Blockchain in your business
The future of commerce
With so many interesting things happening in the tech world, we’ve strayed away from our normal focus on small business marketing in recent weeks. We promise to get back to that next month.
This month, we’re looking once again at internet issues like privacy, blockchain, and open source. These issues are all related to each other – and to business. As I detailed in previous newsletters and blog posts, there’s a war going on over online autonomy. Predictably, the US government is neck deep in it. The main reason for this, I speculate, is because the decentralized nature of the internet threatens their power to control society.
At the same time, the internet and its many resources are the greatest tools for surveillance since forever. This is the conflict I’m talking about. On one hand, the government and their big tech cronies use the online economy to monitor everything we do. On the other, it’s becoming harder and harder to monitor users that really want privacy and anonymity online.
The power-struggle isn’t a new one. The people still want to be left alone, and those in power want to use their power to advance/reinforce their power. If you want autonomy, it’s up to you to be resourceful and create it for yourself.
But why is online autonomy so important? You’ve probably noticed that economies across the world are unstable right now: massive shortages of essential products, labor shortages, concerns about inflation, uncertainty about the future and the “new normal”.
One of the ways governments exercise economic power is by controlling the money supply. So it stands to reason that they will do anything they can to keep us all on their currency. And they will probably ride that ship to the bottom, pretending everything is rosy, until it’s too late and the whole world is going down with them.
Look, I know preppers and other would-be prophets have been predicting the collapse of the US dollar for decades. But we all know it can’t last forever and ever. Especially if it has a little nudge from a competitor. And digital currencies like Bitcoin are that competitor.
What’s not better about a decentralized, immutable ledger that gives you perfect anonymity, removes intermediaries/gatekeepers and their predatory fees, and lets you do business with any user in the world?
What’s not better about money that costs less to use? Fraud is almost impossible, manipulation by governments and their central bank systems is almost impossible. No more Visa fees, banking fees, taxation. But these benefits are only for those who understand how to navigate the new economy.
This is why the governments of powerful countries like the US and China are fighting cryptocurrencies. In fact, that’s why they’ve always fought encryption in general. For an example of why they hate crpytography, you don’t need to look any further than the government’s ineptitude in handling there cent ransomware wave. It threatens their power. The best response they have is to blame Russia and threaten to “have a talk” with Putin for not prosecuting cyber criminals doing cyber attacks against another country who is not, exactly, an ally. I get a feeling that’s not going to be a fruitful conversation, except for those in the peanut gallery.
Cryptography is the antidote to surveillance and regulation. And cryptocurrency is the worst nightmare that could possibly manifest for those currently in power. This dynamic matters to everybody. You can’t stop it. Even if you don’t like the fact that crpyto users now have a way to commit all kinds of “crimes” like exchange illicit goods and dodge taxes (crime, in this context, is just a word for people doing things the government has the exclusive right to do), you can’t stop it. The government can’t stop it.
History and common sense say the free market is probably going to win this one. If people can find amore profitable way to do business, they will. And they’ll attain wealth and power as a result. The power of the nation-state is slowly eroding away, as the authors of the book The Sovereign Individual predicted over 2 decades ago.
And what’s rising to take it’s place? Private interests, of course. If the internet is the economy of the Information Age, and Big Tech is the government of the internet...who is the real government? The US can’t even maintain it’s surveillance without the help of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Visa, Microsoft, and their peers.
You’d think that a government printing billions (or is it trillions? The zeroes get added on so fast, anymore...) of dollars per year would be able to afford their own servers to store the highly sensitive data they keep. But nope. They use Amazon Web Services. At least, the CIA does. Real secure.
The Sovereign Individual predicted that private economies would rise. And you could argue that’s exactly what Amazon, Google and Facebook are. These are the guys who created the modern internet. The government just hires them for consultation. But they’re still subject to some regulation, right? Hmmm...kind of.
The Sovereign Individual also predicted the coming of digital, encrypted currencies like Bitcoin more than 10 years before it happened. And it’s blockchain that is going to give the tech companies of the future the ability to run their own autonomous economies.
This is a good thing, really. Big Tech, as a de-facto government, has been just as tyrannical and jealously controlling of their power as any government could be. What would you expect from mega wealthy private interests? They’ll protect their profit streams. And that means that consumers and businesses have less economic freedom, particularly online.
Again, you have to carve out your own freedom in this world. Those in power have no interest in giving it to you. But that leaves a big opportunity for solutions like crypto currency. As long as users seek freedom, innovators will find ways to give it to them. That’s why we now have powerful privacy oriented tools like blockchain, VPN’s, TOR, and Linux. Because the demand exists.
Barring a total collapse of the grid, the digital economy is here to stay. But Big Tech and the government are not going away anytime soon (probably). The playing field is just leveling a bit. The door is opening. And to make your way in this new world, you have to create your own online autonomy.
Operating Systems are a good example of this. Microsoft and Apple actually build bigger, clunkier products than they need to. Why? Because they want to restrict your usage and harvest your data. That requires extra functionality to be built into their software. These (arguably) predatory practices also require extra computing power...which is, of course, supplied by your personal bought-and-paid-for hardware. The most ironic part? We pay for the privilege.
Linux is the alternative. There’s several reasons to switch. We’re exploring the idea ourselves, so this month we brought to you a brief synapses of what we’ve learned so far:
Linux is just one step to reclaiming your access to computing. With the new opportunities emerging in the digital economy (and the foreboding presence of Big Brother looking at us from every device), I’ve been wondering how much privacy is possible online. And I’ve put together the beginnings of a plan for just that, which you can read about here:
If you’re interested in learning more about this subject, let us know so we can follow it up on the blog. The final piece of the puzzle, of course, is blockchain. Back in August of last year we published an overview of what exactly blockchain is that will help you start to wrap your head around it. But it’s a cerebral topic, so one article can hardly do it justice. In the article below, we present examples of how blockchain is going to affect businesses just like yours. It’s presented as three different levels of integration that you can explore to gently ease yourself into the digital economy that is fast descending upon us.
As always, feedback is welcome. We’re always looking for blog topics that are relevant to our customers, so if you have any burning questions about communication technology, online marketing, or sales, let us know. You can send me questions and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time.