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Bitcoin has entered a second golden age in recent weeks, as bitcoiners all over the world have discovered that it’s possible to use bitcoin in a way completely distinct from not using it (what adherents colloquially refer to as “HODLing”). Ordinals and inscriptions have taken bitcoin by storm — the rest of the world may have moved on from the loose-money-fueled, Starry Eyed and Night’d NFT craze in early 2022, but the Pogs of the 2020s are finding a new home on bitcoin.
Indeed, activity has been so frenzied that even some long-time experts — who should know better — have been irreparably trolled in their effort to acquire a rare Taproot Wizard. Whether this collection will retain any value or become as worthless as its namesake upgrade remains to be seen, but that kind of sober consideration hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm for monkey JPEGs, random snippets of text, and even Doom (!!) on the bitcoin blockchain.
While putting arbitrary data into the bitcoin blockchain isn’t new, this particular method is novel thanks to Taproot; to date the only interesting thing to come out of the contentious and long-delayed upgrade. Ironic that bitcoin’s long-term security budget woes may have finally found a solution. Compelling people to pay high base-layer fees to subsidize miners constructing blocks of various graffiti emblazoned on a blockchain forever doesn’t seem that robust, but it sure as hell beats people not-using-bitcoin and expecting the problem to magically fix itself.
And yet not all bitcoiners are pleased with the development. Some argue that this was an inadvertent side-effect of the Taproot upgrade; that the upgrade’s intent was to do absolutely nothing, in order to further global adoption of bitcoin as the world’s soundest place to park wealth that also does nothing. Others worry that the influx of Bored Ape users might jeopardize end-user security practices — recent studies suggest that having a significant portion of your monetary supply controlled by BAYC holders is cryptographically equivalent to the development of a large-scale quantum computer capable of running Shor’s algorithm.
“This is an attack on bitcoin, and a waste of precious blockspace — it’s perverting the code’s intent,” said longtime bitcoin developer LukeDashJr, while unilaterally updating the Gentoo bitcoin-qt repository to filter transactions against God’s will. “It’s bad for the security of the system,” Luke added, while uploading private key material controlling millions of dollars of bitcoin onto internet-connected VPSes he doesn’t control.
“They’re squandering bitcoin’s potential,” added bitcoin-whitepaper quotee Dr. Adam Back, who has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to enable a dozen people to re-configure their DirecTV satellite dishes to download the bitcoin blockchain at 200kbps. “There are so many better uses for bitcoin than this,” he added, deploying Liquid.
“Bitcoin is cypherpunk money protected by cyberhornets. It’s going up forever,” remarked longtime bitcoin advocate Michael Saylor. He added another five paragraphs that were indistinguishable from Bing’s chatbot having a lurid love affair with a bitcoin given physical form. At the end of his tirade, Saylor asked me if he could borrow some money to buy a bitcoin NFT (I declined).
Those few voices aside, the old guard seems to be a waning, ever-quieter contigent of the bitcoin community. It’s possible that this sentiment shift might catalyze even more exciting upgrades to the bitcoin blockchain. Imagine if we had DeFi on bitcoin! Imagine widely-used, scalable, private payments! Imagine everyone using satoshis as a unit of account!
Imagine the DeFi hacks on bitcoin! Imagine even worse governance debates! Imagine if bitcoin’s NFT culture matched ethereum’s! Imagine!