Is there really so much cash in “trash?” Yes.
In 2012, John Metcalfe at CityLab published a fascinating expose on recyclables theft. Inside the Surprisingly Lucrative World of Cardboard Theft there are organized mobs of “urban scavengers,” human raccoons who go around stealing cardboard under the cover of darkness. But this world is also inhabited by recycling tycoons, wielding immense power over resources and, hence, commercial futures.
Metcalfe teaches that, in 2010, “China’s richest woman was ‘cardboard queen’ Zhang Yin, whose $5.6 billion recycling empire made her wealthier than Oprah.” Today, teams like SeeClickFix, Litterati, Rubicon Global and many others continue to make advances in CleanTech, disrupting the way BigWaste runs our resources into the ground.
With BlockTech, the disruption must become a veritable revolution. We say “must” due to a rare confluence of interests between the awesome profit-generating potential of CleanApp and the environmentally sound practice of recycling at the heart of CleanApp activity.
In other words, the Blockchain community needs a blockchain-based CleanApp to succeed; and our planet needs a smarter resource-allocating CleanApp to succeed.
If it’s such an obvious win-win, why is nobody talking about CleanApp as the “killer app” of crypto? A few disclaimers help explain the answer.
The term “CleanApp” is used here descriptively to capture a particular type of trash/hazard report-analytics-response process. CleanApp does NOT have a Blockchain project currently in development, and there is no ICO or other solicitation attached to this piece of analysis. CleanApp Foundation is a standard-setting nonprofit organization that has no stake in any crypto development project, and the same is true for its principals.
Let us restate this for emphasis, based on feedback that we’ve seen to similar projects on Reddit. What follows is NOT a promo piece for any particular currency or coin or token or project. What follows is CleanApp’s analysis of what is necessary for developers to succeed in taking their respective CleanApps to market, which we openly encourage and will actively support with our intellectual property, know-how, and analysis.
Next, by way of disclaimer, this series will analyze one particularly innovative “CleanApp” by the name of OpenLitterMap.com (OLM), as well as OLM’s Blockchain reward, Littercoin. CleanApp has mined a few hundred or so Littercoins ($LTRX), but they’re locked away in a wallet that’s so secure, not even CleanApp can get into it. So if the analysis that follows references Littercoin by way of example, please understand that this is NOT a story about Littercoin, nor is this trying to “pump” the value of Littercoin. Littercoin is illustrative of the types of CleanApp processes that are possible on the proverbial Blockchain.
Lastly, this series is long-winded. We get that. That’s why we broke it into five parts. We need this space to explore and debunk some core assumptions that most developers and entrepreneurs bring to Blockchain technology. We owe a debt of gratitude to Redditor RCC42 for outstandingly blunt feedback on this point:
If the premise of the article is about how mind-blowing a breakthrough and how “killer-app” it is to have a block-chain based around tracking garbage, it should be able to make its case in the first paragraph or two.
We’ve tried to write this out succinctly, to Tweet our case for CleanApp; we’re even incorporating Redditors’ suggestions for how to improve our messaging and re-writing to make the argument easier to follow. But there’s no way around the hard analytical work ahead, which is why we ask for your patience and understanding.
Our analysis engages four seemingly disparate problems:
(1) the apparent “breakout” or scalability failure of BTC/ETH over the course of 2018, not in technical terms, but in terms of adoption;
(2) the fundamental tension between so-called ‘fiat currency’ and cryptocurrency as a core contradiction within cryptocurrencies;
(3) crypto’s search for a “killer app” that will popularize, humanize, and realize crypto’s globally-scaled potential;
(4) the anti-litter movement’s search for a technology platform capable of sustaining progressively higher load global trash-tracking computations.
As we said, these four issues seem unrelated. Each one seems like a purely theoretical question, incapable of independent verification or being tested via the scientific method. We disagree.
Yes, each of these questions can be tackled in a compartmentalized fashion. But as Seán Lynch of @littercoin & OpenLitterMap teaches us in his recent peer-reviewed article, there is also much to be gained from thinking about these issues holistically. This includes asking whether the CleanApp processes we are proposing are even going to be legal.
Since our first days in the CleanTech space, the CleanApp Foundation has pioneered research into the intersections of technology, environmental stewardship, and economics. Owing to our unique background in international law, contracts, and legal analytics, CleanApp’s research has also been consistently realistic about the need for sound legalistic approaches to these various new ‘nexuses’ and ‘breakout opportunities.’
It is pointless to work on a “killer app” or a “killer process” if it will stall or fail due to structural regulatory or legal friction.
There aren’t many lawyers who code, but those who do understand that even if we embrace the most ambivalent and “high-risk tolerant” of legal postures, legal norms continue to structure, inform and constrain the practical applications of any new technology — just consider the tectonic global shifts surrounding aerial drones, subterranean tunneling, and “Blockchains as types of securities.” The answer to the question of whether CleanApp is “legal” is this:
CleanApp will be legal and wildly successful if done right, which is why CleanApp has to be done right from the beginning.
What good analysts bring to the table is the ability to chart a range of possible pathways to achieving a particular goal. Imagining multiple potential parallel futures allows us to choose the easiest, fastest, and least conflict-ridden one. This strategic posture informs CleanApp’s approach to cross-border CleanTech deals, but in the current regulatory climate, it may be useful to other Blockchain projects as well.
If our shared goal is rapid global adoption of Blockchain technology, developers should be actively exploring the broadest, most apolitical, most nonpartisan, most non-ideological use cases and applications for BlockTech. Anarcho-capitalists using Blockchain in attempt to undermine the primacy of the dollar will be crushed (until such time as the dollar can be token-ized, at which point they will be embraced). On the other hand, teams trying to remove layers of “middlemen” from casual transactions, like hotel bookings, will be amply rewarded.
But what if we move beyond a “path of least resistance” to the global adoption of Blockchain, towards “a path of least-most resistance” — ? In other words, what if instead of thinking about “paths of least resistance,” what are the paths to “highest acceptance.”
Here is our intuition, based on years of research:
For fastest & safest crypto adoption globally, we must aim Blockchain technology at the most seemingly mundane, intractable, and universal of our global problems — like everyday litter & hazard reporting.
At CleanApp, we have figured out multiple ways of monetizing “litter” and ordinary “trash” as a crypto-backed assets. We know what it takes to build a transaction-based ecosystem for trading rights of access to data packets containing the locations of micro-resources (trace amounts of gold in that discarded phone or charging cable you saw laying in the gutter last night). We know how to build sustainably profitable user experiences for every participant in that transactional chain.
Right now, CleanApp’s only technical limitation is its inability to give CleanAppers the security guarantees they need in order to CleanApp everywhere they go. We know that using ubiquitous CleanApp — one interoperable process on multiple platforms — to report sidewalk litter is one thing, but being able to CleanApp one’s home kitchen, then city bus stop, then work bathroom, then a lovely picnic spot in a park, greatly multiplies the utility and value of such a tool.