Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mr Wilson probably wasnt always a grouch - (my take on the Bitcoin Insider conference today)

When I was a kid growing up we lived across the street from Mr Wilson and Mr Wilson was our neighborhood grouch.

Every neighborhood has one I’m sure, the kind of cranky old man or woman that when the ball went into their yard you and your friends had to do Paper, Rock, Scissors in order to determine who had to creep up their side path in order to get the ball.

Well our neighborhood had Mr Willson. And as a kid I always wondered why Mr Wilson was so grouchy. Was it because of something that happened to him, or because no one ever came to visit him? Or was he just always grouchy.

My mother used to say….”he’s just old, be nice to Mr Wilson”.

Well today I realized…..I’m turning into Mr Wilson. He didn’t start out grouchy…..he just turned into an old grouch.

On Tuesday the 30th of August I attended the Bitcoin Insider conference at the New Yorker hotel - http://www.mediabistro.com/insidebitcoins

There was the usual….we’re the fastest most efficient mining hardware platform company and or we’re the fastest most scalable white label trading platform and we’re here to sell to exchanges…..(hmmm if you are so good….shouldn’t you both be off making truckloads of cash with your wares instead of selling picks and shovels to the next gold rush….?)

In addition there was also a lot of “I work for a hedge fund and we’re curious and want to find out more about –the space-“, or…..I’m an investor in bitcoin …..followed by evasive answers when I asked how much Bitcoin they had actually bought eg….6 figures…..5 figures? Hmmm you mean you spent $390 to attend a conference on an investment with less than 4 figures?

But what really caught me from left field and made me realize I’m turning into grouchy “Mr Wilson” was the insistence that Bitcoins are going to solve all of the internets problems in that people will pay for content and no longer will content providers fall under the tyranny of Google and worthless ad banners but that we could all start shopping for Porsches and 45ft fishing cruisers today because content was going to become incredibly valuable as soon as Bitcoin became the next big thing for “paying to view content”.

No longer would you have to pay 99c for a WSJ subscription…..you could pay with 0.001btc, (putting aside for the moment that WSJ would probably want to charge 0.99btc and not less) I asked the obvious question…..if it is hard enough to get people to pay for content in USA dollars…..then why would it be easier to get people to jump through two hoops (transferring cash into btc then into the content purchase).

It was when I heard the 3rd person mention content licensing was the answer to bitcoin that I snapped…..have none of you heard of Beenz, do none of your realize stored value ewallets have gone through 5 generations of implementation already (at least) eg Telstra stored value (Adelaide circa 1996?), Beenz (and others eg no longer would you have to pay....someone else would pay for you to do stuff (view ads/answer surveys .....lol I did have to chuckle when I heard about Guvera a music startup doing similar) and at least another 2-3 post 2000 either stored value ewallets or microtransaction platforms (Amazon FPS or Gumroad).

People don’t want to pay cause your content sucks OR is ubiquitous, if virtual TipJars worked no one would be complaining about how Spotify sucks as an income model this week (and yes that program guide is correct, one of the heads of Spotify is behind the launch of "CoinDesk”).

I hate being Mr Wilson.

I hate being the cranky old grouch.

As a content provider I’d love for this to take off. Even more as a libertarian/anarchist I’d love to be able to send anyone in the world a 0.001 btc for an acquisition. I just don’t think it will happen.

However, we are now a hyper connected society (thanks Mr Berners-Lee) running around with mobile/tablet (thanks Mr Jobs/Mr Rubin) and love to tell everyone what we are doing and where we are doing it (thanks Mr Zuckerberg/Mr Crowley) so who knows Bitcoin might just solve all of the previous problems that other ewallets/virtual currency couldn’t.

If you think I’m wrong and just a cranky old grouch then two things I learnt at todays conference

@ManuSporny talked about how there was no published W3 standard for browser clients to “send money” and gave an interesting presentation on how the “WebPaymentAPI Specification” could be as ubiquitous as Http and coming to a browser near you real soon now – Draft at https://wiki.mozilla.org/WebAPI/WebPayment or check out an implementation at https://payswarm.com/#payswarm-video

The second piece was even more interesting in that I think it has wider implications. During one of the breaks I asked another attendee what he learnt that was most of interest to him and he mentioned talking to someone who was working on a “Documented Standard” for “the emailing of a transaction receipt”.

Basically as it was explained to me, currently there is no defined standard for defining how a transaction receipt in an email was meant to look/work.

I’ve had a few hours to think about this since the end of the conference and I think this is brilliant.

Basically when you make a purchase on Amazon.com and they send you an email for a receipt…..whats in your inbox is just a natural language block of text (in English or otherwise). I don’t know what was being proposed exactly (and if you were at the event today and know who this is/was please reach out as I’d like to quote him) but basically I’m imagining it to be some form of XBRL standard that assigns in html markup the various components of the receipt (seller/amount/date/item/tax/delivery charge etc) and that these can be identified as said components “as well as text”.

Imagine if when you viewed the text it looked like any other email but hidden in the http was a markup accessible to your Outlook/Gmail/Thunderbird client that was able to view the component details and then build a real time database of your transactions. For example think of something like Mint but was a documented standard available to everyone and accessed transactions at your inbox rather than your “participating bank accounts”.

Would make the Walmart purchase of Grabble look like receipts 1.0

Dean Collins

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