Two cavemen stand by hundreds of long lines of rocks.

—Gnog still not get it. Explain it like Gnog five mammoth hunts old.

—So, it called “rockchain” because it literally chain of rocks. If Gnog want to take rock out of rockchain, majority of hunters looking at rockchain must say, “Okay, Gnog, that rock yours.” Still with Dran?

—But why other hunters care? What in it for them?

—They get reward of more rocks if they help. But hunters must first do hard thinking problem to get reward.

—Give Gnog example of hard thinking problem.

—How many berries when there four berries and four more berries?

—Four berries and four more…it already feel like sharp stick through head of Gnog.

—Exactly. One hunter alone cannot think it. It take many hunters and much energy. Hunters exhausted after thinking.

—Gnog still not understand why this better than keeping rocks in private cave of Lorp.

—What if whole hunter-gatherer economy collapse? If hunters do cave run and take out all rocks at once, it leave Gnog without rightful rocks.

—If hunter-gatherer economy collapse, Gnog have bigger problems. Gnog worry about keeping fire burning and putting mammoth meat on slightly raised stone. Gnog lose cave. Gatherer of Gnog leave Gnog for other hunter with more pelts.

—Okay, how about Gnog want to own drawings on public cave walls?

—How it possible to “own” them? Drawings public. Every hunter see them.

—Gnog can buy special rock on rockchain saying Gnog true owner. It called “NFT.”

—What “NFT” stand for?

—It not stand for anything. Just grunting sound hunter make when he invent it.

—But… why that matter if Gnog can’t put drawings in own cave?

—Knowing Gnog true owner give Gnog chest-beating rights. Look, Dran have NFT rock saying Dran true owner of this drawing of bored saber-toothed tiger.

—Why saber-toothed tiger bored?

—It just style. It funny, right?

—Um… Gnog guess. (looks at rockchains) Gnog overwhelmed by so many rockchains, like at all-mammoth-that-hunter-can-eat feast.

—Just stick to first rockchain, called “bitrock,” because it made of bits of special rock that hunters chip off against mountainside.

—How about that rockchain with drawings on rocks of tamed wolf?

—No, that rockchain start as joke. Only popular because Elona, hunter who help develop wheel, really like that rock for some reason. Because Elona good at wheels, Elona think he good at other things too. But Elona mostly jackass.

—If Gnog want mastodon tusk from Vuh, Gnog still think it easier just to barter with regular rock than go to rockchain together and barter with bitrock.

—But rockchain can guarantee both hunters make exchange. What happens if Gnog barter regular rock but Vuh refuse to give Gnog mastodon tusk?

—Easy. Gnog kill Vuh with club, then take mastodon tusk.

—True, Dran kill Frar with sharp stick other day when Frar not give Dran berries. But bitrock still best invention since fire.

—Dran really think so?

—Dran know so. Bitrock completely shift paradigm. Make regular rock system look prehistoric. It like regular rock owners still grunting while bitrock owners speaking with forty words.

—Gnog notice it mostly hunters into bitrock, not gatherers.

—Gatherers eventually become interested. So now time to invest, before thirty-mammoth-hunt-old grandmother of Gnog want in.

—Okay, Dran win. Gnog get some bitrock. Wait, “bitrock” or “bitrocks”?

—No idea. But best investment Gnog ever make! Bitrock always gain value because limited supply of special rock in valley.

—But if bitrock always gain value, when Gnog barter with them?

—Not until Gnog need regular rocks to barter for, say, new cave.

—Cave seller not accept bitrock?

—No, value fluctuate too much, like height of river at morning and after morning.

—See, this why bitrock not make sense! Gnog think bitrock scheme in shape where hunter on top find other hunters below to buy bitrock from him, then they find more hunters below them, until last hunters left holding woven basket.

—Trust Dran, it not scheme in that shape.

—Gnog still think bitrock fad, like bone flute sounds. Over by next Age.

—Bitrock skeptics always say that, but bitrock keep going forever.


—Yes, forever. Just like mammoth.

- - -

The Great Man Theory, the new novel by Teddy Wayne, is out now.