This #Bitcoin Whitepaper day (Oct31), I take a few minutes to remember what started it all. Back in June 2017, my neighbor Gaurav popped by and casually dropped the Bitcoin bomb. He asked, "Bro, have you heard of Bitcoin?" I had, but never really dug into it. So, we started hanging out at Pepper and Peko in Koramangala, diving into the Bitcoin rabbit hole over cups of chai. It felt like opening a can of digital worms that just wouldn’t stop wriggling. From understanding the core of it and figuring out a use case to solve labor market frictions backed by India’s largest private employer to delving full time to starting communities around skill to running experiments a.k.a. failing multiple times to arrive at #TheInternetOfValue it has been an arduous journey of 6 years and we’re just starting and we’re gonna remember the giants on whose shoulders we are jumping off from.
Now, onto the financial rebel yell, a monetary mic drop, BitcoinWhite paper. Here is why am grateful to it, where it fails, and where I see our paths merge.
1) Dare to Question: Satoshi Nakamoto, with the Bitcoin Whitepaper, was like the new kid in the math classroom who questioned why 2+2 always had to be 4. It came at a time when big banks and allied financial institutions were acting like bullies on the playground. They set the rules, decide the game’s winners and losers, and never really reveal the scores. Bitcoin was like that quiet kid who stood up and challenged the bully. The simple act of standing up and asking that question has now pulled in close to 1.3 trillion 4 market cap and some of the best minds in the world.
The whitepaper started a conversation that pulled the curtain on the “financial wizards” (if lending to subprime borrowers, packaging the defaults as a financial instrument, and ending up breaking the global financial ecosystem while taking home a heft bonus is what wizards do) hiding behind, showing, nay, letting us figure out all the strings.
2) Broken Promise: The Whitepaper hinted at a world where money moved freely, without the need for the financial hall monitors. But, as Sam Altman mentioned in his podcast interview with Nicolai Tangen, Bitcoin (Crypto) hasn't quite kept its promise. The mining scene turned into a power-hungry monster, gobbling up energy like cookies. And the open door to the crypto club started to feel like it needed a secret handshake due to all the techy talk. Bitcoin, in its quest to revolutionize finance, ironically morphed into a reflection of the very system it aimed to disrupt. It’s almost like Satoshi could echo Oppenheimer's profound realization at the dawn of the atomic age, but with a digital twist: “Now, I am become the flaw in the financial system, the creator of chains.” Satoshi's vision might have ignited the fuse for a financial renaissance, yet the ensuing explosion bears a resemblance to the old world it sought to replace. Like Centralised exchanges acting as gatekeepers, opaqueness everywhere with anonymous wallets and more importantly jargon-filled vocabulary acts as the biggest entry barrier thus making the “open permissionless network” concept a moot point. Satoshi would be angry like Jesus who whipped the merchants/robbers out of the places of worship.
3) Compassion over Coding: Bitcoin's journey has been a mix of hits and misses, like a financial game of pinball. But it’s set the stage for something bigger. It’s not just about swapping digital coins; it’s about trust and sharing the financial pie. The Bitcoin talk has sparked ideas on how we can all have a slice of that pie, without a few taking the biggest pieces. The whitepaper was the seed, and now we’re in a forest of fintech innovations but somehow there are no flora and fauna.
Open questions to the #Bitcoin / #Web3 community
If your entry point is an anonymous digital wallet we would spend more effort weeding out / figuring out the “real” ones. And if this cost is more than the fiat world why do you think anyone would switch?
If your metric for token “value” is the number of transactions per minute / or velocity of money flow (value exchange) then it’s a recipe for FTX kinda debacles. How’s it better than the existing system at least the current ones have fundamental ways to measure value.
If your answer for evolved institutions is DAOs then show the world how are you different. Do you take care of people better? if yes, how ? Do you help build an equitable org, if yes, how? A “smart contract” with a token supply and distribution matrix is not an org / DAO!
For anyone who’s thinking “Criticism is NOT a solution” check out, TheInternetOfValue
The Bitcoin Whitepaper wasn’t just a bunch of words and numbers; it was a spark that lit a big ol’ financial fuse. It got all of us talking, questioning, and dreaming of a fairer world. So here’s a nod to Bitcoin and Satoshi for stirring the financial pot and showing us there’s nothing that’s unquestionable. As we step into the new world of building better economies, let’s take with us the spirit of questioning, learn from the bumps on the road, and even look at other parameters of the economy, i.e. labor (people) and well-being without which money exchange whether it’s peer to peer or borderless or decentralized is pointless.
This is the beginning of #Gratitude posts about all the books and people who’ve inspired us to #TheInernetOfValue, if you wanna explore all the books and papers you can check out