Expert Insight

Five books for blockchain enthusiasts this summer

Are you after blockbuster blockchain books for your annual escape from the daily grind? Then Coin Rivet recommends the following titles.

We appreciate you’re probably not taking Coin Rivet on holiday with you (although you really should). But whether you’re off on a cruise, lounging on the beach, hiking in the middle of nowhere, or having a staycation involving several bottles of wine and boxsets of your favourite TV shows (OK, that last one is probably just us), you might at some point want to take a break from taking a break and re-immerse yourself in the world of blockchain technology.

In which case, here are the books you should be reading this summer. NB: This list reflects the fact that Coin Rivet’s readership includes both blockchain newbies and veterans.

The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking

Synopsis: In The Bitcoin Standard, economist Saifedean Ammous walks readers through the fascinating history of the technologies of money and explores what gave these technologies their monetary role, how they lost it, what that teaches us about the desirable features of money, and how Bitcoin is designed to improve on these technologies.

Ammous elucidates the economic, social, cultural, and political benefits of sound money over unsound money to allow for an informed discussion of the potential role Bitcoin could play in the digital economy of the future. Rather than as a currency for criminals or a cheap mass consumer payment network, this book argues Bitcoin is emerging as a decentralised, politically neutral, free-market alternative to national central banks, with potentially enormous implications for individual freedom and prosperity.

Digital Human: The Fourth Revolution of Humanity Includes Everyone

Synopsis: We are in the midst of a revolution of humanity. The impact of the digital revolution, creating the fourth age of humanity, is that we are all connected one-to-one in real time for the first time in history. Digital Human offers a much-needed exploration of how the digital age is affecting human and business relationships and offers guidance that shows how companies of all sizes can adapt to become forward–thinking digital businesses.

Digital Human explores the implications of the digitalisation for humanity, trade, commerce and our future. The mobile network is achieving the goal of eroding boundaries and inclusion of everyone. This digitalisation of our planet is bringing about a major transformation. Everyone on the planet will soon be included in the network and everyone on the planet will get the chance to talk, trade and transact with everyone else in real time.

This book offers insight into a number of intriguing topics that stem from the digitalisation of humanity such as how Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are challenging government and control mechanisms and why the Chinese tech giants are more imaginative than their Western counterparts.

Chris Skinner also explores the rise of the most fundamental innovations in emerging markets and examines the challenge to govern a globalised world when we live in nation states. In addition, Skinner includes the first ever in-depth English language case study of Ant Financial and Alipay, the mobile wallet that aims to be used by over two billion humans.

Digital Human explains why the fourth revolution of humanity will include everyone, no matter where they live or how they live.

The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and the Future of Everything

Synopsis:Big banks have grown bigger and more entrenched. Privacy exists only until the next hack. Credit card fraud is a fact of life. Many of the “legacy systems” once designed to make our lives easier and our economy more efficient are no longer up to the task. Yet there is a way past all this – a new kind of operating system with the potential to revolutionise vast swaths of our economy: the blockchain.

In The Truth Machine, Michael J. Casey and Paul Vigna demystify the blockchain and explain why it can restore personal control over our data, assets, and identities; grant billions of excluded people access to the global economy; and shift the balance of power to revive society’s faith in itself. They reveal the disruption it promises for industries including finance, tech, legal, and shipping. Casey and Vigna expose the challenge of replacing trusted (and not-so-trusted) institutions on which we’ve relied for centuries with a radical model that bypasses them.

The Truth Machine reveals the empowerment possible when self-interested middlemen give way to the transparency of the blockchain, while highlighting the job losses, assertion of special interests, and threat to social cohesion that will accompany this shift. With the same balanced perspective they brought to The Age of Cryptocurrency, Casey and Vigna show why listeners must care about the path that blockchain technology takes – moving humanity forward, not backward.

Bank 4.0: Banking everywhere, never at a bank 

Synopsis: In the final book in the digital ‘BANK’; series, Brett King tackles the topic of whether banks have a future at all in the emerging, technology embedded world of the 21st century. In 30-50 years when cash is gone, cards are gone and all vestiges of the traditional banking system have been re-engineered in real-time, what exactly will a bank look like? How will we reimagine a bank account, identity, value, assets, investments?

Then stepping back from this vision of the future, King and his cadre of `disruptors’ and FinTech mafia chronicle the foundations of this new banking ecosystem today. From selfie-pay in China, blockchain in Africa, self-driving cars with their own bank accounts and augmented reality tech that informs the future design of banking systems, this proves once and for all that we’re not in Wall Street anymore Toto. Bank 4.0 is what banking will become.

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road

Synopsis: In 2011, a 26-year-old libertarian programmer named Ross Ulbricht launched the ultimate free market: the Silk Road, a clandestine website hosted on the dark web where anyone could trade anything – drugs, hacking software, forged passports, counterfeit cash, poisons – free of the government’s watchful eye.

It wasn’t long before the media got wind of the new site where anyone, not just teenagers and weed dealers but terrorists and black hat hackers, could buy and sell contraband detection-free. Spurred by a public outcry, the federal government launched an epic two-year manhunt for the site’s elusive proprietor, with no leads, no witnesses, and no clear jurisdiction. All the investigators knew was that whoever was running the site called himself the Dread Pirate Roberts.

The Silk Road quickly ballooned into a $1.2 billion enterprise, and Ross embraced his new role as kingpin. He enlisted a loyal crew of allies in high and low places, all as addicted to the danger and thrill of running an illegal marketplace as their customers were to the heroin they sold. Through his network he got wind of the target on his back and took drastic steps to protect himself, including ordering a hit on a former employee. As Ross made plans to disappear forever, the Feds raced against the clock to catch a man they weren’t sure even existed, searching for a needle in the haystack of the global Internet.

Drawing on exclusive access to key players and two billion digital words and images Ross left behind, Vanity Fair correspondent and New York Times bestselling author Nick Bilton offers a tale filled with twists and turns, lucky breaks and unbelievable close calls. It’s a story of the boy next door’s ambition gone criminal, spurred on by the clash between the new world of libertarian-leaning, anonymous, decentralised web advocates and the old world of government control, order, and the rule of law. Filled with unforgettable characters and capped by an astonishing climax, American Kingpin might be dismissed as too outrageous for fiction. But it’s all too real.

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