So why are we telling users they are using blockchain tech? And forcing them to hold their private keys?
Blockchain should be implemented behind the scenes to increase user experience, in a way that improves the overall technology. Until this occurs, we won't see mass adoption of blockchain.
Designers: don’t let a new tech’s unique place in time be lost. Don’t look down on a technology or its fans based on their current manefestations. This technology will only be new once. It’s okay if early adopters are attracted to the risk. Be honest, but let everyone explore and discover along the way. We are figuring this all out as we go along.
This technology is decades old, and the fact that you consider it novel indicates that it can actually be new more than once.
As for programmable applications on a blockchain, see this list of successful "dApps". They're mostly gambling. The top Etherium application is CryptoKitties. The big problem is that any application which relates to the real world needs reliable info from the real world, like "did it get delivered". That means trusting some data source. In which case a blockchain doesn't help much.
Most blockchain applications involve empowering something illegal somewhere. First it was drugs, then it was getting money out of China. The binary options crowd had an ICO, but the system never came up. There's proposed "blockchain FOREX". All gambling, really.
I think the biggest obstacle is the use-case for blockchain. Unfortunately, most of the articles written in favor of blockchain solutions don't cover the why and hows and instead directly go for buzz words like trustless, decentralization etc. Case in point about banks:
So I am really looking forward to a curated list of well-written articles on the use cases for blockchain.
My POV: plenty of problems to solve with Blockchain, UX is key and early attempts are very bad
I work digitization, so we digitize things, typically. There is a town in Denmark with a design school called Kolding, they did a digitization project with service design, that ended up with a cardboard sheet for citizens to keep track of their case history and a less noisy waiting room because service designed showed them that was what their citizens needed if the goal was to reduce stress in the case working of long term sickness. They didn’t go into this project expecting to do a non digital solution, like expecting something to save blockchain, but that’s what they ended up with through service design. It’s since improved their case working and citizen recovery immensely by the way.
Anyway, I find it interesting that people keep pushing for block chain. The largest municipality in Denmark has run some POCs on it, and even though we’re the public sector where it makes sense to have public records, blockchain aren’t the most efficient way to do it because we need to control the network. We can’t risk a mining farm taking over 51% of the workload and we certainly can’t defend even having a proof of work in a world that’s destroying the climate.
So we’d need to control the nodes anyway, and then it just doesn’t make that much sense. It may make sense for a company like Maersk who can share nodes with partners, but despite sitting on a sector which has a lot of public databases, like the land registry or ownership records, there just isn’t that much of a use for blockchain tech.
When I heard about this, I thought, "they're going to use this to make assets portable". A game/VR/virtual world asset is basically a file, which has to be decrypted to be useful. It has a creator, who owns the IP rights, and an owner, who owns the copy. Currently, such property is slaved to a single game/VR/virtual world, and the owner can't move it to another one.
Think of a user A wanting to move an encrypted graphical asset created by creator B from Facebook Places to Apple's VR world. Creator B has to approve of portability between the two worlds, and user A has to request the transfer, but Facebook Places has no say, because they don't own the asset.
Now that's what I thought High Fidelity was doing. Nah. It's just another token with a complex backstory that doesn't do much. They're talking about a way for creators to prove ownership. All you need for that is a cryptographic time-stamping service. Those already exist. When you create something, you take the hash of it and get that time-stamped. Now you can show priority. No blockchain needed.
This has nothing to do with "blockchain."
It has everything to do with public key cryptography. Managing private keys is a royal pain for ordinary people. Yet every block chain secures its users assets with the same basic technology.
Users detest managing private keys so much so that they'll obligingly turn over their digital assets to bank-like institutions (Mt. Gox and a cavalcade of others who rarely get mentioned). In so doing users undermine the original censorship-resistant value proposition on which legitimate block chains are based.
If you want to make block chains more usable, focus on making public key cryptography more intuitive.