- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 14 hours and 4 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: May 10, 2016
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01F68480I
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World Audiobook – Unabridged
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Would have expected a better "primer" on how block chain actually works. Given the audience this tome appears aimed at, a few paragraphs ("How this worldwide ledger works") seems a bit under-serving - particularly for such an avowedly history-changing paradigm. Readers must understand this thing before trusting it, which for the most part is mysterious and geeky. Demystification would help move blockchain out of the comfort zone of PhD's into the realm of the mere unwashed (in which this reviewer sits). And nothing on the mystery surrounding Satoshi himself - what's up with that? Given that we're dealing with a new trust paradigm, doesn't the fact of his anonymity (existence?) not at least merit some comment?
Only part I would recommend is found at Chapter 10 "Showstopper issues"... Ironic, of course but best analysis is here!
Unfortunately, Tapscott runs off on the most unsubstantiated and inconsistent hyperbolic fantasies I've ever seen. The only thing that comes close is Peter Lynch's _The Long Boom_ which captured the delusional gestalt of the DotCom heyday brilliantly yet still from within its rose colored champagne glasses. At least Lynch was internally consistent. Tapscott claims the blockchain can and will transform everything, "Just add blockchain!". It's like a bad 80's infomercial. He even claims both transparency *and* anonymity as its enabling superpower, two antipodal forces that can't both be true. After the opening chapter, it turns into a rambling acid trip of delusional fantasies about exactly how blockchain will inevitably fix all the things wrong with society and the world.
The thing is, many of the things Tapscott claims CAN be fixed by blockchain could ALSO be fixed with a decent website. May of the problems he highlights are social, human problems that remain unsolved because they are hard and no one has rallied the will to tackle them. For example, the problem with governance isn't that there isn't a way to expose all the corrupt interactions to trace who paid for what and which parts of which bills were advocated by which legislator. It's that those in power don't have the will to build a system to expose all of that. Blockchain isn't going to magically convince governments to change how they do business any more than the ability to post their correspondence, schedules, donations, and votes on the web did.
I had a hard time finishing the book. The *one* thing it is good for is giving the reader a sense of the insane hyperbole that many blockchain advocates spew. Tapscott drank the kool-aid, and it is useful to understand how many miracles people say this stuff will create. Not because the miracles are likely, but because making a coherent case for the actual changes that blockchain will catalyze requires understanding the entire context of the conversation that has gone before.
I work professionally with this technology and I'm regularly surprised when people attack simple assertions I make about opportunities for blockchain and identity. After listening to this book, I get it. There are so many overblown claims made that concrete, tangible proposals have a hard time getting through the noise. I literally had one guy attack something I said because it wasn't revolutionary enough, then also attacked the revolutionary (and delusional) aspirations he thought I was advocating. This book gave me some context for why people have such trigger reactions when discussing blockchain opportunities.
For a more grounded discussion, I highly recommend The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey.
[based on the audiobook]
Be aware that the book does approach the problems from a very liberal perspective. We're constantly reminded that lots of people are disenfranchised by governments and big business (third-parties), for example, and you don't get too much defense of existing third-party systems that actually work well.
The details of how blockchain itself works are not discussed in any detail, so if you are looking for this kind of info, look elsewhere.
I do have 2 big criticisms:
1. The authors hold the distinct belief that if we just make data (like the kinds of data managed by big corporations and governments) transparent through a blockchain that it will presumably be put to good, beneficial use for society. After all, blockchains are specifically intended to remove governing third parties. Little is mentioned on how to replace the "good" parts of the things these third parties do - it just magically takes care of itself because the data is transparent. It's a stretch.
2. While the book provides a broad look at how many areas of our lives can be impacted by blockchain, there is a strong tendency for the authors to misappropriate other (re)evolutionary trends in technology (like IoT) and claim they are significantly enhanced because of blockchain. While there are some elements of truth here, the benefits of many of them (like IoT) as they describe them are 99% achievable without a blockchain - they simply don't make their case that blockchain makes it better very well.
These aside, this book offers great broad perspectives on the possibilities of a blockchain-enabled world. It also provides great overviews of some work-in-flight initiatives.
Read this with an appropriately-sized grain of salt, and you can't lose. A must-read for the blockchain-curious and futurists out there.