Video Of The Week: How To Emerge From The Internet Dark Ages

In this talk, Muneeb Ali, founder of our portfolio company Blockstack, calls the period we are in right now “the dark ages of the Internet” and explains why he sees it that way.

He goes on to talk about how we can emerge from this period.


Comments (Archived):

  1. kenberger

    Blockstack is having a big conference here in Berlin next week; I’ll be there. Can’t wait (I’m an investor):

    1. Muneeb Ali

      Really excited about Berlin as well! Looking forward to seeing you and other Blockstack community members there.Here is a direct link to the event page with an updated list of speakers:… (Click “read more” for the updated list of speakers.)

  2. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:The reason not to have social media. We have banned the use of social media at work. A term for severing ties with our group if used at work.Allowing social media to monetize off your personal data without compensation.What will prevent people not honest from creating a company that monetizes in same scale of a Google or Facebook? In the beginning stages of the internet no one knew the future uses similar to the new internet/Blockchain?At the end of the day the free market will dictate how to monetize off anything large group’s of people gather.Captain Obvious!#UnequivocallyUnapologeticallyIndependent

  3. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Two interesting speakers at Blockstack Berlin Conference:Edward Snowden (Must be via teleconference & USV Albert Wenger.Captain Obvious!#UnequivocallyUnapologeticallyIndependent

  4. William Mougayar

    This is the best Blockstack articulation I have ever heard! REALLY great speech by Muneeb.Indeed, the online cloud has become too centrally manipulated and controlled. It’s time to unbundle it and re-distribute it for the many reasons and benefits that Muneeb enumerated.I’ll be speaking in Berlin next week at the Blockstack event. I’d love to see more decentralized Apps on the Blockstack model. Big fan of that approach.

    1. Muneeb Ali

      Thanks, William! We’re working with complicated technology with several moving parts and finding simple ways to explain these concepts to the masses is very important.Looking forward to seeing you in Berlin. There is so much excitement about that event. There will be 10 or so demos of real apps/startups built on Blockstack that you’d likely find interesting.

      1. William Mougayar

        Great to know. Looking forward to it.

    2. Richard

      The best pitches should address the weaknesses and assumptions. Similar to the best closing arguments in a plaintiff’s tort trial , this pitch should address the inherent weaknesses of this alternative internet.

      1. William Mougayar

        If you followed closely the evolution of Blockstack since its founding, then you might have appreciated what I said.But looking at your history here on AVC, I noticed you have a tendency to pepper negative comments, so I will take your commentary with a grain of salt. It’s easy to criticize from the outside or in the abstract. It shows no respect for the entrepreneurs.

        1. Richard

          Surprised at your criticism. Wasn’t a personal attack. And it’s not like it’s not constructive critisism. 20 minute pitches are super hard. I’ve fell on my face a few time and I’m not saying I can do any better. That said, I am NY guy and definitely not don’t waive the Pom Poms and like to see founders address the hard stuff.

          1. William Mougayar

            Didn’t take it personally, but read it as criticism directed at Blockstack.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            @SagacityHappens:disqus – I wouldn’t worry about it. He’s set himself up to being perhaps the spearheading spokesperson for crypto-assets and in the past has completely shutdown/put down my even mentioning of any negative aspect of crypto-assets (and others). He simply can’t engage because with the negative side being addressed then he (and others) can no longer maintain their straw man arguments etc – which leads to a close-mindedness. It’s as bad as how Trump behaves. It is however inevitable that crypto-assets like Bitcoin, Ethereum’s Ether et al, that are incentivized and structured like Pyramid-Ponzi schemes will collapse/fail, however it still could lead to war, civil war, and so people must start taking stance and speaking strongly of the truth they feel to bring the negative side – that the marketing hype machine blissfully requires to ignore – to light.@wmoug:disqus – It is clear you didn’t actually hear what Richard was saying. You have some big blocks – no pun intended – you should find ways to work on those, otherwise you’re going to continue down a more and more narrow path which will intensify more and more as you defend your closed-minded stance. Your reaction with your guard being up has a deep foundation of fear, there’s no need for fear. I say all this with heart, with love, kindness, and gentleness. Hear and feel me if you will, sit with this without responding if you should. Feel free to connect with me if you’d like direction on how to connect and heal the deeper self from fear. Namaste. Aho.

    3. Ronnie Rendel

      This was a perfect example of how founders should speak. It starts with a product that is truly changing the status quo. Thanks for posting. Another great lesson by AVC

  5. jason wright

    1. How will Googbook respond? They will respond. The nature of the response may have a profound influence over whether a Blockstack can grow or not.2. Blockstack, or Blockstuck? What will actually drive people to download the software? I don’t sense that the vast majority of people contemplate the issue of ownership of their digital data, or regard it as being that important to their lives. Where’s the momentum coming from?

    1. jason wright

      no answers? then not enough thought has been given to the strategy for entering the market. What’s the socio demographic dynamic driving onboarding?

  6. Sherab

    Please make it easy for the non-tech folk to understand or to see the practical side of this develop

  7. Kirsten Lambertsen

    The articulation of the benefits of blockchain keeps getting better and better. Good job, everybody 🙂 This talk is extremely accessible, like the kind of thing I can very comfortably share with the non-technical people in my life.Way to sell the sizzle and not the steak. People don’t need to know how blockchain works, just what benefits it delivers!I think it’s important to be out in front of the drawbacks that come with blockchain, as well. Talk about that. Address it head on and put it in context with the drawbacks of not-blockchain. I think that will build trust.

    1. Muneeb Ali

      Good feedback. Blockchains are not magic and need to clarify the limitations as well.

  8. cavepainting

    Love the presentation and the analogies – specifically the parallels to the physical world in terms of property rights and stealing from each vs. millions at one time.Simplicity is complexity resolved. Great job, Muneeb!

    1. Muneeb Ali

      Thank you!

  9. Eleanor Haas

    Really helpful tracking of computer and Internet technology as context for what blockchain is and the value it creates. Thanks!

  10. sigmaalgebra

    Broadly his main points might be valid and to some extent used significantly in practice eventually, maybe.But some of his claims have some problems:(1) Cryptography. As far as I know, there is no solid proof about the difficulty, i.e., computational time complexity, of breaking currently used cryptography. So, in principle, we could wake up tomorrow with some new applied math and some open source code on Github that breaks the cryptography. Sure, “quantum”: Quantum mechanics is regarded as a promising approach to (A) breaking current cryptography and also (B) having unbreakable cryptography, but IIRC neither is really here yet.(2) Data Ownership. The talk seemed to claim that our data is on-line and owned by a few companies, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, etc. and that we do not own our data like we own our own pictures on our walls. Well, for some people, maybe, but not for me and not for everyone.E.g., I make almost no use of Facebook, and they have almost no data on me. I use Google for search and watching video clips on YouTube, and I don’t use their e-mail, discussion groups, office software, etc. I never had much data on LinkedIn and some months ago worked hard to get OFF of LinkedIn in every sense. Disqus has my posts, but they have nothing like all my data, and I’m somewhat anonymous there.Instead of the “clouds”, nearly all my data is in my house, on my computers, backed up to an external USB connected hard drive.My pictures? Nearly all my pictures are just on my computer and not on any cloud. So, I have a sack full of fantastically good Nikon equipment, a fantastic Honeywell flash, and have used them for lots of kitty cat pictures, etc. I have a cheap, about $10, digital camera that will download to an old copy of Microsoft’s PhotoDraw, and I have some more pictures that way. No way do all pictures have to be via the Internet or in the cloud.(3) For e-mail, we are all able to make use of public key cryptography for sending and receiving e-mail.(4) For person to person communications, without going through big cloud companies, we can use just the Internet, e.g., Skype. Besides, since TCP/IP is really easy to program, we can develop more “peer to peer” applications; IIRC there are many such applications now.(5) The description of mainframes in the 1960s was not really correct: The IBM mainframes didn’t do much with terminals until the 1970s.(6) The IBM terminals were not the “dumb” ones. The IBM terminals were in their 3270 line and were quite smart (and darned expensive): (A) The 3270 line worked hard to make good use of darned limited communications data rates, usually just voice grade lines and, say, 110 or 300 bits per second. Since the first big use was airline reservations, there was money enough available. (B) Actually the terminal itself had a good, early version of the “controls” that are still with us in HTML. The terminals were very carefully designed, from high levels, the corresponding computer software, …, down to the feel of the keys on the keyboards.The “dumb” terminals were, e.g., the ADM-3a,…It was not quite but close to a glass teletype. But for a computer not far away with, say, 9600 bit per second data rate, and some okay programming at the computer, an ADM-3a could be made to do well at the work of an IBM 3270 that cost many times as much.Also “dumb” was very much in the sense of current HTTP, HTTPS, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript: It was an internationally recognized STANDARD so that any terminal, computer, communications means, and software were all automatically fully compatible or nearly so. There were some variations, e.g., by DEC.E.g., part of the standard was the XON/XOFF (transmit on, transmit off) from the ASCII characters DC1, DC3 that permitted terminal-computer handshaking for regulating the data rate. Then there were lots of devices that looked to the computer and communications like terminals and used XON/XOFF very well: So, there was the Xerox/Diablo daisy wheel printer, some HP pen plotters, etc.In my experience, Microsoft has long had terrible problems getting XON/XOFF working and, apparently, understanding the utility. To get XON/XOFF to work, need the terminal to have a certain, standard UART (universal asynchronous receiver-transmitter), but these are common on PC motherboards.XON/XOFF was nice, and more generally the days of the “dumb” terminals were not so bad.(7) If want to trust encryption and want to use the cloud for storage and “own” the data, then just encrypt the data. IIRC, there is popular software, etc. just for such data backup.I’m still not seeing just where — e-mail, owning own data, cloud storage — blockchain technology is providing good, new, unique functionality.Indeed, if blockchain gets heavily used, then the computing needed for the blockchain infrastructure will cost big bucks and, thus, need significant corporations getting significant revenue and doing the work. Then likely the work will be done at, let me think, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Comcast, …?

  11. Tom Labus

    Great job @muneeb:disqus. Are you guys Netscape?

  12. Vendita Auto

    Good simple well articulated presentation, one that I feel sure will be copied by many expert consultants at echo chamber conferences. Muneeb Ali we are very close to the reality of D-Wave systems it seems to me that blockchain security will not be as secure as you believe ?

  13. Michael Elling

    One big logical fallacy based on numerous smaller logical fallacies throughout the presentation.

  14. jason wright

    i still don’t see a behaviour in the market that indicates that people want to migrate on mass to a decentralised system like this one. this feels like ivory tower idealism mixed with philosophical and political values that most people do not see as being particularly important to their lives. This will be an uphill struggle.

  15. Adam Parish

    I’m still having a hard time about getting excited about Blockstack. Just being honest.

  16. Steven Keith

    Very nice and interesting explanation. After hearing the presentation I can say that the Founder has always different voice.

  17. Dave S

    I can see the advantage of maintaining the privacy of my personal information using Blockstack. Question: what about other data silos, such as retirement accounts? I’m having trouble envisioning how Blockstack could add value to data security or privacy.