I've been following blockchain and crypto ever since 2017. Back then, I was the first software engineer at a young startup in Ghent, right after graduating university. It was an engineer from a friendly startup in our incubator who got a bunch of us excited. This was just early enough to gain some first hand experience through the ICO bubble and see the cycle cool down dramatically into 2018. A couple of months later, I moved on from that startup to become a product manager at a bigger startup in Berlin, but excited for its future potential I kept following the industry from a distance.
Use cases for decentralized technology
Back in 2017, there were pretty much only two blockchain use cases: decentralized payments and crowdfunding. Both of these were very much related with Bitcoin and its roots in the 2008 financial crisis. In the years following, as (at least some) of that crowdfunded ICO money got deployed to build a wide variety of POCs, new use cases for decentralized technology emerged.
A good first example is decentralized finance or "DeFi". Many projects in this space are taking the financial use cases for blockchain technology to a level beyond payments and crowdfunding. Especially when compared to some of the finance companies that came to blockchain using over-leveraged Wall Street practice and then unsurprisingly went bankrupt when prices fell in 2022. Only time will tell the magnitued of this development, but I believe we shoudl not underestimate it.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are another great example. They are not as obviously revolutionary (vs a status quo) as DeFi, but rather introduce a completely new set of possibilities. Going much further than funny pictures, they show great promise to reshape any form of art and digital identity. The latter I find particularly interesting. Especially in a time where big tech has grown too big. As clearly shown by government investigations and interventions around data protection as well as election meddling.
Examples like these make me believe that decentralized technology can play an important role in solving some of the world's biggest problems. This is why, at the beginning of 2022, I decided to become an active participant of, what's now called "web3", again.
Introducing Nick in Web3
In Web3, things are built differently and I'm very keen on exploring exactly that. I'll keep you posted via this blog.