"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."
The title of this post presupposes an undesirable disposition that the general public holds towards 'cryptocurrencies'. Whenever this technology enters into discussion, I have found that people typically gravitate towards one of the two following positions. Either they're overwhelmingly pessimistic, calling this technology out as a kind of scam, something that only morons would take an interest in, or they're entirely oblivious to how this technology functions and usually look at it as a get rich quick scheme.
There is an extremely narrow set of individuals who take a realistic view of this area of research. I am writing this piece of content, blog post, whatever you want to call it, to try and increase the size of this pool of individuals. I may not win you over straight away. Still, over time as I continue to publish, I hope you become more and more convinced that these technologies are so much more valuable to us collectively than as simple tools to record financial transactions.
One of the first steps in converting the pessimist is to take a step back, realise what cryptocurrencies are (which is to say, sophisticated technologies), and reconstruct their nomenclature.
Coins as Digital Tokens
A cryptocurrency is a collection of digital tokens, usually accompanied by trading or exchanging these tokens with one another or with organisations.
Cryptocurrencies as Economic Game Theoretic Model Implementations (or Incentivised Consensus Algorithms)
These digital tokens are part of a much larger system; they're paid out as a form of incentive to encourage essential components of an extensive decentralised computer network to perform tasks as instructed. As such, we should begin thinking about cryptographic 'coins' as digital tokens; and any cryptocurrency as (the economic) part of implementing a game-theoretic model. These models are built to establish distributed trust among many decentralised agents who may otherwise act maliciously against one another. Building trust among these agents acts as a function of consensus regarding who owns what. A record of this information is stored in a ledger that every agent has a copy of. For example: whose account has any given amount of digital tokens tied to it, the purely financial application of these types of consensus algorithms and distributed ledgers.
Okay? So What?
Well, the exciting part of this discussion (or area of research) is the various applications outside of finance that can be brought into existence using the same consensus algorithms and distributed ledgers.
This means we can build decentralised (and immutable, but we'll get to that later) services for personal identification, conducting polls, voting, decentralised file storages and much more.
Is your brain starting to hurt? Yeah, I thought as much. Perhaps we better leave it there for now. Just let me say one final word.
Hopefully, you have begun to think of these Distributed Ledger Technologies as more than just Ponzi schemes and have serious real-world applicational nature. Whether that is within purely financial systems or other types of applications that require the use of a ledger-like system, and thus, these are not 'cryptocurrencies' (with a negative connotation), these are Distributed Ledger Technologies.