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The Specter of Stagnation

FUD is good, at least somebody cares enough to hate you. A specter is haunting this blockchain--the specter of stagnation. While the voices inside continue to preach brighter pastures, the voices from the outside have stopped. Not because they have been convinced, but because simply they no longer care.

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A lot of people have compared Bitcoin to the internet in terms of how revolutionary the technology is. The internet pretty runs on a single protocol stack. There is no competition. While some innovation happens at the application layer and above, the core of the protocol stack, TCP/IP has been the dominant player for the past forty years.

Is Bitcoin the dominant monetary protocol base layer? It is hard to say. But it looks like the optimism of sustainable money printers that rode the last bull run is over. The cryptocurrencies that don't have any worth sharing are dying with the dumb money now out of the space.

Back in December when Bitcoin was bottoming, I wrote a piece about how I believed Steem was heading towards it's natural equilibrium of zero. That was when altcoins and Bitcoin were still making correlated downward movements. Bitcoin has reversed its trend, but here we are, making new local lows.

I wrote that piece because I wondered if there was even a good reason that Steem should be worth anything. While I still think that Steem has some representational value (as a scoring metric), I still have no good reason to treat as money. I'm still here because the technological experiment is cool, but outside my deepest fantasies, I'm not becoming rich off of Steem.

A lot of remaining arguments in favor of Steem refer to scarcity and the money printing aspects of the blockchain, but fail to get to the core of the problem. Those things are derivative of something already having monetary value. But what if it doesn't?

Lately, the more recent discussion has been about derivative coins built on top of Steem. They ask the question, what if anyone could make money printers that utilize blockchain resources to supplement the protocol? If the core protocol doesn't hold any worth, why should anyone expect these to maintain their worth either. There were these things called POCKET tokens way back in the day.

I'm a POCKET millionaire. Nobody cares.

In terms of the base protocol, the network is rather stagnant. That places an enormous cap on how much growth these localized native tokens have considering the number of loops outside users have to jump through in order to get integrated into that local group.

To add the cherry on top of the whole situation, most people don't care anymore. It's been awhile since anyone has talked to me about Bitcoin. The masses are more concerned about other things than grinding out karma on a stagnating social media network.

HF21 doesn't look like it's really going to change anything that drastically. It seems more like tuning a broken protocol more than anything. Then you have the SPS as a means of luring more developer attention. You could have also done that with better documentation, but Dan Larimer doesn't believe in such things. Given the falling price, I don't see a lot of developers really gunning for those pennies given how sloppy the codebase looks.

I would try to wrap this whole thing up, but I'm struggling to find the passion I once had for this project. I spent hundreds of hours here. I spent months writing for basically nothing. I was really excited back then. To build towards something, to find that escape velocity. And now, long after my audience has decayed, it feels like my presence here has begun to as well.

At least we still have memories. For a little bit longer.

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