Forbes: 5 things to learn from Bitcoin, Innovation
A writer on Forbes on bitcoin and innovation:
4. Self-publishing an innovative paper on the Internet can have enormous impact. In the university environment, where I work, the assumption is often that the only worthy papers are those that have been through a peer review process, even when that means years of delay. In some fields—for example, medicine—peer review remains essential to protecting the public. But in many areas of technology, the delays involved in traditional academic publishing don’t confer any public safety benefit, and they often mean that innovative ideas go stale before they appear in print.
Suppose that Satoshi Nakamoto had attempted to publish his/her/their bitcoin paper through a traditional academic journal. First, the paper would likely have been rejected outright because few journals are willing to consider papers by pseudonymous authors. Second, even if that obstacle could have been circumvented, reviewers would likely have opined (incorrectly, as we now know) that decentralized trust couldn’t possibly work, particularly when there are billions of dollars of assets at stake. Nakamoto would probably have been forced to undergo a years-long back-and-forth of reviews, rebuttals and revisions after which, maybe, the paper would have seen the light of day.
Against that what-if scenario, consider what actually happened: Nakamoto self-published the paper in late 2008, and just a few months later, in January 2009, the bitcoin network was up and running. And within a few years cryptocurrencies had become widely recognized as one of the most interesting and innovative developments in the history of payments technology.
5. In a quickly changing landscape, broader education about innovations can be just as important as the innovations themselves. On February 25, just after Mt. Gox went offline, CNNMoney ran a story titled “Mt.Gox site disappears, Bitcoin future in doubt.” This has about as much logic as a headline along the lines of, “Bridge washes out in storm; future of the automobile in doubt.” But, in the echo chamber that the news cycle has become, today’s mischaracterizations can impact tomorrow’s reality.
The greatest impediment to broader adoption of the suite of innovations that are emerging thanks to cryptocurrencies is actually not the underlying technologies, but the perceptions about those technologies, particularly in public policy circles.
In some sense, this disconnect is nothing new. After all, the story of innovation in the age of the Internet is in part the story of how regulators, legislators, and the press have sometimes struggled to keep up with technology changes. However, innovation in the cryptocurrency space has been occurring even more quickly than in many other technology fields, exacerbating the gap between perception and reality.
In this very dynamic environment, the innovations that succeed will be those that are not only technically sound, but that are backed by people willing to devote some time to enaging in the broader policy dialog.