Dis-integration and re-integration … cycle of evolution.
“In a ground-breaking move in November, voters in Boulder, Colo., approved an initiative to end their relationship with Xcel Energy, a utility with $10.7 billion in revenues, thus clearing the way for the city to form its own municipal utility that would lower rates and make greater use of renewable energy …
Municipal utilities are far more common than most people are aware, with more than 1,000 already functioning in the United States, serving 50 million customers“
Not only is this a substantial and refreshing change but it seems to be benefiting from a supporting feedback loop:
“All of this comes at a time when the entire model of a corporate utility operating a centralized grid is facing steady erosion. Universities and cities across the country are expressing their desire to move away from both hiring—or even owning stocks in—companies that remain committed to fossil fuels. In addition, every family who installs solar on their roof not only slashes their need for energy from a utility, but also cuts the revenue for those same firms.
As the number of customers inexorably drops, the firm must spread its costs across a smaller and smaller number of customers, which increases their rates and creates even more demand to leave the grid.“
from YesMagazine via David Korten
Following the passionate podcast comes an excellent technical yet accesible description of how Bitcoin works came to me also via Pietro.
It, together with the podcast, outlines the underlying potentials of Bitcoin as a technology (rather then as a currency) … and I have questions:
- Would it be correct to describe Bitoin as a publicly created, owned, verified and secured record of … anything!?
- Isn’t the block-chain an inevitable challenge in term of data-storage (it will continue to grow and grow, especially as more complex applications are bundled into transactions?)
- Is it correct that the source of any inherit valuation in Bitcoin results from the assumption that mining needs to be rewarded?
- If there were other incentives to mining would it be possible to use Bitcoin as a public ledger without any inherent valuation and their ensuing “currency” symptoms? Could Bitcoin become BitPublicLedger without any “coin” association?
- If so, could, theoretically, another valuation/currency system (other than rewards for mining) be attached to Bitcoin to benefit from its other capabilies (secure, verified, public, etc.)? In other words, could BitPublicLedger be used to digitize and secure other kinds of currency?
- Can a current Bitcoin transaction have zero value associated with it – that is using the system to submit information to the public ledger without valuation exchange?
- If “reward” incentive is removed from the mining operation couldn’t it be made more efficient and more green? couldn’t mining become collaborative instead of competitive? for example, if I were part of a community (physical or virtual) where bitcoin provided service – I would happily have a client software running on my computer in service of a miner – contributing my resources to the exitence of the bitcoin commons in my community.
- Could Bitcoin technology become a kind of social digital commons? Can a sustainable business be built around that concept?
A twitter interaction with Pietro led to him sharing with me the following video:
I do think that bitcoin as an amazing technological innovation (that may give birth to other valuable inventions), but I also believe it is, for now, a useless one. If to embrace the metaphor from the video – bitcoin is like the invention of the engine. However the engine itself is a useless thing to anyone but engineers who understand and can work with engines. And engineers can speak passionately about what can be done with this engine but that doesn’t make the engine anymore useful. For an engine to become useful someone must transform it into something non-engineers can use – a car, a boat, a tractor, a plane, a drill, whatever. Doing that is way outside the skillset of engineers.
For all the wonderful things described in the video to come to life there is a huge road of end-user product development ahead. Who is going to do that?
Open Source Developers? Though I am a big fan of and live almost entirely with open-source software there is one thing that open-source, as a community, fails to do – and that is to create end-user products. The amazing proliferation of Linux is not as an end-user product but as an engine developed by engineers for other engineers. So I do not see the open-source community being able to deliver the promised future in the video.
Venture Capitalists? So far most (if not all) of the developments that have given public awareness and rise to bitcoin have been made by people with parasitic vested interests – to exploit bitcoin for profit. Their entire mentality (from business models to code) is closed and is a parasite on top of the open system. Given the generic abilities of the bitcoin system – there is nothing to prevent parasites from attaching themselves to it. If you are engineer involved in bitcoin you can get along (have a wallet) without help from anyone else. But everyone else is going to have to through the parasites to gain acces … and the parasites are going bring with them fees … but more importantly exploitation … they are going to bring with them the same faulty mentalities that have brought us to where we are. That is a change that takes more then technology.
Either way – bitcoin is going to both feed an already vast digital divide and move power from finance geeks to software geeks.
What is amazing to me is how, in the most practical way, bitcoin has almost zero relevancy to my actual day-to-day life. Granted I do not live a typical life, but my life is at a kind of middle-ground between those living in the comforts and delusions of technology and those who will either go to sleep hungry today or slave through the day for their food. Zero relevance. That itself is a problem, but a bigger problem is that the makers of this technology cannot see it.
Chris Hedges seems to bring together the ideas of This Civilization is Already Dead and the Charitable Industrial Complex – describing how the lives of the very rich nurture deep misperceptions which have been dominating and shaping the world we live in.
via CC Magazine
A fresh conversation between Charles Eisenstein and Polly Higgins. Having heard them before the talk itself feels like a repeat but the audience questions (almost an hour) brought some new, interesting and fresh things to the surface. I first read about Polly Higgins and her ecocide work in Permaculture one or two years ago. It’s great to feel it maturing into a word that is better known and can be used fluently in conversation.