The Obvious and Non-Obvious Future of Crypto

tl;dr: there are obvious things to each of us, but we all only have a small lens. Some thoughts on putting it all together.

There’s a famous quote in the 1980s classic book, Barbarians at the Gate, where Ross Johnson, the head of Nabisco refers to something as a “blinding glimpse of the obvious.”

It has obviously (use intended) made an impact because a Google search now reveals that many people, including a marketing agency, use it.

I bring this up because the other day I was in a conversation with some non-crypto folks about the future.

Admittedly, there are times when I tend to speak in hyperboles (working on reducing that) and I said something like, “to me, it’s just totally obvious that blockchain technology will ultimately mean the end of banks as we know it.”

I saw the look of surprise on the faces of those around me. I’m not sure if it was the boldness of the statement or the confidence, perhaps arrogance, with which I delivered it.

I do know, however, that I’m not alone in identifying obvious views of the future. For example…

To the team at 0x, it’s obvious that:

Blockchains give us an opportunity to leave the geographic lottery behind by establishing an open and globally accessible financial system that acts as a potent equalizing force for the world.

To Joey Krug at Pantera capital, it’s obvious that

“Blockchain tech and cryptocurrency are the underpinnings of a new financial infrastructure, just as the internet was the underpinning of a new information infrastructure.” [and that]

“this infrastructure will be borderless, cheap, quick, and, most importantly, will let people trade on things they’ve never been able to exchange before, and if markets for those don’t exist yet, it’ll let them create it.”

To Kyle Samani of Multicoin Capital, it’s obvious that many, many markets can be improved by moving to crypto.

And to Simone Giacomelli, the co-founder of SingularityNET, it’s obvious that decentralized networks enabled by blockchains are really open access networks, with no barriers to participation.

The cliché quote in tech and crypto is William Gibson’s, “the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.”

For these teams and individuals, the near future is already here so the next wave is, well, kind of obvious. What form it will take exactly remains to be seen, of course. Additionally, timeframes and mutations can impact it, but the general trend is there.

Naturally, there’s a risk for all of us (myself included) in figuring out that is obvious and what is just garbage slung by a snake oil salesman.

But there’s a bigger opportunity out there for each of us no matter what field we are in.

Every single person has the ability to see something that is totally obvious to him or her about the world.

It’s as if each person offers one dot of paint on a canvas.

The more points you get, the more you can fill it all in.

Eventually, you step back and you see the whole picture.

When you go broad in your sources, you gather points on the canvas. Before you put that point on the canvas, though, you need to do your best to go deep and understand/verify/assess why that person thinks something is obvious.

If you agree, put it on the canvas where you think it belongs. Or, if you don’t, figure out what really is obvious to them, even if they haven’t figured it out yet.

Painting pictures of the future is difficult. No one has the full story, but taking the obvious points of view from many people may be able to help

The Obvious and Non-Obvious Future of Crypto was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.