Hidden deep in a jungle of complexity, obscured by fancy words and misinformation, lies the fascinating story of Blockchain. Its proponents have hailed the technology as the solution for many problems they propose are plaguing humanity. Skeptics denounce Blockchain, Bitcoin, and cryptocurrency in terms ranging from hype to scam. So, what’s the truth? Is there hype and scam surrounding Blockchain? Absolutely! Are there grandiose plans to change the world as well? Yes, there are. These plans are very real, and the scope is enormous.

The biggest problem with a fancy word like “Blockchain” is that it makes it hard to decipher true meaning. Fancy words, in turn, invite simple explanations that are often misleading, empty, or false. An empty explanation is when a fancy word is described with a bunch of other fancy words. Empty explanations sound great but explain nothing. Consider how magicians rely on misdirection to make their magic seem real. Similarly, word magicians use simple, pleasant-sounding explanations to misdirect audiences in magical ways.

As fancy words are clearly defined, this weakens their power to misdirect. Fancy words can confuse even those who are well versed in their use. Definitional confusion can be a real problem even among the most brilliant minds and “experts.” Sometimes, even more so than among those who are less skilled. The less skilled must stop and ask the more fundamental questions in areas that “experts” already assume that they know.

Terms such as “consensus ledger” and “trustless” can seem magical and wonderful. But what do these terms really mean? And how are they used to build a blockchain? Exactly how will Blockchain change the world as many proclaim?

image of mark twain with quote

You may have seen this quote before. It was featured at the beginning of the movie The Big Short. The most interesting thing about this quote is that there appears to be no solid evidence that Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens) ever said these words. The fact that Mark Twain probably never said this is wonderful irony. It helps the quote make its own point! The Big Short book begins with an even better quote:

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt what is laid before him.—Leo Tolstoy

False assumptions are powerful, particularly when they are based upon empty or misleading definitions. Misleading explanations like “blockchain is a distributed consensus ledger” may have been repeated often enough to become deeply held beliefs for some readers. Master explorers are always on the lookout for traps, dangerous animals, and falling rocks. The toughest obstacles in this jungle are “what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Numerous myths surround Blockchain.

My first step into the jungle of complexity that is Blockchain began when I read the famous Bitcoin white paper. “Satoshi Nakamoto” is the paper’s mysterious, pseudonymous author. The last page of the white paper lists eight references. After reading the first cited reference in this famous white paper[1], I was hooked. It drew me into the jungle. It begins:

I am fascinated by Tim May’s crypto-anarchy. Unlike the communities traditionally associated with the word “anarchy”, in a crypto-anarchy the government is not temporarily destroyed but permanently forbidden and permanently unnecessary.[2]

What is crypto-anarchy? What does this have to do with Bitcoin? How does the system defined in the Bitcoin whitepaper relate to Blockchain? I had to know. The further I explored, the more I realized just how large the jungle is. The story of Blockchain is larger, more complex, more intriguing, and more important than I had ever imagined.

There are considerations for investors, regulators, businesses, and governments, which this book will help make clear. These are important concerns, but the bigger picture is even more interesting and more important than the investment and regulatory story. Blockchain advocates proclaim a new way for the world, which deserves to be understood by everyone.

Anarchists like Julian Assange are the creators of Blockchain and cryptocurrency.[3] Assange is also a key figure in the 2016 US presidential election story. His WikiLeaks organization published Hillary Clinton’s emails to the world, altering the trajectory of the election. This also set in motion a chain of events that led to an investigation of a sitting President of the United States of America.

Assange has repeatedly stated that the source of the emails was not the Russian government, though the popular story assumes that he is lying. The full extent of his involvement in the DNC hack and the Mueller investigation should become more apparent over time. In addition to accurately explaining the Blockchain and cryptocurrency story, this book provides background information that can help decrypt some important, hidden details about this ongoing political circus.

The Blockchain Code is a true story about people, technology, and different visions for the future. May this book be your guide through unfamiliar and at times intentionally obscure, poorly defined territory. This expedition is designed to tell the real story and sharpen your machete of definitions. By the end of our journey, you should be able to hack through even the toughest vines of empty explanation.

[1] “Nakamoto, Satoshi.” 2008. “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” Oct 31. https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf, p 9

[2] “Dai, Wei”. Republished Dec 2006 (originally published 1998). “b-money.” http://www.weidai.com/bmoney.txt

[3] Bitcoin is a product of the anarchist community called the Cypherpunks, and Assange is arguably their most famous member. His 2012 book Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet describes the Cypherpunks’ anarchist assessment of the ills of modern society and their vision for the future of the world.