Tim Swanson is a guy I’ve been following on Twitter for a little while now. He keeps a blogi and in 2013 published a book entitled Great Wall of Numbers: Business Opportunities & Challenges in China.ii Just last week, he published another book called The Anatomy of a Money-like Informational Commodity: A Study of Bitcoiniii in which he dished out his two cents on Bitcoin. As if anyone fucking asked him.iv
Swanson’s claims to fame are 1) having visited a country other than The United States of Egypt, 2) going to post-secondary in Texas, and 3) being an UnSavoury Garnish.v That’s it. So let’s throw this bitch on the barbie and see how she tastes. Not for the last time, and for your enlightenment and entertainment, let’s rip through Mr. Swanson’s latest article, Bitcoin’s PR Challenges, in which he assesses the feedback on his “book:”
What kind of feedback has my book received over the past week? Here are a few threads on reddit:
What display of intellectual rigour could be more meaningful than that of the reddits? Perhaps only the preschool!
I am called any number of names on these threads and stylistically was equated with “Gish Gallop” and a “word soup” thesauri.
Sure, why not?
Hass McCook (“Bit_by_Bit”) weighs in at one point in the first thread saying that these claims are only valid in August 2014. McCook is the same one who claims in Chapter 3 that all critics are either “paid by banks”vi or have a “shallow” understanding of what the future looks like.
Bit_by_Bit is being too kind, too soft, and too gentle. Swanson’s points are no more valid today than they were a year ago or a year before that. Swanson wouldn’t know this, however, because like so many before him, he walked into Bitcoin like he owned the place and magically, he still clings to his “I know better” schtick in the face of The New Yasa. This is the definition of insanity, neh?
Taking it up a notch is Mircea Popescu. Popescu is the founder of MPEx which IPO’d SatoshiDice and was subsequently sued by the SEC (SatoshiDice settled with the SEC several months ago). Later Popescu violently threatened Andreas Antonopolous on Twitter and was kicked off the microblogging platform for violating the terms of service. Today a friend pointed to a new post by Popescu which takes aim at me (not my book): “No, you don’t have something to say on the topic.”
If you’re enjoying my dismantling of Swanson, there’s a good chance you’ll also enjoy MP’s.
In it he claims I am a “environmental scholar” and “boneheaded teenaged male approach to learning.” Not a word about the marginal costs of mining. In fact, he also claims that there is no data “per se” in the book which is curious since there is actually a lot of data in the book.
Of course, MP was just invoking Mark Twain, who said: “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.“
Aside from the ad hominem’s above what has been the criticism?
Peter Surda, a researcher, disagreed with my points on inelastic versus elastic money supply but didn’t go into many details in a short email exchange.
I received a number of encouraging emails from a variety of readers and was named one of thirteen “Big Thinkers” in this space, though I doubt most of the other candidates would not like to remain in company with me.
“…though I doubt most of the other candidates would not like to remain in company with me.” Swanson’s elegance knows no bounds. No wonder he’s one of the chosen 13 “Big Thinkers” in the Bitcoin space! I hope Andreas and Hearn were in that crew too.
I have had some responses with a couple others, including L.M. Goodman (creator of Tezos), on Twitter this past weekend — though this is largely unrelated to the book itself.
What does this mean?
The lack of actual criticism of the content in the book I believe highlights the lack of serious scholarship on the part of many partisans, especially the Myth of Satoshi variety.
Bad, Swanson. Sit. Stay. Now shut the fuck up. Your failing to listen to criticism and your continued pretensions of importance and intelligence have no bearing on this world or any other. Serious scholarship of a work is merited if and only if that work is itself a piece of serious scholarship. The scrawlings on the wall of the bathroom stall merit, at best, the drawing of a large penis or your ex-girlfriend’s phone number. Your toilet paper of a “book” merits the type of serious scholarship that only Google’s Right To Be Forgotten can provide.
No, Leah Goodman did not uncover who Satoshi was. But one thing was clear from that episode in February was that some partisans do not want the individual who created Bitcoin to be taken down from the pedestal they have put him on; they want their caricature to be immutable. Just like some historians have tried to revise history to make their heroes look impeachable, so to has the veneration of Satoshi. If Bram Cohen had anonymously released BitTorrent a decade ago, would BitTorrent have had a similar following due to its mysterious beginnings?
The search for Satoshi is very much representative of peoples’ search for their own purpose: you’re not gonna find either.
I hold no ill-will to the person or group that comprised Satoshi, but it is clear from the evidence cited in chapters 9 and 10 that he, she or they did not consult an actual economist or financial professional before they created their static rewards and asymptote money supply.
This is the lulz of the week! Satoshi didn’t consult an “actual economist” or a “financial professional!!” OMGWTFBBQ kind of nonsense is this!!!11 This is equivalent to saying that you didn’t ask the police officer if speeding was ok. What the fuck do you think the vending machine is gonna say when you pop a loonie in, do you want a foot massage instead of a can of Coke?
This is a mistake that we see in full force today in which the quantity of money available has shrunk due to theft, scams, purposeful burning, accidental destruction, etc. Satoshi recreated a deflationary inelastic economy and much to the chagrin of the self-appointed purity police, it is not being used the way he expected it to (actual commerce) and is instead being used for things it is relatively useful for (e.g., donating to Wikileaks, gambling).
Yes, because now some derp who walked into the room this morning knows what Satoshi wanted, despite not being able to figure out who Satoshi was. And if you’re going to list useful things that Bitcoin does, why not BitBet, War of Life, and titties?
Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued its Consumer advisory: Virtual currencies and what you should know about them. The advisory gives a cursory look, in layman’s terms of what are the challenges and risks of participating in this space.
What does this mean?
It mostly means that Bitcoin is fire. Paulatim et lente procedere.
While it is unclear as to the motivations of some of the “true believers” are, they collectively did underestimate the costs of consumer protection and/or did not put it as a top priority for mass consumer adoption. But why would they? Consumer protection is usually expensive, its unglamorous and its centralized (which apparently is a “no-no”).
We don’t want mass consumer adoption. It’s down there on the list a good ten spots underneath blockchain blowies. We know that consumer protection is expensive. That’s no mystery. In fact, we kinda like that Bitcoin’s deflationary nature breaks consumerism over its knee.
For example, generally speaking, most people do not like having their possessions stolen. And in the event something is stolen, in practice, individuals prefer to take out insurance and even sue those responsible for damage (torts). If instead of promoting and building illicit markets (like Dark Market and Dark Wallet), these same developers and early investors had funded a start-up that helped track down these stolen funds, or start a non-profit to help get stolen coins, it would have been an amazing public relations coup.
There will be no “tracking of funds.” There’s no fucking taint and therefore no fucking “amazing public relations coup” waiting in the wings, capiche? Bitcoin is not about winning the war of words so much as winning the war of alternatives. Bitcoin isn’t perfect, it’s just better than stocks, bonds, fiat, real estate, precious metals, and anything else you can think of. Bitcoin isn’t the best because it adheres to some textbook theory of economics, it’s the best because it’s finite, untaxable, and just plain works.
Bitcoin doesn’t need PR, it exists and will continue to do so, which is more than we can say for Swanson.
Le sigh. That’s all the ranting I can take for now.
If only I had more discipline…
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- A worthwhile habit, to be sure. [↩]
- Great Wall of Numbers is available for free on Scribd. [↩]
- A Study of Bitcoin is available for free on Scribd. [↩]
- Seriously, if Swanson has any criticisms of the Da Vinci’s Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s David, or Picasso’s Guernica, those would be perfect subjects for his fourth book. As the Bitcoin one was apparently his third book, you’ll be please to know that his second book was on smart contracts. Le derp. [↩]
- Or Uber Salty Gelato, Ultra Shady Germanium, UnSuspecting Galosh, UnSettled Gizzard, etc. [↩]
- s/banks/states if you’re so inclined, but with TBTF, there’s little practicable difference. [↩]