Book Review: Attack of the 50 Foot BlockchainsteemCreated with Sketch.

in bitcoin •  4 months ago

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Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Etherium & Smart Contracts is a self-published book by David Gerard, a blogger and journalist. He's also on the board of the foundation behind RationalWiki (which apparently has a foundation with a board behind it, who knew), so I bet he's a lot of fun at parties. He's also a frequent poster over at the /r/buttcoin subreddit, which exists to roast cryptocurrencies and, more especially, their zealots.

It's in that spirit that this book is written. Gerard's book starts out with a technical explanation of Bitcoin followed by a somewhat flawed explanation of libertarian/free market/Austrian ideals, and is incredibly critical throughout (Bitcoin mining is is "to show that you can waste electricity faster than everyone else;" libertarians have "odd notions of how economics works or humans behave.")

A good deal of the rest of the book contains a roughly-chronological timeline of various hacks and scams that have involved cryptocurrency. Early troubles like the Bitcoin Savings & Trust ponzi scheme and the MtGox madness are covered; later on, we read about Etherium's The DAO fubar and the ICO madness of the last year. Gerard also covers how blockchain technology has so far failed to live up to the hype for applications outside of currency tokens, and how Bitcoin itself has so far failed to find much success among traditional retailers.

Despite the snark, the book is incredibly well-researched, with lots of references. The meat of the book actually stops at the 54% mark, according to my e-reader; the rest of it is indexes and footnotes!

So as a fan of cryptocurrencies, how do I feel about Gerard's snarky book as a whole? Well, as much as I disagree with many of his conclusions… he's not really wrong about anything. Cryptocurrencies have a patchy history, for sure, and there are still a lot of foundational problems out there hindering their adoption that either remain unsolved or have solutions the powers that be seemingly aren't so interested in. Random cryptographic hashing is certainly an incredible waste of electricity; I would love to see further growth in currencies with other mechanisms for mining (such as Steem!). And, yes, we as cryptocurrency fans perhaps need to tone down the fanaticism at times and admit that blockchain technology is not the second coming of Jesus.

All told, it's a well-researched and entertaining read, and I recommend it to those who are interested in cryptocurrency, but not so enamored with it that they can't tolerate to peruse a few critical perspectives.

Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain is available in paperback form on Amazon, or in e-book form on many common e-book storefronts. Check out the book's page on Gerard's site for more info and easy links to purchase it in the format of your choice.

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