1/ Want to know who controls Bitcoin?

Read "The Blocksize War" by Jonathan Bier.

This should be *required reading* for any journalist or scholar writing about Bitcoin.

🧵 on some of my favorite insights:

2/ The book covers the "blocksize wars" of 2015-2017 and the two major visions for scaling Bitcoin to the world.

Which philosophy would win out, the one that prioritizes transaction volume + corporate control?

Or the one that prioritizes decentralization + individual control?
3/ This tour of the battle for the soul of Bitcoin starts with the scaling debates that began with Satoshi and revisits Gavin and Mike, Bitcoin XT/Classic/Unlimited, the DAO, SegWit, the NYA, Segwit2X, Bcash, NO2X, and the eventual triumph of a Bitcoin controlled by its users.
4/ As the author notes, the war wasn't just about blocksize. People disagreed on:

-Should blocks be full, or somewhat empty?

-Should it be easier or harder to change Bitcoin?

-Should the nodes of ordinary users have power?

-Should Bitcoin have short or long term thinking?
5/ Bier notes that "large blockers" prioritized the short term, corporate adoption and user growth, and were more business-focused.

On the other hand, "small blockers" prioritized the long term, resilience and sustainability, and were more science-focused.
6/ In 2015 Bier has a key realization: “If Bitcoin is going to succeed, it had to be really difficult to change the rules, otherwise it would not stand up to the pressure from the main financial establishment, which would surely emerge as the value of the system increased"
7/ For small blockers, “Bitcoin was not a business, nor a payment system taking on VISA, PayPal, and Mastercard. It was a new form of money, something far more ambitious and potentially far more transformational to society and the economy. It was taking on central banks."
8/ "In general, small blockers had nothing against Bitcoin becoming a fast and cheap payment system; it just came second behind their main priority, which was a robust and new form of money."

But many major companies and actors disagreed and wanted more transaction volume NOW.
9/ Bier argues that competing with centralized entities on transactions per second was a losing battle. But "becoming a new form of money, capable of unblockable electronic transactions, was something the traditional financial establishment would be unable to compete with”
10/ Bier has the interesting observation that the launch of Ethereum was actually a huge benefit to the small block camp:

"The altcoin space grew rapidly during this crisis, with their proponents focused on raising money in ICOs and making money from coin price appreciation..."
11/ "Had this outlet not been available they may have stayed in Bitcoin fighting the block size war and the sheer weight of numbers of large blockers would have been too large to overcome." But after ETH, if you disagreed with BTC, "there was always a coin to suit people’s needs”
12/ Loved this: "The fact that the UASF succeeded was a miraculous achievement. A modern-day David vs Goliath victory… in the true spirit of Bitcoin and its pseudonymous creator, Satoshi, the UASF didn’t emerge from an official, closed-door, roundtable meeting..."
13/ "among the big players. Instead, it was released in the open and promoted by a pseudonymous developer (@shaolinfry). Somehow, one pseudonymous individual, a few grassroots hardcore followers and a few hats (commissioned by @Excellion) had gone head to head with..."
14/ "... a multi-billion dollar enterprise (Bitmain) supported by many other well-capitalized businesses and won.

I remember thinking that something like that could only happen in Bitcoin."

Indeed, the way Bier tells it, Bitcoin's success is a true underdog story.
15/ On NO2X, Bier gives a useful big blocker chronology:

"In the first round, the small blockers had defeated Gavin Andresen and Mike Hearn, and then Roger Ver and Jihan Wu in round two. Finally, there was a third set of characters to defeat, Jeff Garzik and Mike Belshe”
16/ Bitcoin's design today in 2021 may seem obvious in retrospect, but it was far from a guaranteed thing.

Bier does a good job explaining the many times between 2015 and 2017 when Bitcoin came close to death or defeat, and details the IDs of the attackers.

But in the end:
17/ "Users had overcome the miners + the large businesses in the space, and, despite the large blocker adversaries investing literally 100M+ into their cause, the small blockers won.

Bitcoin demonstrated that it could be the user-controlled money that it was always meant to be"
18/ Bier's book is a celebration of the triumph of freedom over corporate control.

But it's also a reminder of how many well-known companies and individuals in the industry today once tried to attack or hijack Bitcoin.

Coinbase is a sad example that keeps coming up.
19/ Bier also ends with a warning.

He believes that there could be another war on the horizon, this time not over scaling but over censorship-resistance.

(It could also be, IMO over privacy):
20/ "When the primary beneficiaries of centrally-controlled monetary systems finally realize the potential of user-driven money, they may not like it. This time, the fin/pol establishment are likely to initiate the conflict. The pressure on the system will be immense once again"
21/ But until then, Bier concludes, "the dream of a world where ordinary people have ultimate and direct control over the rules that govern their money, lives on”

Thanks to the small blockers.

If you want to buff up on your Bitcoin history, pick up a copy of this book today!

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More from @gladstein

18 Mar
New @DeutscheBank future of payments report on Bitcoin is out.

Their top conclusion? Bitcoin is “too important to ignore”

It’s long but interesting with some neat charts so here’s a 🧵:

2/ The title of the report is worth pondering:

“Bitcoins: Can the Tinkerbell Effect Become a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?”

There are pictures of little girls wearing fairy costumes on the cover and Peter Pan quotes inside.
3/ DB: “Bitcoin’s value will continue to rise/fall depending on what people believe it is worth. This is the Tinkerbell Effect: the more believe in something the likelier it is to happen based on Peter Pan’s assertion that Tinkerbell exists because children believe she exists”
Read 21 tweets
16 Mar
1/ Honored to be cited by SEC Commissioner @HesterPeirce in her latest remarks on Bitcoin, human rights, and regulation.

This 🧵summarizes her thesis, inspired by the work of abolitionists, about why the US should be open, not closed, to liberation tech:

2/ “Harriet Tubman will soon grace our $20 bill… She brought herself and many other enslaved Americans to freedom through a remarkable combination of intelligence, courage, faith, boldness, diverse expertise, fearlessness, experience, strength, resilience, and cooperation”
3/ “These traits and experiences equipped her to serve in the Civil War as a scout, nurse, cook, and military expedition leader. Tubman’s commitment to liberty was not abstract, but personal and life-changing to each of the individuals whom she led on a grueling march to freedom”
Read 16 tweets
8 Mar
1/ The Aker shareholder letter from Kjell Inge Røkke is remarkable.

Having worked in Norway since 2008, IMO this is a major step towards more Scandinavian Bitcoin discussion + adoption.

Here's a 🧵 on the letter's unexpected highlights especially regarding Lightning + privacy:
2/ Aker is a 180-year-old Norwegian corporation now launching Seetee, a Bitcoin company:

"We will use bitcoin as our treasury asset and join the community. We will be hodlers. Perhaps not as rebellious as the cypherpunks... But more progressive than most established corporates"
3/ A recurring theme in Røkke's letter is an interest in privacy.

Early on:

"I am particularly interested in micropayments and how these may enable us to avoid usernames, passwords, and our personal data being monetised with, and often without, our knowledge or consent”
Read 14 tweets
8 Mar
1/ Many might think that extreme inflation is a rare occurrence in today's modern world.

That's simply not the case.

There are 1.2 billion people currently living in countries experiencing double or triple digit inflation.

2/ Countries with inflation ranging from 10% - 20%:

-Haiti (11M)
-Nigeria (205M)
-Turkey (84M)
-Sierra Leone (8M)
-Uzbekistan (33M)
-Guinea (13M)
-Liberia (5M)
-Pakistan (223M)
-Kyrgyzstan (7M)
-Ghana (31M)
-Tajikistan (10M)
3/ Countries with inflation north of 20%:

-Ethiopia (116M)
-Zambia (18M)
-Libya (7M)
-Congo (90M)
-Angola (32M)
-Yemen (30M)
-South Sudan (12M)
-Argentina (45M)
-North Korea (25M)
-Cuba (11M)
Read 6 tweets
27 Feb
1/ There are a couple things that make Bitcoin different from any previous top dog in the money hierarchy, which will create a different financial system than the one we've seen before, which Brendan describes here.
2/ Anyone can verify their Bitcoin holdings or the global monetary supply from cheap equipment at home. So, unlike gold, citizens and institutions can easily custody their BTC w/o relying on third parties. This creates a stronger demand for actual BTC versus promises to pay.
3/ Also unlike gold, there is a liquid 24/7 global market for Bitcoin accessible to anyone with an internet connection where you can sell BTC or buy BTC + withdraw quickly into self-custody. With vibrant global p2p markets, you don't have to deal with slow, regulated gatekeepers.
Read 12 tweets
21 Dec 20
@felixsalmon 1/ I do. I’ll give you a few now. For starters BYSOL, a grassroots Belarusian human rights org, has moved more than $500k of value peer-to-peer to striking workers inside Belarus, in a way the regime can’t stop. Activists or protestors normally get their bank accounts frozen.
@felixsalmon 2/ A Nigerian feminist coalition raised tens of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin via @BtcpayServer to support pro-democracy anti-SARS protests in October while their bank accounts were being turned on and off. @jack even shared helping the movement go even more viral
@felixsalmon @BtcpayServer @jack 3/ Many organizations in Hong Kong have had their bank accounts investigated or funds for supporting human rights work. The indispensable @hkfp team ran into this issue and the local Bitcoin community helped them set up @BtcpayServer so now they can raise funds without that worry
Read 18 tweets

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