As another year draws to a close,i the Little Dragon That Could has reached its 6th birthday. Can you believe it?
At 16:16:33 MST on November 1, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto announced Bitcoin to the Cryptography Mailing list.ii Since then, a niche project fueled by the noble actions of a single maniii has transformed into an unstoppable force for good.iv Bitcoin was as unlikely to succeed as a three-legged Olympian sprinter, and yet here it is: kicking Central Banks in the balls with a vigour not seen since the days of Andrew Jackson.
These steel-toed stomps aren’t always reflected in the fiat-BTC price, however. Despite no shortage of popularity in the press this past year,v Bitcoin has tumbled some 50% since the start of 2014. This has much to do with the foggy price signal, as I noted last quarter:
To summarize, ever since February 2014 when the Bitcoin price signal went more borked than a cat on catnip, nefarious but ultimately incapable state agents have been throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Bitcoin. This includes, but is not limited to, crowdfunding, mining hardware sales, altcoins, Bitcoin 2.0, you name it and they’ve tried it.vi
And they’ll continue to try for the simple reason that their ego prevents them from submitting to their new Lords. This is nothing new for states, but nor is voluntary submission historically unprecedented. See: voluntary submission of Middle Eastern Crusader states and the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia to the Mongol Empire in the 13th century.
Part ii of the game, that which started in early 2014 and will continue for some time yet, is where we sort out the wheat (palea) from the chaff (lemma).
So no, “The Community” and its tardtawk didn’t propel Bitcoin to five figures fiat. But that didn’t stop the war. The war is happening, more openly than before, but still ever-so-quietly. Those of you who’ve caught glimpses of its power will be unsurprised to learn that La Serenissimavii spent 2014 building taller walls and deeper moats.viii
But in case La Serenissima is either new or obfuscated to you, here’s what you missed in 2014; here’s what reinforced walls and more deeply entrenched moats look like:ix
1. Web of Trust: the #bitcoin-assets WoT fought off spammers, scammers,x Sybils, and other immunogens this year, while slightly expanding its ranks.
2. PGP/GPG: despite malicious attempts at misinformation, the use of the gold standard in encrypted communication and digital identity confirmation persisted and likely even expanded this past year. That Lindy Effect.
3. Digital security: while some users still use “Password123″ on their webwallet, others are getting smarter about how they store their coins. Heartbleed and Shellshock also raised awareness about our delusions of digital security and those intent on survival have responded accordingly.
4. Healthy skepticism: scams are raising fewer funds than a year ago as users are realising the value of this little experiment. This, and “the community” is running out of bitcoins. Win-win!
5. Bitcoin Foundation: USGavin‘s Foundation is dead, long live the new one and its quest for a healthier relay network!
6. Notary public: a place for peoplexi to publish signed contracts.
7. Legit Bitcoin news: once there were shills, now there’s Qntra. What a difference this makes.
8. MPEx stock exchange: security was reinforced, new offerings were added, and still no bitcoins have been lost or otherwise “misplaced” after 3+ years. Bitcoin continues to have its very own stock exchange. Useful!
9. Network hashrate increased 30x:xii increased security, taller mountain for bad actors to climb.
10. New platforms for debate, enlightenment, and education: a few notable ones sprung up. Ahem…xiii
Productive year, wouldn’t you say? This, despite the increased openness in the USG vs. La Serenissima war.
Six years ago, for whatever Satoshi dreamed, we couldn’t have asked for more.
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- We’re not quite at year-end, but it’s basically the Holiday Season and I’ma be somewhere warm for most of December. So without further ado… [↩]
- Satoshi led off with the following:
I’ve been working on a new electronic cash system that’s fully
peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.
The paper is available at:
The main properties:
Double-spending is prevented with a peer-to-peer network.
No mint or other trusted parties.
Participants can be anonymous.
New coins are made from Hashcash style proof-of-work.
The proof-of-work for new coin generation also powers the
network to prevent double-spending.
- I ask you, has history ever been any other way? [↩]
- “Good” being a title bestowed upon Bitcoin for three very important murders: killing nihilism, killing socialism, and killing involuntary taxes. From these all too necessary deaths will come untold life, art, and culture. Just as it always does. [↩]
- Mt Gox, Silk Road stash sales, etc. [↩]
- This is now formally known as Buterin’s Waterfall. [↩]
- Where Bitcoin policy is set and productive people convene to implement said policy. [↩]
- As Aaron “BingoBoingo” Rogier, second-in-command at the only WoT-approved Bitcoin news site, noted on his personal blog:
Bitcoin price continues to bounce with another USMS auction coming up soon. As time winds down $817 by this Christmas seems increasingly unlikely supporting the idea that on price, this is just a lost year for Bitcoin. Of course a lost year in price growth is a chance to build infrastructure for the next climb. [↩]
A Prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often enables men to rise from a private station to that rank. And, on the contrary, it is seen that when princes have thought more of ease than of arms they have lost their states. And the first cause of your losing it is to neglect this art; and what enables you to acquire a state is to be master of the art. Francesco Sforza, through being martial, from a private person became Duke of Milan; and the sons, through avoiding the hardships and troubles of arms, from dukes became private persons. For among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised, and this is one of those ignominies against which a prince ought to guard himself, as is shown later on. Because there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed; and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be secure among armed servants. Because, there being in the one disdain and in the other suspicion, it is not possible for them to work well together. And therefore a prince who does not understand the art of war, over and above the other misfortunes already mentioned, cannot be respected by his soldiers, nor can he rely on them. He ought never, therefore, to have out of his thoughts this subject of war, and in peace he should addict himself more to its exercise than in war; this he can do in two ways, the one by action, the other by study.
As regards action, he ought above all things to keep his men well organized and drilled, to follow incessantly the chase, by which he accustoms his body to hardships, and learns something of the nature of localities, and gets to find out how the mountains rise, how the valleys open out, how the plains lie, and to understand the nature of rivers and marshes, and in all this to take the greatest care. Which knowledge is useful in two ways. Firstly, he learns to know his country, and is better able to undertake its defence; afterwards, by means of the knowledge and observation of that locality, he understands with ease any other which it may be necessary for him to study hereafter; because the hills, valleys, and plains, and rivers and marshes that are, for instance, in Tuscany, have a certain resemblance to those of other countries, so that with a knowledge of the aspect of one country one can easily arrive at a knowledge of others. And the prince that lacks this skill lacks the essential which it is desirable that a captain should possess, for it teaches him to surprise his enemy, to select quarters, to lead armies, to array the battle, to besiege towns to advantage.
Philopoemen, Prince of the Achaeans, among other praises which writers have bestowed on him, is commended because in time of peace he never had anything in his mind but the rules of war; and when he was in the country with friends, he often stopped and reasoned with them: “If the enemy should be upon that hill, and we should find ourselves here with our army, with whom would be the advantage? How should one best advance to meet him, keeping the ranks? If we should wish to retreat, how ought we to set about it? If they should retreat, how ought we to pursue?” And he would set forth to them, as he went, all the chances that could befall an army; he would listen to their opinion and state his, confirming it with reasons, so that by these continual discussions there could never arise, in time of war, any unexpected circumstances that he could deal with.
But to exercise the intellect the prince should read histories, and study there the actions of illustrious men, to see how they have borne themselves in war, to examine the causes of their victories and defeat, so as to avoid the latter and imitate the former; and above all do as an illustrious man did, who took as an exemplar one who had been praised and famous before him, and whose achievements and deeds he always kept in his mind, as it is said Alexander the Great imitated Achilles, Caesar Alexander, Scipio Cyrus. And whoever reads the life of Cyrus, written by Xenophon, will recognize afterwards in the life of Scipio how that imitation was his glory, and how in chastity, affability, humanity, and liberality Scipio conformed to those things which have been written of Cyrus by Xenophon. A wise prince ought to observe some such rules, and never in peaceful times stand idle, but increase his resources with industry in such a way that they may be available to him in adversity, so that if fortune changes it may find him prepared to resist her blows.
via The Prince on The Art of Power, Chapter XIV: That Which Concerns A Prince On The Subject Of The Art Of War by Niccolo Machiavelli. [↩]
- And the 2014 award for Most Persistent Scammer goes to…ninjashogun! [↩]
- i.e. those in the WoT. [↩]
- This could be “40x” by the end of December, but… close enough either way. The ASICs arrived just in the nick of time. [↩]
- This, while old platforms such a Bitcointalk.org died, neglected by all but the wallet inspectors and their chumps. [↩]