In the fast paced world of the Silicon Valley, there’s a never-ending idea that innovation happens quick. Companies sprout out of nowhere with brilliant ideas, hoping to reconstruct the very industries that have been around for much longer. This isn’t just in the high-tech industry. People in healthcare, politics, and education all look for ways to become the next overnight success. However, what most fail to realize in modern times is that things like this don’t just happen in a flash. Sure it may be exciting to imagine that one idea could drastically change the fabric of our society, but throughout history, almost everything that has advanced has occurred through marginal gains. Little by little, the gradual incremental gains, is what resembles progress in the broader scope of things. I’m sure people haven’t forgotten, but this incrementalism seems to have been concealed by the faint prospect of the infrequent.
Take the progress of art for example. Most have studied the Italian Renaissance to some length in grade school. However, most have forgotten that the Renaissance didn’t just happen overnight, but rather over the course of almost three centuries. When linear perspective was first discovered by the early engineer and architect Brunelleschi, it wasn’t for a long time until Masaccio first incorporates this idea of making something in 2-D, seem 3-D until years after. But regardless, the memory of this history seems to be skewed upon only a couple major figures such as Da Vinci, who surely did not singlehandedly change the industry. He relied on the previous innovators who came before him, and those relied on those who came before them. This incrementalism over a century created what we call today the Renaissance.
Its similar to how people view a sports superstar, in a sense that history grants them a title such as legend, and many people automatically associate their skill with natural talent. Obviously this can’t be the case for anyone who has ever attempted to play, for example, tennis. Sure one person may be naturally more coordinated that another, but behind a legend’s pinnacle of success is a mountain of obstacles that must be overcome. Take Roger Federer, who hold the most number of Grand Slam Titles for any male tennis player in history. He surely didn’t reach the top on his own merit, nor did he gain the skills and strategies to win overnight. It was his dedication to countless hours of training with the right coaches. Even Federer himself claims that if it weren’t for his coaches over the years who pass on their philosophies and knowledge, he quite possibly would not be where he is now. The marginal gains of improvement from one aspect of the game to another sums to the augmentation of his aptitude. Yet an innumberable amount of journalists and accounts of this legend’s skill continue to place the emphasis on talent above the rest.
Now in 2018, the idea of Blockchain and Crypto has spread worldwide with many people doubtful that it will actually make an impact. There are firm believers on one side who think that the fiat system will soon collapse, granting opportunity for say Bitcoin, while there are those on the other who think that the system is too fraudulent and susceptible to manipulation to succeed. The reasons for both are rational, as there have been too many cases of central authorities failing to provide the necessary security and affirmation to the commons, and too many scams and attempts to manipulate the market. The only people who are misguided, in my opinion, are those who think Cryptocurrency will die out. It is in human nature to think of oneself first and foremost, and avoiding such a speculative and nascent idea based on precedent of the dotcom bubble is the only thing that makes sense. Humans reason based on analogy and the only thing close to a budding idea like blockchain is the internet boom. However, just like the misconception of time-frame in regards to the renaissance or the internet, too many people discussing blockchain fail to realize that this is budding tech. It hasn’t had much time to even explore what it could be used for.
Now everyone has heard of bitcoin, but even bitcoin wasn’t the first of its kind. Bitcoin was formulated based off the shortcomings of its predecessors B-Money and Bit Gold. Although they were never fully developed or gained much momentum, it took a while before Bitcoin was created. The cryptography behind most of these cryptocurrencies are far from new, and this also took years of research before achieving their current status. The steps that people overlook, for example, from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake, and from traditional voting, to quadratic voting, are real signs that things are improving and maturing.
Could it restructure the financial services industry? or maybe the energy industry? It sure isn’t going to happen overnight. But more people undeniably need to realize that the slow, less obvious, gains that happen in increments are what drive the more fundamental changes that take hold.