Research on anticipated, contingent and imaginary blockchain-enabled ‘aidlands’ (Mosse 2011) is crucial now: much is at stake. What will the role of blockchain be in identity management in global contexts where population control regimes proliferate to the detriment of the many? Through multi-stakeholder ethnographic work with user communities, the development industry, technical, legal, regulatory and governmental communities, I aim to make a practical intervention in public social science, developing best practice principles or ‘infraethics’ (Floridi 2017) from concrete sociotechnical findings about the specific ways in which DLTs can empower communities in global contexts, how, and what new digital inequalities or unintended consequences arise (cf. for example the energy consumption issue with Bitcoin mining, which is currently a ‘hot’ topic). I have a hunch that working on best practice may involve pointing out when a blockchain isn’t really necessary.