Most big technology changes don’t come out of nowhere. There are predecessor technologies that predate and portend what is to come. I like to call these predecessor technologies “gateways.”
In the case of the web, there were two important gateways. The first was CD ROMs. There was a moment in NYC in the early 90s when we all thought CD ROMs were going to be the future of media. That is when the NY New Media Association was formed and there was a ton of excitement in the air about new digital.media services that would be delivered to our computers via CD ROMs.
Around the same time we saw the rise of online services like AOL, CompuServe, and Prodigy. These services allowed users to connect via dialup modem and do things like chat and email.
The CD ROM wave taught users to browse and explore rich media on their computers.
The online services wave taught users to dialup and chat and email.
So by the time the web browser showed up in the mid 90s, users were primed for the combination of the two – dialing up to chat, email, and browse rich media. It was a killer combination of the two and so much more.
As we think about crypto, we look for these gateways. One is certainly the financial speculation and trading of crypto assets. That has brought millions to the crypto sector and is the primary reason that people own or have owned crypto assets.
Another might be stablecoins that operate on closed or semi-closed networks. These stablecoins may not support the broadest set of applications envisioned by projects like Ethereum and others, but they may get hundreds of millions of people around the world owning and transacting with crypto assets.
It is tempting to get caught up in the big vision of what is possible with a powerful technology.like crypto and dismiss the gateways. But that would be a mistake as they are often necessary to set the stage for what is to come.