We journalists are in a privileged position. As the saying goes, you can write the first page of history.
I’ve never felt that more than in my career at CoinDesk. After a decade of reporting on the trends and ups and downs of the cryptocurrency and blockchain economy, the world still feels fresh and stranger every day. Many more stories will be born in the future.
But despite the lofty ideals of writing the first page of history that seem at odds, the big stories in crypto are often stories of failure.
From Mt. Gox to The DAO hacking to FTX (besides the fact that there are too many 3-letter names with “X” in the cryptocurrency space), the industry’s excessive dreams and desires are , repeatedly falls victim to the constraints and limitations of human capacity.
But there’s no need to feel depressed. This pattern of failure also underscores the constructive character of communities around crypto and journalism.
The ethos of crypto is built on open source development principles that believe failure is essential to innovative growth. That means real money is being invested, so tough lessons can be dealt with quickly and yield rapid iterative improvements.
In fact, looking back over the past decade, market cap (up 160,000% to $1.77 trillion), number of wallets (up 56,000% to 84 million), number of countries adopting crypto regulation and innovation (from zero to almost everything), the cryptocurrency industry has grown at an unprecedented speed in history. That said, it has failed to transform the economy in the way its most enthusiastic proponents predicted.
A new way of thinking about public goods
The spirit of journalism, or at least what journalists hold dear, is based on similar ideas.
The old adage of the world of journalism, “Blood makes headlines” doesn’t just refer to reporters satisfactorily sharing the pain of others. It also means that revealing failures is a journalist’s high mission. That means bringing transparency and accountability to all human endeavors that are in the public interest or interest.
These missions align with the mission of the cryptocurrency community. The more journalists uncover buried failures, the faster the industry can learn from them, correct course, and become stronger.
For crypto journalists, the quest for transparency and accountability (sometimes overlooked by both large and small media outlets) is part of the old romantic notion that the media is a “fourth power.” adds a new role to
Within the traditional system, journalists hold governments and other powers accountable, and those in power pursue their own interests so that public interests such as security, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability are achieved. I’ve been keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t get damaged.
In the world of cryptocurrencies, there is a new way of thinking about public good. The idea is that blockchain should be free from the control of centralized powers such as mining pools, venture capitalists, exchanges and regulators. Crypto journalists are called upon to defend the ideal of decentralization in obscure but important ways.
All media have flaws. Many of them are terrible. But a good media will have at its core a commitment to protecting the public good through transparency and accountability. In that regard, I lead a team that has maintained high standards in the face of unrelenting and unsubstantiated criticism and conspiracy theories from hostile and often toxic social media crowds. proud of
April 14, when Ian Allison and Tracy Wang received the venerable George Polk Award for the coverage that sparked the FTX bankruptcy, was only for the two and CoinDesk. It wasn’t a memorable day. It was an important day for the entire cryptocurrency industry.
CoinDesk’s two reporters, along with reporters from major media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Associated Press, discussed how important it is for the crypto community to expose the bad guys and keep public blockchains decentralized. He showed me what was going on.
However, only a handful of journalists are rewarded for pursuing such a lofty purpose. What motivates the rest of us? The answer is the thrill you get from delivering important news.
The news that cryptocurrencies throw at us is nothing short of amazing.
Many of CoinDesk’s reporters share the mindset I convey when I invite journalism school graduates to join CoinDesk rather than the mainstream media.
The idea is that cryptoassets are the big story in finance since the Renaissance, when the Medici family created a currency model centered around banks. Of course, some reporters are skeptical about the potential of cryptocurrency technology to change the world, thinking it’s overblown (which makes CoinDesk even more diverse and stronger).
And despite differences of opinion, CoinDesk reporters are chasing stories day and night. I don’t care about the voices that judge some people as “cryptocurrency swindlers.” Because the story is really interesting.
Regardless of whether cryptocurrencies succeed or not, the fact that they are undertaking audacious goals to transform centuries-old monetary systems, rebuild organizational structures and community governance, and overthrow the tyranny of Web2. , making crypto-assets infinitely more attractive.
What emerges from this is not the story of mechanical technology, or the precision of mathematics and cryptography, but the story of human beings, their dreams, their successes, and their failures. CoinDesk’s 2010 coverage reveals the Shakespearean breadth of the crypto story.
Aside from the Mt Gox bankruptcy in 2014, The DAO hack in 2016, and the FTX bankruptcy in 2022, CoinDesk’s ten-year journey has seen plenty of drama.
For example, the launch of the Ethereum blockchain by Vitalik Buterin in 2015. For proponents, it’s a moment alongside Tim Berners-Lee’s launch of the World Wide Web, and for detractors, it’s a rip-off from those seduced by Mr. Buterin’s ideas. I plan to take it.
In 2017 there was a block war. It can be seen as a devastating infighting in fringe communities, or as a triumph story for ordinary citizens—users—who defended public goods against the abuse of corporate profits.
The 2018 initial coin offering (ICO) boom is a classic example of excessive speculation and loss in general, but it can also be seen as a story of hope for a new and inclusive capital market ahead of its time.
In 2019, Facebook’s Libra was launched. As flawed as many thought it was, policy makers finally realized that crypto innovation was a game changer for them.
2020 will see the rise of meme tokens. Critics see memes as a sign of the frivolity of the industry, a wonderful display of creativity, failing to recognize that new communication systems are shaping ideas and culture.
El Salvador will adopt Bitcoin as legal tender in 2021. Regardless of how you view the move, it is a reminder that crypto assets challenge fundamental ideas about state-based currency and power.
Human battles for money, power, creativity and independence—these are the preludes to the history of cryptocurrencies. And that’s what CoinDesk has been telling us for the last decade.
What will happen to crypto assets in the next decade?
｜Translation and editing: Akiko Yamaguchi, Takayuki Masuda
| Image: Ian Suarez/CoinDesk
｜Original: CoinDesk Turns 10: What We Learned From Reporting a Decade of Crypto History