The Chronicles of a Blockchain Student | Part 2

02.02.2022

Week 2 // Day 6 — Reflections on Module 1

It was around Sunday that I realised I hadn’t offered a follow-up post in this Blockchain Student series. For that I apologise. The reason being my days are now filled to the brim with researching, analysing and compiling information on Web 3.0. Alongside this, I have suddenly gained a new community on LinkedIn that I am constantly engaging with and very thoroughly enjoying. Not to mention my most valuable NFTs were stolen out of my MetaMask wallet and transferred/sold on OpenSea. (Made a post about it to deal with the grief) Oh ye deepest of despairs… :(

However, from this grief… came something unexpected. I found myself spending less time on Discord and more time on LinkedIn. Discord, although vital for many NFT and Web 3.0 endeavours, had become somewhat of a toxic community for me. Waking up to daily chants of “RAISE THE FLOOR PRICE” and “PAPER HANDS F*%K OFF”. This reminded me of the ‘frat house-esque’ conduct I experienced in r/wallstreetbets during the great GME short squeeze of early 2021. Juxtapose this with the cool, calm and collaborative environment I found in my new LinkedIn posse and its easy to make the move over. It’s like walking into Woodstock ’69 after spending a weekend in the occupied zone of ‘Chaz’.

I have had meeting after meeting with real innovators in the NFT and Metaverse spaces, each one filled with curiosity and mutual respect, but more on that in later articles.

So this is a reflection on my second week. A dive into Module 1. For copyright reasons, I am unable to share the titles of these modules or the exact topics, but I think it would be safe to share what I am learning, so here we go.

To be honest, I’ve been delving into crypto and blockchain for a fair amount of time (just under 2 years roughly) and so Module 1 is designed more towards those less familiar with the topic. I will say it is hella interesting to see Satoshi Nakamoto’s story being offered as course material from a reputable university. Going from pseudonymous fringe ‘revolutionary’ to course subject matter in under a baker’s dozen years, with 100s of already established industry professionals (my classmates) eager to learn about what this ghost invented. I’m just waiting for that badly-casted Netflix biographic drama to drop.

The introduction to Bitcoin and Blockchain never gets old really and there is always something new to learn; a small detail that was likely overlooked in some episode of frantic midnight rabbit-hole diving. The central theme around this module seemed to be geared towards framing this tech as the alternative. The viable alternative. I like this. let me get a little more academic here and sum up what Module 1 was about:

During the most recent global economic recession in 2008, the role of central banks as the custodians of a country’s economy again came into question as trust in this system further deteriorated.

Although encryption as a means of facilitating secure ‘trustless’ exchange between two parties has been present for some time, it was Satoshi Nakamoto who developed the first working decentralised digital open payment network; Bitcoin.

Where central banks have evolved out of the need to record and store physical assets such as money (now more of a digital ledger of deposits and credit allocation based on risk), Bitcoin was born out of the need to improve on this system and through the use of blockchain technology it introduced many solutions such as real-time transaction recording and verification, decentralised consensus mechanisms making it almost impossible to falsify entries, transparency via a digital public ledger and data privacy through cryptographic pseudonymity.

The movement to protect data privacy and individual digital liberty in the face of government and corporate control was championed by a group of cryptographers and technologists known as The Cypherpunks who in 1991 created the Cypherpunk Mailing List. This ‘resistance group’ sparked the beginning of the Crypto Wars, which continues today. Bitcoin is the monetary synthesis of this movement. Released in true Cypherpunk fashion in 2008 through an obscure mailing list, the whitepaper; “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” introduced a viable alternative to the centralised, government-controlled economic structure.

Although Bitcoin is the most viable alternative, blockchain technology still wrestles with the balance between its three main characteristics; decentralisation, security and scalability. This is known as the ‘blockchain trilemma’; a belief that only two of these three benefits can be provided at the same time. This belief is constantly tested as new protocols and networks continue to innovate.

As an added task for each week, we have been split into groups to present a solid Blockchain use case. My team is a solid one. I am the youngest, but thankfully I am not the least experienced. This collaborative element is a key feature throughout the course and that is the best thing I have found about it. It echoes my sentiments about the LinkedIn community and I think this may end up being the most important element of the whole experience.

Module 2 coming soon…

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Douglas Eriksen

Douglas Eriksen

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I find that a constant stream of new challenges, both personal and professional, keeps life abundant and creates opportunities in the every-day.