What the Fork?!

a fork

Exciting times in the crypto world. While the big boys in suits are still trying to figure out how to make sense of the whole “Blockchain/FinTech/DLT thing”, building away all those great Permissioned/Private ledgers. they repeatedly try to slowdown the inevitable disruption to their industries.

Meanwhile in the the cryptocurrency world; bitcoin, it’s overachieving niece Ethereum, and other communities have been focused on the circus that is the DAO Hack aftermath, Ethereum’s failed soft fork, “successful” hard fork, then the miracle of resurrection of the old chain in the form of Ethereum Classic.

How many forks can you handle?

This week a small flame might be growing under the ashes in the bitcoin world. As the story goes; August 1st 2016 was deadline agreed upon on the Hong Kong Scaling Summit, between major mining pool representatives, the Core developers, and others.

Core devs were supposed to release the code for a temporary hard fork to increase the block size to 2M, supposedly following the release of Segregated Witness (SigWit initially planned for April 2016).

When that passed, and the core developers released 0.0.13 RC without any indications to fork in sight, combined with the fact that SigWit isn’t deployed yet, the tension between the two camps is starting to grow again, and the words “bitcoin classic” are loudly echoing across the dungeons of Reddit.

Are we forked yet?

Did the core team steered off the roadmap agreed upon at the end of the HK Scaling meeting?

In this big_block camp’s view, they did, as they claim the consensus was clear on the roadmap, SigWit by April, 2M hardfork by August, then we’ll see how it goes with Layer 2 protocols (lightning Networks, thin blocks and others).

On the other side, the core/dev’s camp believe that they are aligned with the spirit of the agreement, and since the SigWit release was delayed, that means the whole plan should lag, and the agreement was that SigWit will come first, at the same time, scaling is an ongoing issue that will continue to be addressed through multiple venues, emphasizing the fact that a 2M increase isn’t the critical milestone, and not really needed based on current network conditions.

So.. now what?

Some say that the sharp drop in bitcoin price earlier this week (before the Bitfinex hack) was partially caused/triggered by the deadline passing. Stories are surfacing of a planned switch of major mining pools (mainly in China) to Bitcoin Classic, and planning to throw a hard fork (and talks about a secret pool called Terminator) is in the making.

Until then? Bitcion Core still has the network’s full nodes and miners majority, although the bitcoin classic client is available with a 2M patch,it never gained enough traction yet. Even after the whole Ethereum fork debacle -or maybe because of- there aren’t visible activities in the bitcoin world towards a real forking effort yet.

What really matters

I firmly believe that the whole field is still going through a rough experimenting phase, putting aside the speculators, the exchanges and mining industry, the politics and ideological differences at their various levels in bitcoin and ethereum. We are still watching and learning. Trying to figure out how this Blockchain thing really works. Be it the suits and consultants in R3 and Hyperledger “private chains”, or the sewage rats in the “public chains” like Ethereum and Bitcoin. Let’s just watch and learn people, and enjoy the ride.