Are BTC Maximalists Right About Ordinals? - Here's What You Need to Knowby@originprotocol
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Are BTC Maximalists Right About Ordinals? - Here's What You Need to Know

by Origin ProtocolFebruary 23rd, 2023
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Ordinals are NFTs deployed on the Bitcoin network. However, some bitcoin maximalists are calling for Ordinals to be censored. An ironic take from the libertarian crowd that is Bitcoin maximalists, are they right about Bitcoin NFTs?
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NFTs have courted more controversy than any other form of digital asset. The latest wave of outcry comes from an unexpected place – Bitcoin maximalists.

Up until a few weeks ago, NFTs were only available on blockchains like Ethereum that support smart contracts. By default, Bitcoin does not feature smart contracts on its base layer.

Programmer and generative artist Casey Rodarmor has changed that dynamic with the introduction of Ordinals on the Bitcoin blockchain.

The start of a new, thriving use case?

What Are Ordinals?

In the simplest terms, Ordinals can be considered NFTs deployed on Bitcoin. These have required a host of special considerations due to the limitations of the bitcoin network.

A bitcoin can be divided into 100,000,000 satoshis or sats. People who run Bitcoin nodes are able to inscribe data onto each satoshi using Rodamor’s implementation, thus creating Ordinals. Importantly, smart contracts can be inscribed on sats.

However, Rodarmor rejects the NFT moniker. He terms artworks inscribed on Bitcoin as digital artifacts.

This is due to a key difference between Ordinals and other NFTs – immutability. Most NFT digital art on Ethereum and other Layer-1 blockchains is hosted on the Interplanetary File System (IPFS). In other words, metadata is stored off-chain, meaning that creators can alter it at any time.

Conversely, digital artifacts on Bitcoin are set in stone once they’ve been inscribed. Even creators are unable to alter an NFT project’s metadata under this design.

While this may seem prohibitive at first glance, locking in metadata is vital for ensuring an artwork’s provenance. Some may even contend that in this context, Ordinals are leading NFT innovation by reducing reliance on off-chain infrastructure.

Bitcoin Maxis Are Bothered

The introduction of Ordinals has seen massive pushback from the broader Bitcoin community. In a fascinating turn of events, the space’s most ardent libertarians have been calling for Ordinals on bitcoin to be censored.

One can understand the frustration of BTC loyalists to an extent. After all, Ordinals have caused significant congestion on the network since their release.

Ordinals have been partly responsible for raising the baseline fee for BTC transacting by 400%, while also increasing the mean size of network transfers.

However, several other factors have also contributed to this increase. The fall of FTX and the SEC’s crackdown on staking services has seen crypto investors flock to BTC. Furthermore, BTC’s scintillating run toward $25K has naturally caused a flurry of activity.

Unfortunately, Bitcoin maximalists on social media have failed to entertain any semblance of nuance.

The hardline stance adopted by loyalists becomes less logical the further one digs. While many cite congestion as the reason Ordinals should be stifled, it’s clear that BTC maxis largely have disdain for NFTs themselves, regardless of implementation.

Core developers claiming something works by “lying and tricking the code” doesn’t exactly scream objectivity.

A Hard Pill For Purists

Ordinal detractors seem to think that this is the first time NFTs have been used on Bitcoin. However, this is clearly not the case. Bitcoin has been a hotbed of NFT innovation since the release of Colored Coins, which predate Ethereum itself.

Colored coins minted in 2013, with Rare Pepes minting in 2016

                                                     *History of early NFTs (__[Ownest](*

The idea that decentralized blockchain technology created by an anonymous coder should be censored is laughable.

Bitcoin is not governed by any one entity, which is precisely the purpose. Despite their contributions, core developers have no right to impose their biases on a network built to serve people across the globe.

It’s also important to consider that Bitcoin’s key narrative as a store of value has been dispelled since 2022’s drawdown. BTC’s failure to hold value in the face of rampant inflation has weakened its overall draw.

This is especially true in light of the flourishing DeFi and NFT sectors on other blockchains.

If user sentiment and network activity are anything to go by, Ordinals are probably here to stay. And while purists may continue to reject this new technology, ignoring its potential to increase adoption is a fool’s errand.

Hal Finney, BTC’s most revered contributor, recognized this potential in 1993. Apparently, some in this space are still playing catch-up to his vision.

Hal discusses "crypto trading cards" in 1993

                                            *Presented without comment (__[CryptoSlate](*

Interested in learning more about the rich history of NFTs? Check out this guide for a deep dive.