I’ve been spending less time listening to Let’s Talk Bitcoin, less time reading CoinDesk, less time on /r/bitcoin, less time on Facebook, and even less time on Twitter, my old favourite, of late. Even at the margin of society that is the World of Bitcoin, I’m finding myself repelled by the middle majority. Masses, even sub-masses within masses, have a strange way of falling into groupthink, and there’s only so much mental spam about Doge, Ethereum, Mt Gox and “Smart Contracts” that my brain can handle. I can’t separate out the signal when there’s that much noise. No one can.
Still, this Middle America of Bitcoin, these devotees of The Church of Satoshi, these worshipers at the altars of Andreas M. Antonopolous, Max Keiser, Roger Ver, Gavin Andresen, etc. didn’t bother me so much in my freshman year of Bitcoin. Hell, I even participated. But as I enter my sophomore year, it’s time to move on. As more of a twice-a-year-synagoguer and therefore more of an iconoclast than a Belieber, it’s natural that the whole Sunday attendance thing would eventually lose its sparkle.
So where have I found relief from the mainstream rigamarole? The IRC channel #bitcoin-assets.
With a complete cast of mostly-psuedonymous characters, and they are characters, #bitcoin-assets is a chatroom for the blunt. If you’re the type who hates Nassim Taleb because he’s a “dick” or “asshole” (like an acquaintance I almost walked out of coffee with recently), this is no place for you. If you can’t see past a few racist remarks, a few of assbot’s trade updates, a few of gribble’s automated responses, and a few of ozbot’s racy pics to find the beauty of the conversation – at once sporadic, full of puns, rife with memes, and imaginative in its exploration of everything from immunology to computing to global affairs – then it’s really your loss. I find it to be one of the most fascinating corners of the Internet.
It’s a small corner, to be sure. There are usually in the order of 150 people plugged into #bitcoin-assets at any given time, with who knows how many more, such as myself, just reading the logs in search of enough cues and clues to sound intelligible. I’ve participated once or twice, but I still have a steep learning curve to climb. But that, more than anything else, is what I find sleep-disturbingly addicting. It’s a fucking rush to be up to my eyeballs in new words, having no idea which one hit me last or where it came from. Spinoza was the last one to talk over my head so. But Ethics was just one book, #bitcoin-assets is a conversation that never stops and never sleeps.
So far, after about 2 weeks of log reading, I’ve been busy. I’ve read James Gleick’s Chaos: Making A New Science and have cracked Mathematics: Its Content and Meaning by Aleksandrov, Kolmogorov, and Lavrent’ev, the latter of which was sitting on my shelf for the last 6 months or so since that Taleb guy recommended it on his Amazon review page. I’ve also become increasingly skeptical of many of the tenets of Bitcoin that I previously held to be true, such as the need for merchant adoption. But that’s an article for another time.
This isn’t the first time I’ve started down a path of mental exploration, delved into it, found the key players, learned from them, got bored of them, rinsed, repeated. The first time this happened was with Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan. Then again with Antifragile, though their similarity shouldn’t have had this effect, I didn’t exactly sit still for the 12 months in between reading the second and third entries of the Incerto trilogy. The 50-odd books, hundreds of podcast, and thousands of articles I read in between meant that, by the time Antifragile was released, I was almost unrelated to the person who read Black Swan. Such is growth.
Now, as I enter my sophomore year at Bitcoin U, it’s not the exchanges, the merchants, or forthcoming regulations that have my attention, it’s a little-known chatroom hosted my an influential Romanian slave owner and his cabal of aliased acquaintances. It feels like another ride is just beginning. And I couldn’t be more stoked.
And so the journey continues.