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Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy 1st Edition

3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1491920497
ISBN-10: 1491920491
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Melanie Swan is the Founder of the Institute for Blockchain Studies and a Contemporary Philosophy MA candidate at Kingston University London and Université Paris VIII. She has a traditional markets background with an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and work experience at Fidelity and JP Morgan. She has a new markets background as an entrepreneur and advisor to startups GroupPurchase and Prosper, and developed virtual world digital asset valuation and accounting principles for Deloitte. She was involved in the early stages of the Quantified Self movement, and founded DIYgenomics in 2010, an organization that pioneered the crowdsourced health research study. She is an instructor at Singularity University, an Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and a contributor to the Edge’s Annual Essay Question.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (February 8, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1491920491
  • ISBN-13: 978-1491920497
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Chris Edwards on February 25, 2015
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the reason I have organized my life to be biased towards more freedom and less money is that money is, to me, unpleasant stuff. It's unhygienic and stressfully complex. Cryptocurrencies do seem to have the former under control, but, to me, they do nothing for the latter. I'm no stranger to public key cryptography (my PGP key is from 1999) and while I think it's great that the fundamental ideas of asymmetric cryptography are being applied with enthusiasm in diverse fields, I'm not sure LaZooz and its ilk are really the harbingers of profound progress that this book seems to think they are.

To start with this book was filled with grand but hollow language. For example.

"Blockchain technology can potentially unleash an important element of creativity and invention in anyone who encounters the concepts in a broad and general way. This is in the sense that it is necessary to understand the new ideas separately and together."

"Blockchain technology could be used in the administration of all quanta."

"The specifics of how they might be different or similar are emerging, and there is presumably a lot of functionality fungibility..."

"...blockchain could become a mechanism for applied ethics."

"...just adding blockchain technology as a feature to existing... activities could be enabling."

"The concept is 'blockchain technology + in vivo personal connectome' to encode and make useful in a standardized compressed data format all of a person's thinking."

"...units of synaptic potentiation in brains..."


Once past the style issues the book was pretty much a non-technical advertisement for using blockchain strategies.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm sorry, but save your money. Seriously, the first two chapters may be worthwhile, but after that the book completely degenerates and never at any point recovers. It becomes endlessly repetitive, seemingly forgetting it has only just three, four, maybe 10 sentences back written almost the exact same sentence. The effects of caffeine are everywhere: it just gushes orgasmic desire for the blockchain and everything imaginable in the universe it will eventually touch 'transform, effect, change every conceivable dimension of our economic, social, and political lives...'. Really, this is the main problem: its incredibly grating and irritating to read, becomes, really, the perfect representative of what wrong with these 'innovations' and the groups that produce them and why we should be wary. For that, its worth reading I guess, as a case-study in its own right.

On the other hand there is the incredibly poor research that the book is based on. Posts in chatrooms and at the bottom of some blog count for the author as substance enough to expound on the great potentials already being worked out in the blockchain community. Fair enough, this kind of research will save you the time of browsing a few websites yourself; the problem, though, is that the author seems to make the subtle leap from the sometimes interesting content of these internet-comments to deducing broad academic significance of them and elaborating them in an academic language that seems to establish their significance as already accepted(Deleuze and Heidegger get mentioned a couple times, strangely).
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Format: Paperback
I am new to the blockchain and bought this, after reading the reviews, because I thought it would provide me with a framework that would allow me to dig deeper. The book did that, listing the players in the market (some of the links have vanished) with a little context, potential uses of the technology (the appendix provides a comprehensive list of practical applications), and some of the thinking of the community.

One of the eye-opening things for me was the possibility of autonomous code running outside the framework of national jurisdictions and regulatory bodies. Distributed autonomous code (!), distributed autonomous corporations (!?) and distributed autonomous societies (???) are all built on the principle of 'smart contracts' - pieces of code that have defined triggers and precise outcomes. Having been in business for 34 years, I approach smart contracts with considerable skepticism: there are always 'gotchas' that need to be considered should they arise, and most aspects of business aren't going to be reduced to a finite state machine any time soon or probably ever. Nevertheless, this was the kind of thing I hoped to find in this book.

Having read the reviews, I expected the author to go over the top. She exceeded my expectations. I can't recall any author who has made more sweeping claims for an emerging technology. She envisions self-owning cars (not self-driving cars) and mindfiles that contain your thoughts and emotions that are uploaded into the cloud. She imagines smart contracts as the way to protect the rights of those mindfiles in their digital ecosystem, and talks about distributed autonomous societies, as mentioned above.
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