Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain
Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum & Smart Contracts.
By David Gerard
(Self) Published 2017
Website with purchase options
Bitcoin. To some, the rational way to escape from the iron grip of centralized monetary policy. To others, a convenient way to send international payments to drug suppliers without pesky questions from your bank. Still others claim it is a near fatal case of engineer's disease that somehow metastasized into a multi-billion dollar ... something.
Industry doesn't seem like the right word to use here.
Full disclosure, I hew towards the later definition although I can see how the 2nd camp can also claim some support.
I've watched Bitcoin and related phenomena from the beginnings with undiminished incredulity. Nothing about it really makes sense to me. Not the technology, that is actually straight-forward and non-magical enough despite what some adherents say. I just think it is a currency designed by people with with only a dim idea of what money is and what it is used for.
I know a lot of people have actually made (real) money off Bitcoin. Good luck to them, I will not be joining in. As far as I can see, the natural price of Bitcoin is either infinity or zero, as befits its digital nature. The price of bitcoin is fluctuating between these two extremes but it will reach one or the other soon enough and I am betting low.
But enough about my Bitcoin rant. What about David Gerard's?
Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain is a breezy and occasionally laugh-out-loud tour from the Bitcoin's beginnings up until mid-2017. It contains a pretty good description of how Bitcoin works but the bulk of the book is made up of accounts of the crazy schemes that the Bitcoin community has attracted as real money started to be pumped into its phantom-zone economy.
Gerald has been running a blog (also called Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain) for years now and most of the book is sourced from his vast collection of news articles, PR pieces, and almost inevitable police reports that he has reported on. Aot50FB has the most extensive footnotes of any non-fiction book I have seen.
If you are looking for a debate on the merits of Bitcoin and blockchains you will not find it here. Gerard believes that Bitcoin's problems are more or less self-evident once you know the details. I agree but Bitcoin believers will not be swayed by his dismissive tone.
You might say I am biased but I enjoyed Aot50FB immensely. It's a quick, easy rollercoster through a world I find entertaining from a distance but want no part of. Gerard's writing is clear and he has a way of cutting through jargon and PR-speak that I found refreshing.
Sadly the book is rather out-of-date despite begin only 30 months old. There has been all sorts of crazy stuff happening since publication that I would have really liked to see included. And perhaps a little more discussion on monetary theory would have rounded out the book.
Still, I cannot complain. The ebook only cost me $6.99 in real money.