[Cryptocurrency is a concept that is extremely popular in conversation, yet is something very few people fully understand. Cryptocurrency fascinates me because it represents one of the biggest shifts in technology present-day, radically restructuring how businesses and people could potentially operate. Cryptocurrency research intersects a lot of social and governmental concerns because of it’s decentralization, which makes it an exciting topic not only in technology, but politics as well. Some of what makes the cryptocurrency movement so hard to popularize is that it is complex and hard to understand, which is why being able to take part in this program would be an incredibly useful opportunity for me to learn more about Cryptocurrency and it’s applications.]
– Kevin L, high school
As a student in my former life, I’ve always valued summer learning opportunities and internship experiences. From working as a McDonalds kitchen cook and cashier back when I was in a public high school in the Bronx, to doing my finance internships in Asia at Harvard, the experiences all contributed to making the person I am today. These opportunities took me out of my comfort zone, exposed me to a part of the real world, and helped me determine where I ultimately want to belong.
Now, I really wished that Cryptocurrency companies had summer internships available back then, but alas, that was when Mark Zuckerberg just launched Facebook on our campus. We could not even fathom the incoming of this new revolution.
Why is there a need for a summer program for students? Why can’t they learn on their own?
Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology rose so rapidly and became so prevalent in the last few years that traditional institutions have barely enough time to react to it. Given the complexity of the subject and the rapid rise of the space, cryptocurrency naturally paved out a path for the diligent and critical thinkers. As an example, all my formal crypto education, as I am sure is similar for most people, is from reading countless hours of medium posts and feverishly catching up on slack channels and Telegram posts. The industry is disrupting the traditional hierarchical nature of institutions, and re-allocating voices and power to those who are prescient and who are capable. We are also allocating ownership to the people, regardless of their age, gender, and race. In Cryptoland, the participants vary in age from 10–100 and we need to be able to provide resources for all of them if we want to make sure this space is sustainable.
While this revolution is happening, the traditional education institutions have not caught up. Colleges, for example, with the exception of some, mostly do not offer cryptocurrency curriculums. Despite that might change in the next few years and Ripple is already taking the initiative, it will be far few and in between to match the pace of growth in the crypto industry. And for high schools, it will be even harder for the teachers to incorporate cryptographic curriculums given the rigid structure and mandated requirements from the state and city education boards.
A summer program provides not only structure to learning when approaching such a complex subject, but more importantly, it forms a community of like-minded people and allows students to identify role models and mentors early on to help guide them through the learning process. As many of those who have had through positive summer learning experiences, the value of a working with like-minded people is exciting and there is potential to form forever lasting relationships. Being able to identify someone whom you look up to or really admire really foster a sense of drive and confidence that will propel them to do further more.
So while we are still waiting for the traditional institutions to fully grasp the concept of what cryptocurrency and blockchain technology will do to our world, in the Crypto space, we are already recognizing that there is not enough resources and talent, despite the massive sum of money that companies have raised.
We need to start training our talent early on in their careers for the sake of the crypto community. We need to teach the students that what they see in the news is only a partial truth, which is that —
Cryptocurrency is not just for gambling nor speculating purposes, it can be investing and have it’s value proven in the long term. Likewise, blockchain technology application is not just for creating Cryptokitties, but for creating the next Internet.
Cool cool, so what’s this program about?
In the students’ applications, I’ve asked them to do a mini-project to familiarize themselves with the process of researching Cryptocurrencies. As an example, Kevin L from a high school in New York did a good job on Ethereum:
I lay out all the details of the program at the bottom of this article page. But to sum up, by the end of the summer, we aim to have the students accomplish 3 things:
1- Understand one token and blockchain technology very deeply and create a presentation on it to explain to their family and friends.
2- Intelligently discuss how Cryptocurrency can potentially change finance, technology and other industries.
3- Learn some basic approaches to investing in Cryptocurrency.
If you are passionate about teaching Cryptocurrency to young people, we’d love to have you as one of our guest speakers! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to us at @globalcoinrsrch
Ok… but why should we support you?
I am not so much of a veteran in the cryptocurrency space, but I AM passionate about education and have been involved in technology and finance since college. When I learned about cryptocurrency last year, I realized my 4 years spent in Silicon Valley being an equity research analyst covering tech companies such as Box, Oracle and Salesforce really helped prepare me to understand this space, with all the intricacies of the technology as well as Token economics. I also spent a year at Blue Apron as the company went through one of the few technology company IPOs in New York in its history, which reminded me that a hustling and entrepreneurial mindset can get you as far as your heart desires. At the end of this program, I am not going to promise you that I will form the most savvy and sophisticated cryptocurrency curriculum, but rest assured that I will certainly foster a sense of passion and mission for cryptocurrency amongst these individuals.
One afternoon, I went to my AP Computer Science teacher one day to ask about the new Artificial Intelligence (AI) elective that would be offered next year. I told him that I wanted to take AI in the second semester of my senior year, since the teacher who would have taught it would have more experience teaching it. Looking at me pointedly, he told me, “there’s a certain excitement that goes along with being the first of any new subject.” I went home that day, realizing the worth of his saying: Computer Science is all about pioneering the way forward.
To me, bitcoin is a perfect example of that pioneering drive that makes Computer Science so alluring. It is the first cryptocurrency, meaning that it had no precedent to fall back on: the developer(s) behind bitcoin and its technology had to find and forge a way for themselves. They had to pioneer a path that no one had ever walked on before or had thought about before. This is what makes bitcoin my favorite coin: despite the all the challenges of trying to make an economically viable coin, the first of its kind, it was able to do so; we still feel the effects of the surmounting of that challenge economically and socially.
– Raunak C, high school
Blockchains for Schools Summer Program Curriculum Overview
Program attendees: ~10 high school and college students who will be local in New York City during the summer
Duration: 8 weeks
Start date: Last week of June, 2018
End date: August 17, 2018
Cadence of the program: minimum 2 days, maximum 5 days a week (this would allow time for students to have summer part jobs as well should they want to)
High level overview of the curriculum and the goals:
– For one of the days out of the week, students will be learning from a guest speaker and forming team discussions around a Cryptocurrency theme (see week by week schedule below)
– Every week, on the other days, the students will be working on projects in groups, to learn about different types of cryptocurrencies and eventually pick on one specific token to focus on.
– At the beginning of the program, each student will also receive a small sum of fiat money to invest and buy cryptocurrencies of their choice and track their performance throughout the summer.
Week by Week Curriculum :
Orientation Week (Meeting everyone, group assignment and general overview of Cryptocurrency on a very high level — types of cryptocurrency, what is a blockchain, what is the consensus mechanism)
Understanding Cryptocurrency in a deeper level (what is Lightening Network and Casper, how and what people building on top of the Ethereum Blockchain, etc)and choosing one or two tokens they want to do deeper research on for the summer
One of the days we will have a Guest Speaker
Understanding Cryptocurrency’s Impact on the Technology Space and continue to do research on the token they focused on
Understanding Cryptocurrency’s impact on the Financial Markets and the basics of Cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets. Continue to do research on the token they focused on
One of the days we will have Guest Speaker
Learning how to invest and assess Cryptocurrency coins; present to peers on their research progress thus far; continue to do research on the token they focused on
Understanding Cryptocurrency’s impact on other industries; continue to do research on the token they focused on
One of the days we will have Guest Speaker from the industry
Visit a Cryptocurrency company in New York; prepare for presentation on Cryptocurrency
Invite family and friends to come see their presentation and have Q&A. Presentation will be live streamed and recorded.
As our research fellows at Global Coin Research come to an end, we have some last parting thoughts before we say farewell to the blockchain space for now (or not. Maybe we’re phoenixes and we’ll be reborn into something different. Stay posted to find out!).
Personal note from Jerry: This fellowship was completely different from what I expected. I expected a normal “internship” where I would be doing the unwanted “goon” work but I got something else instead. I got to choose what I wanted to research, met tons of amazing and welcoming individuals in the blockchain space, and got a good look into the online startup life. This reaffirmed my beliefs that the tech sector and the business life is for me. I am working towards my computer science degree and this fellowship helped open my eyes to a different side of the tech industry I could get into.
Personal note from Raunak: This was my first foray into the professional industry, and the fellowship gave me a large amount of insight in the positives and negatives of the industry. It really opened my eyes to see how innovative and welcoming the people were, despite the fact that I’m a sixteen year old still in high school interacting with extremely high profile people. The entrepreneurial culture of the blockchain space has really sparked my passion to be an entrepreneur: in conjunction with my fellowship boss Joyce, I have helped found the Blockchains For Schools Mentorship Program, which connects high school students interested in blockchain and crypto with mentors who work in the industry. I’m hoping it works out well!
Without further ado, here are 10 things we learned over the fellowship!
Though we’ve both done research on what makes a blockchain a blockchain, we’ve really wanted to get to meat of what makes a blockchain a blockchain. And the best way of learning is by doing it yourself — reinventing the wheel, so to speak. So that’s what we did, and we did a podcast on it to boot (read on to learn more about the podcast!). In particular, we used Daniel Van Flymen’s tutorial and added some extras in the blockchain!
2. The thought process of a startup founder creating a blockchain project
We sat down with Adrian Zhang, the founder of CooperX, on the first day of our fellowship. He detailed his thought process of building CooperX, starting with the concept of market spread and ending with how that forms the core of his own company. From the start, we could tell Adrian is an extremely ambitious yet patient man; he took all our questions into stride in his conversation and drove his main points home. To say we learned a lot is an understatement. We’re really impressed with the strength of Adrian’s resolve, and we wish him the best of luck in the future!
3. Formed our individual opinions on how blockchain tech should be used in order to be successful
After interviewing Adrian and doing additional research, we fermented opinions on the blockchain space and our feedback on it. Being fellows with one foot in the public/education sphere and the other in the blockchain sphere, we presented our read on the blockchain space from the perspective of high schoolers who have no corporate investment in blockchain.
It was scary at first bumping into so many established software engineers and business executives at CryptoNYC, a NYC startup dedicating to bringing the blockchain community together to discuss blockchain, but we managed to shake off our fears and learned how to network with them! We’re both now much more comfortable talking to adults, no matter their stature; we thank the Global Coin Research Fellowship for making this possible!
5. Different types of blockchain projects we never heard of
We learned that blockchain isn’t just intertwined with cryptocurrency; there are many other different types of projects that we’ve never heard of, even in our research! For instance, at the Decentraland meetup in the Samsung Next building in Manhattan, we learned about the use cases of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), which are tokens that have different identities from each other (think of it like DNA — no two humans barring identical twins have the same DNA). There are many others, but this is just one unique project!
Global Coin Research focuses heavily on cryptocurrency news in Asia so it was natural for us to learn about how it works in Asia. We were surprised to see the major differences in the way they view it compared to the US. For example, brick and mortar locations in Japan accept cryptocurrency such as bitcoin cash as payment unlike here in the US. If you want to learn more check out our medium article on it.
We decided to use a podcast to explain how a blockchain works and how to create one. Little did we know how hard it was…. We required multiple takes, needed to remake the script multiple times so it could be more engaging, and were cramped in a small cubicle to make it. Our final result was a 10 minute podcast which is way under the average duration of 30 minutes. I think we’ll just stick to blogging instead of podcasting in the future haha.
Every Wednesday, we would go to CryptoNYC’s Whitepaper Wednesday event! The event was essentially a free for all discussion about the paper with individuals asking questions, giving their thoughts on the paper, and answering other people’s questions.The first event was terrible for us. We were shaky and stayed quiet in the corner. As we went to more of these events, we found our footing and started being more active in conversation.
When we were in the process of trying to get sponsors for the Blockchains for Schools Mentorship Program, we reached out to multiple companies that were in or getting in blockchain. We were shocked at some of the names we found. Big banks and big tech companies were sort of expected but we never expected names from the automobile industry such as Ford and Porsche. Blockchain technology is growing fast and it will be the next big thing.
10. Different types of blockchain governance protocol
The rules surrounding the blockchain is just as important as the structure of the blockchain’s code. A blockchain protocol basically revolves around creating incentives to use it and reaching agreements. The two biggest cryptocurrency names — Bitcoin and Ethereum both have their own different protocols. We also learned of some different protocols such as Tezos with their agreement percentage require to make a change and Aragon with their court system.
This is Raunak Chowdhury and Jerry Yu, signing out!
A successful blockchain is one that can evolve and adapt to future obstacles. A blockchain is created by code and thus the initial code is important to create a blockchain that can easily adapt, but the governance protocol is more important in the long run. You need people to agree with the way the blockchain is run and to have incentives for people to continue using the blockchain. In simplest terms, a blockchain governance protocol revolves around two things: creating incentives for users and miners alike and having mechanisms for coordination or communication. If you want to learn more about blockchain governance, here are the 5 best articles:
This article is the ultimate guide to blockchain governance. It goes in depth about why it matters, the components of governance, shows the governance of Bitcoin and Ethereum, shows new chains experimenting with on-chain governance, explains future governance approaches that have not yet been tried, and explains forking. It is very informative and explains everything in a simple to understand form.
2. This article is mostly about why a cryptocurrency needs a good blockchain governance. It goes into the problems with the Bitcoin and Ethereum models and advocates for the idea of a self-governing models.
3. This article goes deep into on-chain cryptocurrency governance. It explains what it is and goes into the question of whether it is plutocratic or not. It talks about the positives and negatives of a stake based governance but also about alternatives to it.
In response to increasing online identity theft, blockchain has become a new promising resource to revamp how we verify, secure, and interact digital identities. Although there are countless companies starting identity management projects, below is a discussion of several tokens with interesting takes and exciting advancements.
Civic is an application for the smartphone that can be used as a virtual ID card, which includes reusable KYC, an early warning identity theft protection system, and biometric verification. Government agencies can push authenticated identity information, and requests for data can be sent via QR codes. The 2017 token sale raised 33 million dollars, and they are working in several different countries, including South Africa, Brazil, Germany and Latvia.
IBM and SecureKey Technologies are working together to build a mobile app to create digital identities. It is specifically being tested and developed in Canada, where various banks have collectively invested 27 million dollars in SecureKey. It is similar to Civic in its approach to using mobile app platforms to secure and share identity, but is less globally focused in its current stages. It has made strong progress in Canada in solidifying key partners, but its potential globally is still somewhat hard to speak towards.
Although still in beta testing, UniquID also implements trustless decentralized networking with self-generated identities and secure machine-to-machine connections with no third parties involved. What makes this project different is its particular focus on catering to the Internet of Things, which requires more flexibility, scalability, and security than the internet can offer as of now. If the IoT is to lead the future, uniquID will likely lead with it.
The Hub attempts to confront the problem of lack of virtual trust in online interactions through a native token that creates a decentralized trust system. Users are incentivized to generate reputation data through performing acts that promote trust. This token works to build online relationships not so much based on identities that, even if verified, can be malicious, but on the particular standards of trust. Although this coin is not as focused on self-sovereign identities, it is making important headway into building systems that will allow identity claims to be managed in conjunction with trust-at-a-distance.
Yidentity is a closed source and nontransferable identity blockchain token based in Hong Kong. Although it has the same general features of the other identity tokens, it is the first coin to be based in cognitive neuroscience research, focusing on risk management and being able to judge individual users’ risk habits. It can be used to evaluate compatibility, authenticate, and self-protect. Its focus is pretty specific, but has a lot of potential to change the insurance, investment, and banking markets.
A project that began in 2015 with Evernym, Sovrin is a coin designed with full self-sovereign identity as the core mission in mind. It has carefully designed architecture to address digital identity security needs in a holistic and fully-scaled way. They are working with groups across the world including Universities, self-sovereign identity start-ups, NGOs, various financial institutions, and Europe’s Leading Digital Certificate Authority.
The future for identity tokens is hard to predict. The success of each of these tokens will largely depend on where the need for identity management will emerge most rapidly, whether it be the Internet of Things, notary services, or the insurance market. Each of these coins also face the same barriers that many blockchains face at large, such as working across jurisdictional boundaries and informing everyday users. It may be somewhat oversimplifying to say that one identity token trumps the rest given the uncertainty of the future for blockchain management projects, but in terms of potential for development and expansion, Sovrin is a good bet. They not only have the most holistic and focused approach to identity management, but also have promising partnerships and all around the globe such that whatever challenges lie in the future of blockchain identity management, Sovrin will be ready to tackle them.
With the rising concerns of data breaches and privacy invasion, internet users are increasingly more careful with the security of their online identities. As a result, various blockchain companies have begun to tackle the question of how cryptocurrencies and identity tokens may approach a viable solution to this dilemma.
Here are 10 of the most useful articles in helping understand the problems and solutions involved in blockchain identity management. They vary in length, topic, difficulty, and specificity, but all are worth a read.
Reimagining the Future of Identity Management With Blockchain
This article discusses the various problems with identity data in the current digital world, and analyzes the principles and ideas that are necessary to imagine a future of reliable and trustworthy identity management in blockchain. It is brief and organized, providing a good abstracted analysis of what the identity token solution looks like (or should).
How Blockchain Can Solve Identity Management Problems
This Forbes article gives a good overview of how identity tokens work and quickly explains blockchain ecosystem nodes. It uses easy language to help readers understand both identity creation and verification via identity tokens.
How blockchain can give us back control of our identity and help avoid another Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal
This piece is on the longer side, but is a great place to start learning about identity tokens. It gives a thorough and organized look into the problems of online security and the way blockchain tackles them, and then analyzes a few key identity tokens.
The promise of managing identity on the blockchain
Although not an article intended to fully explain identity tokens, this piece offers several different perspectives on the viability of a future for blockchain identity management — the optimistic, the pessimistic, and the in-between. It gives a good introductory look into the debates surrounding this technology.
IBM Blockchain Joins Sovrin’s ‘Decentralized’ Digital Identity Network To Stem Fraud
This piece specifically discusses IBM’s partnership with the Sovrin Foundation, one of the leading companies implementing blockchain identity networks. It is one of the lengthier articles on this list, but gives detailed insights into current projects, also making good use of empirical data.
Sovrin™: A Protocol and Token for Self-Sovereign Identity and Decentralized Trust
This is a white paper from the Sovrin Foundation. It is a long article, but each concept is developed slowly and thoroughly, making the first half of this paper a good and simple-to-understand introduction to identity tokens. The latter half specifically explains the Sovrin token, but is a great and informative read all the same.
Using Blockchain for Identity Management — Five Compelling Examples
This article is quite brief on its explanation of blockchain, making it a less useful introductory piece, but it effectively explains five prominent projects relating to identity tokens, namely the Civic App, SecureKey and IBM Blockchain, ID2020 Digital Identity, Moni, and E-Stonia.
Blockchain for Identity Management: It’s Years Away
This article gives a thorough criticism of the current approaches to blockchain identity management, making it an excellent read to help understand the flip side of the growing popularity of blockchain and the challenges it will face in the road ahead.
21 Companies Leveraging Blockchain for Identity Management and Authentication
This piece gives a quick list of twenty-one specific applications of blockchain to identity management, including companies that have done significant work on identity tokens. It is a good place to begin exploring specific cryptocurrency companies.
This is a manageable introductory piece that explains how blockchains work, both in general and in the context of identity management. It makes a good and convincing case for identity tokens as a viable and effective solution to the personal data security crisis.