This is a rebuttal to a Tweet Storm that recently appeared on the subject of Bitcoin’s “Governance”. It serves as a perfect vehicle to explain away some of the myths, misinformation and FUD swirling around Bitcoin. Every problem in Bitcoin can be solved by software. If you want a higher rate of transactions between peers, you need to design software that achieves that.
“Design software that achieves that” does not mean change Bitcoin’s nature, raison d’être or core objective a achieve your ends. If the answer to your problem is changing Bitcoin, you have the wrong answer. Only changes that do not alter the nature of Bitcoin are acceptable.
Here is the complete Tweet Storm. As usual, I do not name who made these Tweets because who said it doesn't matter; it is the ideas expressed that matter, not the personalities. Bitcoin is not a Soap Opera.
1/An oft touted attribute of Bitcoin is that it is open source.
People misunderstand what Open Source actually means. All it means is that you can see the source code used to compile the binary that you run on your machine. It does not imply any form of license or copyright or right to alter and distribute the work. Just because a software project is Open Source, it does not automatically follow that the programme is superior in its function, or fit for any particular purpose. All it means is that you can see exactly how it works if you understand the language it was written in.
2/Supposed benefits of open source are higher security and more innovation (via more implementations). Both are key to winning.
This is false. If you run a programme that is open source that is insecure the fact that it is open source doesn't help you. The only thing that helps you is if someone fixes its flaws. A project being Open Source is not a panacea or guarantee of any kind. Also, source being viewable does not immediately imply that others can implement other versions without a license.
3/#Bitcoin no longer benefits as much as it should from open source-like innovation.
This is false. Bitcoin benefits greatly from being Open Source because many eyes are on it. This prevents people from injecting bad software into the code base that gets compiled into binaries that men run on their machines. Bitcoin is a particular case where there can only be one implementation for everyone to get the benefit of it, because each running instance relies on other running instances. This is completely different to a GNU plus Linux distribution for example, which can be and has been forked several times. Each running instance of GNU plus Linux is completely separated from every other installation and no installation relies on any other for its operation.
4/No system where even 75 percent agreement is deemed “too contentious” to effect change can sufficiently innovate.
This is false. Because all Bitcoin nodes rely on each other, they must all be running the exact same version of the protocol. This is how Bitcoin actually works; it is not like other software that does not rely on other copies running correctly and concurrently. All copies of Bitcoin running must be in agreement, or the system collapses. This is part of the breakthrough of Bitcoin; the Double Spending Problem has been solved by all nodes on the network agreeing on a single version of the transaction record, binding them all together into one distributed system. 75% of the truth is not the whole truth.
5/Any network-based system that requires “overwhelming consensus” for change will quickly be left behind by competitors that don’t.
Absolutely false. Bitcoin is not “any network-based system” it is a new innovation designed to solve The Double Spending Problem. It is not like other software or networks as I describe above. As for other systems that are trying to usurp Bitcoin’s position, they all have absolute consensus as to how they should run; the 25% that does not agree on how Bitcoin should operate becomes 100% consensus when they fork Bitcoin and go off on their own.
6/#Bitcoin security is essential. But a highly secure system that cannot quickly/safely adapt to environment or competitors will not win.
This is false. Bitcoin is doing what it is designed to do. What is changing are the requests of people who do not understand it, who want it to act like fiat pocket change. What Bitcoin is and how it should be used is still being discovered. And the new layers being built on top of it may provide some of the functions that consumer observers think people want. Bitcoin does not need to change to cater to consumer observers, and asking it to do so is like a child asking for a flying turtle. Turtles do not fly, and Bitcoin may not be what you need to use to buy your “Starbucks”. This does not mean that there is not a solution to that problem.
7/A system that is “secure enough” now, and can be made even more so later, but that can quickly adapt, will be the universal #blockchain.
This is a baseless prediction. It could become true, it might not. Software developers will decide this, and no one else.
8/#Bitcoin maximalists insist that just being the most secure settlement system is enough to guarantee success. It’s not.
There is no such thing as a “Bitcoin Maximalist”, just as there is no such thing as a “Math Maximalist”. Anyone discussing this matter needs to refer only to the facts of the software, and what designs they propose. It is clear that Bitcoin could be the settlement layer for huge networks of users, and people have written software that proves this is true. Saying “it’s not” doesn't mean anything; only writing software means something in Bitcoin.
9/Something that is “secure enough” but that can adapt faster than Bitcoin, while doing everything else that bitcoin can do, is a threat.
This is true! Betamax vs VHS is a good example of this. Betamax was superior to VHS, which has inferior picture quality and bigger cassette sizes. VHS won the market because you could get movies on it. VHS players proliferated, and the virtuous feedback loop was unstoppable. In Bitcoin, the equivalent will be a shitty alt coin, a multi platform wallet, frictionless conversion into the coin from fiat and widespread merchant adoption. The only problem will be securing their chain, which would take billions in hardware if they could not grow a mining community organically. Yes, Bitcoin already has most of this, and first mover advantage.
10/quick adaptations that spur rapid adoption and more use cases are essential for #Bitcoin’s continued success.
This is true! That’s what we are doing at Azteco.
11/Quick adaptation cannot happen where devs continue to insist on “overwhelming” consensus for any hard fork. Even 75% is prbly too much.
This is False. See above.
12/Internet is a case in point. TCP/IP was not first, most secure or elegant, but it was secure enough. It won because most adaptable.
This is False. Internet is a set of peer devices that are not reliant on each other as Bitcoin peers are. They all use the same base protocol to share data packets but the system model is profoundly different. This is a bad analogy, nothing more.
13/By insisting on overwhelming consensus while discrediting alt implementations, CoreDevs deny #Bitcoin a key benefit of being open source.
This is False. Alt implementations, like Bitcoin Classic discredit themselves by trying to steal the network with a non compliant client in an ecosystem where compliance is absolutely required. Core Developers are preserving the integrity of the network and public record which is the key innovation of Bitcoin.
15/#Bitcoin’s development may as well be centralized. For all intents and purposes it is.
This is False. Because Bitcoin requires everyone to use and add to the same public record which must never be corrupted, a new dynamic of responsibilities has emerged. The public record must not be corrupted at any cost, and it must change only in ways that do not affect the networks topology. Bitcoin is a new type of system and new modes of cooperation need to emerge to manage its core function. This is an unintended consequence of Bitcoin’s development, and it will be solved. While it is being solved, spectators should be patient while these difficult tasks are being undertaken.
16/As is, #Bitcoin gets most of the “bad”’of centralized development (slow adaptation) w/o the good (strong leadership).
This is False. Bitcoin gets all of the good of a team of experts working on it, without any of the bad, i.e. interference from Lawyers, Statists, Petit Banquiers, CIA agents and other types, who do not have the network’s users best interests uppermost in their minds. The call for strong leadership is a vestige reflex of believers in democracy, who like the idea of a “Strong Leader” to make things happen. “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”. No, Bitcoin, math and software does not work like that. The only purpose in having a character like Linus Torvalds in charge of Bitcoin is that he would not hesitate to tell Lawyers, the NSA and other people with no stake in Bitcoin to “Fuck off”, as he has done to the NSA and any person trying to taint the Linux Kernel. Even with the “leadership” of Bitcoin as it is now, its enemies have been defeated twice. The system of governance is working as it should. The network is protected from wreckers and Mokachino Heads and the momentum of Bitcoin is unstoppable.
17/I will take true open source rapid adaptation over strong leadership any day, but without either, #bitcoin is in jeopardy.
Unless you are running a full node farm or are a software developer, or running a Bitcoin business, no one cares what you will take or not take. Literally what you think does not matter. I have been through this before. Bitcoin is not in jeopardy, at all; that is plain nonsense.
18/So long as overwhelming consensus is required for rapid adaptation, #bitcoin is doomed without a strong leader who can forge it.
The consensus meme, and the Straw Man Fallacy that it is required are both nonsense. Bitcoin is not doomed, and its leadership is very strong and resolute. No one is going to corrupt Bitcoin, usurp it, Americanize it, and that is not just an assertion, its now a proven fact.
Armagnac, vanilla wafers, double espresso ↴
Hacker Noon is how hackers start their afternoons. We’re a part of the @AMI family. We are now accepting submissions and happy to discuss advertising & sponsorship opportunities.
If you enjoyed this story, we recommend reading our latest tech stories and trending tech stories. Until next time, don’t take the realities of the world for granted!