Crypto Singularity and Data Dignity: the Lowdown at Blockstack Summit

This 2019 has been clearly marked by a bearish wave (and also speculative events) and with that comes a breath of much needed space for the builders to have room to build the runway for the solutions proposed in the many white papers distributed all over the web.

For those of use who believe that identity and data ownership is a key component to unlocking the next Web 3.0, these are exciting times.

There has been a lot going on in the decentralized space during these past few days, with the recent announcement from the Chinese Government fulling embracing blockchain technology. But for the more than 500 people that gather around the SFJAZZ venue to discuss what will be coming around the Blockstack platform, it was a relief to see that the tourists (speculators) where not to be seen at the Blockstack Summit.
It was a great experience seeing developers gather around to discuss the next wave of Decentralized Apps (DApps) and the challenges that they are facing in order to push them to end users.

Setting the Foundations for the Crypto Singularity.

A lot of developers and crypto enthusiasts have made numerous requests around the availability of the Stacks token in crypto exchanges, the simple answer from Dr. Muneeb Ali co-founder and CEO of Blockstack was: when we have built a solid foundation and delivered on our product roadmap. So to the great surprise of those early adopters that hold Stacks token, some important announcements were made around its availability in the Binance and Hashkey Pro exchange later this year. Those that asked – when exchange? That question has been put to rest 🙂

But for me the key takeaway from Dr. Muneeb Ali’s keynote talk centred around the evolution of the Crypto Singularity, this concept is more profound than just a distribution channels for the Stacks token.

It is the development to come around blockchain technology that enables it to become a true disruption of how we view data ownership.

What drives adoption of any innovation is the community around it, which we know is what gave rise to the Web 2,0 – cloud technology and scalable business models centered around the attention economy – sadly positioning the user as a source of revenue. These juggernauts supported by targeted advertising and mining of personal information from it’s users have grown too big to fail to the benefit of shareholders and it’s founders, but have left users with a bitter taste of how these corporations are handling their data and how they have massively profited from their lack of judgement when handing over control on what information third parties can have access to.

The evolution as begun with the merge of the web and cryptographic communities, which have started to work and collaborate to build the next generation platforms that have these two core components:

  1. There is not difference between information and money.
  2. Both the web and crypto are the same.
That is a big shift in our current paradigm for many of us that work in tech, Crypto and the Web are part of each other now, joined at the hip. This quote I saw on Twitter by Boris Werts from Version One Ventures investor summarized very well:

Crypto is reborn with the help of the Web community, those that are interested in bringing back “data dignity” to the end user. For many of us that like TRON this always sticks out for me: I fight for the users.

Decentralized solutions and data dignity.

I am hopeful that these 3 statements which Blockstack is supporting can be the standard for all platforms and blockchain solutions to come:

  1. Not your keys not your data
  2. Not your keys not your domain
  3. Not your keys not your money
These are solid foundations that can enable the creation of a Crypto Singularity that enables users to get control back of their data. What many in the tech industry are calling – Data Dignity. Really recommend this video from Jennifer Lyn Morone from the Data Natives Conference.
The fireside chat with Dave Morin from Slow Ventures sparked and interesting conversation around how niche networks form around individuals and communities leveraging technology to solve their problems. Explaining how a social operating system has emerged from different products and individuals are using it to create new business models that were not intentionally though off – like Indonesian craft makers posting pictures on Instagram, putting their WhatsApp number so they can be contacted in real time and then receiving payment through an ATM transfer, receiving the picture of the receipt by WhatsApp and fulfilling the order through traditional logistics (motor bikes).
A very good point is the rise of platforms that do not rely on blockchain technology but offer decentralized censored resistant solutions, Dave Morin talked about Bridgefy being used by Hong Kong protesters to communicate with each other when the Chinese government disabled data connectivity during the protests. This Startup has just been backed by twitter co-founder Biz Stone.
In similar theme during the investor panel with Dani Grant, Brittany Laughlin, Michael Arrington, Brett Gibson and moderated by Brady Dale from Coindesk. They discussed what is the killer app that can bring mass adoption of users to the blockchain industry, with some great use cases being dropped by Dani from Union Square Ventures – like a Decentralized Record Label run by a DAO and smart contracts that decide which artist gets to publish their record and allocation of resources to help new artists record their albums.

But what is true and I have to agree with this quote Michael Arrington from XRP Capital:

We are building shovels for the miners but we still have not dug any gold that will enable this industry to be sustainable.

For now we are still creating the initial technology and there are still a lot of bets being placed on the table with a lot of projects not hitting their milestones and some even falling off the radar. Some facing regulatory challenges – like the recent Block.One and Telegram ICO’s being heavily scrutinized by the SEC.

For me the biggest outcome is the creation of open data markets that enable a true internet economy run by users for users. Today’s global tech landscape allows companies from under developed countries to compete in any market on the local and global level, we have seen how Fintech has gotten a lot of traction in Africa and Latin America and the new wave of neo-banks are placing their bets in the unbanked. For many of these users having control of their finances will be the first step to understand the implicantions of why you have to control every aspect of your digital identity and why security will be the cornerstone of every product that is offered online.

Blockstack is setting a great example of how a decentralized platform should offer to developers and users that want to be part of the Crypto Singularity.

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