I remember at university researching the teachers before enrolling in classes and being surprised by how useless some of their published research was, especially in the Arts.
Titles that almost seemed parody… “An Investigation of Recurring Avian Symbology in Magical Realism in the Mid 20th Century”, and so on.
How could this possibly be worth someone’s time to research and write, when I can’t even think of a situation where it would be worth reading?
Unfortunately, I think the answer is that it is not, and it’s a product of both tenure and the need to avoid important topics that might offend.
Why is this relevant? I see similar arguments made by tradfi and bitcoin maxis about other blockchains, tokens, and DeFi. It’s something like, “Bitcoin is a once in a lifetime opportunity to challenge existing power structures, and spending energy anywhere else is a waste of energy that could be otherwise used for this purpose.” But I think these are very different cases.
While the chances of the professor's (fabricated) research leading to a revolutionary idea are just about zero, I don’t think it is the same in crypto.
Tear Down Your Mental Silos
Technological innovation is not a siloed process, and much of the tech being built across the crypto ecosystem is applicable to sovereignty, privacy, and even the Bitcoin network itself.
Many of the people that complained about Ethereum early on being too centralized (or prone to centralization) are still complaining about it. However, Ethereum opened up a whole world of new tech and social experiments at the cryptography, infra, and app layers.
One recent example is ZeroSync, which is hoping to bring zero knowledge proofs to Bitcoin clients. On their website they acknowledge the origins of some of these ideas:
“While considerable engineering effort is underway in the Ethereum community to apply this technology, no similar investment has yet been made for the Bitcoin network. Therefore, ZeroSync was created to bring these proof systems to Bitcoin for the first time.”
And who’s to say that one of the many new ideas being played with won’t lead to something as big as Bitcoin?
Learning The Hard Way
Something that has always amused me is the soft spot for Litecoin in the Bitcoin community.
It used to be seen as “testing in prod” for features that some day may make their way to Bitcoin, though this has perhaps changed since last cycle.
This idea was never extended to the broader crypto market, despite the fact that Litecoin was only playing with a handful of new concepts comparatively. But the rate of experimentation in “crypto” continues to accelerate.
Most of these will fail. And most are useless in the Bitcoin mission of promoting voluntary and provable-scarce money.
But we don’t know which ideas will spark an entire new field, like zk-STARKs, that will end up giving Bitcoin an even greater chance at success.
Impact Is Hard to Forecast
As someone that believes in the “Bitcoin fixes this” meme, I asked myself a handful of years ago how I could make the biggest impact on spreading Bitcoin and the related ideas.
Despite being non-technical, I even applied to a job at Lightning Labs, one of the only open positions I could find where I thought I may be able to apply myself and spread awareness for the tech.
I debated learning to code just so that I could spend my time building small tools for Bitcoin and Lightning.
However, I was promptly rejected from Lightning Labs and decided my skills could be better applied outside of coding. So I started working outside of Bitcoin and believe I can and will have a greater indirect impact than if I was contributing directly.
Is this just cope? I don’t think so.
There is simply more opportunity to experiment in the broader crypto market. It pays and I believe it will eventually pay Bitcoin back.