Computer science. Once you know computer science from first principles, very few things that get hyped in developer circles will ever seem new to you again. For example, one of the CS academics who reviewed the scientific paper on Blockstack had this to say about it:
They implemented a new naming system called Blockstack on bitcoin. To support large data, they only store the hash of user data along with the blockchain, tiny but enough to verify the authentication of user data. Despite a lot of engineering efforts involved, what the novelty/contributions of this work are not clear because the basic idea is not new. The design of blockchain seems quite straight-forward.
I actually agree with this assessment. Coming from an academic CS background myself, I can say with confidence that Blockstack does not introduce any new fundamental science – it was built with algorithms and data structures we the developers already knew from school, and its main contribution to computer science is showing from first-hand experience how to build a blockchain-agnostic application that can survive blockchain failures. This is a comforting thought – because we were able to stand on the shoulders of giants who came before us, it makes me more confident in the soundness of the system’s design. To stretch the metaphor, the process of getting a CS degree is the most straightforward way to climb up to their shoulders.
Thank you so much for this response Jude, I really appreciate it. See you in a few years!