockchain: Blueprint For a New Economy which we shall review in an upcoming post.