To be named person of this miraculous year is a great honor indeed, and to select the potential candidates is quite a burden, but someone has to do it and that someone happens to be us.
For good or bad, we list who we think are the contenders, with your assistance desired in a poll at the end of the article. The poll is not binding, but if views legitimately seem to be going a certain way in a close call, the results might be influential.
Because while in previous years it has been somewhat easy to pick the person of the year, this year it is genuinely extremely difficult, because far too much has happened, with the landscape transforming in 2017.
Without further suspense, for your pleasure and entertainment, we present below the candidates in no indicative order.
A mini-revolution occurred on August the 1st 2017. At the height of the scalability debate, a coder declared they were going ahead with an intentional chain-split fork of bitcoin.
It was a checkmate of sorts. All bitcoiners were to be given an equal amount. The free market was to decide. The split in the community that had occurred in 2015 would be formalized. The two projects could go their own way, compete rather than endlessly debate.
But more than anything, the full power of public blockchains could be shown, proving that they are inherently and fundamentally decentralized because anyone can just launch their own bitcoin.
Something they are doing now in a trend of sorts with even Bitcoin X a thing. However, Bitcoin Cash is quite unique as shown by its current market cap and top three position.
They dream of a global peer to peer digital currency usable for everyday commerce. A dream they can now pursue after Sechét, and other coders such as Freetrader, rose to the challenge and gave people the option.
The grassroots flocked to it even while some of the bitcoin “elite” were strongly against. But the people could no longer be controlled, leading us to write on the eve of the fork what we think is one of our more iconic article for the year: Let Freedom Reign.
For some liberty was gained on that day, as the market action since has shown, with the boom moving to full swing following bitcoin’s first chain-split fork.
How one coder managed to persuade an entire ecosystem, which was sure the blocksize would simply be raised when needed, might be an interesting chapter for anyone who bothers to write the scalability story.
As the CTO and boss of many current bitcoin developers, Maxwell has considerable influence, but whether that is ultimately for better or worse, only time can say.
On the better side, he raised awareness that the blocksize can’t just be increased to Gigabytes, as was the first proposal back in 2015. But the influence that makes him a candidate for this year is in preventing any base blocksize increase whatever.
The reason is because he wants to establish what he calls a fee market. Full blocks, therefore, are necessary in his view and high fees are a good thing, even in this point and time.
Many disagree, but a centralized and focused for profit company, Blockstream, prevailed over a somewhat disorganized and unfocused big-blockers coalition of businesses and miners.
As such, bitcoin has turned into an asset this year, rather than a currency, with the ecosystem awaiting the Lightning Network, upon which it places all hope.
The digital revolution, thus, has been delayed in some ways, but the people do not care. They are flocking in defiance. As if to say, no, show must go on.
There is something quite endearing about a young man going around pressing buttons and suddenly burning $150 million, as devops199 says and we very much want to believe.
Because in many ways he embodies this space. Pioneers, on new roads, discovering new things, accidentally stumbling, then picking up themselves to strive further.
Like Alexander the Great’s expedition to India, or Christopher Columbus’ accidental discovery of America, we are too walking into a new world.
And to keep order, we build new rules, which whether they make sense or not might be less relevant than the certainty they provide.
That $150 million should not be unfrozen, some argue, inspiring us to write The Crypto Religion. Although we do think if they are not unfrozen Parity should chain-split fork to their own blockchain.
Because competition, and a variety of approaches, can only be good, especially in this space, where experimental observation is the only provider of answers.
The crypto boom we are now seeing might directly be connected, in a straight line, to the debut of Ethereum in spring 2016, opening once more imagination and letting us dream of a world where bots have bank accounts and money is programmable.
So waking up this space from a slumber and endless debate, refocusing energy towards our dreams, towards building and towards creating value.
But as ethereum now reaches new highs in transaction volumes, all eyes are on Buterin and his team for an implementation of a long term solutions to the scalability problem.
If they can crack it, the world is probably theirs, for with a decentralized public blockchain that can handle tens of thousands of transactions a second, the possibilities are endless.
Because at that point, we can realistically talk about Venezuelans using crypto for daily commerce, a token economy flourishing, and even dollars on the blockchain.
As Buterin has seemingly solved the scalability problem conceptually, on him and his team rests much hope to provide an implementation for what might be the last hard problem before blockchains can debut to the mainstream in use, rather than just as an investment.
The chairman of America’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has risen as the most influential figure among regulators in the world.
Blockchains may have averted the 2008 collapse, he said in 2016. We should look to Britain’s FCA, he said a few months latter. Firstly, do no harm, he further told the grey halls.
And now, with his implicit or tacit approval of bitcoin futures, he has certainly risen as a very influential figure in the civil service.
Going against the tide among his men and women, he apparently sees what we see. One of the very few among the grey heads, especially in America.
He has, in a way single handedly, given legitimacy to this space, bringing digital currencies to the mainstream of finance, so beginning a new era of the digital revolution.
And so, he himself, counting his steps amongst the pioneers. To him belongs leadership, if he can grab the opportunity, as the hour calls and the challenge demands.
Why do they hate us? – was an editorial we never found the time to write. What have we done to the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) that they slap us at every turn and every opportunity they get – we do wonder often.
Few will forget the way they handled the ETF. Not the decision itself, but a rejection at the last second screams agenda. And when they then laid down the law on ICOs, without even a public consultation, we wondered whether our criticism of China had been too harsh, and whether America is in fact no better.
Because that old tradition in free lands dictates unelected bureaucrats consult extensively with the public before they encroach on the jurisdiction of the judiciary or that of Congress.
For to extend the definition of securities to DAO like situations where token holders have full control over their investment with it unable to move (discarding if its hacked or in the physical world the whole building burns down) except for according to their vote, might very much be something that would not hold for a second under an adversarial court.
That is not to say SEC does not have some justifiable concerns, but as far as we are aware crowdfundings have exceptions for funds raised of up to $20 million or so, raising questions as to why they went after a seemingly legitimate ICO that was looking to raise only $15 million.
They have been very heavy handed, in our view, so far. Have shown no foresight, no flexibility, have allowed themselves for questions to be raised as to whether they are protecting VCs, and appear to signal hostility to innovation.
That much hailed capitalism arguably has been the privilege of very few. Born into wealth since time immemorial, or striking lucky, and here or there some great innovators and entrepreneurs now billionaires, get to pick the most promising new ventures, for the pleasure of 20%, 40% or even almost 50% equity.
Thus their money, earns them money, by doing in effect nothing. So the rich get richer, while the poor, poorer still.
But of course, the intellect of birth often doesn’t know about wealth. From roses come thorns and from thorns roses. Thus geniuses at times are born in poverty, and from there they rise by creating something very new.
In this case, by opening the doors to wealth creation to the masses. Instead of a handful of VCs, now entrepreneurs can go to the people, sharing their value creation and new wealth with the many, rather than the few.
Communism through capitalism, you might call it. One of the more promising and liberating aspect of this space. Making bank loans and VCs an option, at times secondary to the free people.
Of course, there can be problems, but the current options are not without problem at all. We gave trillions to banks, directly and indirectly, on top of the interest they charge us. While VCs fancy themselves as kings and bosses, hiding behind SEC’s protectionist laws.
But the free people can no longer be controlled. There’s a peaceful revolt against the old order, both in ballot boxes and in code, for it sent us to war and kept us there for almost two decades, it bankrupted our nations, and showed itself to be broken.
With part of the reason being a continued concentration in wealth, which might now begin to be reversed somewhat, as this space continues a people’s bailout and ICOs promise to open the capitalist system of value creation to all.
Who would have thought ethereum’s killer dapp would be cats on the blockchain? And this time literally, with the kitties briefly bringing ethereum to its knees, so sending transaction levels to a new all-time high.
Miners managed to save the day, increasing capacity, freeing the kitties to breed freely, so allowing the continued showcasing of one of ethereum’s potential use, tokenized and unique digital assets.
Assets which you can sell or buy, like works of art, and not much different from that ecosystem, prices here ballooned too, with one cartoon cat going for some $100,000.
A collectible piece of history perhaps, or a silliness like pets.com, but history has been kind to the latter, with its domain name alone now probably worth millions.
Its conceptual proposition has been vindicated too. Internet commerce is now thriving, with the excesses of the dotcom boom now looking like a tiny dust in a transformed sea of booming internet waves.
We can not, at this point, say the same about tokenized assets for that’s the providence of time, but homes on a blockchain do make sense, potentially art pieces too, whether of the cat variety, that of shibes, or pepe.
So mirroring the limited uniqueness and rarity of physical matter in the digital realm, together with all the various benefits that entails.
Far too many are not mentioned. China, in particular, because as it happened, they ended up having no influence at all. Which itself might be quite a huge influence as this space shows its global nature.
Jamie Dimon has made noticeable headline, and his self-inflicted silence on bitcoin after a series of events might have been quite an influential episode, for a defeat of sorts was admitted, with this space going on to roar.
You, the people who have flocked to this space, deserve a mention, but your influence is implied for if we were to seriously consider you as a candidate you would probably win most years.
And that shadow of Nakamoto does still scratch imagination, but he has been fairly absent this year, even indirectly.
With no named woman in this list for 2017, we do wonder whether what we sometimes see as a segregationist approach where women have their own hackathon is the best way to address diversity.
In a highly competitive world, after all, one must be forged in fire, and if one can’t compete in equal terms but must be sweetened with sugar, perhaps one can’t rise to where it matters.
Because after much is said and done, we are pioneering a new world, where man or woman has not walked before. And there are plenty, especially our elders, who would rather we do not.
But like the seasons, the rotating sun, the waxing moon, and even our very limited lives, the old must give way to the new. And it is in this miraculous year that the old and the new meet properly.
To the pioneers this year belongs. May history sing them songs. For a new dawn is truly upon us, so cast your ballot below, make suggestions in the comments, or, if you are inclined, give us a bit of righteousness and scathing criticism for our terrible choices, and, if you are so kind, a bit of praise, if you are inclined.