Bollocks-chain: the forlorn search for blockchain
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I tried. I really did. At SXSW there were some wonderful presentations this year. From real uses of AI/ML et al (in all its various actual guises) to a fascinating overview of how the CIA trains its agents to solve problems.

I (responsibly) scooted, biked and Uber’ed around the city, marvelling at what micro-mobility could bring if the roads were planned properly and people stopped throwing them in the river.

It’s trendy to bash SXSW, as it is Cannes (I trash the later endlessly), but it really is the best way of working out what is coming up, and just as importantly what isn’t. The lines are there to be read between – but you cannot do that if you don’t look at the page. SXSW is the page.

But, oh my oh my, the revenge of the blockchain reared its ugly head.

I have no need to write a ‘five things that were twaddle at SXSW this year’ article – because all five would be blockchain.

Background info: I was creating relational databases 20 years ago in my systems analysis past, talking to “users” and converting their wishes into systems and, just as importantly, a (relational) database behind it.

Lots of databases. Open source ones, secure ones, XML-enabled ones and even some exposed via a good old fashioned ESB.

SQL, DB2, Oracle – used em all. I even pioneered a project to create an OLAP database using “cubes” with dynamic code to write the MDX in real time. Real tricky one that – endless case studies written that are long forgotten and before there was anywhere to publish them.

But. Blockchain.

I have read many books – for and against. I know the history of crypto. Its strengths, and its failings. I wanted to know more, listen to actual experts. So I went to five talks. I hoped. I waited. I failed.

No use cases appeared. Nothing that required a de-centralised database. There was a talk of its need in healthcare, to secure patient data, to communicate between systems holding patient records.

But no uses cases.

Another was on how it would enable VR & AR.There was even a claim that in the next 3 years all Americans will have a crypto-wallet. Have you tried using one? I wasn’t the only audience member that laughed out loud. This vocal bro-caster also said this is not the information super highway anymore, it is the information super-my-way. We laughed, at him, not with him.

I also walked out of this one and muttered super quietly “this is b*llox” under my breath. Very British. Nothing to see here.

But no uses cases.

The final straw was a panel of “experts” where one chap kept saying “well, I’m not an expert in Blockchain…” before every answer. Then why are you on the panel?

Oh, and you guessed it, no use cases.

Every answer to some great audience questions – such as “what about the right to be forgotten?” and “why would we not just use a secure database?” – were met with the sentence starters “it may”, “it could”, “in the future it might” and “we are looking at” with endings of user, privacy and security.

Side note – there is an app in that. Blockchain use case statement randomiser.

So, this ex-IT chap left disappointed. And that makes me sad, not happy. I love new tech, new ideas. I want to see the world changed, for the better. I would be all for anything that could reboot the internet and re-balance social media issues.

But outside of cookie cutter coffee and supply chain examples, is the only actual use case for blockchain in cryptocurrency?

Is (gasp!) the Blockchain just a really slow, overly complex “database”? Is this the greatest marketing trick of the decade? I hope not. I sincerely do.

I chatted about all this to my Uber driver on the last day, as you do. He reminded me of the old saying: “A fool and his money are easily parted”.

Smartest thing I heard all week.

David Parkinson is managing director and co-founder of Brave & Heart

(Excerpt) Read more Here | 2019-03-15 14:02:00

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