Peer reviewed journals are at the heart of modern science. Long before Neil deGrasse Tyson gets on FOX and explains it to us plebeians, scientific discoveries of all sorts go through a rigorous peer review period. Virtually every scientific study of note is published in a journal where other scientists read it, express their doubts, and then see if the results can be replicated.
A few years later, deGrasse Tyson uses his charisma and FOX’s CGI team to put it into terms we can understand.
Now, the Cryptocurrency community is getting its first peer reviewed journal, potentially bringing that same rigorous standard to Bitcoin and other digital currencies (I suppose that would make Andreas Antonopoulos our Neil deGrasse Tyson). The journal is called Ledger and it is being put out by the Bitcoin Advocacy group Coin Center along with MIT’s media lab and the University of Pittsburgh. They are asking for submissions now.
In many ways, Bitcoin is already peer-reviewed. The same “check everything” spirit that drives scientific progress has been at the heart of open-source software since the beginning. Modifications to Bitcoin’s code are already “peer-reviewed” first, in the Bitcoin development mailing list and again when it is submitted to GitHub.
But there is still a lot of room in the cryptocurrency space where a more rigorous investigation would be helpful, particularly in the altcoin space, where it seems every week another coin is claiming a revolutionary feature.
It will also help reduce the amount of noise and general FUD. In places like Reddit and Bitcointalk it can be hard to separate the unbiased experts from coin developers with an agenda or even paid “FUDsters.” This can make asking honest questions or proposing a technology on those sites a painful experience, as the bad advice will come with the good.
A successful peer reviewed journal would not only give investors and journalists an excellent resource, but will also help developers get honest opinions on their technologies or ideas without wondering about the person answering’s qualifications.
The Bitcoin Development list has been a great place to post proposals, but it is hyper focused on Bitcoin development and not general cryptocurrency technologies.
Ledger’s editorial board includes Professors from Oxford, Cornell, Stanford, MIT, Duke University and New York Law School. On the Cryptocurrency side of things it has Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin and Coin Center’s own Jerry Brito.
While a peer reviewed journal isn’t the sexiest of news to come across my desk, it isn’t something that should be discounted. A peer reviewed journal could go a long way in helping us figure out exactly what is and isn’t possible with programmable money.
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