(Source: JD Lasica via flickr.com)At the end of November, Stephan Roth asked the daring question: “is Andrew Yang crypto’s man”? To the ears of crypto fanatics, attempting to provide an affirmative answer to such a question, is heresy. For crypto-hardliners, the notion that the highly libertarian crypto-movement could be advanced by a political figure is an appalling thought. Although Yang has shown a considerable amount of interest in technology and has laid out the most detailed plan on crypto’s out of any of the democratic presidential hopefuls, skepticism within the community is still apparent. Although the crypto community is highly skeptical by nature, the level of doubt over the ability to lead the crypto industry in a desirable fashion is seemingly dampened when tech-moguls such as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are concerned. Twitter has very much been the home of crypto since it’s early days, with the platforms design allowing for crypto-related news, intellectual discussions or occasional trolling to occur. With Twitter being one of the main hubs for the crypto community, the following question must be posed: Does the crypto community reside on Twitter because its CEO is partial to crypto, bitcoin in particular, or is it due to the convenience of the platform? One can expect that both questions hold true. The Internet’s native money In March 2019, Dorsey made a highly anticipated announcement regarding the launch of Square Crypto, with the focus of the initiative aimed at establishing a long term vision of Bitcoin. This undertaking perfectly mirrors Dorsey’s belief that the internet is in need of a native currency and the currency set to be used should be bitcoin. As the name Square Crypto clearly suggests, Dorsey sees a vast amount of potential for crypto’s particularly for bitcoin; with the purpose of Square Crypto being to engage with the broader open-source developer community. In order to demonstrate that he places his money where his mouth is, Dorsey has been fervently promoting Square Crypto by announcing the funding of the pseudonymous Lightning and Bitcoin contributor ZmnSCPxj. At the same time, Dorsey has been frequently visiting the African continent, which has led him to believe that Africa will define the future, especially the future of bitcoin. The one setting himself apart Compared to CEOs of other tech giants, most notably Mark Zuckerberg, Dorsey seems to understand what crypto all is about. The message that Dorsey is seemingly trying to relay to his peers is that there is more than one big company that is trying to bank the unbanked. While Zuckerberg has come up with his own wallet named Calibra, which will act as an interface for a stablecoin called Libra, Dorsey is going down a different route. With Bitcoin, he is placing his bet on open public infrastructure. However, in terms of scalability, open public blockchains like Bitcoin may not be ready to handle the billions of people waiting to do banking in a more open and inclusive way. Nevertheless, commitments from people like Jack are bound to gradually change this. In a sense, Dorsey does not have any other choice; today’s world is run by the privileged, with centralized authority seemingly making it even more for many people to benefit from what has been achieved in modern times. In the West, most people typically have access to all sorts of beneficial facilities. Yet, at the same time, some people are banned from using certain services. They get “de-platformed” simply because there is a group of people in charge of a platform, which is dominated by lobbyists who dictate what values, norms and political beliefs that are espoused. Those that run our platforms decide what is shared on them. This autocratic dilemma also concerns governments who could exercise their power over such platforms to further establish their own interests. The internet itself seems to be under the control of a handful of companies. Skating to where the puck will go Due to the ability for platforms to be diluted by corporate, government and group interests, movements have emerged aimed at changing the tides for digital platforms. Although the pace at which the populous is turning their backs on centralized platforms is slow, developers operating behind the scenes are trying their hardest to bootstrap new solutions. Many blockchain-related projects are pursuing the vision of a decentralized social media. Other projects such as Mastodon, who are attempting to establish a more distributed version of Twitter or Urbit who are trying to redefine the entire internet from scratch. Yet, it has been Jack Dorsey who has further drawn attention to the concerns of centralized platforms via a post written regarding his vision of the future. Dorsey vowed to support an independent team of open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The project is named Blue Sky. With Blue Sky, Dorsey is certainly skating to where the puck is going to be.
Citations Crypto, Square. “Designing Bitcoin for Everyone.” Medium, Medium, 17 July 2019, medium.com/@squarecrypto/designing-bitcoin-for-everyone-e6626c592c2. Dorsey, Jack. “Sad to Be Leaving the Continent…for Now. Africa Will Define the Future (Especially the Bitcoin One!). Not Sure Where Yet, but I’ll Be Living Here for 3-6 Months Mid 2020. Grateful I Was Able to Experience a Small Part. ? Pic.twitter.com/9VqgbhCXWd.” Twitter, Twitter, 27 Nov. 2019, twitter.com/jack/status/1199774792917929984. Dorsey, Jack. “Why Add a Designer into the Mix? .” Twitter, Twitter, 20 Mar. 2019, twitter.com/jack/status/1108487922771058689. Drosey, Jack. “Twitter Is Funding a Small Independent Team of up to Five Open Source Architects, Engineers, and Designers to Develop an Open and Decentralized Standard for Social Media. The Goal Is for Twitter to Ultimately Be a Client of This Standard. ?.” Twitter, Twitter, 11 Dec. 2019, twitter.com/jack/status/1204766078468911106. Foxley, William. “Square Crypto Bankrolls Star Lightning Developer Known as ‘ZmnSCPxj’.” CoinDesk, CoinDesk, 11 Dec. 2019, www.coindesk.com/square-crypto-bankrolls-star-lightning-developer-known-as-zmnscpxj. Rooney, Kate. “Twitter CEO Wants Bitcoin to Be the Internet’s Native Currency.” South China Morning Post, 17 May 2018, www.scmp.com/tech/tech-leaders-and-founders/article/2146544/internet-needs-native-currency-and-twitters-jack. Roth, Stephan Eduard Pàl. “Ist Andrew Yang Krypto’s Mann?” Crypto Valley Journal, Crypto Valley Journal , 27 Nov. 2019, cvj.ch/fokus/hintergrund/ist-andrew-yang-kryptos-praegende-persoenlichkeit/. Russo, Camila. “Walled Gardens’ Canary Is Chirping Away.” The Defiant, 11 Dec. 2019, thedefiant.substack.com/p/walled-gardens-canary-is-chirping?r=ylmg&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy. Russo, Camila. “Walled Gardens’ Canary Is Chirping Away.” The Defiant, 11 Dec. 2019, thedefiant.substack.com/p/walled-gardens-canary-is-chirping?r=ylmg&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy. Vigna, Paul. “Facebook’s Libra Bets It Can Bank the Unbanked.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 22 Aug. 2019, www.wsj.com/articles/facebooks-libra-bets-it-can-bank-the-unbanked-11566471601.