In December 2013, someone with the username GameKyuubi wrote a post on Bitcointalk.org titled “I AM HODLING.” He’d misspelled “holding.” Nearly five years later, we’re still using the term “hodl” to describe not letting go of our cryptocurrency funds, even after the term languished a bit before returning with a vengeance during the 2017 crypto price surge.
The blockchain space is full of colorful, niche terminology like this, from “flippening” to “nocoiner.” “Blockchain” itself even has dubious origins that, according to this Medium article, don’t trace back to Satoshi Nakamoto’s original white paper. Over time, cryptocurrency enthusiasts have developed a unique vocabulary all of their own—but one that is subject to change, like which cryptocurrencies we’re using to buy pizza right now. What exactly that change will look like can be hard to predict.
That’s why we at BREAKER gathered some experts in the industry to tell us which crypto terms they think are here to stay and which will fade away in one, five, and ten years from now. While some have obvious personal interests (ConsenSys members are not hot on bitcoin), others have a more inclusive ideas for the crypto-future. Responses range from erudite to flippant—or both. But it all boils down to one, important question. When lambo? In five years from now, maybe? How about in ten?
Erik Voorhees, CEO and founder of ShapeShift.io:
All I can say is that the term “fiat” will be obsolete in 20 years, taking its rightful place next to “VHS” and “abacus,” except that the latter two were useful to humanity.
Jimmy Song, venture partner at Blockchain Capital LLC, instructor at Programming Blockchain:
One year: Bearwhale, DAG, Flippening, Hashgraph, “This is Gentlemen”
Bearwhale/This is gentlemen are already a few years old, and people won’t remember in a year’s time.
Five years: ASIC-resistance, DAO, Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, Hyperledger
DAO/ASIC-resistance are silly concepts and won’t be in the vernacular in 5 years.
EEA/Hyperledger haven’t produced anything. The corporate R&D depts will stop funding them soon enough and they’ll go away quietly.
Ten years: DApp, DPoS, ICO
DApp/DPoS/ICO all are going to be shown to be massive failures in 10 years’ time. But the money raised can last a really long time, hence the 10-year horizon.
Jarrod Dicker, CEO of Po.et:
The only terms we’ll remember (or need) are those that bring everyone together, not pull everyone apart. So nocoiners, bitcoin maximalists, shitcoiner and so on will be obsolete, as many will have moved closer to a common term, goal and understanding.
David Golumbia, author of The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism:
I’m afraid I really don’t have any strong intuitions about this. I am partly a linguistics researcher, and the way language and terms evolve in general is just so unpredictable that I don’t even bother to try.
One insight I might have is that the term “blockchain” is becoming so diffuse as to be blanched of nearly all meaning (as discussed pretty well by Adrienne Jeffries), and I do think that trend is likely to continue, in part because there are now deep financial interests vested in promoting the view that a certain company or entity “is” or “does” blockchain, and the history of business terms suggests that this is very common and hard to stop, and that the easiest way is to rebrand ongoing activities as fitting with whatever new paradigm is being sold. Although that tends to happen more with vague programmatic terminology–“agile,” “open,” “distributed,” “design thinking“–than with what appear to be terms referring to specific technologies.
Preston Byrne, cryptocurrency and blockchain consultant, marmot recovery enthusiast:
For avoidance of doubt the below, while goofy, is all on the record.
HODL has already diversified into “buidl,” “sodl” etc. It was around 5 years ago, and I don’t see it going away in the next 5.
“Nocoiner” will disappear within three to five years, as use cases that employ the tech but do not involve the penny stock gambling aspect move into the mainstream. At that point, everyone will own a “coin” of some kind, much as they own securities now. Since distinctions that make one a nocoiner today (chiefly: not speculative investors) will disappear, so too will the word.
Lambos will stop being cool at some point when some other outrageous, likely battery-powered monstrosity starts prowling the roads and being driven by rap stars.
When Lambo? …Lambos will stop being cool at some point when some other outrageous, likely battery-powered monstrosity starts prowling the roads and being driven by rap stars.
To the moon has been around forever, and will be around forever, if only so people can communicate with old salts like me who have been around forever and are likely to give time and attention to anyone who chooses to employ 2014-era cryptocurrency shibboleths.
Hyperbitcoinization is not going away anytime soon, as it’s a niche term of art. As long as Pierre Rochard, Saifedean Ammous, and Michael Goldstein live, the word will continue to be used.
From my end, I’ve obviously tried to make marmots a thing (“zombie marmot apocalypse,” “great marmot bank run,” and by the way everyone at Breaker Mag should follow the Marmot Recovery Foundation on Twitter if you don’t already), but apparently most folks aren’t as enthusiastic about marmots as I am. I expect that situation will also be more or less unchanged in five years. Unless people want to start using the word “marmot” more often, which I would certainly encourage them to do.
Emin Gün Sirer, founder of BloXroute Labs, associate professor and co-director of Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts at Cornell University:
HODL will be with us for another five years, as people who cling onto this ideology are slowly shaken out of the ecosystem and get replaced by people who want to build functional systems that are actually meant to be used.
“Crypto” as a way to refer to everything cryptocurrency related will be with us forever. Ironically, the main innovation in cryptocurrencies relate not to cryptography, but to distributed systems. But the cryptographers were initially quite in love with this usage, and the newfound attention the field got as a result. They are now acting as if they don’t like this usage, but they benefited immensely from the misconception that cryptography plays the major role in these new systems.
Tokenization will be on the rise for another five years, then will be replaced by another buzzword when stocks are fully tokenized.
Alt-coin is already out, and no one spells it with a dash in it.
Lambo is already out. The cars look ghastly, and no one with any sense of taste would be caught riding one. I’d like to see it replaced with something that appeals to a more inclusive demographic than fifteen-year-old boys.
Hyperbitcoinization is already out. Bitcoin is going to be with us for a while, thanks to the mindshare we all built around the brand in its early days. But it’s no longer the main platform of choice for new applications.
Rekt will be with us for five years. Excellent phrase. It will be replaced with something else like the way “pwnd” was eventually replaced.
There will be many flippenings happening, so we will never see it referred to as “the flippening.”
Bullish will be with us forever.
To the moon—I like this phrase, but it’ll naturally run its course in a few years.
“When lambo?” can’t die soon enough. The cars are ghastly, and the only one who was explicitly photographed riding one was CSW [Craig Steven Wright]. That tells you all you need to know.
Bitcoin maximalist—like the Amish, they will always be with us.
Everything critical will always be labeled “FUD” in an effort to minimize it.
Silk Road will slowly be forgotten, then make an appearance when weed is legalized at the federal level and, in a few decades, there will be a push for a presidential pardon for Ross Ulbricht, whose sentence was absurdly harsh.
Michael Zochowski, founder of The Logos Network:
I think most of these terms will be around in one year, but starting around three, four, or five years from now—and certainly in ten—I think we’ll see an abstraction of underlying network layers from users and increased institutionalization of the space through investments. We’ll have frameworks on top of networks like Venmo or the Square app.
Given those two trends, I think we’re going to increasingly move away from the individual investor who’s trying to pick and choose [cryptocurrency] winners and losers and will move toward what you see in the stock market, where none of these terms are really present. A lot represent the juvenile origin of things in this space. I think FUD and shill are the two, big ones you’ll often see in crypto Reddit, where people are getting into very shallow arguments about the relative merits of various cryptocurrencies. In conjunction with the “when moon” or “lambo” phrases, these are all reflecting the current asset holder base, who largely are people who are not necessarily sophisticated investors, but got in on the hype and are looking for short-term gains. I was previously in traditional finance, and I never heard these terms on the trading floor.
In 2014, there was this term “this is gentlemen” that was around for a while, and I haven’t seen that one around as much recently. Must be halfway to the grave. I’m not super bullish on this type of terminology personally, so I tend to view everything with a little skepticism. But I’ve since been proven wrong with the longevity of a couple of these terms, like hodl.
The Mesh, aka members of ConsenSys:
One year: Underlying technology of bitcoin (not that useful to explain blockchains this way – there are plenty of great alternative points of reference), ICO, bitcoin
Five years: Private/public blockchains (people will think of privacy in terms of “layers” added as needed for the use case instead of public vs private chains), centralized exchanges, public hex address (both seed phrases and hex addresses constitute poor UX for both retail customers and developers), browser wallet, non-fungible (but as long as people in the world continue to make unique art, non-fungible goods will continue to exist), Ethereum gateway, state channels, crypto, distributed ledger, shitcoin, solidity, the flippening
Ten years: Fiat gateway, fiat, token, proof of work, exchange, blockchain
However, token and exchange are not terms native to crypto, and will therefore never be obsolete.