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How Blockchain Could Improve Collaboration...: Page 2 of 2
Takeaway #2 -- Larry King Asks the Right Question
Larry King? Blockchain? WTF? The answer to all is, "Yes." There he was, suspenders and all, the big get for the conference organizers, saving the best for last. By his own admission, he was "the oldest guy in the room," and hardly knows anything about blockchain. No matter.
Say what you want, but the highlight for me was having an octogenarian ask his panel the one question -- the right question -- that finally connected the mysteries of blockchain with the twenty-somethings in attendance on a human level. With few exceptions -- and that's another post altogether -- this was the only time during the whole day that didn't feel like a technology conference.
Simple is always best. Larry asked, "What would Steve Jobs say about blockchain?" Aside from being the right question, I think the panelists gave the right answers. They talked about Jobs' genius for understanding the broader marketplace and how all the pieces fit together -- and, of course, how to design products that allowed consumers to form an emotional connection with complex technology.
In that context, they felt he would see blockchain as a great opportunity for Apple, and I totally agree. He certainly would have understood the need to address all of the characteristics I talked about earlier -- security, privacy, identity, and trust -- especially for the iPhone to remain the hub of our digital lives. Apple has done a pretty good job to date -- at least in the eyes of consumers -- but blockchain could certainly take it to another level, and of course, extend its hegemony.
Well, today's Apple CEO, Tim Cook, may well follow that path, but the point was how Jobs gave technology its soul, and a vision for the possible. The panelists correctly noted that this is very much missing in the blockchain space, and clearly, the audience agreed. It certainly was an aha! moment for me, and I'm sure many of you will feel the same way. Who's to say that the eventual Jobs of blockchain won't be that bearded hipster in skinny jeans that had been sitting right next to me?
In my view, this space is going to need that person to emerge, because eventually, blockchain will have to become relevant to consumers for mass adoption to happen in our daily lives. As noted earlier, there certainly are bona fide business-world applications, but these will be largely invisible to consumers. The IBMs of the world are making that happen now, but in the consumer world -- for better or worse -- blockchain seems joined at the hip with cryptocurrencies.
If crypto crashes and burns, blockchain may end up with a bad name, but the underlying technology seems compelling enough to continue evolving. I'm actually quite optimistic that good things will come for both businesses and consumers, but if Larry doesn't ask that question, it's just hype where only the insiders come out ahead.
Coming full circle, VoIP represented a similar form of disruption in its early days, and even with plenty of visionaries, it still took the better part of 20 years to reach mainstream adoption. Things will move faster with blockchain, but the turning point comes when the disruption is viewed as innovation. Right now, blockchain is all about disruption, and the sooner a visionary comes along and transforms that to innovation, that's when I think you'll see it trickle down into collaboration. Anybody come to mind?
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