A matter of not-trusting
For most of the 20th century, before the appearance of digital payment methods, money circulated in physical format, in banknotes and coins. These are bearer instruments, fungible and anonymous. Just by having them in your possession, they become your property, without the need for your name to be written on them. Some people today are losing this notion.
Unfortunately, this would begin to change with the appearance of digital monetary asset management systems that inevitably required a centralized control and an intermediate entity. It was necessary to place trust to ensure the validity of the balances and, of course, avoid double-spending. That central entities (central bank in the case of fiat money) were responsible (and still are) for the monetary issuance, the management, and distribution of the currency.
The currency, in this way, gradually abandoned its physical condition and bearer money to become information managed by a centralized database coupled with the identities and other private information of each individual, thus destroying anonymity and fungibility of money in one fell swoop, granting these central institutions enormous power over the rest of the citizenry, who are now subjected to abide by the decisions made at the top of central power by a few individuals who exercise seigniorage of the currency at its entire discretion, being able to manipulate the variables of monetary management as never before according to their abstract criteria and their own short term needs.
Little by little, societies were giving up basic rights in exchange for certain comforts and conveniences in the use of money by digital means.
Bitcoin was born with the basic premise of decentralization as an essential requirement to achieve a peer-to-peer digital monetary system that does not require central control and auditing entity, returning the money its lost properties and the status of currency as bearer money, but maintaining the convenience of the digital format.
“Bitcoin is the real digital money revolution”
This impressive technological development also implies an incredible change in the way money is introduced into society. We no longer have a central institution governed by a few individuals deciding how, when and how much money to be issued. Now, with Bitcoin, that work is fully automated and controlled by an incorruptible and unalterable computer protocol, with well-defined guidelines, agreed upon by hundreds of thousands of users and known by all the participants, who in turn have the power to enforce them.
“Bitcoin puts the power in the hands of its users”
Thus, anyone who decides to run Bitcoin software will be enforcing the rules agreed by everyone and written on stone in that same computer program interconnected with all the others (Bitcoin full nodes). Adding to its hashing power (mining), all of this makes Bitcoin the safest and most powerful monetary tool known to humankind.
However, over the years, many people wanted to replicate or “improve” the capabilities of Bitcoin. It was so that many other “cryptocurrencies” appeared from the early years on. At first, they were simply copies of the Bitcoin code with just a few small changes on some variables.
Bitcoin’s open-source status made copying its code easy.
Still, all the new projects, called Altcoins (alternative currencies), never got the traction or support needed to achieve Bitcoin’s decentralization and processing power level.
In the year 2017, there was a great conflict called the “Block Size War” between two large groups in the Bitcoin world. On the one hand, an “industry” dominated community, including major exchanges, payment processors, mining pools, and various other service providers, all seeking to change Bitcoin’s code so that it could process more transactions per block and thus be able to expand their profit margins with the excuse of greater inclusion of users and higher speed of transactions, but at the same time, they would be attacking the most important attribute of Bitcoin, which is its complete decentralization.
On the other hand, a quieter group of developers, cyberpunks, freedom fighters, technology enthusiasts, users, and Bitcoin holders were fighting to keep the network as decentralized as possible to ensure censorship resistance and prevent large economic groups from taking control over the network.
It was a long (non-violent) fight that lasted several months but was finally won by the decentralization advocates using the same power that their nodes grant them, defending Bitcoin from their bases.
Even though they had a lot of economic power, the big companies and corporate lobbyists realized that they were a minority and could not bend the will of the hundreds of thousands of small but brave freedom fighters. They finally gave in, but still, a small group decided to split the Bitcoin blockchain by creating a new chain called “bitcoin cash”, which still exists but has no relevance since the market never accompanied those who proposed it.
The first fight for Bitcoin’s independence has been won, but it was only the first.
As years went by, new projects insisted on trying to “improve” Bitcoin, not realizing that Bitcoin is much more than technical development. It is a global social construction and, as such, very difficult to overshadow or disrupt by local political or commercial interests.
Every new project will always lack the pristine conception of Bitcoin.
Unlike the vast majority of altcoins and tokens existing today, Bitcoin was never pre-mined nor offered any airdrop.
Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared from the scene precisely because a decentralized design like the one he intended to build should not have a visible leader since that would be precisely a central point of failure that could be easily attacked. In fact, all altcoins or tokens today have a project leader and/or a marketing team, development, and investors who expect a return on their investment. Those projects are, basically, commercial companies that can easily be attacked from at least two sides, technical and regulatory.
Jimmy Song, a prominent Bitcoin developer, and author, said in a recent article:
“Have you examined what the code of these supposedly decentralized applications does? No? These things have more bugs in them than the set of “Indiana Jones.”
Implying that the code of these altcoins and tokens is full of errors due to the lack of rigor of their programmers and a very low level of peer review.
It goes without saying that at Hodl Hodl, we do not intend to get involved with problems of this type and all our efforts are focused on providing the best possible tools for the interaction of our users with Bitcoin and ONLY Bitcoin!
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