This is what permissionless innovation looks like.

Jamaican banana stand

This is what ‘permissionless innovation’ looks like.i

On a near-deserted ring road looping around the Shaw Park Gardens, up the hill from the north shore of the Caribbean island of Jamaica, near the cruise ship port of Ocho Rios and at the crest of a hill nearing an unmarked y-intersection, lay this stellar example of permissionless innovation – the fiat equivalent of Circle,, Ethereum, and Flexcoin, among many others. This is what permissionless innovation looks like whether it’s in fiat or Bitcoin : a banana stand. And not the kind with money in it.

Permissionless innovation has always been thus, scrounging in the dirt at the edges of an economy. Without the resources of its beating heart, without the resources and expertise needed to grow and thrive, even the best idea can can never grow much beyond this. The edges are but hangers-on, those who were unfairly late to the party.

Bitcoin doesn’t pretend to change this. What Bitcoin does differently, in addition to disrupting anything and everything is establish a new hierarchy, one quite distinct from that old, decrepit, and senile guard; the one barely sure what day of the week it is, much less which winter it is.

The new guard, Bitcoin, is at once more open and less democratic (funny how that works, eh ?); more accessible, and yet even more unequal. All told, if you think that the old fiat system was oppressive or mean or whatever, holy shit are you in for a world of hurt should you continue to ignore the outstretched arm of history, the invitation collecting dust in your mailbox, and continue to ostrich your head in the sand, filling your ears with naive notions of “it could never happen to me.”ii

But if you have any pretense of “putting a ding in the universe,” of meaningfully differentiating yourself from the orcs, the time isn’t tomorrow or the day after that, much less sometime after the next block reward halving, it’s today.

So no, Bitcoin doesn’t particularly offer ‘permissionless innovation’ anymore than Jamaica does, the difference is that the Jamaican President and his her associates are inaccessible to you, meaning that you have no way of ever mattering in its economy. You can’t have so much as a 2-minute meeting with her for love or money.

In Bitcoin, conversely, all you have to do to have a word with the lordship is log into the little IRC channel that could and present yourself both openly and honestly. If you already have an implementation up and running, you won’t find anywhere with more resources to help you make your project a lasting success, and if you just have skills without a place to apply them, we can help with that too.

Bitcoin is better because you can finally get the permission you need, and as a result, you’ve never had a better opportunity to innovate.

Make the most of it.

___ ___ ___

  1. Bitcoin is the first open protocol that allows permissionless innovation in the financial services industry. While there have been some interesting applications built on top of Bitcoin to date, we think that the innovation in the space is just getting started. A primary objective for us in 2015 is to drive bitcoin adoption by helping developers build great applications.

    via Derpbase’s blog.

  2. Yes, your online banking can and will be hacked (to say nothing of the currency therein being inflated). And yes, your cell phone can and will be hacked as well. That is, if you have even a modicum of value or pretense thereto in the fiat system. And if you legitimately have no skills and no assets to your credit, as with the Aztec serfs when Cortés & co. came a knockin’, the changing of the guard is the least of your troubles. Besides, what does it matter whether you call me or your current Senator “Sir” ?

11 thoughts on “This is what permissionless innovation looks like.

  1. Hue hue. This has inspired me to write a parallel piece! But first thoughts:

    “Permissionless Innovation” is so disrespectful. Alexis Ohanian, (the founder of the derp oasis that is reddit), truly believes the bests innovations came from doing first, then asking permission later.

    It seems dumb college kid has a great idea that other likeminded dumb college kids also think is “cool”, and so goes on to host idea off broken down Athlon machine out of his dorm room that can barley handle 10k requests at a time.

    Idea goes on to be “noticed”, but never really monetizes. 5 years into the project, the leadership finds they are still pinching pennies, although there is “mass adoption” and they did everything “the consumer has come to expect.”

    So leadership begs for more money, and continues it’s derptitude, and because they are unwilling to listen to those who came before, (elders who matter), because “fuck you, I don’t need your help or permission I’m a grown teenager”, revenue still doesn’t amount to anything worthwhile. It’s as if the leadership never leaves college.

    Well all of a sudden project is scaled to include millions of users, yet as a “business” it makes no money despite being a full grown adult. Is this a sick metaphor relating to “apple doesn’t fall far from tree”? Because like the starving college kids composing the leadership, the business can barely pay its bills. (Will these “businesses” start moving back home with their parents?!?!?)

    No, the elders don’t always know what’s right (see Granddad Robert Freeman of the Boondocks), but to completely disregard them and their history is plain disrespectful and foolish. You end up deluding yourself and a lot of other people that a bad idea is good.

    But hey, the users “love it” because you built something people love (even though they don’t), you made it easy to use (cause consumers expect things), and it’s pretty and rewarding to use! Isn’t that valuable?!?!? Wait, why are they bringing out a wood chipper?

  2. majamalu says:

    That is not what ‘permissionless innovation’ looks like. That is what survival in a place where you have to ask permission for any productive activity looks like.

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