My new years resolution was to avoid the block size debate. Oh well.
Regardless what you think of block size debate. Mike Hearn and his tactics have done nothing but pollute the well. He has been intransigent in development, his proposals were routinely shut down because they were horrible on a technical level, he had many dangerous ideas which undermined the very concept of Bitcoin. When he made no traction with his idea, he created his own Bitcoin client.
Because that wasn’t enough he began politicking users to switch to his client. When users found no technical benefit or improvement over his client and failed to adopt it, that wasn’t enough. He then found a tool which he could use to drive a wedge into the community, and drive adoption to his client or so he thought, the block size. Rather than offer constructive support to this issue, he recruited Gavin and others to create this imaginary war that did not exist, of a Bitcoin mafia vs the people. Coincidentally, it was during this time that he became concerned with the block size that the spam attacks on the network beginning happening. Heckuva coincidence.
Mike, in his dramatic style, made the proclamation that bitcoin is forking and with that he introduced a new level of politics to Bitcoin beyond what it had ever experienced. In addition, Mike has managed to make the scaling issue, a complex technical issue, into something that is a political litmus test, like abortion, or gun control, something that was sorely missing in a technical community.
As if merely raising the block limit would fix Bitcoin’s problem in his eyes. Mike is smart enough to know that wasn’t the case, but it didn’t matter because by turning something complex into something simple, he was able to sell the story, to people who weren’t interested in the technical nuances, but wanted something to hang their beliefs on. His ideas were perfect fodder to those adopters who were suffering in Bitcoin’s long bear market. Mike had the answer, bitcoin is suffering because the devs refuse to scale it. Mike Hearn had a simple solution, just change a number, it’s so easy, any lay person can see that. Clearly if you opposed such a simple change you had ulterior motives, the people in opposition where trying to steal bitcoin.
Mike worked in front and behind the scenes like a dogged politician to create this imaginary timetable that bitcoin was about to explode and collapse, watch the price he said. Creating sensationalist media posts that were technically flawed, and painted bookworm engineers, who have done nothing but work in the best interest of Bitcoin, as scheming backroom politicians who were co-opting bitcoin for their meglo-maniacal ambitions (project much Mike?) When the time table for Bitcoin’s, life or death decision came and went, and bitcoin did not collapse, and no one adopted his client, he cried foul. Ironically, Mike laments that Bitcoin is the hands of 10 developers (not true) yet he had appointed himself the benevolent dictator of his coin Bitcoin-XT.
Why was the Bitcoin community not falling on its sword and adopting his plans? It’s probably because again, the secret cabal was conspiring to suppress his ideas. His ideas which were spammed over social media, which got thousands of page views, which generated hundreds if not thousands of hours of discussion. Despite all this, no-one knew that Mike had this beautiful solution to rescue bitcoin, all because this evil mafia conspired to deny freedom to Bitcoiners around the world and keep his ideas a secret.
Meanwhile actual developers are moving forward with proposals that will scale bitcoin but Mike says that isn’t enough. Despite his incessant nagging, driving XTers to brigade every bitcoin discussion, ruining technical discussions in the development mailing list. That still wasn’t enough. Nope, unless Mike Hearn got his way, Bitcoin is a failed experiment. Mike Hearn’s goal was never about Bitcoin, it was about wrecking Bitcoin. There is no way you can reconcile his tactics with someone who put Bitcoin first.
No one had previously proposed forking Bitcoin to their own client, without calling it an altcoin or alternate implementation. Even Garzik was clear about it in discussion with Satoshi himself. Mike was the first to introduce the idea that creating your own implementation of Bitcoin, which is not compatible with other implementations, and changes a core function of bitcoin with something as low as 75% approval, was not an alt version of bitcoin but was still Bitcoin. Amazing, He has attempted to change what was an accepted and understand aspect of Bitcoin.
Now forking Bitcoin is a grand idea, Bitcoin forks for everyone. Forking Bitcoin is not something new, it has been around since day one, and the community had agreed that a fork of Bitcoin, without unanimous consensus, was an Altcoin.
People who care about bitcoin do not promote Altcoins because it’s clear this would fracture Bitcoin and undermine the very method in which bitcoin secures itself. But in Mike’s world people should undermine their investment in order to get a better investment.
Bitcoin has shown that the economic consensus mechanism works, that the consensus will respect the protocol. That if the time to change the protocol comes, it will be a change that is readily apparent, and will be adopted unanimously (Mike, that means without opposition.) Because from an economic interest it makes no sense to undermine bitcoin by fracturing it. And so surprise, suprise, bitcoin participants are making rational economic decisions. Bitcoin is not a democracy where 51% rules. In fact that is Bitcoin in a state of attack.
Still the very fact that Bitcoin has continued to function, and even begun to rise again precisely when it was supposed to be collapsing, was a slap in the face to Mike Hearn. So the final stroke a front page NYT , “you can’t fire me I quit ” announcement with a dramatic companion post all over social media, as If Bitcoin has lost some key intellectual power.
Sorry Mike, but Bitcoin is not yours to fail.
The best thing that could happen to Bitcoin and Mike Hearn is a final divorce, though messy it has been. But has Mike really left us? Something tells me he hasn’t. Instead Mike’s new job will be to further the new meme that Bitcoin is a failed experiment and he should know because he was a “lead” developer who worked directly with Satoshi.
And for proof, this morning I watched the Brookings Institute Webstream of their conference Beyond the Blockchain. The very first thing thing Charley Cooper of R3 CEV (Mike’s new employer) brought up was how Bitcoin was failed according to Mike Hearn, how Bitcoin was not going anywhere and that the future was private block chains.
So let’s congratulate Mike on his new role, where he will work to undermine bitcoin at every turn in front of regulators, banks, VCs and the public. At least now Mike can stop pretending what his real goal has been all along.
Because this has never been about raising the block limit or about or about a technical issue. This has been about co-opting Bitcoin into either Mike Hearn’s coin, or something more nefarious, on behalf of greater powers.
Mike, Good Luck, Stay Strong; I wish you the best.