The Ledger is Already Distributed

The ledger is already distributed. All that is left to do is connect it.

Much of our thinking around distributed ledger technology (DLT) is backward. Personal information should be stored locally on personal hardware devices, and served to those who request it, not stored in centralized databases under an associated, yet disparate, user id.

Public blockchains, like one for land or car registry, for instance, or any other transaction for that matter, should be the repository for the associations and outcomes of said transaction. For example, a hash on a public blockchain may reflect that KEY XYZ transferred TOKEN 123 to KEY ABC. How much about KEY XYZ, TOKEN 123, and KEY ABC is made available is up to those who have a stake in the transaction choose to reveal.

All this not only already exists but also occurs in both our digital and real life. The missing link is connecting the distributed ledger of our personal information with the public ledger of our social interactions with other entities.

Blockchain Eliminates the Need for Intermediaries

The reason no one can find a business model for blockchain is because blockchain eliminates most business models.

The strongest use case is the simplest, and the one most often overlooked. The beauty of the blockchain is in its decentralization and the empowerment that decentralization confers. No longer is anyone forced to defer their personal sovereignty to that of some central authority. On the blockchain, each of us can remain autonomous while still participating in the commons.

Participation is the currency of our decentralized future. Want to join a network? Then you must host the network, if only that very data you desire to contribute.

No longer will you provide your personal data to some third party, to host and serve back to you at their convenience. Each individual will maintain their virtual identity on their own “cloud”, sharing it with other networks when and how they see fit. My feed — photos, messages, interactions — will live on my device or personal server, which will serve it to those that call it through the Facebook of the Future, in only such a manner as I have enabled. My funds, my titles of ownership, my health history, will all reside with me, to be called and served however, and only, as I choose.

The validity of these assets will be assured by the distributed ledger. There will be no disputing who holds title to a piece of property. No government or title company will be required to hold or confer it. Record of its ownership will be immutably maintained on every computer in the world.

Our problem with the blockchain is not that use cases for it cannot be found. To the contrary. Its problem is that it changes everything. It makes old methods obsolete, and any attempt to create a use case within the context of our legacy systems falls apart in the face of this fact.

The problem lies not with the blockchain. It lies with us.