Designing a Future
Analogies are quite useful, especially when helping describe rapid advancements in technology, culture, politics, and so on. They help us establish a footing and some sense of reason as the world transforms around us. Crypto and blockchain are nothing if not that, an almost violent turn away from the current world’s status quo and its almost frenetic velocity is leaving many dazed and confused. So here, let’s lay the foundation for the next gen of tech rising around us and I’ll be resorting to an urban mode of thinking as I draw from my background as an architect and public artist.
At first, and this describes the initial several years of preliminary blockchain development, the growth of crypto is like a new city as it finds its footing on expansive terrain. We’ve had the handful of early shacks that dotted the landscape from the early 2010s, but now there is a flood of new settlers looking to snag a piece of the potential. Informal towns are being propped up by speculative investment pushed by an underlying motivation to be the first on every front. Every new prospect – a hospital, a bank, general store, and so on – are celebrated without initial scrutiny and signify the makings of a stable new place of growth.
Then we have what is today’s situation – a more dynamic tide of new programs that appear and compete for standing. If anything, the current climate is akin to South American favelas as waves of new structures expand and recede, merge with another to substantiate larger adoption, and are constantly trying to navigate what is fairly unstable ground. We see tremendous swaths of the urban fabric under threat and even the larger conglomerates of commerce and living can be overtaken at a moment’s notice. Despite the feeling of a volatile day-to-day, there is tremendous and constant opportunity to stake out a new niche and help grow the ecosystem as a whole.
And so the real question is what comes next? Are we moving towards a more stable foundation of governance that has expected infrastructure and layers of regulation? Is crypto-city going to look like a skyline of megastructures with the complete erasure of informality? Or are going to witness of a new typology that somehow layers decentralized systems to concretize a robust scenario?
Ultimately, this is the major consideration moving forward and a call for those experienced in the field of growth – both physical and digital – to hold design to the future ahead. The posed questions are being implied by the event of institutionalized involvement, establishment of exchanges, and so forth, but still in an iterative process where all options are being explored. We’re still in an environment where cities are being built with hammers and nails and I for one am excited to see the structures rising ahead.