Dr Paul Ennis is a research assistant at The Centre for Innovation, Technology Organization at University College Dublin, specializing in bitcoin and blockchain studies.
In this opinion piece, Dr Ennis discusses the wide range of bitcoin users and how their varying opinions on how the technology should develop is impacting network progress.
There are many assumptions about bitcoin users – that they are oddballs, fantasists, nerds, criminals, idealists and so on.
But what are they actually like?
Some of the assumptions listed above are technically true in some cases, but the reality is never as simple as that. Of course, one of the simplest, but nonetheless effective, means of ascertaining who uses bitcoin is to analyze Google Trends, as we find in Yelowitz and Wilson (2015).
Although an imperfect method, since “search query need not imply active participation”, Yelowitz and Wilson identify four types of broad bitcoin users: computer programming enthusiasts, speculative investors, libertarians and criminals (2015, pg 1030).
This very much fits the “expected” profile of bitcoin users, and it also closely fits the results of a 2013 survey of 1,000 bitcoin users that found “the average user is a 32-year-old libertarian male”.
(Full disclosure: I