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2017: The Year Blockchain Became Weird


This article is an exclusive contribution to CoinDesk's series of opinions on the 2017 revisions.

The year 2017 was marked by an unprecedented environmental disaster, an incessant political fire, a year that made more crypto-millionaires than any previous year …

Another way to remember the past year is to call it "the year the weird blockchain broke out". But what's a weird blockchain that you could ask for? The etymology comes from the phenomenon "Weird Facebook", a collection of pages-memes, healthy and unhealthy trolls and pseudonymous profiles made all the more wonderful by their unlikely home, the social network that your family and your boss use.

And maybe in this definition, I show why it's interesting to talk about weird blockchain, at the end of 2017 – because finally, the bizarre blockchain feels weird.

The blockchain community has always been prolific with jokes and memes. Early crypto-adopters share a vernacular language of signs, symbols and idiosyncrasies – from shouting "MOON" in trollboxes, to HODLing, to the entire existence of dogecoin in every respect.

But this year, the blockchain hit the banks, it hit businesses, it hit $ 10,000 and, in its success, it has welcomed the masses like never before.

In the early days of crypto, anyone who spent the night at the store (or spent months of his life writing software that no one thought useful) was crossing the self-selection bridge in the country of origin. foreign. This is no longer the case.

Now, in no particular order – my favorites of the absurdity of the year:

Jokes as art

Useless tokens of all kinds, among them the "useless Ushereum Token" eponymous.

UET presents itself as "the first 100% honest ICO in the world", raising 310,445 ether. This one is essentially a blockbuster itself, resulting in a HitBTC listing and trading time at $ 4.95. Yet he also had an early and less well-known predecessor, ponzIco, a more mordant variant, hatched by Josh Cincinnatti from the zcash foundation.

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It comes with a puns-filled white paper, and his name was dropped by Matt Levine on Money Stuff:

"The great artistic project of our time is to completely erase the distinctions between" fraud "and" performance art ", so that one day the mortgage bond traders can say," Wait , no, I was not lying on bond prices to increase my bonus, I was doing a metafictional tale about bond price negotiations in order to problematize the underlying fundamentals of bond trading in late capitalism. ""

Memes live in the liminal space between art and jokes.

A troll of a different variety is Fluffypony (Riccardo Spagni), the main developer of monero, whose advertising campaign for a "big announcement" in May 2017 culminated with a 2x increase in price.

When the video was finally abandoned, it was rather a two-minute sequence filled with parodies of inspiring corporate propaganda, culminating in the slogan "Put Fun in Fungibility".

Hailed as art by some and outraged by others:

In this genre, I award honorable mentions to BTCwizard, the first "Initial Troll Offering" in the world (a boost for the bitcoin magician to be a full page in the Wall Street Journal) and FitVitalik, a token sincerely
sincere Vitalik Buterin will probably be a personal coach probably not consensual.

Art as jokes

Moving more outright towards the camp of what I will call "intentional art", we find Bad Shibe written by Rob Myers and illustrated by Lina Theodorou.

The story is a sci-fi short story about the future under a rising Doge Moon – a young shibe named YS begins to question the fundamentals of the tokenized reputation system who governs their world. Written in 2014,
but only now published in 2017, the meme is still strong – and the story is more relevant than ever.

Bad Shibe is part of Artists Re: Thinking the Blockchain, an anthology of speculative fiction, interviews, illustrations and theory published by Furtherfield, a center for arts and technology based in the United Kingdom

The book includes a rich collection of takes … all from a round of cryptocurrency extraction horizon in contemporary art, the oath of # Hippocrates of a blockchain developer and blockchain LARP. Furtherfield has also been the host of the DAOWO program – a series of workshops on reinvention of the arts lab with blockchain.

Another irreverent project with a postoperative dystopian twist, Max Dovey's Respiratory Miner, allows people to extract cryptocurrency by breathing.

Breath (BRH) is part of an artistic performance and interactive exhibition that uses spirometry, a medical technique to measure lung capacity, to extract monero with a hashrate adjusted for breathing rate . He was recently exposed at Generator Projects in Dundee in an exhibition curated by Alejandro Ball and Inês Costa, and will be exhibited again in January as part of the Money Lab 2018.

The truth is a stranger

But of course, another dimension of the era of false news is – beyond the blurred synergy of jokes – and art-jokes – reality itself rivaling them.

How can you distinguish the troll from the truth? As we all know now it's a sinister phenomenon, but its smaller brother is the clickbait title that becomes meme accidental.

Now, in the fast fire, I bring you, this:

Buddhists launch digital currency to ban corruption from religion

And this:

And never forget this:

That's it, you have it.

2017. It's the blockchain version of the moment when you realized Hot Topic.

The thing you're amused for is cool now. The authorized protest area of ​​the system is much larger than the system is willing to admit.

Disagree? CoinDesk is seeking submissions for its 2017 series in Review. Send an e-mail to to present your idea and make your point of view heard.

Picture of Dennis Rodman via Shutterstock

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