Don’t Follow the Money; Journey to the Open Web Instead

// June 03, 2024

Haven’t you made enough yet? There is a melancholy about many who have been in crypto for a long time. Cycle survivalists. Those who believed in the cypherpunk thesis, a cryptographic shield against the “powers that be”, were often derided as deluded. But they didn’t buy Bitcoin to make money, they bought Bitcoin because of what it meant to have self-sovereignty over some aspect of their lives. Well, some of those ‘crazy preppers’ are now likely millionaires, nay, billionaires. And the crowd has followed, maligning the dream at every step.

The Kids Aren’t Alright

Bitcoin’s 60,000% climb over a decade has led to crypto being awash with the most hungry, desperate finbros - many of them also working in the institutional offices of Wall Street and major banks. Yet most who talk about the glory days of being in it for tech, but are still around - working 12 hours on the crypto Twitter cliff face - often have a story of great sadness to tell. Or a tale of avarice so extreme you wonder where it ends. Will the line indeed keep going up?

To read about crypto is to read about ETFs these days. It’s like reading the Gen Z FT, lapping up news of pension funds waiting for Etherum ETF approval. Tuning into legislature rants on YouTube in the hope that their bags may finally be pamped. 200k a year software devs and sales managers droning on about how they are allocating their 5% alongside their Roth IRA and their Vanguard. It’s all baskets and exposure and risk. It’s all just money, and money is made up. They used to call crypto magic internet money. Well, in truth that’s all money really ever was. A shared figment of the network on which we exchange. 

Hot Money Got No Time for Tech

No one is in it for the tech anymore. At least none of the mainstream crowd are. And as much as you might have loved personal computers and that’s why you invested in Microsoft all those years ago, you of course couldn’t help but watch and adore the consistent march of its stock price into the stratosphere. We can’t help ourselves. We all need to eat. Or buy a Jet Ski - depending on your levels of indulgence. We love the tech only for how new it is, and thus how much money others are likely going to speculate on it.

And that is a crying shame. A near-enough outrage to our cypherpunk forebearers. Any fleeting memory of crypto as being some anti-institutional redoubt, a force of countercultural power against the encroaching digital control of our existence, is now utterly lost to time. The majority of crypto now functions as nothing more than a giant game of hot potato amongst people with enough money to not care what happens, people with nearly no money hoping they find their lucky ticket, and people with far too much money trying to get a slice of power. A trading madhouse, in other words. With communities that have made a Faustian bargain with the centralized overlords they always hated in order to pamp their portfolios. Crypto, for many, is now just a game played like any other. And it drives the market. It makes us sad.

But it's ok. Innovation always needs hot money. We respect the importance of speculative markets in new technology. In this case, the same old story is happening. But crypto and the blockchain are merely a vanguard capturing attention (and of course a perfect trust mechanism) of what distributed systems are truly capable of. Distributed Ledger Tech (DLT) is more than just a parlor game, it’s the future of our social systems.

Distributed Access

Distributing all our online activity, access control, and computing power is the ultimate goal. If you can emulate current traditional online systems and their technology stacks equally efficiently whilst maintaining that runtime through a network of computers - why wouldn’t you? If you can operate databases, authenticate self-sovereign identity, and manage and verify credentials in a decentralized manner, why not? If you can always own your data automatically, why won’t you?  It beats paying exorbitant rents, exposing yourself to vulnerability, and not truly owning your data that comes with centralized systems.

Edge Computing, DePin and AI are three recent buzzword topics in computing, and for good reason. And all have shone a strong light on how important fully distributed systems are in order for us to manage opportunity and risk effectively. Whether it’s ensuring data-compliance multi-jurisdiction for edge devices in your network, synchronization through DePin infrastructure that’s maintaining local utilities, or ensuring AI governance and data-utilization by LLMs is appropriate - distributed systems are the essential element in delivering breakthrough utility. 

The Open Web is Free

For businesses and developers, it’s about implementing a decentralized stack that protects their corporate data and makes them fully compliant. For individuals, it’s about getting their data back. Not having their every move and action packaged, bundled, sold and guzzled by corporate AIs whose goals are always focused on one thing. It’s about being able to collect your pension, your benefits, your driver’s license, all through an automatic self-sovereign identity that doesn’t compromise who you are. When dealing with the government, that might not matter to you so much. But for the car rental, it would be great to prove you can drive without your sign up details being passed on to their marketing team. 

These are just some choice cuts of the work that the next innovators are doing. The real on the ground utility that distributed/decentralized protocols can unlock, and the use-cases that current crypto users need to understand in order to find what’s next. Yes, we can even make a decentralized ETF, we have the tech. Listen bros, to talk your language, if you want the next 100x, invest in distributed systems. They probably won’t have a token (but they might!). But really, get back in it for the tech. That’s how you become a billionaire - by caring about what happens next. 

AI will bring mainstream attention to data overreach, cryptography is the antidote to that overreach. The latest technologies by builders like us here at Source Network that enshrine an open internet and digital self-sovereignty will disrupt (the other word you like) the entire systems of modern life as we know it. Don’t follow the money - that narrative is old. Follow us to the source of a distributed, sovereign, open and free internet. You’re still early.

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