Are you an investor looking to broaden your knowledge of blockchain? Or a developer who hopes to develop a killer DApp? Or just some guy who wants something to read this holiday season?
Well, here at The Iconist we’ve put together a list of some of the best blockchain-related reads for 2019. Though hardly exhaustive, the list has a little bit of something for everyone, including the crypto skeptic. Hopefully, one of these titles will give you a reason to turn off Netflix, at least for a little while.
The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Vigna and Michael Casey (Casey is now Senior Adviser to MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative) explore the transformative potential of blockchain, and do so in a way that makes the technology easy to understand for blockchain beginners. No mere meditation on cryptocurrency, the book looks at the impact blockchain could have beyond the fintech space, from relief management at refugee camps to decentralized energy grids. If nothing else, you’ll learn how ledgers are the building block of modern society.
Vigna and Casey’s earlier work, “The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order” (2015) is also worth reading, though it may be a bit dated now.
Tapscott Group CEO Don Tapscott and Northwest Passage Ventures CEO Alex Tapscott (who we interviewed here at The Iconist) advocate for a blockchain future, explaining in clear-yet-entertaining prose how the technology could revolutionize how we do things online. “Advocate” is the operative word here, though. The Tapscotts provide plenty of examples of how blockchain could make our world better, including easing remittances and helping people secure rights over the land on which they live. But they also warn of some pretty dystopian outcomes if we get blockchain wrong – sober analysis born from watching how the promise of the early Internet gave rise to the digital oligarchy we know and love today.
In this recently published work, author and academic Kevin Werbach looks at not only blockchain’s potential, but also its limitations and even its dangers. It’s a balanced, sober read – a welcome contrast to the overenthusiasm and boosterism so often encountered in the blockchain space. Werbach argues that contrary to the widely held notion of blockchain as a means to navigate around law and regulation, blockchain will fulfill its true potential only when the technology runs through governance, regulation and law.
Before buying the book, you can check out Werbach’s thought-provoking essay in Slate on why we must regulate blockchain. You can also read his recent interview with Ripple.
We hesitate to recommend a book for developers – by the time a book is published, it’s probably already obsolete. That said, IT expert Imran Bashir’s 600+ page guide to blockchain technology, released in its highly revised second edition in March, provides readers with a thorough understanding of the inner workings of blockchain. Among other things, you’ll learn how to build DApps on Ethereum using the Solidity programming language.
Developers should also pick up the blockchain expert Andreas Antonopoulos‘s acclaimed “Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain” or “Mastering Ethereum: Building Smart Contracts and DApps,” already released on Kindle and to be released in paperback in January.
“The Age of Google, built on big data and machine intelligence, has been an awesome era. But it’s coming to an end.”
I’ll believe that when I see it, but writer and investor George Gilder passionately argues why the end of Google’s era of dominance is just around the corner and why Silicon Valley faces a “great unbundling.” Gilder thinks that advances in technology such as AI require completely new business models and solutions to issues such as privacy and intellectual property. And he sees blockchain, with its decentralization and built-in security, as the way forward. Give his book a try, even if you’re skeptical about its central prediction.
Honorable mention: Projects Handbooks from Speculative Rationality
OK, these are not books, per se. But think tank Speculative Rationality’s in-depth guides to innovative blockchain projects – including ICON – provide plenty to read. At any rate, they give you insight into specific projects, and they’re free.