Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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Infighting Is Good For Bitcoin

A degree of infighting has shocked the Bitcoin community as individuals with different ideas clash over the direction in which the Bitcoin protocol should evolve (or be evolved). With the disappearance of Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin has long celebrated its leaderless organization. In 2015, this lack of leadership led to a lack of direction in the Bitcoin community concerning its core protocol.

There are some hard limits to Bitcoin’s growth which were coded into the cryptocurrency in its incipience. Discussion about how to program Bitcoin in the now has led to divisiveness, contempt, frustration and cynicism among people who follow the technology closely.

In Bitcoin, there are a lot of opinions that are held to be self-evident truths, such as Bitcoin is “going to the moon” or will “change the world” completely. Both of these are untested hypotheses. Yet, like an echo chamber, many Bitcoiners parrot these beliefs. Thanks to recent disagreements, some doubt has been cast over the future of the nascent technology.

In recent months, thanks to the blockchain debate, there has been a division within the Bitcoin community as people disagree completely over what to do with the core protocol, which can be updated currently by developers to keep up with the growth seen in the Bitcoin industry, including interest in the blockchain. At the Bitcoin subreddit, r/Bitcoin, administrator-user Theymos has been accused of censoring tweets. The issue went full nuclear when Brian Armstrong tweeted that he had been censored.

The Streisand Effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information to a wider audience. This is exactly what any attempts to censor information in the Bitcoin community has done. As evidence, there are now numerous new websites trying to become the main gathering hub for the Bitcoin protocol.

This division, disagreement and consternation among the Bitcoin brass is actually beneficial to the community. New ideas and opinions are injected into a community that is very much “preaching to the choir” on any given day.

When an argument ensues – especially about something as fundamental as Bitcoin’s programming parameters – it causes casual users to start Googling information about the problem, thus learning about things like BIP101 and Bitcoin’s limits, and eventually adding their own two cents (bits?) into the debate.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb Is known for developing a modern theory of antifragility. In his book, he writes:  “Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better”

Bitcoin, and decentralized networks like it, will likely benefit from the lesson learned in the current blockchain debate, as Taleb suggests some networks do. 

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Tuur Demeester is an independent investor, newsletter writer and editor in chief at Adamant Research. He has a background in Austrian...

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