Joe Gerber
Jan 30, 2015 · 2 min read

“What is IDEO doing here?”

We heard this time and time again as we chatted with folks at OReilly’s Bitcoin and the Blockchain summit last week. Fair question… I’m pretty sure we were the only design firm in that audience — and to date, the conversation about bitcoin and the blockchain has been very, VERY technical. We felt like we had an answer to the “Why IDEO” question, but had never tested it out in the wild…

Bitcoin and the blockchain are enabling technologies with enormous potential to reshape the ways that we transact, trust and participate.

As designers, we believe that we can help unlock that potential by looking through the lens of human need.

Thankfully we got a lot of emphatic head nods.

You’ve probably heard the well worn William Gibson quote, “The future is already here — its just not evenly distributed”. Design helps solve that imbalance. By creating experiences that match the unique characteristics of nascent technologies to universal human needs, we can drive adoption and impact of these platforms to the mainstream.

Bitcoin and Blockchain are not yet part of our everyday lives. Yes, they’re showing up more frequently in the mainstream media, but most of that coverage seems to be focused on the wrong things. In particular, the sensational stories of financial speculation and wild volatility in Bitcoin is a total red-herring. As someone said at the conference, “Nobody priced the internet in the early days”.

And that’s kind of the big idea:

Bitcoin and the Blockchain are more akin to the technical protocols that made the internet and world wide web possible, rather than simply being a new type of currency.

Bitcoin and the Blockchain together are technologies that provide us better mechanisms to agree and trust each other. As a result, people and machines will be able to cooperate in a myriad of unimaginable ways. Think back to the early days of the internet. Nobody understood the breadth of change that was coming. Yet, the experts who understand this stuff are already imagining radical futures with smart contracts and distributed autonomous corporations. The crazy thing is if this technology is as powerful as experts say, odds are we are all underestimating its impact.

Who knows what the future brings? We’re excited to dive in and try to contribute to it. Follow us as we explore this technology and its potential application. Soon, we’ll share some exciting announcements about what we’re building this summer.

Humans + Bits + Blocks

Exploring the future of trust, transactions, and reputation

    Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
    Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
    Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade