Patrice Riemens on Sat, 3 Mar 2018 10:05:56 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Blockchain Halelujah! (was: Josh Hall: Blockchain could reshape our world – and the far right is one step ahead (Guardian)

Re-routed to nettime, since the off list discussion got interesting. Below a piece by Eduard who asked me to post it on nettime - after some light editing.
Cheers and don't churn out too many blockchains in the w/e!

(It might be advisable to read bottom up from now ...

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: <nettime> Josh Hall: Blockchain could reshape our world – and the far right is one step ahead (Guardian)
Date: 2018-03-03 09:30
From: Patrice Riemens <>
To: Morlock Elloi <>
Cc: Eduard Karel de Jong <>, Geert Lovink <>

Woooaaah! Time for a fresh Sokal-Bricmont! I can't wait!

On 2018-03-03 08:45, Morlock Elloi wrote:
You wouldn't believe pointless papers that postdocs at top
universities are churning out:

"Securing Bitcoin wallets via threshold signatures"
"Scalable and Incentive-Compatible Blockchain Design"
"A Smart Contract for Boardroom Voting with Maximum Voter Privacy"
"Hawk: The Blockchain Model of Cryptography and Privacy-Preserving
Smart Contracts"
"Thunderella: Blockchains with Optimistic Instant Confirmation"

I cannot even imagine what a college course on the blockchain would
comprise of. Sounds like a course on replacing front left tire on 2010
white Toyota Camry.

On 3/2/18, 08:08, Patrice Riemens wrote:


I am amazed, nay flabbergasted, too at the amount of hot air being
displaced by the Blockchain (indeed what the French call 'une usine a
gaz'). In a recent NYT there was an article about college cousres on the
blockchain being in such heavy demand (i& in the US that means
'effective' demand) that universities were scrambling to fill the gap.

Such a phenomenon creates a reality entirely of its own, which you
cannot negate. Criticising it will earn you no credit whatsover, and
when the whole thing collapses - not if but when, and that still can
take some time, see BTC (or 'XBT')'s current valuation), nobody's going
to compliment you on foresight - some might even accuse you of having
provoked it.

Sometimes, this, together withthe 'acceleration' going with it, gives me
a strong taste of TEOTWAWKI upcoming ...

Cheers all, p+7D!
(snowed in in Fiesole's publib ... ;-)


Post by <>

Indeed! Blockchain is nothing new!! At least not new at the higher of
level of trust in society or the possibilities of IT technology  to
lead to a dystopian future.

However, what is actually new with Blockchain, is the huge amount of
hype around it, the worldwide ramping up of university courses in
blockchain programming, and the apparent, blissfull ignorance of
many of those participating in it of the libertarian (read: illiberal,
right wing) bias it encapsuletes: "There is no need to trust another human to
interact with, since algorithmic consenus takes over, your property
rights are clearly determined  for all to see, be challenged by no one, and  they're fixed for eternity too."

This hype leads potential users of the technology to forget common IT
development practices, abandon legacy systems, and ignore all the many
subtle and not so subtle requirements for IT system to work discovered
during years of operation and maintenance.

Abandoning a legacy system, starting with a "Tabula Rasa" is several
orders of magnitude cheaper than extending an old system.

Using blockchain gives an excuse to bypass written and unwritten and ignore
regulations and customer protection laws, as these may not fit with the
centralised processing model of each time updating just as single
block in the chain of blocks.

In this reasoning Blockchain is really a new type of technological
threat, not because of its technology but because of the (not so) hidden agenda of its proponents and believers.

It could well be that the near-religious belief in the transformative 
nature of the Blockchain actually reveals a deep satisfaction with the 
status quo, often expressed these days in a longing for radical change
(a.k.a. 'disruption'). The tabula rasa promise implied by Blockchain may 
then be recognised as what is needed to make that change. This reminds 
me of what I once heard about cultural context of the start of WWI: 
There was, on both sides, dissatisfaction with the (political) status quo,
and a brief quick war was precisely the technological 'fix':
telephones, machine guns and the railway network altogether would make for just such a "Tabula Rasa"...

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