Most people think about bitcoin as an alternative to something they already know, as opposed to an enabler of something they never considered.

In 1985, Steve Jobs was asked by a journalist for concrete reasons why anyone would buy a computer for the home. He answered that “so far, that’s more…



Damn right I will.

“If you invest in Microsoft or Oracle, or a number of other companies for that matter, you’re fundamentally making a bet that there’s going to be no innovation. So an investment in Microsoft is a bet that the operating system is going to stay the same, it won’t be replaced by Linux, Google Docs, or a mobile platform like iOS or Android. These companies always characterize themselves as technology companies because they were at some point in the past. It’s like the General Motors in the ’20s was a tech company, whereas by the ’80s, investing in GM was betting against change. So in the ’80s and ’90s, investing in Microsoft was a bet on growth and change. Today, in 2014, investing in Microsoft is a bet against change.”
“The sheer joy of the Internet is the speed with which choices multiply. The sheer agony of the Internet is the speed with which choices multiply.”

So to summarize:

Dud technologies: Never reach 10% penetration, are money losers, do not create an industry.

Ballistic technologies: Reach between 30% and 70% penetration but are substituted quickly. They are profitable but only for the duration of their ascent. Generally do not create industries, ecosystems or network effects.

Inertial technologies: Have steady growth but never reach ubiquity. They are bound by frictions which impede their broad adoption but also impede their substitution. They do create industries and network effects but suffer from corrosion and monopoly.

Perpetual technologies: They reach ubiquity, usually quickly and remain there indefinitely. Substituted only by improvements which supersede performance (e.g. Color TV vs. B&W TV). Usually solve a universal problem everybody has. Create disruptive growth and have world-changing effects.

Knowing in advance which category a technology will reach can be very valuable. Not only can investment be directed, but career decisions, education choices and fundamental research can be better allocated.

The question is therefore how to tell early enough where an emergent technology fits in this categorization.