My use of “betting” in the title of this post is important. There are a number of platforms competing for the coveted title of “King of Web 3.0,” and you could easily put your money on any of them and end up a winner (or super duper loser). However, I prefer to hedge my bets with at least a smidgeon of self-edumacation. So here are my three subjects of interest when it comes to picking my blockchain winner:
Ethereum is a platform. Ether is its cryptocurrency.
By now everyone is somewhat familiar with the term “blockchain,” the underlying data structure for cryptocurrencies. Popularized by Bitcoin merely for peer-to-peer financial transactions, Ethereum leapt beyond this single use case by providing an entire platform on which developers can create an endless array of distributed applications (often referred to as “dapps.”) Ethereum provides its own cryptocurrency, called Ether (ETH), which “competes” directly with Bitcoin. It’s important to understand the distinction between the two although they are almost always conflated in forums and popular media. Ethereum is a platform. Ether is its cryptocurrency.
Why is this important? Because I don’t want to build a peer-to-peer cash system. It’s been done. I want to build on top of such a system. If the intent of Bitcoin was to decentralize financial transactions, then the intent of Ethereum is to decentralize x, where x is anything we can think of. Ethereum gives us the ability to digitally “tokenize” any asset. Consider the IXO tokens of ixo Foundation which measure what charitable or research efforts have the most impact on global causes by means of “smart contracts” deployed on Ethereum. (Side note: I’m really not a fan of the phrase “smart contracts” as there is nothing inherently “smart” about them. They are just software contracts like any other you’d encounter, but I digress.) This type of thinking is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the pump-and-dump get-rich-quick schemes currently looming over the cryptocurrency space.
Ethereum is also not afraid to improve upon itself. With the upcoming Casper release, we will start to see the effects of Proof of Stake over Proof of Work. Even sooner than that we’ll see the effects of sharding on throughput. Each step of the Ethereum roadmap is ambitious and in many ways reinvents the platform while maintaining compatibility with existing dapps. Ethereum is an actual platform with actual goals.
There’s a maturity in the Ethereum community not found in others.
The Ethereum community is one of the best. Yes, it has its “lambo” and “to the moon” memes, but that noise is generally kept at bay. Any new exciting project like Ethereum is going to attract those wild-eyed opportunists who just want to get in and cash out. That’s fine, but it shouldn’t interfere with long-term goals. That’s what I like about the Ethereum community: the people who matter are focused on long-term goals. Not to place too much emphasis on any single individual, but Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, is a smart and sensible leader, and I feel his personality is reflected across the like-minded individuals following and contributing to Ethereum.
*All* crypto communities, ethereum included, should heed these words of warning. Need to differentiate between getting hundreds of billions of dollars of digital paper wealth sloshing around and actually achieving something meaningful for society. https://t.co/aNpEnBNGsA
— Vitalik Buterin (@VitalikButerin) December 27, 2017
There’s a maturity in the Ethereum community not found in others. If you are only interested in investing (and the fun memes that go along with it), there is /r/ethtrader, but if you want to know what’s going on with the Ethereum project proper, head over to /r/ethereum. These are just two examples of intentionally separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
Imagine a future where there are no middle men scrutinizing your online behavior, gatekeeping your every move across every industry. Imagine being able to create a digital token for content you produce, machines you build, grants you write, or simply expertise you possess.
Value obviously means different things to different people. I guess I’m referring to two different types: the value of Ether and the future value of the Ethereum platform. It’s plain to see that Ether has legs as a cryptocurrency. (As I type this, one Ether is at roughly $1,100.) It’s also plain to see that this value is directly derived from the milestones achieved by Ethereum as a platform and not just wild speculation. Hence, the slower growth compared to Bitcoin. I should disclose that I do hold multiple cryptocurrencies, Ether included, but with Ethereum I have an opportunity to directly inflate the value of my holdings by providing my own decentralized applications that benefit everyone.
The more use cases that can be proven on top of Ethereum, the more everybody wins. Imagine a future where there are no middle men scrutinizing your online behavior, gatekeeping your every move across every industry. Imagine being able to create a digital token for content you produce, machines you build, grants you write, or simply expertise you possess. There is potential value in Ethereum for everyone, whether that comes in the form of finance or freedom is up to the individual, but regardless, it’s fun to be part of this revolution.